As I type this I am over the alps somewhere in a British Airways flight from Milan Linate to London Heathrow T5, the same plane that has one star of F1, the preceding one has a star of a different elk in it. Fist star is a man who was pretty animated in the F1 grid to Bernie Ecclestone in David Hasselhoff, the Hoff is a giant, easily 6ft 4in and every bit the character he is in real life. As for the second star, he is Eric Bullier the Lotus F1 team boss, a genial and gentle frame of a man, I really should ask him about those Kimi/Fernando rumours shouldn’t I???
Monza was a terrific atmosphere, passion beyond belief, a great racing track and facilities for the drivers and invited guests, maybes not so much for the media pack on the exterior of the track as they have to dodge many a fan and also the comms box area isn’t too great to be honest. As for fans, the place is a derelict park, toilets that are the old squat style and very few chances for hygiene. The food is as bad as it could be, pizza about acceptable but the rest ain’t even worth it.
As a return, the atmosphere has to make up for it, Monza needs to make up for its many shortfalls wit the atmosphere, and boy it does. Stand 6A may not be that great as you are in the final area before the cars brake at the 120m board. However you do have the pleasure of seeing and hearing the cars at full throttle for that micro cosm of a instant at 345kmh.
As I was feeling unwell I then decided to save this and type the rest from now on later.
With reflection, in the air, the atmosphere with Athletico Bilbao ultras to the right of me and German Vettelites to the left, there i was all alone in the middle with my Mclaren gear on as a neutral meat in the sandwich. There was one Austrian guy in-front of me, who was a Scuderia fan, whom this was his 28th or 38th (I forgot the number he said) Grand Prix since 2004 when Monza was his first, this year he has seen all the European rounds, and he says they are all much the same at the end with fans desperate to get onto the track. He was the most helpful fan of a non English speaking fan I came across, he was helpful on how to get a handle on the strategy at at track as its much harder there than on TV. He was also helpful on what i should do and shouldn’t. If your out there mate, thanks.
When you walk into Monza from the bus park on Saturday for the first time, on your first GP, its awe inspiring, you instantly feel the likes of Ascari, Von Trips, Clark and Farina as ghosts amongst mortals, you feel them lift your soul and your spirit to be taken to your seat, or posto as it is on your ticket. The first thing as a Brit at a sports venue you expect to be hit with is a pre-match programme, this isn’t the case at Monza, you are hit firstly with the fast food area that is there to serve the guys at the exit of the Paribolica, then you are hit with the 18 or so merchandise stands. Theese merchandise stands are there for the top 5 teams and Toro Rosso (Red bull/Toro Rosso share the two largest stands roughly 85%/15%) in F1 at present, they each have 2 stands, F1 Merchandise has about another 4, with Michael Schumacher having one more. There is a stand for a local band to play a set twice a day and a large games stand running the Codemasters 2012 or 2013 game with a full motion simulator and plenty static simulators inside.
Then you take the walk towards the second underpass at Monza, this one is just after the main grandstands across from the pit lane. Before you get there, you pass the media paddock, in witch i saw Lee McKenzie, Ben Edwards, Rachael Brooks and David Croft over the weekend. Sky Sports F1 UK have their own catering paddock!
As you pass under the underpass, you feel the history creep further, the more saucer eyed you become, then you are hit with a opportunity, a Race Programme, €15, hefty I know, but its something I collect as I have a few football ones from Champions League and UEFA Cup finals in Glasgow and one in Manchester.
The next decision you are met with is left or right, I chose left towards my Posto in my grandstand 6A. Its just like a walk in a nice park now, half way you however see what is passed for toilet facilities, just a hut with a few normal toilets and a derelict concrete building with two squat holes in it and a tap and a old ceramic basin outside with a tap attached to the walk above it. Sadly i have no option but to use the hut and the tap.
Then you walk about another half a kilometre, and are met with a sign, that directs you up to the Della Roggia Variante or the Lesmo turns just beyond. The other direction on the sign is for Stand 6 A, B or C and the two smaller general admission stands at the first Variante. Another slightly more country park style walk comes, and another half a kilometre, then you have more fast food and your Controlo guards, who take your ticket stub and let you into your stand. Or for Race Day give you your wrist ticket.
Choose your stair, and thankfully, I chose the first one as that one was the closest to my posto. My posto was right up the back row, which was a bloody brilliant thing as the view was great and you could hold on to the back of the stand to get a better view as the cars went past. First noise i heard was the GP3 guys, they are the best sounding cars for your money, and the cars really are proper racers, their drivers i am not so sure of, as when racing they seem to take leave of their senses. Then i am met with my first ever sound of a modern V8 F1 sound and car, a Marussia with a Cosworth engine, the driver was fellow Brit Max Chilton. By this time, i was already on the FOM broadcast as I started to receive text messages by this point from back home all saying I saw you.
FP3 passes by and then its into Porsche Super Cup and the 2 hour break to F1 Quali. I decide to go and get something to eat, a Pizza that is about acceptable and a walk around the place. I decide to take the walk back the way i came in the morning and go back to get a hat as i forgot mine in the morning, i get a McLaren one as they are the only decent ones there. Then as i go back under the underpass again i decide to go right this time, and god its congested with people, quad bikes and mopeds. As things get less congested, i pass more of a limited merchandise stand and then i see the Magnetti Maranelli hospitality building and look over the fence to see a Lotus E20 show car, Ferrari 458 chassis and Red Bull RB6 show car, i cant get in as its for hospitality only at this time. The entrance has a Ferrari 312 T as driven by Nikki Lauda in a Grand Prix that year, and the car used in the recent movie Rush for some parts. Next I pass the Beta tools stand with a old F1 car in their livery and a old Ford DFV engine.
Then I decide to visit the permanent shops at the back end of the paddock in Monza, there is a race wear shop, a Model shop a memorabilia shop and rather sizeable bar. I decide not to buy anything from any of them as the prices are massively inflated, and a Spark 1:43 model will cost me 20% more than from Amazon at home. Then I see that something has happened to me, I have lost my Hoya ND8 filter for my camera, which puts a downer on my day, but then makes me more wary and more careful with my camera gear. Makes me glad I have streamlined my photo operation as much as I physically can.
I then went back to my posto for Qualifying and the GP2 race, leaving the GP3 race as I wanted to go a-wandering again. This time i went back to the Magnetti stand, just to see if i could get any more pics of the diffusers of the E20, 458 and RB6. I Did, and I even got a bit brave, i decided to see if i could follow the queue that was now waiting to get into the Magnetti area to get some close up photos of the cars, and guess what, i did. I got about 50 or 60 photos of all 3 cars in total and about 3 of the Laudi Ferrari as well. The new cars are a tech marvel ill agree, but the Laudi Ferrari is a small but impressive car, how could they drive in something that small and fragile is beyond me.
I then decided to go back to my bus and review the days spoils of war on my camera. I was really glad of what i achieved in what little time I had.