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SPY: HOME OFF THE RANGE

Spy wraps up our time in the wonderful state of Texas with the final say on the United States Grand Prix...

Cow … Farm … Cow … Farm … Cow … Cow … Farm … Cow … Horse … Farm … Cow … Cow … Farm … It’s perhaps fair to say that the journey from the Circuit of the Americas to Houston International Airport is not the most stimulating but it does give the weary traveller plenty of time to reflect on the weekend behind.

The thing Spy’s reflecting on mostly is how he may never be warm again. How cold was it on Thursday and Friday? We had a worried-looking brass monkey in the back of the garage asking if he could borrow a brazing rod. There’s a time and a place for turning up at a pitch-black race track in sub-zero temperatures, and that time and place is winter testing – an activity Spy can cheerfully leave to younger and entirely more gullible juniors.

This is supposed to be a sport for sun-kissed destinations on a grand tour of endless summer. Fingerless gloves and bodywarmers were not in the brochure. It used to be the case that F1 descended like locusts on the Apple Store in Austin like a plague of bargain-hunting hi-tech locusts; this year the local Walmart was full of familiar faces buying long johns. It’s difficult to take a rival team principal seriously when you know he’s wearing full-length thermal undercrackers in a vibrant shade of fuchsia under that team kit.

Fortunately, F1 fans are built tough and turned up in droves to watch what Spy thinks was a pretty interesting grand prix – albeit one for people with the patience to accept delayed gratification. In many respects, this is the sort of grand prix that Pirelli envisaged when they developed their tyre plan: lots of drivers working different strategies, coming together in the last quarter of the race for some furious attack and defence. I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste – but I like it.

Max finished where he started – which doesn’t really do justice to the battle he had with King Lewis VI, while Alex’s sprint to fifth was quite exceptional. In a race where the choice was between one and two stops, his first-lap damage and switch to the lesser-spotted three-stopper made COTA a hard road – but he banged in excellent lap after excellent lap, recovered the ground and never stopped pushing. He won’t get the applause but there were grudging nods of admiration, and brief growls of ‘good effort’ from misanthropes in the garage who’d rather walk home from Austin than admit being impressed.

And that’s the final back-to-back of the season done and dusted. It seems like a very long time since we departed for Mexico. Everyone’s heading home pretty tired and, it won’t surprise anyone to hear, there’s not a huge groundswell of enthusiasm for spending the next four weeks locked into a dead rubber. A couple of nights at home will recharge the batteries a little bit and by the start of next week everyone will be up for Interlagos, where we’ve got a decent chance of a result.

Max will be trying to snatch third in the Drivers’ Championship. He goes like a greased weasel at Interlagos, so he’s in with a shout. The crucial thing will be making sure he doesn’t figure out the prize for third is a shorter winter break courtesy of a no-expenses paid invitation to the FIA prizegiving!