Sunday, July 15, 2012

Formula 1 Adventures - Silverstone Young Driver Test - 13th July 2012

Warning very long post alert!!!!!!

I thought I was lucky when I won a ticket for the FOTA Fan Forum the other week, I had a wonderful time and got to meet Frank Williams and Patrick Head, who are the guys behind my favorite F1 team Williams, so I didn't think that could be beaten, I figured it more than made up or not being able to go to the Grand Prix this year, it was like the racing gods were looking down on me. :-)

Anyway, I watched the British Grand Prix on the telly, it was a rainsoaked few days for everyone there, and no doubt that if I had gone I would've come home very muddy indeed, I spent most of the time imaging I was there and wondering how my friends were getting on, even though it was horribly muddy and wet this year I still would've given anything to be there.

Silverstone, quite possibly my favorite place in the world.
The week after the Grand Prix some of the teams decided to stay at the track and take part in a young driver test, this was only confirmed days before, but I heard about it and decided I'd try to blag my way in. I've been working on a F1 project for the last two years so I'm used to blagging my way in now, although I still don't take getting in for granted, I'm always over the moon when I do get in.

I set off with the aim to get some photos signed by the drivers to add to my collection, and I ended up with so much more than that...

When I got to Silverstone I could hear the sound of F1 cars going round the track, that's my favorite sound in the whole wide world, so I was already happy, but I was about to get even happier, incredibly I was allowed to park in the actual paddock, now if you don't know F1, this is where all the teams park their trucks and motorhomes and getting in during the actual race weekend is impossible, but there I was in the paddock surrounded by team trucks, I squealed a little inside. :-)

The view from one end of the paddock
The testing isn't open to the public so I was a little nervous at first thinking someone might kick me out, so I avoided people and went to see the track as there was a couple of cars going round, a week ago I was sad that I wouldn't get to see a F1 car this year, but instead I got my own private show. It was weird, I was inside the track standing where all the V.I.P's have access to, and other than some team guys having a chat,and some press I was the only one there. I loved it, I listened to the cars as they made their way round the lap, and watched them when they were by me on the track, I stood there for at least 30 minutes taking it all in. I felt so lucky to be there and I'll never forget it.

The Silverstone Wing from inside the track, in other words the V.I.P view. :-)
Rio Haryanto (on the left) discussing the on track action with his driver coach.
Valtteri Bottas in the Williams, the grandstand in the background is where I sat last year.
Valtteri Bottas in the Williams, looking fast.
Valtteri Bottas (again) making sweet music with his Wiiliams. :-)
Max Chilton in his Marussia coming into the pits.
Later I plucked up the courage to go back to the paddock to see if I could get my photos signed, there were only three teams left, HRT, Marussia, and my favorite F1 team since 1986, Williams. The photos I wanted to get signed are for a charity project I'm working on so I grabbed a guy by the Marussia truck and asked him if he could help, he couldn't help me meet the drivers, but he took my photos and details and said he'd get them sorted for me. I left them with him, and went on my quest to get the Willams driver Bottas to sign his.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to hang around outside the garage so when Bottas came out I could grab him. Well, I stood around for about 10 minutes and felt a bit of an idiot, team personel were coming and going and I obviously didn't belong, but everyone acted like it was no big deal, eventually I spotted a face that was familar, and it was Dickie Stanford the race team manager, I started chatting to him and told him what I was doing and if he could help, he told me he'd tell Bottas I was outside waiting and then he went back in to the garage. I waited some more, and some more, and some more, there was no sign of Bottas, so when Dickie came out again I took the chance to be really cheeky and I asked him if there was any chance I could go in the garage and wait, not thinking for a second he'd say yes, but he just said yeah sure and took me in!

The entrance to the Williams garage, how cool is it that I became one of those invited guests! :-D
He led me to a spot right next to Bottas' car, I was no more than three metres away, I had a grin like a cheshire cat, I wasn't allowed to taked photos, so I watched everything like a hawk willing my brain to record every little detail. While I was there the car was started up and out he went, oh, the sound of a F1 car is so exquist to my ears, it's just such a cool sound, anyway, I stood and waited for him to come back in and when he did I manged to get my photos signed, he was really lovely and polite even though I think he thought I was a bit of a nut job! I couldn't tear myself away from the car, so I took the chance to watch it being taken apart, I'd never seen a F1 car get naked infront of me before, I hope she wasn't shy. :-) Then I left, I said thanks to Dickie for making a dream come true, and heading off to see if the Marussia guys had signed my pics.

Max Chilton was outside the Marussia garage, so I grabbed him and asked if he'd had a chance to sign my photo, he had so I asked him if he'd have his photo taken with it, he posed inside the truck and I really love the photo I got, Max is a really cool guy and I'm sure F1 sponsors will love him.

Max Chilton and his signed photo.
I also bumped into Rio Haryanto and got him to pose with his signed photo for a snap, it's not quite as cool a photo as Max's but it's still cool. :-)

Rio Haryanto with the print he'd just signed for me.
 After getting my photo's signed I decided it was time to leave, I'd had such a good time, my lifelong dream of getting inside the Williams garage came true (although I'm still dreaming that I'll be there during a race weekend), I got to see and hear F1 cars screaming round Silverstone, and I got to meet some lovely drivers and team members.

As I left I picked up some of the confetti from the podium celebrations from the week before, I couldn't resist as they were printed with the F1 logo on them. :-)

Really cool F1 confetti from the podium celebrations.
 I hope you enjoyed reading about my F1 adventure, even if it was a bit long!

Cheerio for now,

Heather. :-)

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