Getting ready to go again…

So, the Chinese visa is done and, €220 lighter, I am off to the Russian visa centre today to get my application in before I leave for China. I have bits of paper listing the names of my parents and employment details of magazines long departed and editors who cannot be reached by phone as they are now engaged editing the Hades Gazette. I tried to fill in all the countries I have visited in the last 10 years, but the form stopped accepting new entries when I was still only midway through 2016. I even filled out details of my education, although for the life of me I don’t know why Russian immigration officials need these things. I’m always tempted to list “War Studies” at Imperial College, just for fun or to tick a box saying that I have fought in wars, just to see what happens, but I guess that would mean I would not be allowed to enter Putinland. I always laugh when one fills in the US immigration forms and they ask whether you have been involved in espionage or terrorism. I’m sure that spooks always tick that one…

In recent years, the Russian GP has had the smallest numbers of international journalists, even dipping below the 100 mark (I believe) last year. This is not altogether surprising given that flights to Sochi are, of course, scandalously expensive with the Thursday flight costing £1,000 more than the same trip on the Wednesday. Nothing like soaking the F1 circus… It is this sort of thing (and messing with hotel bookings) that make such events unpopular but I guess that Vladimir Putin’s desire to promote Sochi is only shared by his cohorts because it allows them to squeeze cash out of the visitors. I cannot honestly say that it inspires me to write great things about Russia, but it is what it is – and should not really surprise us. Gouging is something we see wherever we go, although in most places we are able to find workarounds that keep things reasonable.
The only real F1 news of the week so far is that Pascal Wehrlein will again stand down at Sauber for the race in Shanghai and given the fact that Bahrain is a week after China, one supposes that he won’t be seen there either. This is a very grown-up response by Pascal, as most youngsters would just push on and crash out. Admitting he is not ready is a mature decision for one so young. Taking part in the Race of Champions and then hurting himself in a crash was not smart – and I imagine that the event will once again struggle to get F1 names in the future , if the teams want to be sure that they won’t be risking their assets. That’s a shame because the event is fun. However big business is big business…

They say the weather in China will be bad this weekend, so it will be interesting to see what happens.