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Grand Prix of Brazil 2006
Saturday October 21st. Qualifying day at the track! :) Day 5 of the trip.

6:30 am. Was going to be too early after last night so I decided on a lay in until 7:00am :)

It's a beautiful day! [That could be a good song title:)] Sun is shining, but still a little chilly. Anyway, I get my things together as usual, most important the Ticket and head downstairs to get a cab.

The staff at this Hotel are not as friendly as the staff at the Maksoud Plaza, and don't respond very well to "Bom Gia". They just look and say, what seems to be, a begrudging Bom Gia.

I head out the door, across the street to where I knew there was a Taxi stand.  On the corner is this gas station, I mention this because it is unusual.  All the staff are women, even the mechanics! Not a man to be seen anywhere. And as I've stated before about Brazilian women, not an ugly or fat one in the bunch. I would buy my gas there every day if I lived in Sao Paulo.

I get the cab and tell him Interlagos and away we go.  I begin to realize that driving in Sao Paulo is not as dangerous as it appears. Don't get me wrong, if you or I were driving there, we would probably be in an accident in the first 30 minutes.  I noticed that everyone driving in Sao Paulo is very aware of what is going on around them. (Unlike the States!) The little "Beep" on the horn is for all kinds of things, "Look out" "I'm letting you in" "I'm going to cut you off" "Please let me in" and of course "Get out of my way!" You just have to read the way the horn is beeped and the gesture that goes along with it. No one is doing make up, reading a book or shaving. Talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal. If you tried to do any of that you would have an accident in 5 minutes. That's no exaggeration!

The cab driver drops me right where I need to be. The bill is 42.00 Reais again. I give him 50 and the normal Muito Obrigado, and out I get.

Better timing today, the gate is open and I can go straight in.  I take the opportunity, before all the noise starts, to call Daniel from RED 5 as we are to try and meet up today. I just get voice mail.

I go into the Orange Tree stand, "Bom Gia Todo" I say to all the security as walk through the gate. They all respond with "Bom Gia" and smiles. So I guess adding the Spanish Todo (for Total/Everyone) actually works. :)

I walk over to the food counter and order a Coffee and a pastry to start, (the ordering station) and decide to have a little sit down while I drink my coffee. I meet another couple from England, Trevor and his wife Angela. They are from Portsmouth, and have their own business, which is what allowed them to come to Brazil. They told me they had gone to the Malaysian GP this year as well and had not planned on another long trip, until Schuie announced his retirement. More Schumacher fans!  I believe most of the fans had come to this race to see Schuie in his last race and pay homage (and that is with an "H" not an "O" as all Americans say it. :)

In fact there are a lot of people from England at the race this year, far more than I saw last year.

I try to call Daniel a couple more times with no luck.

I have a look around to see if I can get a spot where I can get some decent pictures without the poles getting in the way.

The Red stands next to us seem to be for Ferrari owners club, or something like that.  Past there, the white tent is the F1 Village.  Not much of a Village, but it's where you buy your souvenirs.  The big stand on the left is the one in the next price range UP from the Orange Tree.  Those bars get in the way everywhere! And no! That is not tiny people standing on the edge of the track. They are Fire Extinguishers. :)

More Corporate crowds today. And just to make it look like there are even more Ferrari fans than there really are, they are all in Red, RFS I believe is the group, but it means absolutely nothing to me. OK! So I picked the picture with the woman in it. I'm a guy! :)

Practice for the day is about to start. Spiker out first OK! So I almost missed I was distracted She is in charge of the food court. I've just realized that there are lot of things in Sao Paulo where the women are in charge.......The gas station, security of the Orange Tree stand and the Food concessionaire..............

"Super Best Friends" Taku Toyota, Ralf and Red Bull, DC

Now this picture really shows the loading on the rear tire of DC's Red Bull Ferrari. I really like this picture so decided not to "Thumbnail" it.

I also really like these, Michael   Kimi, and Mark Again I have a lot of pictures from Saturday and I will put a link at the end of Qualifying to just the pictures.

Oh well Free practice is over. I have two hours to waste so I'm going wondering again.  I had seen a man with a program. Major deal getting programs. Last year they came out Sunday morning and were given to us.  This year they were actually available on Saturday! So that's going to be my first stop.

I walk over to the Official souvenir stand behind and below the pits, which is where the guy at the Orange Tree said he got his. Angela had been asking about programs, and I decided I would pick them up one while I was at it.  I ask for 4, they only have two left. I take the two of course. I decide to stop by the F1 Village and see if there any more programs there. Nope! they hadn't even seen them yet.! But I decide to do the mandatory shopping, T-shirts and hats. They have no patches so one of the hats will get cut up when I get home to turn it into a patch to go on my F1 jacket (still laying on my sofa.).

My phone rings a couple of times but no one is there.

I decide to call Daniel again. This time I reach him he is in the middle of a crowd having a good time and it is difficult to hear him. But we work it out to meet outside by Gate 7 after qualifying.

There is a great view of the track half way between the F1 Village and Orange Tree stand. So I decide to hang out there for first Qualifying.  I think I got some great shots.

The session was short lived for one driver, Tiago, going around Larange.


With a good zoom you can see the cars distorting going around this corner, the camber on the front right just look at the graining on it and the compression of the left rear. I think it's amazing! Pedro with a different line around the same corner   All the cars have a very similar reaction at Larange, showing set ups are pretty equal

But look at the different wear on the tyres from different cars   The Ferrari's look a little different in this corner seeming to sit more flat with not so much body roll or camber on the front wheels. And take a good look at this one It almost looks like the wheels are trying to push through the tires! Can you imagine the G-forces involved there. And look at Fissy's car squatting down around the corner, need more front wing?

Here's a few shots coming up the straight towards Orange Tree.     Behind me is the Williams hospitality tent   And to my left I think it is the Ferrari club and Marlboro stands although it's sunny, it's pretty chilly. And I think I caught the sun a little. Daniel is sitting over there somewhere.   And then of course there are the choppers. Time to head back into my stand and eat some food. Who do I bump into as I am entering the Orange Tree?   Poor old Tiago.  I had to be quick for this one and I still had the zoom lens on, and he was not stopping to wait for me to take the picture.  Anyway, while second qualifying is going on, I eat, sandwiches, pastry for desert and some coffee.  I suddenly realize how quickly the qualifying session go by. I also bump into Trevor and Angela at the food stand, and balance everything while I get into my back pack to give them one of the programs I scored.

Final qualifying starts and I figure Michael is just doing a photo op lap for everyone guess I was wrong.  The one  thing missing at the race, is the commentary, there are no speakers anywhere, but then again it would probably be in Portuguese anyway. :) And there are those "Brake cooling aides" Yeah right! Moveable aerodynamics more to the point. But back to the qualifying................... I think that's Jenson behind the BMW, no it's Rubens (red Camera) Then here come the stars, Massa Fissy Fred Kimi

The rest of the qualifying pictures, in actual fact all of Saturdays pictures, you can see them here.

The crowd was the commentary, every time Massa took fast lap a huge cheer would go up. There was definite excitement in the air, plus Fred's fans.  In actual fact I think there were only really 3 drivers that had a decent fan base there. Massa, Schuie and Fred.

Qualifying is over and I have to meet Daniel. He said he would drive me back to the Hotel and we could have a drink and chat.

I no sooner arrive at the gate and Daniel turns up.  We introduce ourselves as this is the first time we have met in the flesh. We have chatted via email a lot so it was a very comfortable meeting.  Daniel speaks excellent English as well, which makes it easy for me.  Daniel tells me he has parked a long way from the track, so we have a walk ahead of us, but it's not that bad. It is half the distance I walked last year to get a cab.

The Police have not set up the roads yet, so we have to find a different way out.  No problem! Daniel lives here. :) I have faith. He has this nice "Rally" car Peugeot 206 and he likes to drive it. :)  He suggests taking me to a place where modelers meet to sit down and chat and have something to drink.  I think it's a fine idea.

This is not just a meeting place..........it is a model shop, no a MODEL SHOP! in a residential area, that you would not know exists unless you are invited. You go in through the double garage door, to the first floor. Floor to ceiling cabinets full of diecast models of everything! Granite everywhere and spotless.  We go upstairs, where the shelves are crammed with every 1:20 kit you could ever think of, again floor to ceiling. There are acu stion photo etch parts, a whole rack of them! I'm like a kid in a candy store.

There are two tables in the middle of the room where modelers do meet and chat, bring in some of the things they are working on. Daniel asks if I would like something to drink, pointing at the BAR! Yes, they serve alcohol as well. :) I think that's a good sales tactic. :)  We sit and chat about RED 5 and the future FW28, Daniels family and his full time job as a construction engineer.  I have to meet Jose Luiz and Debora around 7:30pm at my Hotel as they are picking me up to go and have dinner with them at their house.

We spend so much time chatting we are running late. Daniel has left us about 20 minutes to get to the Hotel and we need about 45. :) He telephones Debora to let her know, but Jose Luiz has already left for my Hotel.

It is illegal to talk on cell phone while driving, in Sao Paulo. But Daniel is talking and driving. When we see a Policeman standing on the side of the road, he puts the phone down out of site until we pass.

All is well. We are not too late. Jose is at the Hotel and has his son with him. Daniel and Jose know each other very well, so they have a little chat before Daniel takes off. And the rest of us head off to Jose's house. Of course I take my camera with me. Only to have the battery go dead as I am showing them some of the pictures I had taken that day. :(

We all sat in the living room and watched some of the qualifying on the TV and chatted about all kinds of things. Jose speaks more English than I do Portuguese, and both his son and daughter can speak English, but like Debora they do not like to speak it. I think because they don't want to make a mistake.  That is easily solved when I try to speak Portuguese and make a mess of it. Then they speak English. :)

I did catch the sun on my face as they all tell me my face is brighter than a Stop light. It is also burning. They order in 3 large Pizza's from their favorite Restaurant ZIOVITO.  These are a little different than we get in the States, but Man they are good! We sit around the table and eat and drink and chat.  Jose takes some pictures.

Again it's around 1:00am, time for me to get back to the Hotel, but they are going to make me go to a store and buy some suntan lotion and after sun treatment.  I am very thankful for the later. And to Jose and his family for taking good care of me when I'm in Sao Paulo.

Daniel had told me earlier to get to Interlagos early on Sunday because of the traffic.  Another short night of sleep, it will be. :)

See you all tomorrow.

Day 6 continues...... Quick Links Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 6