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Race

Next race: November 15, 2015

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX

Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, BR

drizzle
20˚ 68˚ CURRENT
14:00 LOCAL TIME
Caso Ediface Logo

FIRST F1 GRAND PRIX: 1973
NUMBER OF LAPS: 71
CIRCUIT LENGTH: 4.309km
RACE DISTANCE: 305.909km

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SPY Stuck in Traffic in Mexico

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Well, there we go, Mexican Grand Prix done and dusted. It’s been a fairly frantic two weeks away but Spy is now bound for the airport. Mexico City Airport is very convenient for the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez – which is a shame because Spy’s hotel isn’t convenient for either. In fact the trip to the circuit from the hotel is something of an eye-opener.

I wouldn't say the traffic's bad but the bus in front of us was full of race-goers eager to see if Senna or Patrese could beat Mansell this weekend. To call it a traffic jam does a disservice to the concept of jam. Jam, if given the right encouragement, will flow. This, if it could be called anything, was a traffic brick.

But that's not all bad. At least it gave some of the people in the paddock who are, shall we say, resistant to change, something to moan about. And nothing makes them happier than a good, old moan. It's best to nod in agreement with them as they foam at the mouth and commiserate, muttering things like: "yes, it's nearly as bad as Silverstone," or "no, I haven't seen traffic this awful since the last French Grand Prix."

Truth be told the second leg of a back-to-back is never as much fun as the first. There's always a bit more work as the car that was delivered to the first race in pristine condition has been knocked around a bit by now and is likely to need rather more love. And you're more tired because there's been a lot of travelling and a lot of late nights and early mornings at the track – – but that's largely immaterial compared to the peculiar and unshakeable sense that it really can't only be Friday...

Because that's what happens. Work in F1 long enough and you become thoroughly programmed. Things happen in a certain sequence and when that sequence is interrupted, it feels very, very wrong. The sensation is not unlike attempting to walk down a stopped escalator: your feet are doing one thing but your brain is screaming something else. The tail-end of a back-to-back is like that. Surely it can't only be Friday because Friday is the first day the cars go out on track, and weren't they out on track a couple of days ago? It's not so bad with the early season flyaways but by this point in the season mental acuity isn't what it was.

That said, the only people not affected by it are Spy's more thought-averse paddock comrades. The ones who think erudite is a type of glue; who can by out-foxed by ballast; who spent the weekend trying to find out more about the famous Mexican racing driver Hermanos Rodríguez (Herman to his mates). Repetition doesn't affect them because, like a five-second goldfish in a six-second bowl, they've long since forgotten we were in Texas last week. Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.

At least we knew where we were this week. Our hosts made certain of that by ensuring no Mexican cliché was left untouched. Comedy sombreros? Check. Margarita's and tacos in the paddock? Check. Mariachi bands lurking around every corner? Check. Checo on every billboard? Check.

Of course we would never stoop to such childish stereotyping. Goodness me no. Except for the lucha libre wrestling masks, obviously – 'cos those are cool. Maybe too cool. It took us the best part of an hour and the promise of a Twix to get Daniel out of his. It was really freaking his engineers out in the debrief.

As for the grand prix itself, it was one of those where you really have to differentiate between the race and the event: the event was magnificent, the race merely OK. The tarmac is very fresh and therefore as slippery as a greased politician, and that's not good for racing – but it almost didn't matter because this weekend was all about the atmosphere, which was just crazy. Spy's been around the block a few times but has never witnessed anything like this. It was just brilliant.

The enthusiasm and noise coming off the grandstands and out of that stadium (note to other circuits: BUILD STADIUMS) had everyone in the garage boggle-eyed with amazement. Sure, everyone was cheering for Checo but they were cheering for Daniel and Dany too, for Valtteri and Fernando, for Nigel Mansell chauffeuring Bernie around in a Rolls-Royce on the drivers parade. For F1 in general. You can't fake that stuff. This was the real deal. Genuine F1 fever.

So, thank you so much Mexico. Spy can't wait to come back – but next year I'm bringing a sleeping bag and kipping in the garage.

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