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SPY: Spain did us a solid

Hello race fans, Spy here, reporting from the tropical microclimate of Bradbourne Drive. No post-race Barcelona testing malarkey for this Spy, that’s a job for younger, altogether too trusting individuals. Spy is more of an indoor cat.

The Spanish Grand Prix didn’t exactly deliver the drama – but after the previous race, a lack of drama was just fine by Spy. When the cars come back under their own power rather than being scraped up with a shovel, that’s all good. Also, we came away with a trophy, and that’s always nice, but especially so when the car isn’t quite on the pace. We’ve spent the first four races, like everybody else, saying it’s impossible to judge anything from the early flyaways: the cars are too new; the tracks are too weird. It’s only when we get to Spain the true picture emerges. It’s a total coincidence that the true picture appears to be exactly the same as the one we saw over the first four races. As it usually is.  

This was a hard weekend: the drivers. All of them, it seems, were finding the conditions difficult. The tricky new surface on the circuit was tough to figure out and the new tyres were screaming primadonnas. Everyone was running wide, picking up gravel, damaging the floor on kerbs, and doing all the niggly things that don’t make headlines but nevertheless take an awful lot of fixing.

The drivers all had a good moan about the new tyres but honestly, the day F1 drivers don’t moan about tyres is the day F1 invents the hover car. They’re never soft enough, they’re never durable enough and they’re always, always to blame for everything. Slower than your team-mate? Tyres. Poor getaway? Tyres. Missed the press conference because you overslept? That was tyres too. Daniel set a new lap record on Sunday on a knackered set of the hardest compound on offer. The tyres are fine.

On the plus side, we had the Energy Station back in tow. While our catering crew perform mighty feats at flyways, with little more than a hot-plate and a Bunsen burner, they are entirely more magnificent when they have access to a decent kitchen. Did you know they make their own ice-cream? An army marches on its stomach, and in this regard F1 is full of 200lb caterpillars.

While it was good to have our familiar creature comforts returned to us, less good was the new starting hour. Since the dawn of time, F1 sessions in this part of the world start at 1000 CET for FP1, 1400 for FP2, 1100 for FP3, 1400 for qualifying and the race. The initiative* from FOM to moving everything an hour backwards just confuses people. And confusion is the enemy.** Of course, the people giving FOM the proper evil eye are our logistics mogwai, who don’t like having their already-booked schedules thrown into confusion. Sunday night flights were frantic before – they’re going to be a joy this year with everyone leaving the paddock an hour later.

Of course, our new overlords only have F1’s best interests at heart with the time change – though Spy’s not sure about their onscreen graphics which this weekend explained how drivers are required to increase speed by 40 per cent when the Virtual Safety Car is deployed. Charlie would probably have something to say about that.

Anyway. The races come thick and fast now. Monaco next up. The Jewel in F1’s Crown™. It’s horrible.

*there are other words

**Also Ferrari and Mercedes, but confusion is right up there.