It's not raining yet...
Well, that was… interesting. But before I can tell you about the race, I should tell you about Qualifying.
It was supposed to rain on Saturday. So I made sure I had the rain ponchos and a towel in my backpack. I also packed a spare sweatshirt because it was also supposed to be chilly.
When I arrived at the track it was actually sunny, and not that cold. I settled in to watch the final practice session before qualifying. I love this qualifying system. It has been like this for a few years now, and it is tons of fun to watch. First all 24 cars go out for 20 minutes. At the end of the session, the 8 slowest cars are eliminated, and they take up the last eight spots on the grid. Then we have a short break so we can all catch our breath and then the remaining cars go out again, for 15 minutes this time. The six slowest cars are eliminated this time, leaving ten cars to go for pole in the last session. It is very exciting. I love it.
After practice the clouds started to roll in. By the time qually started I was wearing a long sleeved shirt under my lucky Alonso t-shirt, a black hoodie, and another hoodie over all that. I was actually warm enough, though my seatmate found my many layers amusing. I also bought a t-shirt, and I will show you a picture of that later.
It didn’t rain and qualifying went well, and I am always surprised how much faster it all goes in person. It’s like you blink and it’s over. Vettel was on pole again, which is getting pretty boring, but Alonso was second so I was happy about that. And they even showed the press conference on the Jumbo-trons. I like that because they show the bit at the end that they never show on television where each of the top three drivers says a few words in his own language. I can’t help it, I like to listen to Alonso speak Spanish. Ooooh….
But I digress. Saturday night I wandered around Boulevard. St. Laurent a little bit. And I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Rue St. Arthur; this was the neighborhood we lived in last summer when we spent a month in Montreal, so I did a fair amount of tripping down memory lane. It was fun.
Sunday morning it was grey and cold. I put on three of my four layers of clothing and went back to the track. It was rainy and cold and gross, and really the kind of racing conditions I hate.
I timed my arrival in the grandstands to be just before the driver’s parade. I yelled hello to Alonso and waved, but he didn’t see me. Oh well.
It started raining before the race and they decided to start behind the safety car. I have never seen a safety car start before, at least not live and in person, so that was interesting, but it is not as exciting as the usual standing start.
Safety Car start - I've never seen this before
Conditions were pretty awful. It did start to clear up a few laps after the safety car went in, and Alonso came in to change from the full wet tires to the inters, only to have the sky open up a lap later. I spent the next few minutes holding my breath, hoping he would make it back around to the pits to get the appropriate tires. He did. Whew! But then they red-flagged the race. This is the equivalent of a rain delay. It was cold, it was rainy, and I was not having a good time.
fellow race fans huddled braving the elements
At one point as I was sitting there huddled under my rain poncho my seatmate looked over and said “I think the red dye in your hat is running, I just saw a red drop run down your face”. Oh great. So I took the Ferrari hat off. There were some red patches in my hair, but they didn’t last long in the rain, and on the plus side I finally feel like that hat is clean after the bus-sick incident of 2008.
So after an hour of sitting in the rain getting more and more soggy and shivering harder and harder, I made a very difficult decision. I decided to bail. I never thought I would do a think like that, but at that point, I was soaked to the skin and freezing. And my seatmate said it would probably be at least another hour before they could start the race, even if it stopped raining right that minute, which it was not going to do.
I gave up. I felt awful about it, but I was so cold, and I was not having fun. And they stopped the race on lap 28, 7 laps before the halfway point. I was kind of afraid I would sit there shivering for another hour just so they could all parade around the safety car for 7 laps so they could call the race official and stop it for good.
Of course that is not what happened, but I did manage to get back to my hotel, take a hot shower, change into dry clothes and crawl under the covers just in time to watch the restart on television.
Alonso had a crash, so he didn’t finish. Hamilton had a crash so he didn’t finish (hah) and Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel on one of the final laps to win the race. Pretty amazing considering he made six pit stops and at one point he was in 21st place. Wow.
So, part of me regrets leaving early, but not a very big part of me. It was a great weekend in spite of the washout on Sunday, and who knows, maybe next year I will be going to the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX. I hope so.