On Sunday morning, I finally got to sleep in a bit, but I did have an interview scheduled with Simona de Silvestro, who was training with the Sauber team in the hopes of securing a race seat for 2015 (although that plan has since fallen through).
I am a dual Swiss-Canadian citizen, so I’m always interested in the careers of Swiss drivers and I have always thought it would be particularly fitting to have a Swiss driver on F1’s only Swiss team.
De Silvestro was fantastic to interview—she is mature, intelligent, and a dedicated racer. She has spent her whole life working towards F1, but even if she doesn’t wind up racing at the top level of motorsport, she has had a very successful career. Click here to read my interview with her.
Afterwards, I didn’t have anything specific to do before the race, so I took some time to walk around the paddock to see what was going on. I bumped into David Coulthard, who was my favourite driver when I first started watching F1, but he was in a hurry on his way to get ready for the race broadcast, so I just quickly introduced myself.
After grabbing a quick lunch, I walked down to the pit exit again to see the cars coming out for their installation laps before lining up on the grid.
Back in the media centre, everyone was ready for another dominant Mercedes performance—they had won the first six races of the season and had qualified one-two again in Montreal. For the first half of the race, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton pulled away at the front opening up a lead of more than 30 seconds.
But then, both Silver Arrows started to slow. There was a problem with their energy recovery systems that was causing their brakes to overheat. Eventually, Hamilton was forced to retire. Rosberg stayed out, but he was being caught by a group of cars.
In the final laps, it became apparent that Rosberg was not going to win the race. The only question was who would overtake him. With five laps remaining, Daniel Ricciardo made a gutsy pass on Sergio Perez, which left him in second place. Two laps later, he passed Rosberg for the lead.
In the media centre, everyone watches the world TV feed and there are speakers playing any team radio messages from the broadcast. However, there is no commentary. Therefore, some people listen to the commentary on their computers—I find it helps to keep track of what is going on, especially if I look away from the screens for a minute to make some notes.
That being said, the broadcast feed is delayed about 20 seconds, so if you are just listening to the commentary, it is behind what you are watching on the screens in the media centre. On the final lap, Sergio Perez collided with Felipe Massa and both cars slammed hard into the tyre barriers. Both drivers were OK, but the crash looked like it could have been serious. When it happened, there were lots of gasps and shouts in the media centre.
One guy, however, was not only listening to the commentary, but also watching the broadcast on his computer—with noise-cancelling headphones. He had his head down and did not see or hear everyone else’s reactions to the crash, but 20 seconds later, he nearly fell out of his seat, screaming, “Ohhhh!” when he saw the crash on his screen. That made for a good laugh.
The safety car was deployed and Ricciardo coasted home for his first-ever F1 victory. For the next few hours, nothing could wipe the huge smile off his face. He was beaming in the press conference and I went up to shake his hand and congratulate him at the end of it.
I then followed him around for the next hour or so, as he did a bunch of TV interviews, to collect some quotes for my story. He kept his giant bottle of champagne with him the entire time, pausing to have a drink every so often.
Meanwhile, a large crowd was waiting for him outside the interview pen. When he finally finished with the interviews, he started moving through the crowd, pausing every couple steps to sign a few more autographs. Even at this point, there was a massive smile on his face and it looked like he could hang out in the paddock, soaking in the love, forever.
Once I had everything I needed, I returned to the media centre to transcribe some quotes and start writing the story (which you can read here). As I said before, I was lucky to have made it to Ricciardo’s media session on Saturday evening because some of those quotes ended up in my race story.
I was taking the bus back to Ottawa, so I eventually packed up and headed to the bus station where I finished off my story and said goodbye to Montreal.
Up next, I’ll give you a run-down of my week in Austin.