Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Paddock Diary: Spanish Grand Prix day two

2019 Spanish Grand Prix

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“You don’t need to know this”: Not everyone appreciated the questions from RaceFans’ representative in the Formula 1 paddock at the Spanish Grand Prix.


Up and awake after previous day’s overnight flight from South Africa and lavish dinner kind courtesy of Silverstone. I calculate I’ve slept in six different beds – all alone, I stress – and spent two nights in the air since the flag dropped in Baku. Oh, the joys of traveling in F1. No complaints, though.


Arrive at circuit, and admit to feeling uneasy about the casual air of the attendants given the spate of break-ins. True, security has been beefed up and floodlights installed, but later I hear (unconfirmed) reports that at least one car had been broken into, that of a Venezuelan journalist.


Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019Interview with Vincenc Aguilera, president of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, about the future of the Spanish Grand Prix. In common with other European promoters he is under enormous political and financial pressure – balancing the demands of local and national government authorities, circuit shareholders, Liberty and day-to-day running of a multi-faceted big-buck business is not for the faint-hearted.

As you can read in our interview, he is around 90% confident that a deal can be struck by the summer break – but points out that one can’t stage a ’90 per cent grand prix’. One thing shines though: Vincenć, whom I’ve chatted to variously over the years, will do everything possible to ensure the race’s continuation (he told us last year he will “fight like a devil” to keep the race).

However, given that five grands prix are out of contract this year, that Liberty has signed Hanoi and seems poised to announce Zandvoort on Tuesday, that teams are reluctant to commit to more than 21 races/year, that Monza’s race is said to have been secured and that Silverstone seems confident it can agree terms with Liberty, two of the three others, namely Spain, Germany and Mexico, face the chop. Who will it be?

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FIA team principals press conference, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019FIA press conference, and I pop the veto question to Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto. His answer confirms that the veto is not a life-time right but a contractual obligation that Ferrari hopes to retain after 2021 as it (allegedly) protects all teams. I wonder how the other nine feel about Ferrari playing ‘Big Brother’?

More to the point, though: his comment confirms that Ferrari currently has no veto over whatever happens after 2021 – making a mockery of sensationalist reports by non-accredited journalists that Ferrari could block post-2021 executive appointments. Folk who willy-nilly spread such crap really do F1 and all fans a major disservice, and folk who believe such nonsense deserve to be mislead.


I skip lunch to attend Zak Brown’s media call. Apart from seeming surprised at Binotto’s veto comments, he gives us the lowdown on McLaren’s Indy project – qualifying takes place next weekend – and it’s clear this is no one-off. But, as he says, Indy is a “lottery” – and anything could happen. Would be good, though, to see Fernando Alonso ‘drink the milk’.


Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019After a an uneventful second practice session it’s time to hit the interview trail. Amongst others, I draw the two Toro Rosso drivers, and while Alexander Albon is jauntily communicative as ever, team-mate Danill Kvyat is typically sullen, refusing to answer my question whether he’s having problems warming up his tyres.

“You don’t need to know this,” he retorts.

Although it’s about the most interesting thing he has come out with since returning to F1, it’s clear Kvyat hasn’t used his year away from the circuit to work on his media relations.


Time for Racing Point technical director Andrew Green, who seems far more relaxed than under the Force India regime, an indication the team’s technical budget constraints have been eased. He raises a smile when asked whether, under the team’s previous ownership, they would have had enough parts available to repair Lance Stroll’s heavily-crashed car to current specification, as happened on Friday.

“Yes,” he answers, “because we wouldn’t have had any upgrades!”

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Head for Red Bull’s ‘Holzhaus’, the team’s new hospitality unit, aka Energy Station. Constructed out of timber, I’m told the total structure weighs 400 tons, is transported from circuit to circuit via 30 trucks, and has a build crew of 32:

As always the freshly prepared ‘walking buffet’ is superb, with everything from squid ink-dyed pasta through Iberian pork fillet and rack of lamb to calamari and croquets being on offer.


We’ve had some fantastic questions from RaceFans Supporters for upcoming instalments of Dieter’s Inbox. Hunting answers for an upcoming edition I have a brief discussion with Luke Bennett, whose team oversees the physical welfare of most drivers. After that it’s back to the Holzhaus for some more catch-up chats.


I depart the circuit for my apartment, relieved at having no broken windows, particularly as the guards pay little attention to us wandering to our cars.

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2019 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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20 comments on “Paddock Diary: Spanish Grand Prix day two”

  1. sensationalist reports by non-accredited journalists that Ferrari could block post-2021 executive appointments

    Ah, good to hear that the talk of Ferrari blocking Toto’s appointment are just that – false rumours.

    Luke Bennett, whose team oversees the physical welfare of most drivers

    I hope there’s some coverage of the new biometric gloves here, it’s something I’ve been keen to read about.

    1. I hope @coldfly reads this.

      1. Read it, @robbie, but still believe that article should be included in the round-up. And I’m just the messenger; it’s not my opinion (I wouldn’t dare as non-accredited non-journalist).

        On the content though. The article in Forbes (a well respected publication) did mention that the veto is currently only until 2021 (and without a new agreement possibly until 2030). But it also explains that the nomination will probably have to be made before that date. And you don’t need to be accredited for the sport to have some knowledge about the governance of the company owning the commercial rights.

        And as much as I rate @dieterencken and his articles here. I don’t like how he includes his apparent animosity with Sylt (the Forbes journo) in some of his articles.

        1. @coldfly – ah, I didn’t realize it was the Reuters article you referred to that broached this topic, I’ve a mind like a leaky sieve. But it’s not just that article, there’s tons on the internet touching on that topic, so I don’t think any criticism can be directed at you.

          I’m with you that I see names like Reuters, Economist*, etc., I automatically ascribe an amount of trust to their reporting, even if the writer doesn’t have credentialed access to F1 or motorsport.

          *I used to have Bloomberg in there as well, but am a little wary these days.

        2. Just as an aside – there are other Journalists that have animosity towards Sylt. I believe it’s because he was seen as “Bernies Pet Journo”, known for planting stories in some cases rather than reporting the facts.

          I could of course be wrong.

          1. @ahxshades – interesting context, thanks.

          2. Christian Sylt for years has been Bernies lapdog for circulating news not on what is actually happening, but as a means of assisting whatever Bernies agenda was at the time. He has drawn the ire of many journos over the years due to how he views himself as a result of this, made worse by the fact that he seldom attends grand prix weekends. Whoever had the ability in the past to publish F1 related articles on Forbes would get that sort of preferential treatment from Bernie, but Sylt sees that otherwise.

            Max Mosley once jokingly stated that F1 cars might need to be fitted to fighter jet style ejection seats, and Sylt believed it all and ran a massive article on it! Yes he has access to excerpts of the Concorde Agreement, and also access to a lot of the numbers due to his close relationship with Bernie, but his knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the sport lacks substantially.

            He is nothing more than a Patsy.

        3. @coldfly Agree that you were the messenger, but disagree that the article needed to be included/referenced here by Keith and Dieter if it is dodgy with it’s facts. And again, it was Sylt’s article that referenced Dieter’s, so why should RaceFans reference an article that needed a spark from RaceFans to generate it, and an article that seems to be inaccurate to boot?

          1. I’m not sure which facts in the article were wrong. @robbie.

          2. @coldfly As spelled out above, that Ferrari has veto power to 2030, as Sylt incorrectly opines.

  2. Basil (@flyingbasil)
    11th May 2019, 10:28

    Haha, that is way too much salt for Kvyat’s interview)

    1. I’m sure a bit of charm never hurt anyone’s career. OK so what mostly matters is on track, but when all things are more or less equal (lots of good drivers, only a few brilliant) other things start to influence.

  3. I’m not one of these neurotic “Eco Warrior” types, but even I’m a bit unsure about the environmental insult of transporting a 400 ton structure made out of wood around Europe via 30 trucks.
    Whatever, just don’t ever let me hear Red Bull whining about the expense of F1 OK?

    Oh, and the best way to deter car thieves is to smash your own car windows.
    They will think it has already been robbed ;)

    1. Yes it does seem far too much even for the F1 circus.
      Red Bull are not doing very well on track but Mr Spice is trying to compensate with aggressive PR and putting down everyone else, perhaps drinking too much of the red stuff.

    2. @nullapax – what are you complaining about? It’s made of wood. Eco material. The trucks moving them run on diesel. Dead dino juices. How much more natural do you expect them to be?

      C’mon man, be realistic. ;)

      1. Mine would be a Yurt carved from Elephant and Rhino bones with Tiger skins for covering and would be transported on foot by starving children from all around the world who would spend the winter break working on a whaling ship!

        I could probably go on but qualifying is about to start ;P

        1. transported on foot by starving children

          @nullapax – starving children are the best! Just a little food, and they’re so grateful.

        2. Glad I used to quali break to read this thread ;)

          1. @nullapax @phylyp @coldfly – this humour is one of the reasons I like RaceFans – thanks folks :)

  4. folk who believe such nonsense deserve to be mislead.

    Um… why? maybe it has to do with the way it’s written and I don’t get it correctly, but F1 has done the most astonishing things with their politics that nothing is far fetched. Why would the readers deserve to be misled? I understand you’ve got to be careful with what you read and who is writing, but seems too harsh on the normal folk that doesn’t have contacts within the F1 world…

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