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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Brawn GP - Monza Weekend

Firstly another apology for my lack of presence during the Monza weekend, however you will notice from my previous blog posts that I ventured to Italy to watch the race. For any F1 fan out there I can strongly recommend the experience but also noted that I personally found plus and negative points to the Italian GP. I'll apologise in advance for what is easily going to be my longest ever blog post but i'm sure you will appreciate a little of what is on offer.

We flew out of Luton airport on the Wednesday and arrived in Italy in the evening armed with my girlfriend (Louise), one of her girlie friends (Anna), an arrangement of BAR/Honda and Brawn GP apparel and most importantly an Italian phrase book. Our B&B was apparently not far from the Airport but we decided as it was late/dark we would use a cab to get there which to be honest I'm glad we did as although it wasn't far I would have struggled to get my bearings initially.

We arrived with the cab driver at what appeared to be a bus depot (it was) we stumbled around the corner in the dark after despensing of the cab driver with €15 (which may I add seemed a bit steep at the time, oh well you win some, you lose some) We had a gander and could only see the bus depot office so started to edge back around the corner only to be shouted at in Italian by a guy from the bus depot office, I assumed he was waving at us so went to see him. At this point I should point out that we booked our accomodation through http://www.hostelworld.com/ my girlfriend had read through a few recent reviews a few days before we left and most peoples comments pointed to the fact they spoke little to no English. I have no problem with that being in their country I should adopt their ways. The booking for the room was made in Anna's name so she took to the English approuch of trying a mixture of English, loud words, pointing and adding 'o' to the end of everything to get our 2 room keys. It did however work and i'm sure the guy knew a little more English than he was letting on. He proceeded to walk us back out onto the street and show us how to use a locked gate and then round to the front of the B&B showing us the entrance etc. We walked up through the 1st set of stairs which was coupling the breakfast area with the hallway and he pointed to the clock "Breakfast Start" points at the 7 "Breakfast Ends" points at the 10, sorted at least we knew when to come down for Breakie. He then showed us our rooms a little further on upstairs and round the hall. I have to say for what we paid it was a steal (€50 euro per night for me and Lou) We then decided lets have a quick venture out and see what's local, we spent the next hour i'd say wondering off literally nowhere and seeing very little, so we wondered on back to the B&B. As it was around 12ish by now we decided it best to get some kip and have a reccy in the morning.

A combination of me not flying well and still having sore ears, being tired from work and generally wanting a lazy start we arose for breakfast at 9.50AM luckily the clock in the breakfast area wasn't working so I showed the lady at breakfast my GMT un adjusted watch when she asked the time (cheeky I know, but she fell for it) Breakfast was a simple affair, cereal, toast, tea (which the Italians by the way have no concept of how to make) or coffee (I can't drink coffee as it gives me headaches) and a Treacle style tart (which no-one fell in love with until around 4 days later when some Norweigen guys decided to demolish it).

After breakfast we all got ready and thought we would try to get to the circuit for the pit lane walk / driver signings. By this time I had studied a map I had found in reception and decided that I was gonna walk into Bergamo. The girls didn't seem overly fazed by the idea at the time either so we headed off at a brisk pace with map in hand. 40 minutes later we arrived at Bergamo station by which time I'd imagine it to be around 11.30 we jumped the train to Monza (€6.20 return each) and arrived around 12.30 we walked out into the taxi rank to find it deserted, so we stood around for 5 mins to find that still no-one was coming. By this time we had bumped into a fellow brit and his girlfriend. At this point I knew that getting to Monza may be tricky (I had heard rumours that it could be difficult on a Thursday) We decided that the rumblings coming from our stomachs really needed addressing so went off in search of pizza. We found a lovely place just up from the station leading into the town and the guy spoke English very well. I proceeded to have a lovely Pizza with sausage topping, Louise had a Margharita and Anna a Salad. As we were leaving the restaurant by chance we asked if the guy could arrange us a taxi which he tried but failed. He then sent us on to find the 204/244 bus just down the road that nomally takes passengers to Vedano which is just outside the circuit. We went to get our 75 minute bus ticket from the local tobbaconist and headed for the stop. Now this is where the problem lay, as we had been having pizza the time had been ticking away and it was now 3ish and we knew that the pit lane closed at 5pm. We watched as all the other buses that usually used the stop came and went and then came and went some more until after an hour we realised that we simply were not going to make it and so bumped the idea on the head and headed back dissapointed to Bergamo for some well deserved Dinner. That evening a few of our other friends were due to fly in (Keir and Dave) Keir had been to Monza the previous 4 years and Dave the previous 2 years so these guys knew how to get around and would make the next few days a little easier.

Friday (Practice 1 & 2) - We decided that this trip was to be done as cheaply as possible (without being a scrooge) before we even booked the flights (£100 Ryanair for the 3 of us with 2 checked bags by the way) so we got general admission tickets something that Keir and Dave had also suggested. We left early so we could get to the circuit ready for the 1st session at 10am (which we barely made) and headed straight to a grandstand at Rettifilo (as on a friday with general admission you can sit anywhere) it wasn't long though before we moved on around the circuit to Second Variante to continue watching the action before heading around the Lesmo corners and onto Ascari where we sat for 2nd practice. This was the first time i'd really noticed the intense heat difference and was honestly feeling a little sapped from the heat. The girls sought some refuge under a tree whilst I watched from a 2nd practice in grandstand on the exit of Ascari (it was fantastic to watch the cars coming through these corners loaded and unloaded on the exits, a bit like watching from Becketts like I had 2 years previously) With the heat having taken it's toll on all of us we decided to head back to Bergamo and call it a day.

Saturday (Practice 3 & Qualifying) - After the heat from Friday taking it's toll on most of us we decided to skip P3 and get into the circuit at a sensible time and find a good position to watch qually. My mind had already been made up that I wanted to watch from Second Variante and duly hung off the side of one of the small metal erected general admission stands at the corner, with a great view of both straights leading in and the entrance/exits of the chicane. I could also see the large TV screen opposite, for viewing whilst the cars weren't buzzing by. Qually was pretty standard form for the 09 season seeing the usual suspects slide out in Q1 & Q2 only Fisi being in the red car not the Force India. Q3 obviously being the most important section to watch out for I stood there with my fingers crossed for a good result whilst noticing that the temperature seemed to be dropping off slightly. A hectic Q3 session without being able to hear times/commentary left Rubens in 5th and Jenson in 6th. The biggest issues I could forsee without the fuel load announcements were the KERS cars of Lewis on Pole, Kimi in 3rd and Heikki in 4th. Once qually was over I wanted to stick around for the GP2 race but that was to be to no avail when the my earlier feeling of the lowering in temperature had culminated in what can only be described as a torrential downpour. Luckily the Italians have been in this situation a few too many times and had their tau paulin at the ready, they swiftly went to work turning the metal stands into covered stands and a place of refuge. Quite wet and hungry myself, Lou and Anna decided it best to trudge off the circuit and head back to Bergamo for a well deserved feed, rest and change of clothes. Keir and Dave stayed on a watched the GP2 cars having lets say a little fun on the rain drenched circuit.

Sunday (Race Day) - Obviously with only general admission tickets we knew that getting to the circuit late was not an option. My personal option of where to view the race from was once again at Second Variante. We left the B&B at around 6.30am getting a taxi into Bergamo station to save our legs and time to get the train to Monza which we had already purchased the tickets for the previous evening. Getting to the circuit once in Monza was less stressful than I had imagined it to be with more buses available than you could shake a stick at. We headed straight for Second Variante arriving at the circuit now at around 9am whilst Dave and Keir had already headed off to try and get down at Ascari. Neither of the groups managed to get where we desired as the crowds had already filtered in and started taking up camp. We decided to meet somewhere in the middle, which Dave called us about 10 minutes later declaring they had found a suitable spot at Lesmo 2 just leading out of the corner onto the straight with a decent view of the TV screen too. This is where we decided to stay and watched all of the support races from too in anticipation for the main event.
Whilst the drivers came out for the parade we all made our Race Winner predictions. (Dave had given us the fuel loads the night previous from his mobile phone) Dave took Kimi, Lou took Lewis, Keir I believe took Heikki. I obviously chose Rubens but had worked out from the fuel loads that Rubens was 1 stopping which they must not have. Heikki was clearly in the better position should he be able to hold off Rubens and Jenson and manage the tyres but we obviously now know how that turned out.
A great race and a great place to watch the action from seeing the drivers squirming around on the exit of the second Lesmo was great. Dave's previous proclomation that Rubens had no chance was obviously wrong and William Hill once again owed me some money (12/1 for a Rubens win)
Another great 1-2 result for Brawn GP with Rubens in First and Jenson in 2nd!

After the race the crowd dispersed onto the circuit but both myself and Lou decided not to as the heat had been quite enough for us for 1 day. Dave, Keir and Anna however went off round towards Lesmo 1 to see the wreckage of Lewis's car to discover that people were only looking and not trying to find any bits. Dave now has Lewis's radio aerial in his possession along with a few other shards of carbon fibre.

All in all a fantastic experience but I must point out that if you are shy of walking this is not the GP circuit for you. I would return to Monza but may tend to favour a granstand ticket next time over a general admission ticket.

On Monday and Tuesday me and Lou did some tourist bits to complete the holiday with a trip to Milan on Monday and trip to the old town of Bergamo on Tuesday.

I haven't got the camera to hand in order to upload the pictures so if you check back I will add these at a later time.

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About Me

I have been an F1 fan from a very early age, however in my very early years I didn't really support a team just loved the racing. Since the BAR years I have been supporting this team through it's highs and lows. I'm confident under Ross Brawn's control the team will go from strength to strength and hopefully Jenson and Rubens can find themselves in a competitive car once more.


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