So, today was, like, Daniel’s final day at the factory and it was totally fine – we all shook hands, there were loads those really awkward man hugs and then we all gruffly said “bye” while flinging insults at each other and laughing a bit too loud.
Oh, who are we kidding! It was really emotional and we wept like babies throughout, but – cough – we’re F1 people, we’re rational and empirically minded so we’ll tell you what happened in a calm and dignified manner.
Following his arrival at the factory this morning, Daniel joined Max on long sessions of blasting around the factory on drift bikes, causing disturbance through reception and down corridors. They slid bikes into their first duty of the day – a factory signing session.
Strange though it may seem, most the factory staff don’t see the drivers that often and this was Daniel’s chance to say his farewells to the people who helped him to those seven wins and 29 podiums.
And true to form, the boys didn’t stint on the signing. Both Daniel and Max spent almost two hours signing memorabilia for team members, including mini helmets, caps, photos and even a wing mirror.
The main event of the day though was at the team’s usual post-race debrief. Held in the race bays where our cars are disassembled after each and every race, Team Principal Christian Horner first delivered his usual post-grand prix report, going through the ups and down of the season’s final race and looking back at the season as a whole.
Then he spoke about Daniel’s time with the team, reminiscing about the Honey Badger’s arrival in 2014, his memories of Daniel’s key moments with team, including his seven wins, 29 podiums and three poles positions, and highlighting what a pleasure it has been to work with Daniel over the past five seasons.
Christian then invited Max up to first give his own view of the past couple of races, at which he nailed the last two of five consecutive podium finishes. Max also reflected on his three seasons as Daniel’s team-mate, explaining that not only had the Daniel been an exemplary team-mate but that he had taught Max a lot about the art of overtaking and also consistency of performance across race weekends. He finished by telling the team just how much fun he’d had alongside Daniel, recalling some of the more outlandish stunts they’d been involved in over the past few seasons.
The lights were then lowered and the team was shown the #CheersDan highlights reel, which really brought home how much the Perth driver contributed to the team.
When the house lights were brought up again, Daniel was invited onto the stage to talk about his time with the team and to reveal the origin behind some of his more bizarre exclamations, such as “Holy testicle Tuesday!” (from the Jim Carrey film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) and “trippin’ major nutsack”, which apparently is an Australian colloquialism to suggest that a person is so happy as to be in a mentally altered state – or something like that!
The final element of Dan’s farewell debrief was the presentation of a leaving gift – but this was about as far away from a gold watch as it’s possible to get.
Knowing Daniel’s passion for motocross we thought something on two wheels would be a nice present and so we asked star rider Dougie Lampkin to help out. The trials riding legend powered into the race bays on a fantastic Team KTM 350 SXF, personalised for Daniel, along with matching helmet. With the presentation over, Daniel left the race bays to the strains of the Spice Girls’ ‘Goodbye’.
And then, that was it – Daniel’s incredibly memorable and emotional last day at our MK base was done. OK, was that calm enough. Can we go and blub now?