Contrary to the popular belief that most drivers are robots, churning out lines such as "I want to thank the team and all the guys back at the factory", "for sure" and other well known 'F1' phrases, the last couple of races have shown that there is plenty of passion in the young boys yet.
McKenzie grills Hamilton as Webber gives his views to more TV crews © LAT
Normally the most outspoken are the crashers, the crashed-into and the retirements - my 'microphone of doom' while the race is still on is not something anyone looks forward to. But yesterday, after 60 laps of sheer entertainment from the Nurburgring, it was excitement, not angst, that was the lasting emotion.
The top five all took part in their own individual battles and, although they hadn't watched the race unfold as we had, they still knew that they'd played their part in a classic performance. Lewis Hamilton's face said it all as he came into the 'pen', the area where the TV interviews happen after the race. He was beaming, unable to hide the satisfaction he got from the victory and, as he unashamedly said, 'from passing Fernando on the outside'. Lewis Hamilton is an emotional character, wearing his heart on his sleeve and excitement and disappointment on his face - depending on the situation.
Fernando Alonso was very aware that he had been part of an epic battle and, despite finishing second - and having been overtaken as he came out of the pits in the lead - he was still pretty happy. Maybe the thought of both Ferrari and McLaren eating into the Red Bull domination is enough to unite the unlikeliest of pairings. It was particularly amusing to hear Alonso wishing for a strong McLaren to help take points off Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber - and there we were thinking that Alonso's McLaren fondness was a thing of the past!
It was interesting to me that even beating Vettel for the first time this season wasn't enough for Webber, who craves that first victory of 2011. Eyes darting, cheeks puffing in thought or exasperation, his Aussie voice delivered some uncompromising if not obvious news to his team - they were just not quick enough. A simple line, but one that will dent the pride of the world champions and relight the fire for the others.
The midfield often gets overlooked, but that is where there will be guaranteed emotion. Kamui Kobayashi is great - he can overtake 10 cars, crash out or qualify in 18th and his reaction is always pretty similar. But if you get Jaime Alguersuari started, then you can never be sure where it will end up. He's critical of himself when he needs to be, never holds back from criticising another driver if he thinks it's fair, and he is not afraid of telling the world when he does a good job.
Alguersuari's own press release was a hotbed of emotion © LAT
You only had to look at his own press release (not Toro Rosso's, it's worth pointing out), in which he was quoted as saying: "When I finished this race I smiled inside the helmet and I told myself: 'f..k Jaime, you have drove to the limit, you have given the most of yourself at the start, I have won with three tenths over a Force India once I cross the finish line. A brutal effort... to achieve the 12th position'!" Maybe best he didn't say that live on TV - the BBC audience can be sensitive souls!
Timo Glock claimed on race day in an interview with me that his radio outburst criticising his team after qualifying was just a joke that had been blown out of proportion. Maybe he forgot that, on Saturday, he came straight from the car to an interview with me, where he continued to take a pop at the team for making his life difficult in the past few races. I like the guy and I admire how he continuously pushes and says what he feels. The key, though, is to have the conviction and strength to stick by it - I just wonder how much his new contract announcement affected his mood when it came down to it...
Team radio has become a direct line to the world and the FIA's Charlie Whiting. Drivers and engineers are a canny bunch and know that their thoughts can be heard by those in power and other teams. If they don't want things to be played on global television, the solution is simple: swear lots - it's a basic solution that has been adopted by several teams! In most instances, unless it's a panicked-sounding driver, then treat team radio as a party political broadcast.
One thing overlooked this season is that, with the racing this exciting and the adrenalin flowing right until the chequered flag, drivers arrive at interviews keen to speak their mind, pumped-up and not quite as corporate as many of their teams would like.
Personally, I love it and think it only enhances our understanding of the people underneath the helmets and racesuits. Drivers are so much more: they are winners, losers, fighters and humans.
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