French philosophers, Boy Bands, Mexican wrestlers and worms - all in a day’s work for Eric Silbermann in Espana.
In his 1944 work “Huis Clos” set in the afterlife, French playwright and author Jean-Paul Sartre came up with his famous line, “Hell is other people.” Who’d have thought the world’s most famous existentialist had evidently spent so much time in the Barcelona Circuit Media Centre.
It’s been delightful getting on a plane on Thursday morning and arriving at the race track a couple of hours later and wow, the things I learned about Formula 1 from all the expert fans sitting around me on the plane. Where do you people get all these insights and scoops? However, some of the gloss of having no jet lag and enjoying other European luxuries such as being able to put used toilet paper in the toilet rather than a bin, has the edge taken off it by the annual arrival of those people for whom this is the first race since Monza 2015. Journalists and snappers who haven’t attended a GP since last September tend to be rather overexcited by everything they see and make a noise similar to the sound one hears from a group of hysterical 13 year old girls at a Boy Band concert. This doesn’t apply to the “lifers” who are now too old and decrepit to manage a long haul flight or make any sort of noise other than a groan as they struggle to get out of their seats.
This influx of dilettantes isn’t restricted to the media centre and the paddock itself is rammed with an assortment of charlatans, snake oil salesmen and other marketing types who have finally found a venue civilised enough to bring along their very (self) important sponsor guests. It’s not all bad news as being in Europe means the return of the motorhomes and lavish catering facilities, followed around about Austrian GP time by the need to make another hole in the belt to accommodate one’s increasing girth.
Ay ha er lully dime laz nye curzy o Mezcan grapree ornizas or, if I remove this signed replica of the “Blue Demon’s” wrestling mask I’m wearing, I had a lovely time last night courtesy of the Mexican Grand Prix organisers. The Blue Demon – real name unknown – is a mega star in the wrestling firmament and kindly joined us at a dinner in nearby Montmelo to promote the Mexican GP. We all watched, curious to see how he’d manage to eat with the mask on and the answer turned out to be, as daintily as a dowager. Great idea having a dinner for one of the most successful events of 2015 here in Spain, as it meant we didn’t have to eat any of that rather underwhelming Mexican food.
The dinner signalled the start of F1’s version of “La Grande Bouffe,” a film about four friends who get together with the express purpose of eating themselves to death. Let me just run tonight’s gruelling gastrothon past you, all of it conveniently located within the circuit. It starts with quick drinks and nibbles in the paddock courtesy of Rolex, a must-attend event as we get given a copy of a useful reference work, called “Who Works in Formula 1?” to which the obvious answer is “Hardly Anyone.” Loaded down with this heavy tome, we then sprint down to the Renault motorhome for “an informal drink.” Presumably informal means we can lounge around looking untidy and debating whether the French wines on offer are nicer than the ones we were given at Rolex. By now the clock will really be ticking for the British press, because by 19.30 hours sharp, our presence is requested at the McLaren Death Star for fun and frolics in the shape of a quiz night. I’ll leave it to the team’s own invitation to explain:
“Did you know that if you’d travelled to all four opening rounds of the 2016 season, then you’d have already clocked up a somewhat incredible 46,019 air miles?
Add in the 700-odd miles from London to Barcelona and I’d say you’re in need of a calming drink or two. And perhaps a bite to eat.
With that firmly in mind, we media folk at McLaren-Honda would like to invite you to an informal drinks and canapés evening at the Brand Centre next week.
Where Brand Centre top floor
When Friday May 13th
What time 7:30pm ’til late
It’ll be a very relaxed affair – albeit with McLaren’s traditionally ultra-competitive quiz thrown in for good measure.”
All the code words are there, “til late” and “ultra-competitive” which is a polite way of saying we get to be rowdy and eat and drink too much. When do we ever find time to do any work? The new fit me has been virtually teetotal since the end of 2015, but after a night on the Mezcal (did I mention we got a bottle each to take away?) with the Mexicans, it’s true to say the worm has truly turned.