Guest Author - Christine Blachford
This weekend sees the start of the European leg of the calendar, as the paddock moves to Barcelona. In actual fact, there are only a couple of races in Europe before itís over the Atlantic to the US and Canada. But still, the teams get a motivational lift as soon as they realise that they are going to be racing in Europe.
I wonder why that is.
The first month of the 2007 season has been far away from home, with Australia leading into Malaysia and Bahrain. Drivers have been away from their families and friends for a month, staying in hotels and generally trying to keep themselves busy. Itís no wonder theyíre excited to be heading towards home soil. Although Spain is really only the home race for Alonso, it is close enough to the UK and other European countries that everyone breathes a great sigh of relief.
Drivers are happy they can catch up with their real lives. Teams are happy because they are closer to their factories. British fans are happy because the races are on at a sensible time! But like I said, the teams are happy. If they need spare parts, they can get them to the track in a reasonable amount of time. For the first few races, they have had to worry about knowing in advance what theyíre going to need and when, as spares would take at least a day to arrive. Thatís some serious forward planning they have to do.
This year especially, it seems like the season really starts here. I donít want to say that the first three races werenít important, because every race has its excitement. But the fact that we move to Barcelona with three drivers jointly leading the driverís championship, kind of makes me think that the season could have started now and we wouldnít know any difference.
Itís going to be a really interesting race because Barcelona is a primary test track for the teams throughout the year. A lot of winter testing takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya and most of the drivers know the twists and turns like the back of their hands. Plus there are rumours that Michael Schumacher is going to be making an appearance on the pit wall, with Ferrari, obviously, and fans are eager to see the man back in his natural habitat.