When I arrived on Thursday, I fully expected to become Chief Kettle Technician. To avoid this, I decided to make horrible tea so that, after 16 nasty cups, the team would find me something else to do.
It worked. Today was qualifying and like yesterday, I was helping the tyre guys. With moments to go before session one, big blobs of rain fell on the paddock and Heikki’s race engineer called for intermediate tyres.
Jim went off to sort them, leaving me to put the exact amount of air in a set of slicks, accurate to 0.1psi. With a complicated bit of paperwork plus two gauges and a pen in my over-full hands, I pumped air in then carefully let some out until it was spot on.
Then the sun came out. The brainy strategist-types called for my set of slicks and they were hastily air-gunned to the car before Heikki set off. Did I confuse the rear-right with the front one? Was my maths right, or is he out there driving around on a half-flat tyre?
I listened to the team radio, waiting for Heikki to shout something about pressures, and for 50 angry eyes to turn to the new boy from TopGear.
But the shout didn’t come and a few laps later he was back in, my tyres came off and I gave them a big soppy kiss, leaving half my lip on the scolding rubber.
That’s the thing about F1 – every man’s job is as important as the other’s – from the tyre blokes to the hydraulic experts to the lady who makes sure everyone has a bag of crisps.
It’s race day tomorrow and I’ve been given a new and exciting job. Any guesses as to what it is? Will you be watching? If you are, enjoy. Just make sure you pop back here afterwards where I’ll reveal all.