Columns Motorsport Trentham Sleaves

2014 US Grand Prix preview

Article image

F1 journalist TRENTHAM SLEAVES looks ahead to this weekend’s race

trenthamsleaves1The F1 circus has been to Austin just twice before yet already this typically Texan track feels like a fixture on the illustrious calendar and the atmosphere in the paddock is quite, quite unique. Like the local cooking, it’s a rich, full flavoured and heady experience that is impossible to understand unless you are here, which of course I am.

F1 has taken Austin to its heart and vice versa, something I was able to reflect upon last night as I dined alone at Giovani’s Italian Food Center, a delightful restaurant that many well-known motorsport names have rapidly made a firm favourite. Or, as they say in these part, favorite! I recalled my first visit here just one year ago, led to the unassuming premises by a certain former world champion who raced under the number zero! ‘Oh for God’s sake, are you still following me?’ he quipped, before hilariously asking the waiter not to let me join his group. Such a tremendous sense of humour!

Less of laughing matter this weekend is the sad absence of not one but two teams as Marussia and Caterham have been slain by the financial perils that in particular haunt the lower ranking teams in these fiscally punishing times for the sport. Someone who knows all too well the pressures of funding a top flight racing team is my dear friend, Sir Frank Williams, and I was delighted to be able to have a natter with him about this very topic. ‘Oh God, isn’t this something you could bother Claire with you horrible man?’ he joked before reversing away. Good to see some can still find time for a light-hearted quip in these difficult times!

As to this weekend’s racing, it would be absurd to speculate on who will take the famous chequered flag under the big skies of the lone star state but suffice to say I think a Mercedes will clinch it, though one shouldn’t discount the increasingly fearsome Williams’ nor the charging Red Bulls and surprising Ferraris.

Whatever happens, rest assured I will have a prime seat for the action. Because remember, I’m here and you’re not.