Ferrari’s excuse for such a poor qualifying was the event being held that evening. It was none other than the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 – Drivers’ Edition. They would be holding it live on the fans’ forum, with the public being able to vote and the jury consisting of the various broadcasting teams gathered for the Grand Prix.
Right now the race was at the back of everyone’s minds. They were all preparing the songs they were going to sing. All the drivers of one nationality had to group together to perform the song their country would be singing at the actual competition (or had already sung if they had not reached the final). Of course, this presented a slight problem to people like Felipe Massa. He would form part of the jury, along with Felipe Nasr, Sergio Perez, Rio Haryanto and Esteban Gutierrez.
After quickly gathering at the platform in front of the various cameras, Martin Brundle stood up to announce the start of the contest.
“Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 – Drivers’ Edition!” the Spanish crowd cheered. “Now, we haven’t been able to actually host this in Sweden, but our very own Swedish driver – and singer – Marcus Ericsson is going to kick things off with a rendition of last year’s actual winning song: Heroes!”
Everybody clapped, then the whole arena fell silent. The opening guitar chord strummed, then Marcus began,
“Don’t tell the gods, I left a mess, I can’t undo what has been done, let’s run for cover…” everyone was stunned into silence, this version was far better than what he had sung last year. Clearly Sweden would be in the running tonight.
“We are the heroes of our time!” A few cheers went around. “But we’re dancing with the demons in our minds!” Their minds were cast back to the amazing staging the previous year.
Marcus walked up to someone in the crowd, then bent down,
“You could be a hero,” he said, pointing at her. She screamed. “We are the heroes!” A huge gush of flame went up.
“What a way to start!” Martin came on. “And our first act of tonight is Max Verstappen from the Netherlands, performing Slow Down. I’m sure it’s something he doesn’t want to do…”
Max picked up his guitar and sat down at one side of the stage. Again a hush fell over the outdoor arena.
“Slow down, brother, slow down, brother,” he lilted. When the ten second silence came he strolled over to the audience and invited a lucky member of the public on stage with him. If it was possible they screamed even louder than the first audience member had. Max strummed his last chord and finished his song to a huge cheer from the crowd. Next up was Marcus himself with ‘If I Were Sorry.’
“If I were sorry, I’d give you all the glory, if I were sorry…” he didn’t need to sing loudly, such was the power his voice held over everyone. Felipe Nasr was sitting in the jury box with his mouth agape.
“You will catch flies,” the other Felipe smirked. The Sauber driver shut his mouth abruptly, blushing.
“It’s nothing… just – I had no idea he sung like that!” Marcus’ blond hair swayed in the gentle wind, and Felipe could hear various fangirls sighing. Somehow that only served to make him angrier.
“But I’m not sorry, no…” Marcus looked straight at Felipe. They held their gazes for what seemed like an age but was really the entirety of the last chord. The crowd went wild once again.
“And next up we have Romain Grosjean singing ‘J’ai Cherché’ for France!”
The words sounded somewhat strange in the Haas driver’s strong accent, and when he reached the high notes – or tried to – some were seen covering their ears. A polite applause went round when he had finished.
“Now we have Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel and Pascal Wehrlein performing ‘Ghost’ for Germany!” Martin announced. Boy was he looking forward to this.
“Why did we get stuck with the shit song?” Seb whispered.
“Just go with the flow, man,” Lewis laughed. The Germans were all decked out in the same blue and white frilly dress, knee high stripy socks and ridiculous headgear that resembled a peacock.
“I can’t have Kimi seeing me like this!” the Ferrari driver whined.
“Too late,” came a voice at his ear. Seb turned around to see Kimi looking him up and down. He winked. Startled, Seb nearly tripped over walking the platform. They were greeted with a load of laughs. Nico Rosberg walked with as much grace as he possibly could in a dress to the front.
“This is the ghost of you, bound to the ghost of me…” he sang, rather lower than the original. In his outfit nobody could take him seriously and it was rather a relief when they finished.
“And now it’s… Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas for Finland, performing: ‘Sing it Away!’”
The stage was transformed into something more disco-like. There was a mini-bar at one end. Everyone snorted, clearly Kimi had insisted upon that.
“Sing it away! All your troubles away… Sing it away!!” Somehow they managed to convert it into a rock song, rather like the one Kimi himself sang in 2006. The crowd got involved as well, dancing to the beat.
“Sing it AWAY!” Kimi roared to finish with a literal bang. Fireworks went off everywhere. Everyone cheered in delight.
“Wow – that could be a dark horse tonight: pun not intended,” Martin said. “Next up we have Daniel Ricciardo representing Australia – yes I know, it’s not in Europe, just deal with it – and he’s singing ‘Sound of Silence!’”
“I keep calling, calling….calling, calling… and I’m greeted by the Sound of Silence, the Sound of Silence!”
“And it beats to the Sound of Silence!” It was clear that singing was not a potential career path for the Australian. He must have realised this since he didn’t try to reach half the notes the original singer did. Eventually he finished as well and soon the audience were waiting for a song that would actually impress them.
“Next up we have Kevin Magnussen singing ‘Soldiers of Love’ for Denmark!”
“Let’s be soldiers of love, soldiers of love, soldiers of love for life…” the Dane sang. The soft country song was a welcome change from the – mostly out of tune – ballads.
Kevin got a good response. He remembered singing Only Teardrops back in 2014 for the opener and had been looking forward to this for quite a while now.
“Thanks to Kevin. Now we have Daniil Kvyat singing ‘You Are the Only One’ for Russia!”
It seemed that Dani wanted to outdo the staging in the actual competition – he came down on a zip wire to the amazement of the crowd and participants.
“Thunder and lightning, it’s getting exciting,” he boomed in his unique voice. In the background the appropriate sound effects were heard.
“You’re the only one, you’re my only one, you are my life, every breath that I take!” there was an outpour of emotion as he sung. Then the fireworks started to go off – from his outfit, the stage, and even from the track itself. It was a true Eurovision performance.
“You are the only one!” Dany finished. The reception he got was incredible – the crowd had chosen their winner.
“What a performance from Daniil Kvyat! Up next we have the Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz singing ‘Say Yay!’” Martin announced, still amazed from the previous performance.
“Say yay, yay, yay! Say yay, yay, yay!” The whole song only consisted of these words, since neither driver had bothered learning the lyrics. Fernando had never taken this contest seriously, and since Carlos copied everything his hero did, he did not see any need in doing it either. The crowd didn’t seem to mind. If anything, this cheer was the loudest yet, though perhaps it was only because it was Spanish people performing.
“And now we have our last performance for tonight, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Jolyon Palmer for the United Kingdom, singing ‘You’re Not Alone.’”
“You’re not alone, we’re in this together, all that you want, it’s right here forever!” The two former teammates sang in perfect harmony. They’d stuck the rookie at the back strumming the guitar chords, but Jolyon didn’t mind – this sort of stuff wasn’t his cup of tea anyway.
“I – I – I, feel like I’m dancing in the sky – y – y, I come alive when I’m with you!” Jenson sang.
“I come alive when I’m with you…” Lewis finished. The songs had now come to an end, and the voting began in earnest, both from the fans and from the jury. All the drivers teamed up to perform the annual interval act: ‘Just Drive.’
“We’re dedicating this to the legend Michael Schumacher, who twenty years ago got his first win for Ferrari here in Spain. We’re all thinking of you!” Lewis said.
Sebastian started the song off, “There is a star that lights the road, but will it take me to the edge well I don’t know…”
“For one last time, I take this ride… just drive…” everyone teamed up to sing what had now become the traditional song. It was like a ceremony for them now, reminding them of what they were doing this for.
Eventually the results came through and it was time to tour the juries and get the points in.
“12 points from Brazil go to… Russia!”
“You’re the only one… 12 points to Russia!”
“Is there any doubt?” said Damon who was giving the British votes in. “12 points to Russia!”
Martin announced the winner, “And with that we have a winner of the Eurovision Song Contest – Drivers’ Edition! It’s Daniil Kvyat from Russia!” Everybody cheered for the deserving winner; even with the drama that had occurred coming into this race, this contest allowed everyone to put that behind them and come together over their love of music.
It was almost consolation, Daniil thought, as he lifted the trophy high above his head.