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Back-to-back Grands Prix can sometimes suck the life out of the Formula One paddock, as weariness away from home takes it toll. But a bit of shopping in the United States seemed to revive spirits ahead of Indianapolis.

Despite the city not being a patch on the size and liveliness of Montreal just a week before, the mood in the paddock seemed good - as everyone showed off their new shoes, trousers, shirts or shorts.

There were also a few tales to tell - not least for Anthony 'Boy Scout' Davidson who got propositioned in his car at some lights by a very large local.

The guy leaned over to the car's window and said to the Super Aguri driver and his passenger, team truckie Barney Downer: "Can I get inside you boy scouts tonight?"
The pair made a very sharp exit. But the nickname has now stuck.

Robert Kubica was not the only absentee from the BMW Sauber team at the United States Grand Prix.

While Kubica had actually made it as far as Indianapolis, before the FIA decided he should not race following his Montreal accident, his race engineer did not even make it across the border from Canada.

Kubica's race engineer Mehdi Ahmady is half Iranian, and America's political issues with the Middle Eastern country meant he was not granted a visa to get into the country.

US immigration had little sympathy with what Ahmady had been through in Canada, or that he was clearly only coming to Indianapolis to do his job.

It meant Ahmady had to fly back to the team's factory in Hinwil, while Sauber used test engineer Ossi Oikarinen to oversee Sebastian Vettel's F1 debut.

America just loves its midget and sprint car racing. So what better way for clothing supplier Alpinestars to hold their annual media get-together than by letting some journalists loose in these little beasts.

The one-fifth mile Indianapolis Speedrome was hired for the night and 30 lucky members of the media were signed up to get a little taster of Midget machinery.

I was one of those lucky competitors, although there were a few second thoughts about taking part when I got a first look at the incredibly tight cockpit of these 140bhp machines.

The seating position was more akin to a Portaloo than a racing car. You sit virtually upright with the pedals on the floor below you. Then the steering wheel sits flat in your lap; so it feels like you are driving a bus rather than some exotic racing machinery.

Once the cars got going, however, you forgot how uncomfortable and claustrophobic the whole thing felt.

The car was responsive, pushed hard in the corners and even though my foot slipped below the brake pedal and was unable to get out, there was little panic in keeping the machine rooted to the back of the pace car that made sure we did not get too excited and plant it into the wall.

With Alpinestars running a Midget-Idol type competition, where fault points were handed out to drivers not taking the correct line or straying too far from the pace car, I was not lucky enough to make it through to the final six-man shoot out.

That was left to the host of ex-Grand Prix drivers who had turned up. And it was Marc Surer, who now works for Premier TV, to take overall victory.

All I was left with was a sore hip, aching arms, a few bruises and some great memories of 12 adrenaline-filled laps of the track.

Lewis Hamilton may be doing everything right at the moment, but even he could not control the poor weather around Washington before the race that delayed his arrival to Indianapolis.

The McLaren driver had attended a promotional event for team sponsor Exxon-Mobil, and had been due to fly down to Indianapolis on Wednesday night. But storms forced lengthy delays to his flight, and in the end it was cancelled.

That would not have been such a major problem, except Hamilton was due to attend the FIA's media conference at Indy on Thursday morning. And with the FIA having clamped down hard on 'tardy miscreants' in Canada, a back-up plan was swung into action.

So team boss Ron Dennis diverted his private jet to Washington to pick Hamilton up and rush him down to Indy, where he made the press conference just 20 minutes late.

After attacking paddock newspaper the Red Bulletin in Monaco, then having a few swipes at the British press in Canada for their reporting of the 'team orders' controversy in Monte Carlo, it was Ron Dennis' turn to hit out at the Internet at Indianapolis.

Annoyed by the huge media interest surrounding Fernando Alonso's comments to Spanish radio last week, where the world champion said that he was not 'totally comfortable' at McLaren, Dennis felt it was actually all the Internet's fault for alerting the world to Alonso's comments.

Below is Dennis' response to a straightforward question about how hard it will be to handle a fight for the world championship between his two drivers:

"I haven't experienced what we are trying to handle at the moment. I believe in thinking these things through, trying to grapple with what the issues are. When I look back on the (Alain) Prost and (Ayrton) Senna era, which was very difficult to manage, the biggest change from there to now is the Internet.

"The process I see is that very often the first person who interviews a driver, especially if it is a motorsport journalist, accurately uses the quote. Then it goes to the second person, very often with translation in-between, sometimes English to Spanish and sometimes the other way around.

"And it is at that point that the sound bite is carved out of the quote, used as the headline, very often on the Internet site, and that is it. That starts the whole thing, and then actually the stories get constructed under the headline.

"So what you are dealing with is not something that is factually correct and therefore a real problem between the drivers. You are dealing with an emotional reaction.

"We talked extensively about it yesterday, and really the consequences just make it more and more difficult to be what we want to be, and that is totally open and cooperative with the media.

"And now we have to have a situation where the drivers - who are not controlled by us; we function as a team - have to be aware of the fact that it doesn't matter how innocent or well structured an answer is in respect of a question about their teammate, one in ten will be spun.

"So they will be more controlled and mindful of anything they say about each other, and they have agreed independent of us that they will only talk about each other in each other's presence. Because then there is no misconception or no misunderstanding.

"The analysis of everything that causes spin does not bear out spin. It just doesn't. We live in a world of spin; we know we have a very acute awareness of the things that are going to come down the road at us. Some sooner than later, and we are handling them as and when they come.

"One thing that is particularly uncomfortable is that the second line of time-consuming action is when the other team principals see it as an opportunity to try and spring one of the drivers out of the system, and then start to feed the media with constructive counter-espionage type statements. Then that gives you even more aggravation.

"We accept it, understand it, but we are just desperately trying to be correct. And we are very aware of course that the vast majority of you guys, not all, are absolutely trying to work with us.

"The problem is, as many of you know, that many of the stories get written by people that don't even come to Grands Prix. It is a difficult thing to manage."

As Sophocles once wrote: None love the messenger who brings bad news...
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