This year I've been so skint there was no way I was going to the British Grand like I normally do, this really broke my heart, I love F1 so much, it's the only thing other than my family that has been with me nearly all my life. But the Formula 1 gods were looking down on me and decided to give me a little fix of my favorite sport.
Every year there's an event called the FOTA Fans Forum held in the UK, other countries hold them too, basically it's a chance for fans to listen to a few team principles and drivers (and other people from F1) being interviewed, and then there's a Q&A session afterwards.
There's around 200-300 tickets for each event and it's a lottery so it's just down to chance if you get a ticket, last year I tried to get a ticket as it was held at Mclarens Technology center and I'd love to have been able to go there, but it wasn't to be (although some of my friends won tickets so that was cool). This year it was being held at Williams F1's Conference Center, which I couldn't believe, Williams are my favorite team since 1986, so I had everything crossed that I'd win a ticket, and luckily for me I did!
So on 3rd July I borrowed my dad's car and sat nav and set off. I made sure I got there early, I wanted to get some photos signed, and there were a few people appearing that I really wanted to meet. The first thing I saw was this really funny topiary F1 car with mechanics changing it's wheels, it's so cool and really made me laugh. :-)
Once inside we got look around the Williams F1 car collection, which is one of the most amazing collcetions of F1 cars I've ever seen, it covers the whole history of the team, and it was such an honor to be able to see them all as it's not normally open to the public.
Here's a few photos of some of the collection, I was most excited to see Nigel Mansell's cars with his famous red number five on them, I actually got a lump in my throat seeing them as those cars are what got me into F1 as a kid.
After looking around the collection, I managed to meet Pastor Maldonado who's driving for Williams this year, he was with his winners trophy from the Spanish Grand Prix. I got to chat to him and told him how happy I was that he'd won, and I got to have my photo taken with him.
After meeting Pastor I went to the entrance to the building as I wanted to try to get some autographs.
As a Williams fan I've always wanted to meet the two men that were behind the team and make it what it is, a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to meet Sir Frank Williams at Silverstone, it was only for a minute but I could cross meeting him off my bucket list, but I'd never managed to meet Patrick Head, so I hung around hoping that I'd get my chance.
I didn't have to wait long, the first speaker to turn up was Patrick, I got to have a chat with him and took a photo with him, and of course I got my autograph book signed. Next I got to meet Frank Williams again, when I first met him I didn't think to get a photo of us together and regretted it for years after, so I asked if he'd have his photo taken with me and to my delight he said yes, Frank can't sign autographs because of his medical condition, so getting a photo with him is the next best thing. :-)
Then it was time for the main event, the FOTA Fans Forum, because I was getting autographs I was one of the last in and seated right at the back, but I could still see.
First off Frank and Pastor were introduced by our host for the evening Lee McKenzie (she's part of the BBC F1 team) and they welcomed us and had a little chat about the season so far, I really like the current drivers, Pastor's fast (although he's had planty of crashes) and Bruno Senna is one of the nicest F1 drivers you could wish to meet, and I think he just needs another season under his belt and then he'll shine.
Next is was time for three team principles to take the stage, there was Robert Fernley from Force India, Martin Whitmarsh from Mclaren, and Ross Brawn from Mercedes.
After, I went to the giftshop and got a new Williams mug to drink out of when I'm watching the Grand Prix, and then as I was leaving I saw John Watson and Derek Warwick chatting to fans so I joined in the chat, we were giving Derek feedback about the Grand Prix as he's part of Silverstone, he was happy to hear how much I loved going, and both he and John posed or photos and signed my book.
It was a wonderful night, and more than made up for not being able to go to the Grand Prix this year, thank you Formula 1 gods for looking down on me and giving me such an amazing night. :-)
Cheerio for now,