After Malaysia I had a very busy PR schedule in Holland, and I had to do many interviews and a TV show with Kees van der Grint from Bridgestone. So I spent most of the time in Holland, doing a bit of training. Robert Doornbos. Photo by...
After Malaysia I had a very busy PR schedule in Holland, and I had to do many interviews and a TV show with Kees van der Grint from Bridgestone. So I spent most of the time in Holland, doing a bit of training.
We flew out quite early to the Middle East, and we went to Dubai first for one night to see a potential sponsor. It was a really nice place, and they showed me around by helicopter. They are building two resorts, the Palm and the World, in the middle of the ocean, where the wealthy people among us can buy a house. In Dubai everything is big. They have the largest snow dome, the largest shopping centre, and so on. It looked really impressive!
Then we went to Bahrain, which was quite different from Dubai unless the small distance. Still it was quite interesting to see it, and the actual circuit was amazing. Thanks to Toyota Holland I was involved in an off-road driving PR event on a course near the track, along with Ricardo Zonta, Takuma Sato and Jenson Button on Thursday. I scared one of the instructors because they have 60 degree angles, and I was taking them in third gear! It was good fun.
Then it went down to the serious stuff on Friday. I think I'm getting some respect from the team, because every time I only need four or five laps to learn a new circuit and get on the pace. I think I learned that in F3000, to get on with it really quickly. It was good for Bridgestone, because they could start a tyre programme with me straight away.
Overall the Bahrain Friday session went really well, and I was happy with my performance. I left the circuit at 9pm on Friday, because Bridgestone needed all possible information from me. I just try to learn every day as much as I can. In San Marino I'll try to get a good run on low fuel too, like Red Bull Racing and Mclaren do. It gives good publicity for the team and for the driver, so why not?
As usual the rest of the weeke nd was pretty interesting. I joined in all the meetings with Narain and Tiago, but I'm always a little bit jealous watching them in qualifying... After qualifying I went to do an autograph session with them behind the grandstand, sitting in traditional old boat. The local people do know quite a lot about F1, and they are very happy that the race is there.
But honestly, I can't wait to get back to Europe. First of all I know the tracks really well, from F3000, and also they are much narrower and therefore more challenging. I think the speed of a F1 car will even be more apparent!
The team has a test at Paul Ricard on April 14-15. Most of the teams are going, but I don't know yet if I'll be driving. We'll just have to wait for that, but I hope they give me a call!
Apart from the usual training in the Formula Medicine Resort in Viareggio (Italy) the one thing I do have scheduled is a football match that I've been invited to take part in before Imola, something they do every year for charity. I'll be playing in the same team as Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, so that will be interesting!
I'll keep you informed!