Hi again, everyone! I'm still in Italy and loving my time in Monza being part of the grand prix weekend.
We decided to travel in style once again to the circuit so Harry and I hopped into his Miami Vice-mobile and we obviously got a great reception from the tifosi at the track. When we arrived, we headed to our base, which is the Renault F1 Team hospitality motor home, for a bit of breakfast. I'm here as a guest of TW Steel and they are the "Official Timing Partner" of the Renault F1 Team so that's the connection!
If my new nutritionist is reading, then I had a lovely bowl of muesli and a Greek yogurt. For everyone else, though, the truth is we had some cracking bacon rolls.
First order of business was a photo-call in the Monza pit lane with Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, the RF1 drivers. They very kindly presented me with signed mini-replica helmets, which was cool for the collection. It was right before practice and they were suited and booted, so we, unfortunately, didn't get much of a chance to chat. While I was in their garage I managed a quick look over the Renault F1 car.
It was interesting to compare it as I'd been in the likes of the Ferrari and Force India garages the day before. In the IZOD IndyCar Series we're running to rules established to control costs because obviously the teams with the bigger budgets would go nuts developing and running things like F-ducts which are all the rage in F1 at the moment.
Having seen some of the cars up-close this weekend I personally think the F-duct is a bit of an ugly thing. It's, of course, very efficient and it delivers a tremendous amount in terms of lap times but aesthetically it doesn't do anything for me.
We checked out the final practice session from the hospitality unit catching all the action on TV with the appropriate timing screens to really follow how all the drivers were getting on. It was interesting seeing everyone's strategy building up to the afternoon's qualifying session.
Just before that took place my fellow Scot, Lee McKenzie from the BBC's F1 coverage came and escorted me into the pit lane to be interviewed by her colleagues. It was in the McLaren garage with David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and Jake Humphrey. We had some good banter, primarily focused on giving DC some abuse for the white jeans he was wearing!
I spent the first part of qualifying housed in the Renault F1 team garage. They'd kindly hooked me up with a headset so I could hear the radio conversations between the team and the drivers. The kind of information going back and forth is pretty much the same as what we have in IndyCar.
I have to say, listening in, the engineers can be quite blunt and direct with the drivers, more so than I would accept hearing over my radio. I thought my engineer, Chris, gives me a hard time sometimes but nothing like these guys!
I then watched the final two segments from back in the hospitality unit. Again, it was interesting to watch the likes of McLaren with Jenson running the F-duct in comparison to Lewis who wasn't. Fernando Alonso just produced a phenomenal qualifying lap in the Ferrari to grab the pole and get the home crowd even more excited.
After that, we caught some of the GP2 Series race – and, in comparison to seeing the F1 guys out on track earlier, it was like a demolition derby! I don't think anyone did themselves any favors in front of the F1 team managers with that performance.
A Scottish invasion of the Mercedes GP hospitality unit followed all that. I headed down there along with my brother Marino, my cousin – and Mercedes DTM Series driver, Paul (di Resta), and finally David Coulthard. We went to say hi to the boss, Norbert Haug, who claims he understands Scottish very well these days as he has more Scottish drivers than German drivers in his stable! We had a good time there catching up with him.
We also saw Wolfgang Wilhelm, who's always taken photographs for Mercedes so we looked through his archive at some pretty funny old pictures from earlier in our careers.
Unfortunately, due to the traffic delaying our arrival to the circuit this morning I haven't had a chance to check out the old Monza banking yet. I've been here before and saw it last time but it's still tremendous to revisit it and soak up some of the history of the place.
While it's great to see things like that and the F1 cars out on track, for me coming to something like this is really about catching up with people and I was able to do that again today which is great. I got to see Alex Wurz, who I hadn't seen in a long time and I saw Sir Jackie and Lady Stewart again, both in great form.
All in all it's been quite a social day and, again, a lot of fun.