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GP Week : Issue 20
THURSDAY in Hockenheim had been rubbish. It had rained all day, the press conference had been a complete bore and the news flow had been more of a drip than a stream. I was in a pretty stinky mood anyway, having spent most of the day trying to pick up the faint wi-fi signal that would allow me a reprieve from the disgraceful sum of 200 Euros for a weekend’s internet in the media centre ( I know we journos get a heavy rap for complaining rather more than we should, but 200 Euros for three days of online access when one could get a one month wi-fi package for 30 was just taking the piss But Thursday in Hockenheim actually ended up being memorable for all the right reasons. The German race organisers, both at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim have taken to running taxi rides on Thursday evenings around the circuits. These aren’t your average taxi rides, however, and the modes of transport are a little quicker than your normal black cab. In this novel and frankly brilliant scheme, ticket-holding members of the public have the chance to sit alongside their racing idols for a lap of the track in an array of fast cars from their relevant manufacturers. As about 20 F1 and GP2 drivers started to make their way into the pitlane to begin proceedings, I bumped into Luca Filippi who, along with fellow GP2 racer Mike Conway, was on driving duty for Honda. “You should come for a lap,” he grinned. “Can I?” I spluttered in overjoyed expectation. “Absolutely, let’s get you a helmet!” replied Nicola Armstrong, Honda F1’s super efficient and always smiley press officer. Not only did she allow me a taxi ride, she made sure I was one of the first in the car! My cup overflowed. Still smiling the world’s biggest grin, I strapped myself into the kick-ass, lowered, racing-spec and angry-as- hell looking Honda Civic Type R. Luca gave me a wink, a nod, and floored it. “He’s crazy!” Luca laughed as ahead of us Robert Kubica drifted his rear- wheel-drive BMW through every corner, leaving great plumes of smoke for Luca to aim at. Bang, bang, bang on the gears – smooth and yet aggressive, the turn- ins precise and silky over the tarmac until the Civic slammed over the curbs, leaping into the air and pitching around through deftly controlled exits at the hand of the GP2 racer. Entering the stadium section, Luca barely lifted, taking all of the run-off he could and just slightly dropping his rear left into the gravel. He laughed again, “Whoo! That was on the limit!” he shrieked. The lap was over before it had even begun, and as Luca slid the Civic sideways into the pitlane all I could do was applaud and shake the man’s hand. The tour seemed to have taken no time at all, and yet if clocked would have taken twice as long as he’d be running later in the weekend in his usual single-seater. Suttons photographer Elliot Patching jumped out of Mike Conway’s Honda and we both just stood there laughing at each other’s red faces. “That was insane!” Elliot grinned. “They don’t fuck about!” They really don’t. Hats off boys, our enduring thanks and much, much respect. Pos # Driver Team Laps Time Grid 1 22 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 67 1:31:20.874 1 2 6 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 67 +5.5s 17 3 2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 67 +9.3s 2 4 3 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 67 +9.8s 12 5 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 67 +12.4s 3 6 1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 67 +14.4s 6 7 4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 67 +22.6s 7 8 15 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 67 +33.2s 9 9 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota 67 +37.1s 4 10 7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 67 +37.6s 13 11 5 Fernando Alonso Renault 67 +38.6s 5 12 14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 67 +39.1s 15 13 9 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 67 +54.9s 10 14 8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 67 +60.0s 16 15 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 67 +69.4s 19 16 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 67 +84.0s 20 17 16 Jenson Button Honda 66 +1 Lap 14 Ret 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 50 Accident 18 Ret 10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 40 Oil leak 8 Ret 12 Timo Glock Toyota 35 Accident 11 FORMULA 1 Round 10 HOCKENHEIM Points – Drivers: Hamilton 58, Massa 54, Raikkonen 51, Kubica 48, Heidfeld 41, Kovalainen 28, Trulli 20, Webber 18, Alonso 13, Barrichello 11. Manufacturers: Ferrari 105, BMW 89, McLaren-Mercedes 86, Toyota 25, Red Bull 24, Renault 23, Williams-Toyota 16, Honda 14. Lapping it up F1 GERMANY >> o p in io n WILL BUxtON GPWeek Editor 29