Formula 1™ Fans Association
Fans of Grand Prix Racing
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My annual trip to Spa is the culmination of a year’s preparation and anticipation. So imagine my excitement amid the frivolities and chanting at our local in Ster late on Saturday evening when I get a tweet from Santander telling me I am a lucky lady and am part of the garage tour on Sunday morning. Jubilation and excitement (amid the jealous murder threats of my companions!) then give way to panic……just where on this rather dark picture am I supposed to be at 9am?
A plan starts to form…..as we go GA and need to get to the track as soon as it opens my pals will lug my chair up to Kemmel straight and keep me a seat……and I will try and figure out where to go….
After grabbing a hot coffee (a journo tweeted from the paddock that it was only 6.5 degrees out there….felt more like -6.5 but never mind) I set off on my adventure……..the same old story…..none of the so-called security people at the track could point me in the right direction…..so I walked and walked and by now utter panic and hysteria were setting in…….It is all going wrong now……then, (thank goodness for twitter) I managed to find the other lucky lady, Helen and finally managed to meet up (I stupidly was looking for a person dressed in a bright Santander jacket…..WRONG! Look for a totally normal looking person with a Ferrari backpack…….how many thousands of those are there at the track………) After accosting several very worried looking people I managed to find our man……and then off we went…….through the underground garage to the paddock no less…..WOW!
Once you reach the paddock it is very easy to catch flies…….a normal fan tends to stand around with his mouth wide open in awe……get a grip I told myself…….
Our host showed us the Ferrari Motor home……..these things are just HUGE! Three floors with rooms for the drivers (we saw Fernando sliding off into his “cage”), rooms for the top brass and areas for the teams (I now know that Rob Smedley does rather enjoy branflakes or similar with milk for breakfast) and areas for the sponsor entertaining dos etc…… just amazing!
Then horror of horrors………as Santander sponsor not only Ferrari but also McLaren he wanted to show us their motor home too………Let me explain….of course as a founder member of FOFA I am totally neutral regarding teams in F1 in my professional capacity but on a personal level and especially on raceday I am not just red but TOTALLY red (if you can imagine the only item of my clothing that was not red on this day were my trousers…..) and our host asks me if I can remove my jacket……..panic…..underneath was even more red……..HELP! OK so we risk it……..and off I trot following our host into the hallowed portals of the McLaren Palace……to add to my embarrassment the first person we bump into is no other than Martin Whitmarsh who gave me a very strange look…(I am not a spy really I thought……and bravely went inside…..) Again 3 storeys…….more silly gobsmacked looks from me……. Unfortunately as my legs were like jelly my attempts at picture taking were a complete waste of time…
And then the real highlight……..the garage itself…….wow those places are so tidy and clean……..our host explained how each driver has his own team of mechanics and engineers and equipment……all either name tagged or colour coded for identification. Tyres all neatly stacked in their tyre warmers and all sorts of kit (beyond the comprehension of a gal like me being a beancounter and not a techie of any sort). It was just great to see the cars that close up- all shiny and polished ready for track action.
The tour was short but great fun! So if any ladies are out there who are interested in a career in F1 or just want an insight into team life then follow @SantanderGP on twitter and you may get lucky like I did.
Many thanks to Santanderman for a great treat!