Paddock Life: Interlagos edition
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, November 8th 2010, 14:32 GMT|
AUTOSPORT brings you its regular column of life inside the paddock. This week: Interlagos
The traffic can be horrendous. The pollution chokes your lungs. The plight of some of the poorest people in the country is pushed right into your face. And the fear of robbery or crime is always lingering in the back of your mind. Despite all that, however, Formula 1 remains in love with the Brazilian Grand Prix.
For what Interlagos may lack in facilities - its cramped paddock is a total contrast to the vast expanse witnessed in Korea a fortnight ago - it makes up for in atmosphere and history.
The track itself is right bang in the middle of the sprawling metropolis, and you cannot but help think of the history and the names from the past who have strutted their stuff on the famous asphalt as you walk around the venue.
And Brazil has something that places like Bahrain, China, Abu Dhabi and Turkey will never be able to buy – truly passionate fans.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali joked with the media that he had been 'trembling' with worry that the local fans would berate his team over what happened at Hockenheim, but instead they simply heaped all their antagonism on Fernando Alonso instead. It was amazing seeing Ferrari-shirted fans booing one of the Maranello drivers before cheering on the other one.
Brazilian fans are tremendously loyal and that is a great thing to see. They loved seeing Emerson Fittipaldi show off a Lotus 72 during a pre-race demonstration, while Rubens Barrichello received huge cheers when he took his two sons onto the drivers' parade truck on Sunday morning.
The one downside of being so close to a city where poverty is so prevalent is that crime is a problem at the Brazilian Grand Prix – and this year it grabbed the headlines when Jenson Button had a bit of a lucky escape.
Past Brazilian GPs are full of stories of shoot outs, robberies, thefts, and muggings – but in reality they remain few and far between.
A lot of teams have wised up to the problems – with drivers and senior personnel often using bulletproof cars and trained police drivers to ensure that there are no really serious incidents.
This year the problems did seem to escalate – with camera equipment being stolen from the paddock, Sauber engineers getting robbed of their bags, and Button himself making an escape after getting approached by armed gunmen.
But despite the hysteria caused by the Button incident – which made huge headlines around the world and even prompted questions about the future of the event – there remains tremendous enthusiasm for Interlagos.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "We know that anywhere in the world something bad can happen. I think that we need to thank all the organisers here that are trying to do the maximum they can and I would like to stress this positive point, because also this week I know people had some problems.
"We didn't do any extra precautions, and once again I would like to stress the fact that here in Brazil the atmosphere is really great."
The sense of history in Brazil was heightened this year when the new documentary film about Ayrton Senna was shown in the country for the first time.
While some of us – including Jenson Button – had been lucky enough to see the film when it was released for the first time in Japan, the producers of the movie wanted to use Senna's homeland for a big promotional push.
On the Wednesday before the race, members of the Senna family were joined by the films makers – plus team people, a few drivers and others linked to the former Brazilian – for a first look at the international edit of the movie.
Then, a day later, the F1 media were left awestruck by the movie during a special screening. It was rare for so many members of the F1 journalist pack to be left so silent for so long – considering how much hot air is normally bandied around the media centre.
Almost all of those who have seen the film have loved it, and the producers and writers of the film mentioned some great stories about how they managed to cut down 100 hours of footage of Senna into just a 1h50m film. One of the good anecdotes was that while sifting through the films with Formula One Management, they were charged for the sandwiches they ate!
There was also an amusing tale of when they interviewed Alain Prost about his life with Senna for the film, and they were talking about the controversial 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.
The filmmakers had managed to get hold of unseen footage of Prost as he returned to the pits following his crash with Senna in that race, and it showed him making a bee-line for the stewards' office to vent his frustration.
When Prost was interviewed about what happened immediately after the crash he was adamant that he had gone straight to the McLaren garage to complain to Ron Dennis. However, when the filmmakers mentioned the footage of the visit to the stewards, Prost suddenly confessed: "Oh yes, but I was never alone with [Jean-Marie] Balestre!"
Formula 1 has done a lot in recent years to try and bring itself to the people and improve the show to try and attract those who are not just petrol-heads.
Part of that has been a bid to fuse F1 and music – with a number of tracks now hosting music concerts at grands prix, and official post-race after parties becoming more and more frequent.
In Brazil the music-F1 fusion reached a new peak, however, when 'F1 Rocks' secured the services of American rapper Eminem for his first concert in South America.
The gig, which also featured Pharrell Williams and his N.E.R.D band, attracted almost 50,000 keen Brazilian fans, and a number of F1 people – including the BBC radio and television commentary team – made the effort to get to the Jockey Club venue for a fantastic gig.
Despite a horrendous downpour shortly before Eminem took to the stage, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm as the star rolled through his greatest hits.
But it was slightly weird when, thanks to the poor weather, Eminem sported a hooded top and cap that left him looking remarkably like Kimi Raikkonen – although of course there was no Coca-Cola or ice cream in his hands.