Rain. Here I am in the desert, thinking I’m going to escape the mess of storms we have in London. It’s a long way to Tabuk, but the thing with this globe is that it all connects together. Rolling clouds in the morning and the crack of thunder led to a downpour.
“I’m worried about dust,” said my late night pick-up last night before I showed him the forecast. 90% precipitation.
The dunes were flattened down and made more bumpy – moguls instead of powder. Watching the drivers on their onboard camera, you see them fighting to keep control of the steering wheel, using all their strength. It is true test, this Motorsport. Having never really understood my father’s great love for Formula 1, I’m beginning to understand it now. It helps to see it from the inside. This week I’ve met the mechanics, some of whom will be working all night in the freezing desert to try and patch up machines that have taken huge hits. I’ve met the drivers, one of whom is probably full of some of the opiates I helped pick up last night. I’ve met the contractors who build the infrastructure, and the catering, and the hospitality. The people who do security and who make sure there’s water and who pick the litter and who make sure there are people who pick the litter. The people who build it, who talk about it on camera, who respond in emergencies. So many people all sharpened to tomorrow. And I have started to see what is riding on it. This is brilliant and goofy and fast and fun. These teams are pushing the frontiers of electric vehicles while racing in absurdly tough conditions with even weight on female and male drivers and an event focus on the environment. I feel like I’m in on the ground floor of the future of motor racing. And I care about it. I have my feelings about the teams, based on details of behaviour and contact between them and me – and I’m still the flatfish at the bottom of the ocean in terms of rank here. I’m not aspiring to be anything else. I like people.
It has been hard today, for everybody really. The cold moved in with the rain. All the locals were so happy to see that rain, but I was swearing. I stood out there in the car park finding it almost impossible to believe that I was being hit in the hat by hail in this desert that has cooked me and tanned me and dried me out. But that skywater? It’ll be good for nature. The stray dogs are going to have puddles. The camels can top up. We might even see rare desert blooms. Does this usually happen in February here?
As I write, a warning has come over the WhatsApp. Electric storm, coming over the site. Stay in your vehicles. I could never have predicted that this would be the conditions on race weekend. I’m hoping for a good day tomorrow all round. I’m hoping nothing blows away in the night. I’m in bed, exhausted with cold and general fatigue. I’m gonna pass out so I’m fresh tomorrow to go back into the fray.