Thursday, 18th November 2004 – Macau, Day 5
We got the early start we wanted and were set up in the press office by 9.15. That left me enough time to catch the slowest Media Shuttle in the World out to the Melco Hairpin.
I particularly like Melco, because it’s very hard to get round there if you don’t know what you’re doing, and also because the photographers’ stand is close enough that you can see the whites of the drivers’ eyes as they go through there (to be honest you could reach out and rap ’em on the helmet if you really wanted to, though the official information pack tells us that if anyone leans over the barriers, they will close that part of the track to everyone for the rest of the meeting).
Anyway, having finally got there I walked round the corner to find the marshals doing their infamous dance with brooms, shovels, and buckets full of cement dust trying to clean up the oil left behind by the local tintop drivers, who are pretty hopeless as ever.
The F3 session finally got underway, and almost as immediately came to a grinding halt again when the bulk of the field arrived behind Robert Kubica, and the gangly Pole got it all wrong, stuck the nose of his car into the outside of the barriers, and caused a 30-car traffic jam. It was useful, because it allowed me to photograph pretty well everyone with the minimum of effort, but he looked a bit stupid by the time he was sent on his way again.
And then a lap later Nelson Piquet Junior pulled the same stunt, and never seemed to get it right after that. Melco appears to have got him completely spooked now, and my suspicion is he’ll not do at all well this weekend. Fabio Carbone was fastest, but he’s two seconds slower than his pole position time from last year, though he’s still over half a second ahead of second placed man, Richard Antinucci. Lewis Hamilton was a very smooth looking third, and Kubica was fourth despite his off. Nico Rosberg was looking good too, and was fifth.
First official qualifying is about to start, slightly delayed by a rain of Formula Renaults, a session that had to be stopped twice in 25 minutes after large numbers of local runners attacked bits of scenery all over the place and left Tatuus spares everywhere. Scott Speed is on pole, 0.003 seconds faster than Colin Fleming, which is annoying, but as it’s only untimed, we’ll have to see what happens later.
Oh, and on an additional note, as the Euroseries F3 guy, Kay Langendorff, is here, we’re translating German to English again for him, so we are actually getting paid to be here. Yes! A result!