Friday, Sept. 10
Hi everyone! Just thought I'd share with you some of my travel experiences pre-Japan in what's really shaping up to be a great run to the end of the season.
We finished up at Kentucky last Saturday night with not a bad result in as much as we were ahead of Will Power but fifth really wasn't what we were looking for. That said, we're closer in the championship than we were so it's not a bad thing.
On Monday, we were supposed to be testing at Homestead but they'd taken down the catch-fencing for repair! Both the Ganassi and Penske teams had arrived but ultimately we had to go home as we're not allowed to run without catch fencing in place. It was a long way to go for lunch, that's for sure!
That was obviously disappointing but the upside of the situation was I got to spend a bit of time with Tony Kanaan, I went up and stayed with him. As always we had a good time although he put me in touch with his nutritionist, so my eating habits are being closely scrutinized when I get back from Japan.
I then flew over to London, arriving Wednesday morning and met up with my brother, Marino, and flew to Nice to start our Italian Grand Prix weekend. We hopped over to Monaco where we met up with Harry Gibbings and Stuart Morrison from TW Steel, who we were going to the race with.
I managed to catch up with David Coulthard, a fellow TW Steel ambassador, while we were there and we had dinner with Allan McNish in the evening so it was really a case of the Scots boys getting together. It was good fun as we don't get to see each other that much due to our various schedules.
Thursday was a pretty relaxed day driving from Monaco to Monza. We took our time. We traveled in Harry's white Miami Vice-style Ferrari Testarosa which was a cracking thing to drive. Now that I'm a bit older I really appreciate the car.
I had one when I was in my early 20s but I didn't appreciate it at the time, so it was a lot of fun to get back behind the wheel and on such a great route. We also had my friend Ian on the trip with us along with his fiberglass Ferrari 308 GTB so I got some seat time in that as well. It was definitely fun to drive the two cars from different eras and compare them.
We got up early on Friday morning to get to the track. I really wanted to be there before my cousin, Paul di Resta, started his practice session. In addition to racing, and winning, in the DTM Series, he's also a test driver for Force India in Formula 1, running in most of the Friday morning practice sessions at each grand prix.
I wanted to see him before he got into the car and then obviously watch his session from the garage. So we got there fairly early and actually bumped straight into him in the paddock. He took us into the garage and along with his Uncle Tommy, Marino and I got kitted out with headsets and listened in on everything going on.
It was great. We could stand and watch the timing screens and listen to Paul's feedback on the radio. It was the first time I've been able to see him drive the F1 car in person and he's come a long way since his first go-kart race! I have to admit there was a major sense of pride seeing him do that and I can only imagine it'll feel even better when he starts his first F1 race.
It was tremendous to watch him and he did a really great job. He was actually on a flying lap which would have put him P5 in the session but he had a wee bit of over-steer which put paid to that. Regardless, seeing him in action was without a doubt the highlight of my day. I've been waiting all year to see him and it was terrific.
It's always fun being in the F1 paddock. I bumped into a bunch of friends including Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi. Emerson's growing his sideburns back to 1970's-spec to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first F1 win. Having just shaved mine off I felt a little "under sideburned," so I might have to grow those back. Jackie reckons they're worth half-a-second per lap so it might not be a bad thing!
I hooked up later with Nigel Roebuck, one of the most experienced F1 journalists in the paddock. I'm a big fan of his and he knows I'm really into the history of the sport, so together with Marino we went to the bookstore at the track. We looked at a bunch of old, unpublished photographs of Jim Clark. It might be safe to say I'll be adding to my collection later this weekend and giving the credit card a bit of a hammering!
We wrapped the day with a dinner organized by TW Steel in the Renault F1 Team motor home with some British journalists and again it was a case of catching up with some familiar faces and chatting about a whole host of motorsport topics. It was a great first day in Monza.