Sunday, 28 June 2009

So Nick, about your beard…


First things first – yes, that is me outside the Brawn GP motorhome. I look an idiot, especially with my glasses, don’t I?

So, how was my weekend at Silverstone? Freaking. Awesome.

…What? You want me to actually tell you about it? Oh, go on then!

It was probably one of, if not THE best, experience of my life. This is something I could only have dreamed about. Meeting up with Tim Stedman, the Puma correspondent I’d be with for the weekend, it was a 2 hour drive down to Silverstone. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t as hectic as it would be on Sunday morning. The first big thing on Saturday was the Renault garage tour. But before that, I managed to get professional pics taken with Romain Grosjean, team test driver and then Fernando Alonso! Tim spotted him coming out of the garage straight after practice had finished and I shook his hand and everything. Now that to me was freakin’ awesome :D Back with the garage tour, I got to see mechanics working up close and personal on 2 R29s which was something else, as well as the engineers monitoring the telemetry on the super-computers they bring to every race. Also seeing the mechanics take the double diffuser off the car was pretty special to witness. Plus, I got to hold the steering wheel! OK, it was empty of its electronics, but it was cool to hold an current F1 steering wheel in my hands and play with the buttons and paddles. Also venturing out to the front of the pits to look at the main bodywork, the front nose and wing section and engine and sidepod covers. Still can’t believe how thin the shark fin is – it’s literally the thinnest piece of carbon fibre I’ve ever seen up close!

Qualifying was viewed at the beginning of Hangar Straight, which was probably a mistake picture-wise. Everyone knows how fast an F1 car is, but trying to take a snapshot of one going by at high speed is something of a fine art. I eventually had to wait for the car to come into my field of vision and then take the pic. Most of the shots I took were blank track but I did manage to get some cars on camera. Afterwards, it was time for the BMW driver interviews, but before that I found out after the event that straight after qualifying, the “Brawn Boys” (Jenson, Rubens and Ross) had been signing autographs at one of their merchandise stands. I’ll speak more on this in a bit.

It was so surreal when I walked into the BMW motorhome because as I was moving through, I turn to my right and who do I see standing right there looking up at a TV screen? Robert goddamn Kubica, that’s who! I thought “Jesus christ! It’s Kub!” Getting to interview both Kub and Nick was brilliant. I only got 3 questions with Rob but I got in 9 with Heidfeld, including the crucial one about his beard! He says he got fed up with shaving one day and when there was no PR or events to cope with, he just stuck with it. Mind you, both did look a little fed up with how things were going with the team and the car right now. Can’t blame them to be honest. But they’ve now become a favourite team of mine.

The Formula BMW hospitality was great too, but it began with a bit of a glitch with the TV feed for the FBMW race. A quad bike ran over the cable and snapped it. The announcer brought it in the said cable to show us he wasn’t lying! After a press conference with the top 3 from that race and some food, Kubica, Christian Klien and Mario Theissen were interviewed on stage. What was really funny was watching Rob get his phone out and play with it, and Klien all the while trying to concentrate on Mario while he was talking but getting ever so distracted by what Kub was up to. Shows F1 drivers are still human after all!

Saturday out of the way, Sunday was less eventful but still enjoyable nonetheless. The Santander stand was the main hub of activity for myself, taking part in the pitstop challenge and the simulator. I didn’t do all that well with the wheel gun on the pitstop, as most of the time the wheel nut was flying off the end and it was up to me to test my reactions just to keep hold of it. Also managed to get grease on my face somehow! The simulator was interesting and more my kinda thing, what with my passion with sim racing. The front half of a McLaren with a proper replica F1 steering wheel too was what I had to work with. I got 2 laps and messed up the end of my practice lap which meant I wasn’t at full speed going over the line. Still, a 1’15 put me 3rd on the board of times for the day. The fastest time over the whole weekend was a 1’06 by someone called “heikki”. Hmm… (Sorry Amy)

Afterwards, I received a call from the lovely lot over at Sidepodcast, who were in the middle of their pre-race live show The Parade Lap. I chatted with them for a good 10 minutes and really had a laugh. Also, my purpose on the day was to interview fans about their British GP experience. I ended up chatting to two Ferrari guys, two BMW ladies, a pair of guys who supported Renault and Red Bull and two girls who were Hamilton fans and had Union Jacks draped around them. But I guess a highlight of the day was spotting and getting a picture with two Page 3 girls – Amy Green and Nikkala Stott. You probably have no idea who they are, but let’s just say… I know of them, OK? Ahem, where were we?…

Our spot for the race was the Luffield B grandstand, which was a much better spot for pictures. I did have a brief scare when I thought all the pictures I’d taked on Saturday were missing from the camera but thankfully that was just a misunderstanding thanks to the camera itself. I personally found the race rather uneventful but still a great experience to see a GP for real again (my first GP being Silverstone ‘05). With Vettel a worthy and rather dominant victor, while Hamilton decided to treat the home crowd to some post-race donuts, I had one other event which also made my day. I met up with F1Wolf after the race and had a nice brief chat with him. Someone who I knew through SPC, I got the chance to meet and talk to. Now how’s that for connectivity!

If I may, I’d like to go back to the subject of those driver signings I mentioned earlier. These were something I’d been looking out for over the entire weekend but there was no information posted up about them at all. If they are something that is only done on a Thursday or Friday on the GP weekend, I find that rather disappointing. This means fans don’t get to meet and greet their favourites and get autographs or pictures with them. If there are going to be such signings, there needs to be clear info on who, when and where right when fans have just gotten through the gates. I was rather disappointed not to come away with something like a signed picture or poster, but I did get Kubica and Theissen to sign my autograph book and got pics with all 3 of the BMW guys after their appearance in the FBMW tent.

So, that’s it really. My Fan Report should be up sometime next week now. It was going to be the end of this week but there were complications sending my written report. But I’m confident that it’s all gonna be good and that the finished and edited video that goes with it will be awesome, if a little cringe worthy having to watch myself on camera. But I have to say a massive, massive thanks to Puma Motorsport for everything last weekend. Without it, I wouldn’t be sat here telling all of you about my experience. If I ever get to do something like this ever again, I will be truly thankful as so far, nothing in my life has ever come close to my weekend at Silverstone. To them, and all of you guys for continuing to follow my work, I say – thank you very, very much.


Amy said...


Woodwiss_F1 said...

I don't know if it really was him, but I caught a glimpse of the fastest times on the in game screen at the top was "heikki" with 1'06.