Spy's update from Austin

Hello everyone, Spy here, reporting from underneath a ten-gallon hat in the shade of my RV here in the COTA paddock. How y’all doin’?

It's great being back in Austin. This is probably the favourite circuit of more people in the race team than any other. Everything works, the circuit staff are genuinely helpful, and every night we get to go back to the city which is full of food, music and dancing. Happy days.

We started the week off with a bang – or rather a growl – as the RB7 came out of retirement for a demo on the city streets with Dan and Seb taking turns to see who could do the biggest donuts – score one for Seb. Dan, however, wins hands-down in the facial hair stakes –with a crazy full face badger that looks like the demented offspring of a photoshop trainwreck involving Emerson Fittipaldi, Mitchell Johnson and Chopper Read.

But there are stranger sights. We have, of course, come to America a couple of weeks earlier than usual, and Friday was Halloween. While not generally observed back home, many of the team have just discovered that's a pretty big deal in America. Or maybe they haven't. It's entirely possibly they think the population of Austin dresses up as superheroes and werewolves every Friday night and wanders the streets for the hell of it. Maybe they think this is normal: the mission statement around here, after all, is 'keep Austin weird'.

F1 has, of course, been gripped by Halloween fever, and the trail of carved pumpkins down the main thoroughfare of the paddock pays testament to that. There was even a competition to see which team could carve the best. On a bad day for big, orange squash, Lotus emerged victorious, though we're telling our guys that it doesn't matter and it's the taking part that counts. Daniel took a different approach and cheered them up by jamming the pumpkin on his head and dancing around like a scarecrow. Most people grow out of the urge to do stuff like that by the time they hit puberty but racing drivers... well, they're special.

On the subject of large, orangey round things, we've also been blessed with the presence of Tony Parker this weekend. For those of us uninitiated in the ways of basketball it's difficult knowing what's more surprising: the fact the San Antonio Spurs point guard is French (though he's a guest of Renault, so d'uh), or the fact he's a relatively normal height. Not that there was any mistaking him: he was the one casually throwing the basketball through the hoop with his back turned. Daniel, Seb and Christian had a go the normal way and, well, let's say it looked like the only hoops they were familiar with are made from spaghetti and come covered in tomato sauce in a can from Heinz.

None of us will be surprised, however, if we leave the track this evening to see Dan and Seb staying late to practice their jump shot. It might seem unrealistic to ask racing drivers (who tend to see eye-to-eye with jockeys) to be good at a sport that involves a hoop ten feet off the ground – but they're simply too competitive to let mere physics get in their way. You should have seen the keepy-uppy competition at Spa – if we hadn't distracted them with some pictures of a Tyrrell P34, they'd still be there now.

Anyway, gotta go. There's a rodeo involving a cowboy monkey riding a border collie on in a minute and that's not the sort of thing you see every day. See. Austin. Weird.