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China F1: hot dogs, cold turkey and cucumbers

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Jennie Gow | 10:32 UK time, Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Nico Rosberg celebrates his maiden F1 win


I'm currently sitting by a swimming pool with a former F1 driver to my right and to my left, one of the drivers' personal trainers. This is not a good place to be as I peruse the menu and try to decide if ordering chips with my lunch would incite derision from my two pool buddies. Ho hum….prawn salad it is then (minus the fries).

We left China straight after the race and headed for Dubai, our home for the next couple of days before making the short journey to Bahrain for the next round of the F1 World Championship.

You'll have to excuse my references to food so early on in this piece, but it's just been that sort of weekend. China is not the easiest place for a semi-vegetarian, non-milk consuming, generally fussy eater!

Anyway, I'll return to talk of food later on. First things first - it was an amazing race.

Entertainment on the track before the start of the race


It would appear after several years of not really getting what F1 was all about, the Chinese flocked to the Shanghai International Circuit to come and see the show.

As you may expect from a country that put on the most amazing opening ceremony for an Olympic ceremony that we are ever likely to see, there was plenty of entertainment on the track before the main event.

There were men painted in gold striking giant drums, stilt walkers and dancers and giant green bubble producing princesses being propelled along the grid by a merry mass of silver-clad men. It was certainly a spectacle.



The central grand stand was full to the rafters with fans - over 20,000 in the main section alone. They were in for a treat as Nico Rosberg took his maiden Grand Prix win in Formula One after 111 starts, finally being able to get rid of the mantle, ‘the best F1 driver never to have won a Grand Prix’.

I spoke to one of his advisors, a tall German called Georg, just as Nico was driving up to take his first ever pole position in F1, and I think he was more nervous than his driver! However, Nico kept his cool and won the race by just over 20 seconds.

Norbert Haug, the MD of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport shedding tears of joy for his driver as they celebrated in Parc Ferme. This meant a lot for all the team, not just Nico.

It’s the first time since 1955 that Mercedes have won in Formula One and it's an exciting time for the Championship – it’s the first time someone other than Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Alonso or Button has won a race since Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix back in August 2009 - almost 50 races.

So congratulations to Nico, who clutching a pink crape paper-wrapped bouquet of flowers, made his way off the same plane as us the morning after the night before, just the same man he was yesterday, but just that little bit taller now he has thrown the proverbial monkey from his back.

Sebastian Vettel and the cucumber he was given by the german media.


Talking about monkey business - one of my favourite parts of the weekend would have to be the moment Sebastian Vettel was given a cucumber by the german media in reference to him calling Narain Karthikeyan a 'cucumber' after their run-in in Malaysia.

On being asked for clarification about what Seb called Narain he said "I’m no cucumber or gherkin expert but I called him a cucumber".

Seeing the current World Champion stand, talking to assembled press holding this prickly, green, slightly bent vegetable brought a wry smile to all our faces.

I'm not sure Sebastian knew quite what to do with the offending article after that as he held it behind his back, then used it truncheon-like at his hip, and at one point, thought better about doing something else with it, before passing it to his press officer.


 That leads me nicely onto finger food - the media centre in China is an immense place. Almost every nationality in the world is represented by someone, with the majority of press either British, German or Spanish.

Now, every Grand Prix that you go to there is some sort of food on offer. In China we were supplied with an assortment of meaty looking sandwiches and hotdogs (with all the accompaniments) and of course, as much coffee as the world's assembled press could drink.

Producer Jason admitted to eating at least five hot dogs over the course of the weekend.

Food on offer in the media centre in China


Whilst we may have had food, not having proper access to the internet was more of a problem.

For the entire week I was forced to go cold-turkey and not use Google, Twitter or Facebook.

I can't remember the last time I spent a whole week unable to check up on what the rest of the world was doing and saying; what people were having for lunch or what the weather was like at home.

It was a strange, slightly unnerving experience and it made me realise how much a race weekend is enhanced by sharing it with you guys.

Fingers crossed it will be the only country we go to this season where we face a limited amount of censorship.


So on we go to Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton leading the championship and as he told me after the race, "It's been a long time since I've lead the Championship. It's a nice feeling. I won't take it for granted."

He is just two points ahead of teammate Jenson Button and both feel that they can get more from the in-form McLaren.

With hotter temperatures on the way for the next race it could be a return to the front row for the team after the Mercedes dominance in the colder conditions of China.

Right, the former F1 driver and trainer have gone to the gym so I think the coast is clear to order those chips now…

Jennie Gow is 5 live Formula 1's pit lane reporter. You can follow her on Twitter at @jenniegow.

For more reaction from the Chinese Grand Prix, download the Chequered Flag podcast.

BBC Sport's Formula 1 site


  • Comment number 1.

    I suppose I was stupid to think a BBC employee would even stoop to a comment about back to back F1 races in politically incorrect and corrupt, undemocratic countries that only have an F1 race because they can afford to shell out £37 million to the F1 bosses. Is it beyond the wit of anyone on the BBC staff covering F1 that they couldn't raise even one wry comment about these consecutive Grand Prix races happening in such awful places, where people are tortured, they disappear, there is the death penalty for just not liking your government? What ever.

  • Comment number 2.

    presume this was meant to be sent to friends & family

  • Comment number 3.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    it may well be that in some countries the government has run from the edges but that should not spoil the fun for the formula 1 f1 is something magical that will remain forever how bad some people are oppressed in some countries

  • Comment number 4.

    The money paid to Ecclestone and his mob is quite obscene.

  • Comment number 5.

    Msg 4 - It is alleged that Berni Ecclestones daughter's wedding cost 12 million, he's got to get the dosh back from somewhere.

  • Comment number 6.

    Jennie seems to be having a few days off between races as she has not yet commented, but now our MPs are getting interested it would be good to have a reaction from "within" the F! community via the BBC's pit lane reporter, as she clearly has very good contacts according to the blog she has posted.

  • Comment number 7.

    Note to Blog Editor:

    In times where services are being cut and quality of the BBC is being compromised, it's not helping to be telling us about sitting by the pool with F1 stars or taking breakfast with Tom Watson as we've had in the past few weeks.

    It can't be a coincidence that there are always more comments/posters & general interaction when there's a serious subject such as the RAJAR figures or programme changes than when it's a fluffy subject such as this blog.

  • Comment number 8.

    mistered5 is quite correct. And this is precisely why I chose to angle my comments towards the serious side of the next and last F1 jamboree. I love F1 as much as the next fan but this is quite politically incorrect and repugnant and so unacceptable to anyone who respects democracy, and the least someone from the BBC team could do is actually answer the point.

  • Comment number 9.

    oh dear oh dear

  • Comment number 10.

    meaning, Fed?

  • Comment number 11.

    At least Kevin Eason from the Times was reporting properly about the protests. Presumably Jennie is still by the pool/eating with some star or other and hasn't ventured out.

  • Comment number 12.

    Blog 9/10: Meaning Carrie, that yet again he doesn't get it.

  • Comment number 13.

    What we need is more volleyball on 5live ! Due to lack of expenditure it could become mega and replace all football.I can picture a blog by Jennie Gow sticking it too the rest of us and beginning.....' I am currently sitting, not by a swimming pool for once but on a beach with the sun pouring down watching womens beach volleyball .........it' s the future of 5live I tell ya......

  • Comment number 14.

    At last it is being taken seriously by at least afew people, not AVK of course. However, I do not like the way the Force India incident was reported yesterday - they weren't hurt in the attack so the GPO will continue, fact is hundreds of PEOPLE are being hurt every day. I for one will not watch it and I shall miss it, just like I missed the Beijing Olympics - personal boycott. Didn't watch one thing from Beijing. Avoided all newspaper reports. It made me feel better, just a tiny personal protest. I did say this a while ago after the Australian GP, and I do feel it is time for everyone to tell Ecclestone to stop it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Apologies for typos.

  • Comment number 16.

    Jennie, I think it was a well written and entertaining piece, that gives us a snapshot of what life I like following the GP circus.

    More of the same please, and feel free to put your feet up after the none stop week of work you endure, covering each race, deserved I'm sure. These high profile situations sure don't entertain too many slackers ;)

    Initially, I was appalled at the BBC's decision to join up with Sky, but now, following the first few races of the season has been fantastic, and the coverage is perfect.

    I would also say i think the coverage is better. More concise, refined and I can listen to each race, while I work, and then watch the highlights afterwards, without loosing 4 hours sat in front of the TV on a Sunday. Double GP action! Perfect!

    5 Live. You Rock!

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh dear.

  • Comment number 18.

    Must have missed his medication.......

  • Comment number 19.

    Meaning, Carrie? Ppffftttt.

    And who says I'm a he? Bit presumptuous of you Ginge.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ridiculing those who have an opposite view from the clique is becoming a regular feature on these blogs, it is bad enough Mr Stumps trying to be witty ( see post 12) but the rest of the clique acting like Sheep is enough to wake the dead.....

    Anyway generally speaking the BBCs Coverage of F1 has been nothing short of fantastic, all the new recruits have bedded in well, as for Bahrain, Money rules, none of this "personal boycott" guff is going to overide the ££££££££££££££££

  • Comment number 21.

    webbeldez, i only meant that I feel it is a shame that Jennie couldn't take the opportunity for some real journalistic content to the Bahrein blog in view of what we all knew was going to happen. A frothy piece on pool companions and food is so very insipid when you know she is going to be a few miles from human rights violations, like she was in China. What would be wrong about just saying something about that and not being supported as she is writing froth. I was certainly not ridiculing you, merely stating a fact, that it is a shame you couldn't say something along those lines instead of saying she deserves a few days off, for heavens sake she is having a ball from morning til night, at licence payers' expense, might I add.

    However, I agree with Fed's second paragraph, money talks and blow tear gas a few miles away. Personal boycotts are just that, none of the inverted commas thanks, I mean it and you should not criticise those who care about the violations.

  • Comment number 22.

    No ridiculing of other posters from me Fed.I was referring to our friend Bernie.You and others have got the wrong end of the stick as usual.Perhaps you should go back to Facebook again if these blogs upset you so and you hate others opinions so much.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hate? I hate nothing in Life, least of all this Blog, it is entertaining reading,especially comments by a certain group, however much you lot moan and groan on this blog
    (ALOT) you still listen to 5live!!!! Brillant!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    You hate me Fed .... (sob)

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think he is too keen on me either but he does sound very angry most of the time.....!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Strange how Jennie's new blog from Bahrein just disappeared in to thin air, a bit like some of the protestors..........

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Carrie.

    A note on Jennie's Bahrain blog: it was published early in error, and should be going back up soon. It was an unedited version that appeared briefly, not the subbed version (everything on here is subbed - by me, probably poorly!).


  • Comment number 28.

    Cheers Will.


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