• The Inside Line

Barcelona testing: Wish you were here?

ESPN Staff
May 13, 2014
A soggy Barcelona paddock on Tuesday © Sutton Images

The traditional 'paddock postcards' that some journalists file from race weekends are designed to fill fans with envy, to make them wish that they too were hob-nobbing with the great drivers of years gone by, or lining up alongside the rich and famous while waiting for a restorative espresso.

In places like Monaco or Singapore, it's easy to make Formula One look sexy, desirable. But when it comes to races in the middle of nowhere in the European countryside, or the thankfully departed Korean Grand Prix, creating a perception of glamour took every trick in the hack's handbook.

The Circuit of Catalunya probably looked like a wonderful place to be over the weekend. The sun was shining, the beautiful people were out in force, and the return to Europe meant the team motorhomes were back, and with them the endless round of parties, canapés, and champagne.

On Tuesday morning, however, both the sunshine and the glamour were a distant memory. With grey skies, occasional rainfall, and air temperatures hovering around 10 degrees, sunny Spain felt an awful lot like a February club event at Thruxton or Knockhill.

Except a club event would probably have been slightly better organised than the post-race test in Barcelona, where security guards who had spent the F1 weekend controlling access to the paddock suddenly forgot what paddock passes looked like, and did their utmost to prevent both media and team personnel from accessing the circuit.

Once we finally talked our way in (read: barged past), we discovered that some genius had elected to lock the gates that provide access to both the media centre and to the bathroom facilities shared by teams and journalists alike. The paddock was filled with waifs and strays trying to figure out whether anyone associated with the track had remembered there was a test on.

While the much-heralded megaphone exhaust won't be tested until Wednesday, by 9am there was no denying that a test was very much in session, with cars out on track and engine noises clearly audible. Visible was another matter entirely, however - by Tuesday afternoon there was still no chance of seeing any cars running anywhere except along the main straight, as the traditional circuit CCTV feed showing views from fixed corners had yet to be activated.

That being said, however, those of us lucky enough to be in situ at the Circuit de Catalunya are in the privileged position of being able to see, smell, and hear Formula One cars mid-week, as long as we don't mind getting soggy while trackside. And as any petrolhead knows, the thrill of the cars is enough to make any irritations worthwhile.

Wish you were here? Of course you do. Just remember to bring a brolly.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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