We had intended to get up early to see the GP3 qualifying and the first Mini race, you know, get our monies worth. Didn’t happen, slept in, and even then it wasn’t enough. Got up and headed to the market and bought some bananas and fruit salad and jumped on the metro at Liceu. At Sants the queue for the ticket machine was considerably bigger than the day before. Headed to the platform and there was a big crowd waiting for the train. Went to the very end of the platform where the crowd was thinner and when the train arrived we jumped on and found a seat with little difficulty, though I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a double decker train.
The train pulled off and it was quite full. It was bunged by the time we went through the next two Barcelona stations. We were joined by an English and the man in Mclaren gear gave a cockney sounding “aw-right?”. Arrived at Montmelo and essentially the entire train stood up to get off. The English guy quipped “Why is everyone getting off here?”, to which I replied “Dunno, must be something going on today”. How we laughed. Looking back, it wasn’t that funny.
After the slow walk out of the train station, there was still no sign of the alleged shuttle bus so we had to walk again. I took advantage of this to buy some cheap and tasty baguettes at a food stand for €3.50. Plus you got a free, and more importantly cold, bottle of water (the bottles in my bag were very warm by now!).
Walked to the end of the street with all the merchandising stands and to our joy there was a non FOA approved shuttle bus (a tractor pulling some carriages), and even better it was only €1. Jumped on the shuttle bus (for arguments sake, I’m calling it a bus) and a girl then took photos of all the passengers. This was for the non FOA approved souvenir photograph (€5). Some dude with long hair and a beard (like me a few months before!) in a Ferrari t-shirt appeared behind us in our shot. When I got the photo I turned to the fella and showed him the picture. He seemed uneasy, maybe thinking I was annoyed, but I thought it was a funny.
Had a conversation with a Mexican guy (the giant flag was a give away) in front of me (“¡hola!”, “¡hola!” “¿que tal?” “¡bein! ¿y tu?” “¡muy bein!” … based on learning Spanish in school, I think all Spanish conversations are like this!).
Then the shuttle tractor bus departed and we travelled to the circuit “in style” and at just past walking speed. We even passed the English couple from the train and gave them a wave; they recognised me and waved back.
The shuttle tractor trailer combo dropped us off at the roundabout near the gate for the main grandstand and just as the previous day we arrived at the track, just missing the start of practice! Security through the turnstiles was a bit stricter than the Friday so that slowed us getting in. Watched the rest of FP3 in which not very much happened, except towards the end when I smelt something burning. Leona pointed towards the big screen and Nick Heidfeld’s car was on fire! Realised where had stopped then turned to see smoke in the distance behind the pit complex.
After FP3 we sat in the shade for a bit behind the grandstand. The qualifying started for Porsche Supercup, we weren’t in a hurry to see it so lost track of time while enjoying the shade, but when we heard the engines roaring we wandered back up to the grandstand to have a watch. After it was over we went back to sit in the grass and had lunch. It was one o’clock by this point and it was really warm, plus I was inexplicably tired and, despite my sun glasses, my eyes were getting sore from the sun… so I just lay on the grass and used my hat to cover my face and waited for qualifying.
About fifteen minutes before qualifying we head back to our seats. The grandstand was a lot fuller, though there were a few empty seats. Looking over at the general admission area you couldn’t see the grass with people on it. The stupid grandstand in front of us, blocking turn 6, was empty (!). The crowd was a bit livelier too. There was a crowd of Spaniards behind us trying to get a Mexican wave started, by stamping their feet to make a drum roll and shouting “whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…. Ehhhh!” (of course I joined in), but despite many attempts the wave died after a few sections of the grandstand, to which the instigators hurled (light hearted) abuse at the people who didn’t join in.
When the same group weren’t waving Mexicans they were chanting “Alonsooooooooo, Alonsoooooooooo!”. There were quite a few English people around us trying to chant “Hamilton!”, though this was less effective.
The big screen was showing random shots of drivers in the garage mostly to cheers from the crowd, except when Hamilton came up which got a pantomime booing, then Alonso came up and there was a massive cheer. Suprisingly, when Anthony Hamilton came up on the screen he got a bigger booing than Lewis.
Then our grandstand came up on the screen and everyone around us started cheering and waving. I couldn’t see us but Leona said she could (sadly it was before the BBC start showing the feed so I’ll never know!). As we got closer to qualifying the helicopter flew above the main straight into the distance, obviously to do the “Apocalypse Now” esque camera shot they show at the start of the session.
Then came the little animation intro on the big screen and we were off. As we know nothing much happened in qualifying and, despite the big screen, it was difficult to keep track without any commentary. So I had no idea why Rubens had dropped out in Q1, had no information on Heidfeld and didn’t realise Kovalinen had got through to Q2 (the penny didn’t even drop when I saw him leave the pit lane). If I had of brought an FM radio, the circuit provided commentary in English, but who has portable FM radio’s these days! When the drivers posted their fastest laps the crowd gave applause for each of them, especially for Webber’s pole lap, and, of course, Alonso got the biggest cheer for coming in fourth.
I didn’t bother taking any photos from qualifying, as the cars would be too fast for the camera to keep up.
Then just as qualifying finished the grandstand was deserted! Though, a few stayed to watch the GP2 race. I was happy though as it meant I could lie down over 5 seats for a bit of rest. It was still really hot, so I used this as an excuse to go to the kiosk and buy some beer. Though I really wanted to stick my head in the bucket of ice the beer was kept in. Went back to the grandstand to watch a bit of the GP2, which I was excited about as it is usually entertaining. Sadly, not this time. I videoed the start from my iPhone, though I didn’t realise there was a crash on the pit wall so didn’t catch that. This brought the safety car out for a few laps and when it went back in the race was a bit processional, which was a shame.
We decided to head back to Barcelona. Thankfully the queue for the shuttle bus train express wasn’t too big so we got back on that and went back to the train station (we also got to see a bit more of Montmelo: Win!). There was a wee lad (about five) with his da in front of us. The kids Ferrari hat blew off his head and he nearly lost it. The da shouted at him. I felt sorry for him for being shouted at, and his da wouldn’t buy him the souvignier photo, but then I remembered the lucky wee so and so got to go to a grand prix and got a Ferrari hat!
Got back to Barcelona and I went back to the hostel to shower and freshen up. Leona went for a walk. She met me back at the hostel and took me to a nice burger place she found. The first place we’d been to that didn’t sell Estrella! After dinner we went for a walk around la Rambla and found a Starbucks which sold the Barcelona mug (for the collection) and went to a bar/pizza place around the corner from the hostel for a few beers/cocktails for the lady. Went to bed excited for the race the next day