Singing our way to Spa
This blog comes to you mid-train journey home. As much as I'm still fascinated by getting a train from Europe to the heart of London, it can't quite beat my outbound journey to the Belgian Grand Prix.
On Thursday morning at 7.30, I was genuinely standing outside the Houses of Parliament hitching a lift to Spa. The slight cheat, of course, was that I knew a certain Martin Brundle would appear at any moment in his E-type Jaguar, looking like Kings Lynn's answer to James Bond. He was a demon on the Brussels bypass!
I've seen plenty of messages on Twitter from you guys saying you enjoyed our little road trip. If you missed it, I've uploaded it onto the blog below, and amazingly, as I write this blog, I've yet to see it myself!
You might be wondering why. On race morning, usually at about 10am, the whole team of presenters, including David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, get together, have a meeting and watch all the VTs (pre-produced films) in the show. However, the drive-a-thon was such a big job that the producers and editors hadn't finished putting it together by then.
I'd usually get to watch it on the little screen that Roger the monitor man faithfully carries around the pit lane. But we began the show walking live through McLaren with Martin and, as the garage is a tight squeeze at the best of times, the monitor was waiting at the far side of the garage.
While it was being transmitted on live TV we could hear the elements that had been chosen through our earpieces. We were cringing at the singing. Hope your eardrums survived!
To give you some idea of the effort the guys in the edit suite went to last weekend, this is what they filmed and edited since we arrived in Spa just for the race show: the driving piece, the Rubens Barrichello 300 GP's interview , the Jenson pre-race interview , the story of qualifying, Mark Webber's pole lap, and what we call the 'closer'.
That list doesn't even take into account the stuff we did on Saturday. There was even more 'VT' in that show and if you missed it, the build-up to qualifying can be watched on the iPlayer until next Saturday.
It's the closer that really blows my mind. During the race the guys are watching loads of different feeds from the FOM director who controls the race, also looking for other shots that tell a story, picking a good music track. And most impressively of all they get it all cut together for the end of the show - it makes standing next to EJ and DC seem a doddle!
Perhaps on Sunday the 'closer' mission wasn't as hard as usual because they had stacks of incredible shots to play with. One of the things we'll all benefit from massively when F1 joins the high-definition revolution is how dramatic the on-track action will look.
Just imagine what the collision between Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel would look like in HD - Button's prone McLaren puttering out steam after Vettel had buried his nose cone into its sidepod. When F1 does become High Definition, it will become even more of a must-watch event, and we're continuing to talk to FOM about when that might be.
And how much of a 'must-watch' season is this turning into? On Sunday morning I woke up at the cute B&B I was sharing with Jonathan Legard, Lee McKenzie and Ted Kravitz, went downstairs for breakfast and had one of those moments of realisation that I was about to have a day to remember.
Even with a job as rewarding as this it is sometimes easy to get so caught up in the circle of travel, preparation, scripts and transmission that you almost forget the event that your covering is central to what you are doing.
On race day in Belgium I was properly excited as we joined the hoards heading through the rather ramshackle villages that surround the circuit. Spa is like nowhere else on the calendar. Got a driving licence and a rain mac? Then pay a visit!
So, where are we now in the gripping championship battle?
Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber have grabbed the momentum within their teams by the scruff of the neck, Hamilton re-taking the championship lead just at the right time and Fernando Alonso now facing a real battle to remain in the running. I'd be really interested to know who you think can do it.
We spent the weekend talking up all five's chances but take into account the seemingly error-prone form of Alonso and Vettel, Hamilton and Button knowing their car might not be as strong around tracks such as Singapore and Korea, and Webber knowing Red Bull's advantage has been eroded somewhat and there are reasons to doubt the chances of all five. Equally, each has the unquestionable talent to finish the job. Who can put the whole package together? It is SO close!
Anyway, it's now time to turn my attention towards Monza. Before that, though, next weekend I'll be doing some presenting that really scares me.
I'm cool with seven million people on BBC One but less comfy with the guests who will watch me do a reading at my best mate's wedding back home in sunny Norfolk - wish me luck. And if I mess it up, Steve, I apologise now.
Then the week after that we'll be at the fastest track on the circuit.
When I last drove at Monza I was disappointed not to win. Mind you, the Red Bull looked amazingly fast in the hands of a man who has won national races and just drove away from me, and as I looked across to my other rival, Lewis Hamilton, just before lights out, it was clear he was desperate to win.
All I can say is that he's a ruthless competitor and... erm... he was driving in his socks!
No idea when I raced him or what I'm talking about? Well I guess you'd better tune in to our coverage in Italy, then!