Welcome to Espanyol! Back to Europe and already Australia seems a distant memory! After this race nearly 25% of the season will be over…
Spain is a popular race and is one of my favourites in Europe. I think this goes back to the fact you have a good race with a great city. Barcelona is a vibrant, happening city. It has a real buzz about it which can become quite infectious!
We stay here on the coast in the Arts hotel. I’ve been staying in the Arts since 1998 or 99, the years all become a bit of a blur after a while and there have been quite a few celebrations here which have blurred it a little more 😉
Like the Crown Towers in Australia there are several staff that have been working here since I’ve been staying and as a hotel it has a real home away from home feeling.
Spain is the first race of the season where we use the team motorhomes so from my side there’s an element of making sure everything makes it into Kimi’s room / cupboard from the logistics boxes that contained everything I needed for the first four races. Having the motorhome provides a very comfortable base for the whole team.
I arrived Wednesday to Spain and leave on Sunday. Kimi arrived Thursday which gave me a night to both see something new in Barcelona was well as making sure everything is set up for when he arrives. I always prefer and normally arrange to arrive a day before him to make sure I have everything in place that’s needed and can collect his room keys, check his room etc so he doesn’t have to bother hanging around in a queue to check in. I also put in all the various things we use / need over the weekend.
If this was a destination for a business trip and the aim was to train or at least do something semi active it’s almost harder not too here! The coast practically drags you out of the hotel to enjoy its raw energy. I love training along the beach in the morning here, it creates a great start to the day and somehow waking up early to enjoy it seems much less of an issue than in many other races.
Even the most sedentary of business travellers can go for a walk along the beach. There’s a 6km stretch of coast line that offers so many options for exercise. I do everything outside here as it’s almost a sin to be stuck in a gym if the weather is good. It’s a stunning setting, good temperature and just makes you feel bloody good! The local people also seem really active. People here run, bike rollerblade and kitesurf just outside on the beach. There are also some great outside beach gyms, really functional body weight based areas that seem to be packed no matter what time of the day the I’ve been past. I love the concept!
We’ve spent a lot of time in Barcelona over the years as its always been one of the main test tracks for F1. If the car is quick around this track it tends to be quick everywhere. I remember a 14 day test here in 98 or 99. It really was groundhog day with two cars running each day at the test, one race driver, either at the time Mika Hakkinen or David Coulthard, and one test driver. We had a whole test team where mechanics trained and worked their asses off to try and get promoted to the race team. It was great seeing some of the guys start on the test team and progress up to the race team even if at times it was a bit of a baptism of fire.
The nice thing here is the more active you are in the mornings the more you can enjoy the “maybe less healthy” bits at breakfast afterwards! The muscles absorb everything after training, so it is by far the best time to have bagels, toast and all the other stuff you would otherwise be better avoiding. So other than the great scenery here looking out at the sea and inviting coast line to run next to you also have another good reason to do something healthy before breakfast.
I have a positive feeling about the race here. Kimi has always been quick here; the question normally is where you qualify and whether you make it round the first corner!
Enjoy the race!