Established F1 journalist TRENTHAM SLEAVES gives his insight into this weekend’s race.
This morning, as I looked from the ample balcony of my hotel room at the sun shining upon Melbourne, I had the chance to reflect on what an important race this is. Make no mistake, this is really is an important race and I was discussing this only yesterday with my old friend, former world champion Niki Lauda. ‘Of course it is important, now get out of my way!’ he quipped.
For every single team, the first race is a vital test of how well new engines, new aero and new drivers perform under pressure, yet as I sat in the Red Bull hospitality suite in the paddock I saw none of that pressure showing in the bacon sandwich I was eating nor in the fresh orange juice I was drinking. Amongst team personnel, however, things are very different. I have known Christian Horner very well for a number of years and when I bumped into him as I left the Red Bull Energy Station after another perfectly prepared double espresso he betrayed the pressure weighing down on him by completely ignoring my attempts to say hello.
Only last night I was reflecting on how tough it must be for all team bosses as I dined alone at Tartufi’s, Melbourne’s famous Italian restaurant. You won’t have heard of it, but everyone in Formula 1 knows all about Tartufi’s. During race week you’re guaranteed to find the great and good of the F1 circus dining here and sharing gossip to hot for the paddock! Discretion prevents me from sharing the gossip with you but suffice to say I overheard some very interesting things and had a very well known ex-driver refer to me as a ‘fucking nosey wanker’ just moments before I was advised to leave!
Of course, the whole reason I am paid to fly to Australia and put in up a delightful hotel is to share my unique access to the paddock and give some insight into what might happen this weekend. Well, a few weeks ago you will have read me saying anything could happen in Melbourne. Now I am here enjoying a cool glass of wine by the pool of my hotel, I stand by that view. Anything really could happen. We will just have to wait and see. Rest assured, I will be nearby as it happens. Because remember, I am here and you are not.