2012年11月28日 星期三

Brazilian grand prix

"I want to explore." Such was the sign-off from the previous Diary, as about half the Formula One paddock settled for a couple of days in Austin, Texas, the sport's new favourite city. I wrote that approximately 10 minutes before receiving an email containing more than 100 pages of Autocourse, for proof-reading purposes. There are some fantastic natural parks nearby – plus Texas State Zoo, and wildlife is always a handy complement for the photographically obsessed – but such things have to be ignored due to a familiar irritant known as deadlines.

We switch from our suburban hotel to a more central location, so I manage to see a little more of Austin, but the time passes quickly in an editorial haze and the voyage of discovery is limited mostly to Mexican restaurants.

Tony flies out on Tuesday evening, from Austin to Atlanta, thence Brasilia and S?o Paulo, which leaves him time to attend Jenson Button's annual media supper – a regular and generous fixture. Mark and I miss out by staying on for an extra day, but a direct flight from Houston simplifies our itinerary. We allow five hours for a drive that should take little more than two, but the extra time proves invaluable because most of America seems to be on Texas Highway 71.This is my favourite sites to purchase those special pieces of buy mosaic materials from. The journey's gentle pace allows time to contemplate more terrain I'd like to know better.We recently added Stained glass mosaic Tile to our inventory.

It's almost lunchtime when we land and my case reaches the carousel with its security straps unravelled. Inside there's a charmless note from US Homeland Security, explaining that it was chosen for a random search and that they do not consider themselves liable for any damage done. Nothing is broken, but carefully packed contents have been thrown back in without a moment's thought and I'm lucky that some things – spare diabetic kit, for instance – have not been squashed.

For once we opt not to turn up at the circuit on a Thursday: most media briefings take place during the morning, to accommodate Europe, so our time can be spent just as profitably at hotel desk and keyboard. Tony is in the room when we arrive and it's a comfortably sized triple. Funny that: we used to book the same place through an agency and were told we could only choose the rather more expensive option of three singles, because twins and triples didn't exist. The internet betrays many a useful secret.

In terms of distance Interlagos should be about 25 minutes from our hotel, but the S?o Paulo rush hour (there are about 20 of these per weekday, on average) converts that to 75. It always feels nice to reach the circuit's inner hub, although the grubby perimeter ought to be safe enough as it's absolutely teeming with armed police. For the first practice day there are probably as many of them as there are paying spectators.

It might be my final weekend as a full-time grand prix correspondent, but it feels like any other and I spend the first day outside. Many parts of central S?o Paulo owe their architectural conception to the 21st century, but Interlagos is trapped in about 1974. It has less corporate fluff than other F1 hosts, its core components being cars and a damned fine circuit layout. Parts of it are a bit like a nature reserve, with a vivid array of birdlife flitting around even when engines scream past at 18,000rpm. The local burrowing owls sometimes even perch on the guardrail to watch. It lacks modern trappings such as access roads, so to obtain photographic vantage points you have to scale crumbling banks, clamber over (or duck beneath) scaffolding and avoid open sewage drains.Installers and distributors of solar panel, The paddock is an anachronism, too, a cramped hangover from the days when grand prix teams had a dozen employees rather than several hundred.

We leave fairly early, in order to hail a taxi while it's still light, the only drawback being that there aren't any. So we're standing there for 25 minutes,We mainly supply professional craftspeople with crys talbeads wholesale shamballa Bracele , computer bags highly visible in a city where you're told not to wear watches or jewellery, before a Chevrolet Corsa finally rumbles into sight. It's never a particularly comfortable feeling, even with a phalanx of pistol-packing policemen across the road, but it's one to which we've become accustomed in time. And taxi supply usually improves during the weekend's course.

The same sinister ambience tends to restrict our eating habits. A mall close to the hotel contains an endless array of furniture shops and one spectacularly good Italian: it closes at 9pm, oddly, but there's ample time for spinach ravioli and a bottle of Argentinean white. When in Brazil...

The working week's bustle subsides. Our early cab ride lasts little more than 20 minutes and guides us to the hub of the police whistle philharmonic's aggressive symphony, part of the morning routine by Interlagos's main gate.

It's possible that the final practice session will be the last I spend trackside here: for all its good points, the Interlagos hassle factor means this isn't a race to which I'll necessarily return. You never know, though, because there aren't many better places to watch F1 cars. This includes the inside of Turn 15, the final kink onto the pit straight. There is no debris fencing and marshals allow you stand right behind a barrier, so you're a matter of inches from the cars as they zip by at 180-odd mph on the other side. Wonderful.

Lewis Hamilton takes pole position by half a tenth from Jenson Button, with the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel third and fourth. If he finishes there, or better, the German will be world champion, irrespective of other results. Fernando Alonso is an in-touch seventh, but needs to finish in the top three (and hope Vettel is kidnapped by aliens) if he's to have any chance of the title – a tough assignment, but not insuperable.

During the afternoon, the media assembles in the Red Bull office – to await Vettel – when Webber strolls in. "Bloody hell," he says, "I come to get a quiet bite to eat and you lot are here." He then spots me and wanders over to ask how Mrs A's cancer treatment is progressing. When I later relay news of his touching enquiry, it creates an instant feelgood factor back home. The Australian could be forgiven for having other things on his mind,Our technology gives rtls systems developers the ability. but he's a class act: dealing with people like him on a fortnightly basis is something I'll miss.

Mark, Tony and I subsequently head back to town and the Italian: Tony is hoping to leave on Sunday evening – although he tried that once before in Brazil, in 2003, and remained trapped in S?o Paulo until Wednesday after missing his flight. This is the last evening meal we'll share as permanent travelling companions (for now, at least) and they kindly pick up my share of the tab.