My timing seems to have gone all wonky now. I closed the poll late, and this post has appeared later than I’d hoped. I can only apologise. Here are the results for the poll on Part 3:
Quite the majority! Awww, you guys.
“Wow!” Mitch said, hugging her quickly. “Congratulations. I’ll have to take you out for a celebratory drink.”
“I turned it down,” Melissa said.
“A commiseratory drink?”
“I wanted to turn it down,” she clarified.
Melissa laughed. “I’m just not ready to…” she trailed off, trying to think of the right words.
“Settle down?” Mitch offered. She hit him on the arm, and he feigned pain.
“No,” she said. “I just like this. I like covering this. Drivers, cars, races, testing, all of it. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. Yet.”
“You don’t want to have missed your chance either.”
“So supportive,” Melissa rolled her eyes at him, and turned away.
“Maybe,” Mitch offered, “maybe I could just take you for a drink.”
Melissa glanced back and smiled. “Maybe you could,” she said.
The next few days of testing were subdued. The rain continued to fall, hampering the teams chances to get some meaningful running completed. Melissa stayed tucked away in the garages whenever she could, trading on the hospitality of some of the teams – meeting and greeting, networking all the time.
On the final day, she was chatting to one of the mechanics at Shuttleworth Racing. The rain finally started to ease off, although no one in their right mind would be heading out yet.
“Mortimer are going out,” Bruno said, as the car in question passed him in the pitlane.
“What?” Melissa overheard, and pushed through the garage to the pitlane. She stepped out into the fresh air, looking first up at the sky, and then down at the track. “It’s too wet. We should still be red flagged.”
“It’s not that bad,” Bruno said, bravely. “A few more minutes and you could bolt on inters.”
Melissa frowned at him and returned to the garage to continue her conversation. She kept one eye on the monitors, warily.
Bruno waited until Mitch had completed three laps, and then reached for his helmet. “Inters,” he told the nearest mechanic, who blinked at him in surprise. “The Mortimer has cleared the track now, we could go out and get plenty of data. It’s bound to rain at the British GP, isn’t it? We could have a head start.”
“You’ll be lucky to have a head,” the mechanic said, but a stern look from Bruno sent him away, shrugging helplessly.
Mitch was struggling, and his lap times reflected that. He wasn’t focused on being fast, though. He was concentrating on their tyres and how they reacted to the changing status of the track. It was still wet, but there were sections of the circuit that were beginning to warm up, if not dry out. They were lacking grip on the front tyres, and Mitch was curious to experiment and find out more.
He put his foot down on the home straight, zipping past the Mortimer mechanic holding out his pit board. Four laps now. This was slow going.
At the pit lane exit, Mitch spotted a Shuttleworth car, stationery at the white line. Looking in his mirrors as he passed, Mitch saw it was Bruno. On intermediate tyres. No wonder he wasn’t going anywhere. It only took a few corners, though, for Mitch to hear the roar of Bruno’s engine behind him. He moved out of the way and slowed to a crawl, allowing Bruno to pass him.
A couple more corners. Some slippery tarmac.
Suddenly, Mitch was confronted with the sight of an out-of-control Shuttleworth car, veering back onto the track in a spin. Bruno was grappling to steady the car, but they were rapidly getting closer and closer together. Contact seemed inevitable.
What should Mitch do?