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The Armchair Driver: Russia

The Armchair Driver has to take avoiding action from chores to tune in to Sochi.
The Armchair Driver’s in a bit of a pickle. Having visited his brother in Devon, he needs to be an actual driver to get back in time to drive the armchair in the Russian Grand Prix. If only he could drive at 200mph. Although there’s no doubt he has the talent, his car’s not very fast and, well, it’d be illegal. So instead, he sets off early.

Chores completed for F1 pass - Zero

Three IOUs have been delivered and signed as follows: 
 
1. Cut the grass (it literally grew under their feet while I was away)
2. Attend to pile of branches cut in January but is still ‘killing the grass’ come April
3. Do some stuff around the house (the vagueness fills me with dread)

* Note to self, make good on these before next GP and perhaps try to make them count towards it. Haha – fiendish guffaw.

Shouts at or near TV – Four 
 
Start to Turn 2 (Hollered myself hoarse)
Grosjean and Palmer crash (Romain’s got air, what a shunt!)
Hamilton overheating and sounding grumpy (It’s that flippin’ car again. Every now and then it’s slightly less than amazing)
Vettel chasing Bottas (Massa… Massa!!)

Armchair Driver Racing Incidents

The Grid

Two hundred miles later at a significantly slower pace than Sebastian Vettel’s pole-winning lap, the grid in Sochi looks a tad strange. There’s these red cars at the front, Ferraris I think they’re called. You may have heard of them. 

One of the drivers, Vettel, is apparently pretty good, and now here he is on pole as if it’s 2013 and he’s still in a Red Bull. The Silver Arrows, meanwhile, are skulking in third and fourth. Hamilton being P4. What’s going on? This wasn’t in the pre-season script.

Lights Out 

My daughter wants me to dance. Dance I tell you! We’re on the formation lap. 
“You must dance, Daddy”
“But they are about to dance, Little One.”
She gives me a funny look.
“In cars. By which I mean drive. Against each other in a race… That Daddy wants to watch.”
“You must dance Daddy.” She goes over to her Fisher Price tree which plays tunes using irritating bleeps instead of musical notes. There’s one light lit on the grid as “Pop Goes the Weasel” beeps from the plastic foliage.
“You must dance Daddy!” She’s starting to sound threatening. As the third light comes on I realise I have no choice; I stand, kick my feet up and twirl. Finally, the infernal muzak ends and I collapse into my armchair.

Lights out. Hamilton makes a good start from the dirty side of the track. Vettel’s bogged down. Bottas up the outside. He’s going to pass the Ferrari. He passes the Ferrari. Normal service resumed. Except not. It’s Bottas at the front. Hamilton is back in fourth still, was cautious in the corner and Raikkonen’s taken him. Very un-Hamilton. Verstappen up to fifth. Go Maxie. Oh, the passion and drive of youth. Didn’t doubt him for a second.

“You must dance Daddy.” Gulp. Not again. Please, not again.

Bottas under pressure from Vettel


Come on Bottas, you’ve got this. Foot on gas. Brake late. Throw it round the corner. It’ll stay on the track with all that down force. That’s what it’s for. 

If only my car had more downforce so I could corner at the limit… the speed limit, of course. Does downforce even work at the speed limit? Whatever, Vettel’s bearing down on him. Pressure. He’s gotta be feeling it, right? 

Out in front and driving one of the fastest cars on the planet. No excuses really. Mirror full of red. Right up his proverbial. His heart must be thumping. 

Mind you, perhaps Valterri’s more like me on the M5 this morning. BMW X6 right up my exhaust pipe as I overtake a lorry that’s overtaking a lorry, three abreast, and, cool as cucumber ice cream, I keep my pace, bang on 70, taking the racing lane till I can see the lorry in my left wing mirror and cruise into lane two. Textbook. Some of us just don’t feel pressure. 

Smoke. He’s locked up. Bottas no! He’s gonna choke. 80 GPs without a win’s just left him too much time to think and a four-time world champ bearing down on him in a Ferrari is all too much.

As Bottas locks up under pressure from Vettel, I have to let the dog out to avoid her dirty air. Wife calls out for IOU 2 to be made good now – I resist the early pressure. Can I, and Bottas, hold out until the chequered flag?

Bottas and Vettel race to the line

Vettel is still chasing Bottas down.
“Have you cleared those sticks up yet?”
“Not yet.” Bottas so close he can feel the breeze from the chequered flag, but he can taste the Ferrari’s rubber too.
“You said you’d do it six weeks ago.”
“I’m just watching the end of the race.” They need to lap Massa for the line. Get out of the way! Bet Valtteri’s wishing Massa had gone through with his retirement as he feels the car through the seat of his pants, as DC puts it.
“Your weekend can’t just be fun and sport you know.” Course not! 
“OK, they’re nearly done.” Bottas gets past. Vettel’s held up. Vettel down the inside. No! Massa blocks him. Accidently surely?  “Surely you can miss one lap of umpteen cars going round a track umpteen times”
“This is it – the umpteenth time”. And, it’s not about can, it’s about want. Of course, I don’t say this aloud. Vettel’s passed Massa and not letting up. Charge for the line. “He’s done it!”
“What?”
“Valtteri Bottas has won his first Grand Prix. Hamilton not even on the podium. Vettel widens the gap.”
“Great. Now - sticks.”
“OK, OK.”
Sticks! Sticks! What about a carrot? I skulk off in the direction of the garden to pick up sticks in the rain.

Armchair Driver Pit Stops

Drinks taken

Can of Red Bull – for research purposes 
Water - to ease the caffeine/sugar shakes from the Red Bull
Green smoothie - the wife has made it. It’s too green to be tasty and too healthy not to drink. This has got to cancel out all the beers I’ve drank this weekend.
Cup of tea - to replace some of the caffeine lost to rehydration 

Snacks eaten Wasabi peas - one in every six makes your eyes water. They’re the Russian Roulette of snacks
Cheddar cheese and pickle on Jacobs crackers 
Apple and cream turnover – this is turning into an unintentional afternoon tea
Visits to the loo 
You do the maths! (ref. Red Bull and green smoothie)

Armchair Driver Race Summary

Most of the action was packed into the first lap! Barely time to draw breath. Good to see Bottas enter the fray and add a little Mercedes intra-team rivalry to the season. We just need to see the Red Bull boys step up now.

Armchair Driver Strategy Going Forward

I may need to destroy my daughter’s love of music in order to get some peace on race weekends. Or, I suppose, I could just hide her plastic tree. 

The sticks are still there, I’m ashamed to say. I feel a bonfire coming on.

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