March 14th, 2013 (F1plus/J. Polychronis).- For the first time, F1plus.com has representatives within the F1 paddock of the Australian Grand Prix. The two representatives whom I speak of are myself, and also Gabriel Polychronis.
As excited as we both were to launch straight into media proceedings in the paddock, luck was not on our side on Thursday morning. One seemingly small hurdle transformed into a horrendously complex task, that being our 6.50 am flight from Adelaide to Melbourne. One runway collision with a bird and a hydraulic leak later, we eventually arrived in Melbourne a staggering4.45 hours behind schedule.
Fortunately, our luck swiftly reversed upon arrival in Melbourne. We acquired our media accreditation, briskly walked to Albert Park and arrived in the media centre a mere 15 minutes before the FIA press conference took place. All of this occurred without the slightest issue.
Prior to the Thursday, it would be safe to say that we were nothing but a couple of F1 ‘fan boys.’ We had certainly never graced an F1 paddock before. These two facts together set us up for what was an incredibly surreal experience. Within 15 minutes of arriving in the F1 paddock, suddenly we found ourselves sitting in the same room as Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo. This could have certainly been seen as a baptism of fire to our journalistic careers. Furthermore, moseying around the media centre only to have the likes of Martin Brundle attempting to discover who we exactly are did nothing to allow reality to sink in. Nonetheless, so much was our exposure to the F1 circus that we swiftly settled and professionalism ensued.
After the press conference, Gabriel and I attended remaining individual interviews around teams’ hospitality areas. These included Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and briefly, Christian Horner.
Driver Press Conference.
Moods around the paddock seemed surprisingly tense (excluding Kimi Raikkonen). All drivers delivered their answers with subdued enthusiasm. In fact, I dare say, many drivers seemed nervous. Hamilton appeared low on confidence, while questioning seemed to easily agitate Webber. Alonso and Vettel meanwhile, assumed poker faces in the presence of one another. You could sense both drivers were incredibly aware of the threat they posed to each other. Outside of the drivers though, media and personnel were in better moods. Teams’ hospitality suites were in full swing and a free Red Bull energy drink certainly went a long way having been awake since 5.15am.
After day 1 in the paddock, it is very obvious that drivers and teams are poised and ready to commence battle. A little tamed confidence here, an unsatisfying diplomatic response there. Tomorrow, cars take to thetrack for the first time in the season proper. As we see some form of performance hierarchy develop, we expect drivers to become even less relaxed around the paddock.