Things I learned at the Valencia Grand Prix

  • Formula One cars are loud. Like, really, really loud. If you've heard them on TV and thought 'that was loud' it simply doesn't compare to being metres from the track. Especially when you get a pack of them coming through. There are reasons you get free earplugs with your ticket.
  • Ambre Solaire Clear Protect Factor 30 sunscreen is exceptionally good. Even with my pathetically English skin gently baking in the midday sun with no cover, I only burned in one small spot (my fault, I missed it).
  • The Spanish do not just not like Lewis Hamilton, they cannot fucking stand him. When this image came up on the big screens, during the drivers' parade:


(taken primarily, ahem, for the exceptionally beautiful one on the right. If I ever see Jenson Button in real life I will expire on the spot from lust) a huge wave of boos rose from the stands. I can't quite work out if it stems from Hamilton and Alonso's bitter season together at McLaren in 2007, because Hamilton's black, or a combination of both. (Incidentally, Alonso needs to let this go. While I was slogging it out on the train on Saturday, my Dad caught interviews with Hamilton and Alonso where they were both asked the same question: would they consider being on the same team in the future? Hamilton gave his usual measured, not-very-animated response of yes, it would be fine, he has no problem with Alonso. Alonso's answer? "No." And his whining on the radio and after the race – seriously, dude, get over it.)

  • For all you lose the overview of TV commentary – and there are video screens showing the same coverage you see at home, with some English language comment, though by the end the cars are so spread out over the track you don't get any significant break in the engine noise to hear it – it is actually easier to see the gaps between the cars and it becomes immediately obvious when one car is pulling away or vice versa.
  • A grand prix circuit is not the best place to go to the toilet when you're menstruating. I shall file this one under 'stating the obvious'.
  • What you can and can't take into the stands is arbitrary, at best. We were allowed plastic bottles, but not bottle tops. Bag checks were in place so whoever managed to get in the glass bottle that landed on the track clearly hid it well. And was also a twat.
  • Mexican waves are not spontaneous. They are started by some guy in a high vis jacket on the other side of the track. (I've never believed Mexican waves are spontaneous. They use the suggestibility of crowds.)
  • The slower cars are so much slower that now I honestly believe they shouldn't be in the same race. By halfway through (including a safety car, let's remember) the slower cars were, from the point of view of where they were on the track, leading the pack. This is stupid.
  • It was cheaper to buy beer than it was to buy an equivalent sized Coke. Yet nobody was drunk.
  • Technically, I suppose I learned this after the grand prix but still: in Spain, the World Cup is being shown on paid-for TV. Which meant I had to schlep 30 minutes to find a bar that was showing the England v Germany game (shouldn't have bothered). Can you imagine this being the case in England? There'd be a bloody riot. Literally bloody.

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