The Reuters global sports blog
Force India’s Hulkenberg drives me crazy
“So help me God”.
Four innocuous words but it nearly unnerved me enough to back out of the whole business. I somehow scribbled my name in the indemnity form below those four words and the face of my three-month son instantly flashed before my eyes.
By the time my head was squeezed into what looked more like an astronaut’s headgear than a helmet, I was a bundle of nerves, kicking myself for agreeing to do something as silly as this.
But then it is not every day that you get a Formula One driver, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in this case, driving you around New Delhi’s Buddh International Circuit in a 450HP Mercedes C63 AMG.
I feebly waved at my photographer colleague and crawled into the car, thinking I might not return again.
“It was good knowing you,” said one of the organisers, an ex-colleague of mine with a singularly wicked sense of humour, could not help pulling my leg.
The sinister wink with which Nico greeted me into the car hardly helped. He seemed up for some mischief and that was not good news for me.
“Not yet Nico! I’m searching for the seatbelt,” I pleaded.
Nico looked back and helped me locate and fasten it. “Are we ready now?”
I nodded. Or probably my head wobbled under the helmet’s weight.
With a violent jerk, Nico set off and soon I realised I did not read him wrong.
“Here we go,” the 24-year-old German screamed and we lurched backwards.
At Turn Three, the car shook so violently that I banged my head, safe inside the helmet, twice on the door.
As I struggled for balance, the car bobbed and weaved on the undulating track with Nico spinning the steering wheel not unlike an efficient DJ working on his turntable.
By the time he brought the car to a stop, it was a mixed feeling – thrill and relief.
I thanked Nico as I crawled out of the car. I handed over the helmet and was about to throw the white balaclava when someone said “keep the souvenir.”
I had just sunk into a chair to think about the lap that had seemed to fly past me when another media colleague approached me.
“Can you please keep my cell phone and specs please?”
As he deposited them on another chair, I could see his fingers trembling.
I at least had the consolation that there were not just one chicken sports journalist at the Buddh International Circuit that day.