F1

Australian GP: Toro Rosso preview

Buemi's Diary In the run up to the Australian Grand Prix, the only rookie driver on this year's grid, Sebastien Buemi has started keeping a diary to record this major event in his life. It makes for fascinating reading. It's going to be a...

Buemi's Diary

In the run up to the Australian Grand Prix, the only rookie driver on this year's grid, Sebastien Buemi has started keeping a diary to record this major event in his life. It makes for fascinating reading.

It's going to be a long flight to Melbourne, but I don't mind, I have plenty to read on the plane, including the 325 interviews I have given to Swiss magazines and newspapers since I was confirmed as a Toro Rosso driver. There are some other drivers and team bosses at the airport when I check in, but I don't see them after we go through passport control. I head off to the shops and they follow signs to another gate, although I have never heard of an airline called "VIP."

No, I was wrong, they are on the same flight, but once again I don't see them on the plane. They all disappear through a curtain. I feel sorry for them, as I am lucky enough to sit near the back of the plane with the rest of my team. I get a middle seat, which is neat, as I can talk to two people either side of me. And it's handy for the toilets too.

Halfway through the flight, I am feeling rather hungry and have an upset tummy from eating too much fruit, but there is nothing else on the menu that my trainer told me I'm allowed to eat. Maybe next time I should use a Japanese airline as they are more likely to serve Tofu and raw bean shoots. The other F1 people seem to like drinking wine. I think they are sad to be leaving their families after spending a lovely winter with them and are drinking to forget their sadness at having to be away for about a month for the first four races.

Before I left the factory, my press officer hey, do you like that? "my press officer" stuff told me that when I land in Melbourne there might be some local TV film crews and newspaper reporters and photographers and would I mind doing interviews with any of them who asked. I am surprised at this lack of organisation. It is not the way we would do things in Switzerland, so before leaving I find the emails for these TV stations and give them my flight details. They reply and sound excited, saying they might want to talk to me for a minute or two. I mail back, saying they could have a full 20 minutes each, as this would give them a better understanding of my views on F1.

Finally, we land in Melbourne. I feel very proud when the passport control man says "Welcome to Australia Mr. Buemi," as I didn't expect to be famous here already, but then I realise he is reading my name from the passport. Never mind.

It's a scandal! I have been taken to a small room and there is talk of giving me something called a "full body search." It's ridiculous but apparently I have committed a crime by bringing 20 bars of Toblerone chocolate into Australia. I try to explain it is Swiss chocolate and therefore not just a "foodstuff." Eventually they let me go, but they keep the chocolate. I am worried there will be no TV crews still there and I will be in trouble with my press officer. But I'm lucky and do many interviews which I am sure will be a great publicity coup for the team as I don't see other drivers doing as many interviews as me.

Unfortunately, the team forgot to wait for me and it is dark when I leave the airport. So I take a taxi to the city and the driver says that as it's my first time here, he will only charge me 350 Aussie Dollars. He tells me the exchange rate is 15.75 dollars to the Euro, so taxis are obviously much cheaper than back home.

When I get to the hotel, my team-mate Sebastien Bourdais is there. He tells me that as I've got here so late, I shouldn't worry about getting up early for the first technical meeting at the track tomorrow and he will tell me everything the engineers say. I think he is really nice to do this and we will get on really well. He is giving me lots of little tips and also mentioned that the FIA's Charlie Whiting doesn't mind at all if you are late for the Drivers' Briefings. Also, we have both been invited to the Governor's Cocktail Reception, but Monsieur Bourdais (as he says I can call him) promised he would let me go alone, so I could do all the interviews and get all the publicity, as it is my first Grand Prix. He really is a gentleman. That must be why he chooses to live in Switzerland. I think I'm going to enjoy being a Formula 1 driver.

-credit: toro rosso

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