Grapevine: News from the Paddock - San Marino

Grapevine: News from the Paddock - San Marino
Check-In Troubles

One team chief, who will remain nameless, almost didn't make it to Imola this weekend when his ID was declined at the check-in desk as he tried to get on his Thursday morning red-eye flight. The boss was left red-faced as an assistant dragged him off to sort out the problem while one of his team's drivers stood in line amused by the whole goings on. But it was the team chief who had the last laugh when it came to getting on the plane when he skipped the queue and walked straight on as the gate attendants blocked his driver after they failed to recognise him from the rest of the public.

Sauber Stomp

Sauber invited members of the media to their old-school motorhome for dinner on Thursday of the Grand Prix weekend and one team member admitted: "We are a little squashed with McLaren one side and Red Bull the other." True enough, the new Red Bull Energy Centre looks down on the 'tented bus' owned by Sauber while Ron Dennis's Communications Centre imposes on from the other side to make the privateer team look a little inadequate. While the surroundings were "traditional" the dinner was superb, with team boss Peter Sauber and technical director Willy Rampf in attendance and in good form. They did not mind being squeezed for space in amongst their paddock rivals but Sauber was a little bemused by the events unfolding later in the evening as Red Bull became noisy neighbours with what sounded like a nightclub party as screaming girls and pumping music cried out from behind his head. It left Sauber, when asked if he prefers great girls or racing results, admitting: "I prefer racing."

Piss-Stop Problems

The six drivers called up to take their doping tests by the FIA this weekend were left hanging around, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, after being instructed to provide their samples in the order they appeared on the list. Jordan driver Robert Doornbos was the first man up with the cup but nature was not calling for him so his rivals had to stand in line waiting until he could finally take a leak. Giancarlo Fisichella, who was also called to provide a sample, said: "There was just one doctor collecting the samples and filling the forms. It took us 45 minutes."

Hard Worked Finn

Heikki Kovalainen will do well to win the GP2 series this season considering the distractions he has ahead of him. The Finn confirmed he expects to be back in a Renault Formula One car at some stage this season for some simple straight line testing but that is the least of his worries as it is his time at the track that will be most affected with each GP2 weekend split between his own paddock and the grand world of "them upstairs".

The flying Finn, who exudes personality, is doing a bit of PR work on the side as part of his Renault Young Driver Development programme, and he was seen regularly trotting up to the paddock switching between GP2 gear and his Renault kit this weekend. But it seems it is not Renault who has the final say in his weekend activities and it is understood that, if the distractions become too much, his GP2 team boss Christian Horner, who ironically is also the boss of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, could force him to cut his Renault commitments and concentrate on winning the title in GP2.

Mine's a Cheap One

The trend of flying to races with low-cost airlines seems to be catching on this season. Jordan were one of the first to ditch pricey scheduled flights and switch to the delights of Ryanair or EasyJet and last year Jaguar soon followed suit in a bid to cut their travel costs. Now, this year, even Williams have taken to flying on a budget by taking the Ryanair flight to and from Forli airport - but it remained unclear whether their royal member, Peter Phillips, has had to lower his family standards and join his colleagues. Jordan, meanwhile, ditched Ryanair to join forces with a rival on their way to and from Imola when they put their mechanics and team members on the European Airlines flight run by Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart.
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