Spanish Grand Prix diary: Valtteri Bottas' recipe for success: Porridge and walks in the woods

The Formula One paddock is a busy place that hosts a lot of serious business over a race weekend, but this blog will aim to bring you some of the more colourful moments from the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

Bottas the woodsman

In Australia, Valtteri Bottas put his dominant victory down to the porridge he ate on race day morning, but in Spain he revealed a new pre-race preparation technique. Apparently Bottas followed Finnish folklore and went walking in the woods to clear his mind ahead of his flight to Spain.

"I think there has been research about it that it's good for your brain," he said. "Last week I spent a lot of time in the woods, it might sound crazy but it seems to work."

Whatever works for you, Valtteri.

'Banter Steiner'

I experienced a nice moment of levity in the paddock on Friday. A Danish colleague and I were chatting about the very humorous parody Twitter account set up for the potty-mouthed Haas team boss Guenther Steiner -- if you haven't seen @BanterSteiner it, here it is -- when the man himself came walking towards us and noticed the fact we were laughing about something. He enquired as to what and, handily, my colleague had his phone in his hand with one of the tweets on screen.

We showed Steiner, who read it, laughed loudly and walked away, joking as he did so that he's not allowed to have a Twitter account of his own for that very reason.

One of the parodies in particular tickled me, showing a picture of Romain Grosjean driving across the gravel during Friday practice.

The tweet said: "Just got a call from @NASA They saw FP1 and think they found their perfect driver for the Moon lander. If Romain can't stay on the f------ track I might consider sending him to the f----- moon."

As you can see, the language can be rather colourful, but anyone who has seen Steiner's brilliant appearances on the F1 Netflix documentary will understand why.

A change of scenery

It's not unusual to see famous people in an F1 paddock. It is unusual to see them helping a team out with pit-stop practice, even if it's in a controlled environment during a practice session. But WWE wrestler Cesaro did exactly that on Saturday morning, helping Toro Rosso remove and replace its front-left tyre.

Trading places

It looks like the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort will be confirmed early next week. It will likely replace Spain on the calendar for next season, with this weekend's race the last on the existing contract. In recent years the Circuit de Catalunya has doubled up as a race venue and the location for pre-season testing, meaning it is one of the more familiar tracks on the circuit for the drivers.

"I would miss it," Kevin Magnussen said. "It's been on the calendar all of my career, it's a track you would always come to, always raced there. It's a fun track. It feels like the baseline track for all tracks and it's very familiar, the city, the hotels, the paddock and the track of course. It's nice to have a race like that where you know everything and really feel at home a bit."

Most are familiar with Zandvoort too, however, as it is a popular venue for many junior series.

"Zandvoort is also a bit crazy, very narrow," Magnussen added. "It's going to be very different, very up and down, it's a very unique track and I'm looking forward to it."

The appeal of a Dutch Grand Prix is obvious, given the rise and rise of Max Verstappen. The Dutchman said on Thursday he has always felt like he has a home race, given the fact he spent much of his life living in Belgium, but is more than happy to have a second.

He also expects Spain, the location of his first win in 2016, to return to the calendar one day: " I think it's always sad to miss a grand prix, but it's the same with Malaysia. It was also a great venue. Maybe in the future then it comes back again, you never know. Same with Zandvoort, isn't it, it's been away for a while and hopefully it will come back."

New digs

As the first race after the flyaways, the Spanish Grand Prix is the opening race of the European season -- as such, it's the first time teams are able to transport their motorhomes to the F1 paddock.

There are some new ones on display in Barcelona this week. For the first time in 14 years, Red Bull has arrived without its famous Energy Station, having introduced a new complex known as the Holzhaus (or Wood House, as the interior is fashioned from 417m³ of sustainably-sourced Austrian timber).

It is based on an old MotoGP motorhome which was used during last year's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring -- where Max Verstappen claimed the team's first win at its home race. The new Holzhaus -- standing at three floors and with 1,221 square metres of floor space -- can be built in 32 hours and taken down in one day by a crew of 25. The facility is split between Red Bull and its junior team Toro Rosso.

It does without air conditioning -- relying on a natural convection design within the walls of the building to keep its occupants cool -- but has a grand total of 26 fridges stocking various varieties of Red Bull. Its kitchen will serve 100kg of pasta, 120kg of fish and 180kg of meat at every race.

"If it sees half as much drama as the old Energy Station, it will be doing well!" team boss Christian Horner said.

Although Max Verstappen joked that nothing had changed for where the drivers spend their time, he admitted to already seeing the benefit of Daniel Ricciardo's departure to Renault for this season.

"Everything is new except my room," he said. "But I stole Daniel's room because it was bigger."

As I discovered on my first visit there, Verstappen's presence looms large over the building...

(Before people start assuming Red Bull only cares about Max, Pierre Gasly's picture was directly opposite)

Next stop for the Holzhaus will be Monte Carlo, when it will be loaded onto a giant barge and floated into the harbour for the duration of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

Red Bull isn't the only team showing off a new facility. Racing Point has arrived with a swanky new complex of its own to mark its new partnership with sports betting platform SportPesa. The team was renamed from Force India for 2019 following Lawrence Stroll's takeover of the team last August -- the Canadian billionaire has promised to invest heavily in the team.

A team spokesperson told me the new facility -- standing a 800 square metres, but also spread across three floors -- underlines Stroll's commitment to improving the team on and off the track. It can serve 800 meals across a race weekend and, like the Holzhaus, can be constructed in less than two days.

Haas' team members will have a bit more space for lunch this year, too, with the team unveiling an expanded motorhome for the 2019 season. The new complex is just an upgrade on what it has brought to European races since its arrival in F1 three years ago but signals another team trying to make a statement with a new title partner.

A few in the team joked to me that it was typical luck that it arrived with an expanded motorhome, only to find itself parked next to the giant Red Bull Holzhaus.

Destination Madrid?

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is hoping to attend the Champions League final on June 1, the weekend between races in Monaco and Canada. It will be contested by two English team's following Liverpool and Tottenham's epic comebacks against Barcelona and Ajax earlier this week.

Hamilton is a lifelong fan of Tottenham's arch cross-town rival Arsenal, but he's struggling with his allegiance more than you might have expected.

"Honesty, I don't like either [team]," he said on Thursday. "[But] I'm an Arsenal supporter so... Maybe Liverpool, maybe Liverpool. "Tottenham and Arsenal... since I was a kid, has always been a team that I have struggled with. The games were incredible up until now, so I am going to try and get to the final."

Keeping the football theme going, one of the players to have suffered the Liverpool defeat, French international Samuel Umtiti, was invited into the Ferrari garage during Friday practice to meet Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Favourite quote from Thursday's media day Kevin Magnussen on why Baku's Azerbaijan Grand Prix failed to live up to expectations two weeks ago.

"I kind of had a feeling it would be like that. My initial thought was I need to stay conservative and just make sure I get through the first lap and then I'll be on the podium, because everyone will crash! But then I thought, everyone else is going to think that, and I guess they did."

Blog to be updated during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend...