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SPY: TEMPLE OF MUD

Temple of Speed? Temple of Mud, more like…

Buongiorno race fans, Spy here, coming at’cha from the charming little town of Uscita*, cramming in one last cheese-based breakfast before heading home to the delights of Milton Keynes.

Well, that was a thriller: two teams at the height of their powers in a contest that could have gone either way – but enough about the cricket, there was an F1 race this weekend as well. A few days ago, did I really write about how much I love Monza? I must have been having a funny turn. Wow, that was a difficult weekend.

Every problem Silverstone’s ever had is magnified ten-times at Monza: traffic jams; car parks a foot-deep in mud; stewards** that worship a non-specific God of Chaos. It looks like great fun for spectators – it’s a bit of a bear pit to work in. So much so it’s one of the rare occasions that engenders a faint feeling of nostalgia for the vast empty spaces of the Shanghai paddock. Also, circuit architects! Would it kill you to design a pitlane that slopes away from the garages? F1 is difficult enough without having to fill sandbags whenever a cloud appears on the horizon. Fortunately, the human body doesn’t have the capacity to remember pain, so by the time we get to Singapore, I’ll be loving Monza again.

The Italian Grand Prix itself was a good one for the neutral (none of whom were in the Royal Park) but fairly humdrum for us. Daniel gave it a good go from the back of the grid and looked like scoring decent points until his car went mechanical, and Max was having a good scrap for the last podium place before his defending got a little too robust for the stewards’ liking*** and he had to settle for fifth. It wasn’t a bad performance from us but it won’t be a race that lives long in the memory at Red Bull Towers.

As a team, we really can’t get to Singapore quickly enough. Spa and Monza are tough races when you’re lacking grunt, and it’s simply a case of taking the pain, getting through it, and looking forward to the sunlit uplands of places with rather more corners. We’re two-thirds through the season now and definitely expecting to be a bit more competitive in the final third of the year. Mentally, we’re heading into the run-in now – though there’s a hell of a lot of airline rubber chicken between here and Abu Dhabi – but this is the point at which we say goodbye to the Energy Station, the trucks, the treehouses and all the comforts of home and head out into the big, wide world again. It’s going to be in tents.

Though plenty of people are already looking beyond the next seven flyways and into next season. The 2019 provisional calendar slithered into view at Monza – where it sat smugly in the mail box engendering that same sense of trepidation as an unopened letter from the tax office. Happily, it’s not quite as bad as this year. The triple header had vanished, hopefully buried upside down with a stake through its evil heart and the ground salted above it. The season’s going to start a week earlier and finish a week later but that seems like a price worth paying. At least it seems like a price worth paying now. Ask me again a year from now and it’s entirely possibly I’ll have found a whole new thing to moan about. F1 finishing in December! We’ll have to get a tree for the garage. 

*for a small place it has surprisingly good motorway access

**the other sort of steward

***not the ones in the car parks