Sent: 09 September 2015 00:25


From: Cyril Nikitenko []

Sent: 09 September 2015 00:25

To: John Johnson []

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Subject: RE: F3 in Portimão

Dear John,

I just got back from Portimão, I’m sunburnt and paranoid as you may suspect. My handsome sunburned face still smells of petrol and I think the image of the FIA F3 car’s steering wheel will follow me forever everywhere I go. It’s hopeless, the thing (European F3) is just too good to concentrate on something else at the moment. I’ll eventually blow me hard earned cash on this one, I can feel it.

Don’t judge me as you always do, John. I’m just a dreamer who blogs his life away. Yay! YAY?!

You wanted to know where I’d stayed in Portimão – forget about it. I spent 3 nights in Alvor, some kind of rural hotel called O Coelho Cozido, not too far from the Al Capone bar/restaurant, the one you recommended to me 15 years ago. Pizza tasted good, traditional Portuguese food never disappoints, y’know.

Al Capone is alive.

Al Capone is alive.

The hotel, yes – they served double English breakfast there, it meant I could go on forever once I got to the track. Maybe 10 espressos per day, but that was all ever needed from the circuit bar. The bar’s great, you were damn right. They had this traditional pig’s head local soup that made all the Australian journos go nuts. All I could hear was: “Mate! This soup is fantastic, mate!”

Anyway, I could immediately pick up the smell of top class competition in the air the minute I spotted Karun Chandhok in the paddock chatting with some tall chaps before qualy 1. I decided not to bother him and leave him alone to do whatever his was busy doing, mainly chatting I suppose.

You once told me Giovinazzi is a dude’s dude, I clearly remember that, however he must’ve been still mentally stuck in the DTM car in Portimão. Rosenqvist simply destroyed everyone psychologically over the weekend, something he would confirm later at the presser when I suggested this theory to him. Normally he’d be looking after this tyres and stuff, just being Felix, being number 1, controlling the gap, etc., but during race 3 he just showed his supremacy over the entire field with great panache. Wot a bloke! Make sure you read my interview with him:

I watched the broadcast later on on YT and, despite some fantastic shots, TV doesn’t do F3 justice at all. It’s so much bigger and better live, it’s tremendously overwhelming, it’s super cool, it’s loud, it’s angry, it’s violent, it’s competitive. The cars are what F1 used to be a few years ago: exquisite aero and normal tyres allow the drivers to push and show their skills to pay the bills. Bargeboards feature small turning vanes or winglets (, whatever you wanna call them. Then you can find some additional winglets on both sides of the cockpit. Winglets vary from team to team, how cool is that? Prema went for a long one (, while Carlin had a sharp 2008 Ferrari style cutlery piece ( Amazing! This is Formula 3 we’re talking about.

I left the circuit positively impressed by the whole organization and even my tiny, difficult to wear tabard didn’t make me mad, you know how I transform into a rage monster sometimes!

A lot of these guys will be racing in Formula 1 in the future, some will follow a different career path. In any case, it pleased me how professional everyone was. Forget about twitter punditry regarding track limits and so on, let the kids race, it just adds to the show. Track officials would disagree though… A bit of discipline is always welcome, no worries.

I spent a good chunk of my time hunting down the Neil Brown engine at the back of that ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara. Alas, I only saw her from behind! That’s a beautiful engine to behold, a work of art. British Museum level. Maybe next time I’ll get lucky.

One could instantly feel F1 vibes in the paddock as Ferrari YD Academy blokes and Lotus F1 Junior Team blokes were supervising their respective drivers, very chic indeed. I want that bus Lance Stroll – or rather his dad – is using to move around Europe, it’s HUGE!

John, I’ll see you in Jerez at the Pit-Stop Bar for the WSR weekend next month, don’t drink too much sherry before our meeting, last time you were so spaced out you couldn’t say a word.

Take care.

All the best,


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