A great first trip to Berlin

Traveling has got to be part of the appeal of being a motorsports journalist for so many people in the field. It did probably attract me into this field, other than it being the only thing I’m decent at.

Obviously, like I always say, it’s not always jetting off to Monaco or Australia. It’s normally just pottering about the slightly less glamourous UK tracks. But this weekend I was off to Europe again, this time going to Berlin for the Formula E double-header.

I’ve never been to Berlin before, unlike Paris last time around. It’s a very different city to Paris, a lot more modern and practical. The roads are bigger for starters, and the drivers a little less chaotic. I didn’t get to see much of the city, besides when I was trying to flag a taxi, but I’d like to go back someday.

It was a bit of a hectic weekend. I arrived Friday lunchtime, just in time to catch the end of the press pen. News had broken whilst I was on the plane that the Renault e.dams driver had been resigned for another two years. With the rumours about Nissan replacing Renault at the team, it was something like a relief. I was able to grab Nico Prost for a quick word about the rumours and his position on the team.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with the people in the paddock, complaining that it was “so hot” (it really, really was), and an interesting press conference about wireless charging technology in which I spent at least 10 minutes wondering if I should ask a question about potholes (I did).

In Formula E we have a shakedown on Friday afternoon where the cars do a few laps at low speed. During that time, I decided I should have a little wander around to see what I could see trackside. The media centre was actually in a brilliant position in Berlin (the best I’ve ever been in for sure), right next to a hairpin and a chicane like complex. And, I could get access to the media centre wifi from both, which meant I could take my laptop out there.

On race day, I watched the practice sessions and qualifying from different parts of the area around the media centre, and got a tiny bit excited when I saw Nelson Piquet hit the wall after the chicane (having said that someone was going to do that the day before). It was brilliant to be able to watch trackside and get session reports up quickly.

The race was pretty tense. For the first time ever, there was a Mahindra car leading the race and I was pretty sure there was going to be some screw up at some point. I’d had a soft spot for the team ever since one of their drivers crashed out of the first race before I even turned on the TV. It was nice to see the underdogs leading a race, especially in a season that’s been essentially dominated by one man.

Shockingly, there was no screw up (at least not on Saturday), and Felix Rosenqvist took the team’s first win.

Nick and the winner of Mahindra’s latest design competition on Friday. Nick was better prepared for the weather than me

Press pen was a little more chaotic than it had been in Paris. Maybe that was because I wanted to speak to Nick Heidfeld, who is a popular man in Germany… But I managed to get my interview with Nick, a few questions about what this meant for the team and whether there was any… bitterness it had been Felix to take the first win and not him. There wasn’t.

I spoke to a few other drivers but the one that gave me the best quotes – once again – was Prost. Prost had moved aside so Sebastien Buemi could take the position and gain a few extra points. It hadn’t worked out at the time because Buemi was disqualified, but we didn’t know this at the time. It almost cost Prost third in the championship – it would have done if penalties hadn’t been applied – and I wanted to know about Prost’s thoughts on his own championship. I’m quite proud of the article I managed to get out of that.

It wasn’t until I was halfway to the tube station that they announced Buemi had been disqualified. I added that to my growing to-do list for when I got to the hotel. I would also be writing a qualifying report for Formula One – filling in for Overtake Motorsport’s F1 correspondent who was feeling ill. By the time I’d finished the two articles and transcribed my interviews, it was definitely time to sleep.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday during the day, watching trackside and getting stressed that Mahindra would make a mistake (they did this time). But I missed the press pen this time so I could rush for a plane.

That was all for nothing, anyway, as the flight was canceled…

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I loved the Tempelhof track in season one, though mostly because I remember there being beautiful camera angles. Now I love it even more and I definitely want to come back if there’s another race here.

 

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