Now come race day, we all get to the track early enough, our tour rep and driver make sure of this, on this overcast day. We scarper quickly, getting to our postos as quickly as we can, I drop by the Lotus stand for a T Shirt and a Pirelli 1st hat this time, and then a quick look at some of GP3 paddock move to their pit posistions with their quad bikes and such.
Getting into my posto for the GP3 race, the humidity increases, the temps drop, the chance of rain increases. GP3 passes without too much incident, just a turn 1 nutcase and a great crash in the last few laps that happened in front of my very eyes, a almost WWE sort of racing with lots of half chances then one massive crash bang and wallop and the manoeuvre ends in tears. GP2 sees the sun come out a bit, and the place feels warmer now, however the race is almost all but decided in the early stages, with little incidents from where I stand, those cars need DRS on them, but id have the GP2 guys have 10 DRS usages per race, otherwise you would have too much of a Destruction Darby. By then id had two British Winners, belting out god Save the Queen to Stand 6A on my own.
Lunch to a un inspiring chicken burger, that has been heated up with a George Forman on steroids. However I had a good breakfast and I don’t care, as long as I have a good meal at the Ristorante around the corner from my hotel Im happy. At a track it is important to keep hydrated, so I had 3.5 litres of water on Saturday, in really warm conditions, however it was cooler, today i found 1.5L to be about right, and i really didn’t want to spend too much time in a Toilet.
Porsche Supercup race 2 was a good race, the cars are surprisingly loud, in the middle between F1 and GP2 for sound, Nicki Thiim was unstoppable all race keeping up a title battle with Sean Edwards till the next round in Abu Dhabi.
Now comes the Drivers Parade, of witch the drivers fly past really all too quickly, and that dammed F1 flag on the back of the truck spoils a good view, saw more or less all the drivers, with Webber, Button and Hamilton all as thick as thieves, Raikkonen a recluse at the rear next to the flag and Vettel trying to look as if he has friends. Alonso and Massa looking the most at ease, however all give the ora they don’t want to be on a truck travelling at 40kmph past every grandstand, except maybe Riccardo who will smile at everything and anything.
As the race approaches, the temperature drops further to about 20C and the wind starts coming from the south, drops fall, the atmosphere becomes tangible, jackets are reached for, the 3rd time by now. Cameras put away, the pit lane opens, intermediates… Intermediates… This could be good. I am thinking inters for first 3-5 laps, enough to mix up the start and also enough to have a good old pile up at Variante Retifillo. Drivers are doing 4 or 5 reconnaissance laps, then out comes Hulkenberg on the Orange marked mediums, its dry out back sadly.
As all this is happening, all the General Admission people hanging around are starting to be hoarded into stands, not as much in my stand, but you can see it lots more in stand 8 where even the stairs are standing room only.
The cars go on their warm up lap, the track is a dull grey, not a dark grey or a light grey. The lighter the grey the drier the track. Some cars look to be having a look at conditions and what could be achieved in turn 1.
As the cars line up on the Giant TV screen I have watched all the races on, you hear the revs rise half a kilometre away, 5 red out… You don’t have much time to see the 17,000 horse power fly past, its over in an instant. However you do see Kimi hit Sergio up the rear and Vettel lock up, the stand moves under the amount of people moving at the same time to see Turn 1.
The Tifossi goes wild when Alonso passes Webber at Della Roggia and then Massa at my turn, then as he takes a chunk out of Vettel, optimism rises. However when Vettel pits you feel as if something could, just could happen, and for two laps I believed it. Alonso went too long, Vettel was noticeably faster, you can see it on the track, Alonso needed to pit shortly after Vettel, the race has now played out.
However the rest of the race, you see things, patterns that TV neglects to show, like the chaos the Marussias cause to themselves in their intra team battle that then play into the P6 to P12 battle as they almost smashed both McLarens and Hulkenberg coming out of the pits, and to be honest when Van Der Garde came out of the pits at one point, there was 10 cars or so into 1 corner. Madness.
However you then get to analyse driver styles and preferences, especially Vettel and Webber, who seems to loose 0.030 of a second at each corner due to Vettel being more aggressive on change downs. Most other team mates are pretty equal, with only Hulkenberg and Guiteriez having a noticeable difference.
At the end of the race, there is a massive ammount of Tifosi trying to get onto the track when the last car goes past, its more manic than Oxford Street at the post Christmas sales at Selfridges’. They are taking anything they can get their hands on, the polystyrene 50 board and replacement 100 board that got taken out in the incident in the GP3 race final laps got taken away.
I decide its time to make my move to the track, its the easiest way to get out my Austrian friend told me. I make it to the hallowed asphalt that my heroes past, present and lost have been over, you feel their presence. You hear the driver interviews, and the Champagne thing. Alessi asks the most stupid questions, that are thankfully inaudible. I get up to the Podum after taking pics of about 20 different things, and then look at the fact there probably 55,000+ Tifosi and me on the track, I now figure that after walking from about 400m from Turn 1 to the podium that i need off the track. I get a couple bits of Pirelli rubber as a momento.
As I always do in life, I find the tightest bottle neck I can, a gate that takes 1 person at a time, and threes about 20% of the Tifosi wanting off the track at that same spot. I feel as if in no longer the person I usually am, I feel those heroes from the past take my soul and sprit to a place that isn’t where i am usually. I am streamlined, my camera gear is away, my bag full of goodies and jacket is somewhere. I force my way to the front, the Athletico Bilbao Ultras who left 5 minutes before me are now about 2 minutes behind me in the queue getting off the track at this point. HOW DID I DO THAT???
Im off the track, and back to the bus. One of my reps asks me if Im okay, I am, I am just saying my goodbyes to F1 heroes of past. Goodbyes that wont be forever, as I will do another Grand Prix in the next couple of years, and I will return to Monza. When, Im not sure, but Monza has a bit of me now, and I am certain that I have a bit of Monza as well. Arrivederci!