Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Belgian GP - Day 1

The second race I had the opportunity of attending in 2018 was the Belgian Grand Prix. Its become like an annual pilgrimage to be at Spa - Francorchamps simply because of how beautiful and amazing the track layout is. The weather is always impeccable not to mention the history of racing at this circuit.

Here is a small recap of how the weekend unfolded, starting with Friday.

My friend invited me over for dinner at the Radisson Blu in Spa on Thursday night. Scuderia Ferrari Team personnel stay there as well and my race passes were ready for pickup.

The Race Passes for the weekend :

I also had the opportunity of meeting 2 drivers at the hotel.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point Force India F1 Team :

The Professor! Alain Prost :

Friday morning was an early start from the Pullman in Aachen ( Germany ), a different destination to travel from. 

Enroute to the circuit. Friday Morning was really cold in Spa :

The Taxi service drops you a fair distance from the Circuit entrance, so be prepared to walk a bit : 

The Pit lane walk is the first event of the day for the guests since the Paddock Club doesn't open until 930 in the morning.

Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :

Scuderia Ferrari F1 Garage during the Pit Lane Walk :

Some teams also indulged in Pit Stop Practices.

McLaren F1 and Haas F1 Team Pit Stop Practices ( Video Link ) :

Racing Point Force India F1 Team Pit Stop Practice ( Video Link ) :

The Pit lane walk done and it was time to enjoy the sessions from the comfort of our suite :

The Motorhomes neatly arranged on Friday morning, ready for the weekend!

Free Practice 1 underway :

Scuderia Ferrari F1 during FP1 :

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest from Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in FP1. Kimi Raikkonen was P4.

The lunch menu!

Lunch is served!

Desserts! The Mousse is unbelievable!!

Marc Gene visits us in the Ferrari F1 Suite for a quick rundown of the session and the experience gained from it by the team.

Soon it was time for the 2nd Pit Lane Walk of the day!

I got a chance to meet Renault Sport Academy and Russian Time F2 Driver Artem Markelov!

Time for some GoPro Action in the Pit Lane!

It was then time to head back and get ready for Free Practice 2 :

Kimi Raikkonen was the Fastest in FP2 followed by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

I was down in the garage for the second half of FP2 and had an opportunity of taking in the sights of the Paddock :

I was loitering around the Paddock when I suddenly spotted Kimi Raikkonen walking towards me! I requested for a selfie..this was followed by a pause and then an "OK" My Day was made!!!

It didn't end there. I met many other famous figures from the Racing world.

Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing F1 Team Principal :

Mika Salo, ex-F1 Driver and now a FIA Steward :

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal Williams Martini F1 Racing Team :

Karun Chandok, ex-F1 Driver and Presenter for Channel 4 F1 :

Juan Pablo Montoya! The Legend!

I made it back to the Paddock Club and was admiring these racing beauties until it was time to head down for the Paddock Club Track Truck Tour!

bShots from the Track Truck Tour! 

Some more selfies with the GoPro!

It was then time to head back to Aachen Germany and the comfort of the Pullman! 

It was a great day at the Belgian Grand Prix and Ferrari looked strong for the rest of the weekend. 

Thank you to Scuderia Ferrari and their Hospitality team for a great Friday. Thank you to Edge Global Events for their flawless service as always.

Saturday and Sunday Experiences to follow soon!

A Gallery of Memories - Part 16

The 2018 Belgian Grand Prix was the second race of the season that I had the opportunity of attending. The Circuit is in the beautiful town of Spa nestled in the Ardennes. The 3 day experience starts with the "Gallery of Memories" :

Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Alain Prost! 4 Time F1 World Champion and the man whose nickname is the "Professor" :

Artem Markelov, Renault Sport F1 Reserve Driver and Russian Time F2 Driver :

KIMI RAIKKONEN!! The weekend is made!

Juan Pablo Montoya! Ex F1 and Nascar Driver from Colombia. He was one fearless racer!

Karun Chandok, Ex F1 Driver from India and now with Channel 4 for F1 broadcasting :

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams Martini F1 Racing Team :

Mika Salo, now a FIA Steward :

Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing F1 Team Principal :

Paddy Lowe of Williams Martini F1 Racing Team :

Callum Illot, Scuderia Ferrari Academy Driver in GP3 :

Jean Alesi, ex Ferrari F1 Driver :

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren Renault F1 Team :

Toni Vilander, Cmore F1 co-presenter and a close friend of Kimi Raikkonen :

Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Formula E Racer and Porsche GT Racer!

Tadsuke Makino, Russian Time F2 Driver :

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Antii Kontsas, Sebastian Vettel's Physio and Trainer :

Carlo Santi, Kimi's Race Engineer and Carlos, a part of Kimi's crew :

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing Team :

Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Charles LeClerc, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team :

Marcus Ericsson, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team :

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team :

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team :

Jolyon Palmer, ex GP2 Champion, ex F1 Driver and co-presenter for Channel 4 :

Mark Webber, ex - F1 driver and Channel 4 Presenter :

Sir Franz Tost, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team Principal :

Noemi de Miguel of Movistar F1 :

There is a lot to write about the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Experiences. I shall be posting about these soon! Apologies for the delay.

Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 German GP - Day 3

The Big day had arrived. It was the day of the 2018 German Grand Prix. Ferrari had one hand on the winner's trophy after Sebastian Vettel's brilliant pole on Saturday. So did they? Lets relive the day!

The Paddock on a Sunday Morning. The Place is abuzz with activity!

I went for a walk and bumped into some F1 Fraternity!

Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Alexandre Molina, the man who is a regular feature at the podium ceremonies :

Antonio Giovinazzi, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Reserve Driver :

I headed back to the Paddock Club and was just in time for Maurizio Arrivabene, the Team Principal's interview in the club :

Video Link of the Interview :

A Moment with the man, cordial and friendly as always :

I then ran across to the Club Suite and met Brendan Hartley, the WEC Champion and Toro Rosso F1 Driver!

Brendan Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

I got myself some lunch and as I walked back, was shocked to see Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari F1 Club. He had come to see us before the scheduled time.

Video Link of the Interview :

Digging into some food :

I was one of the winners of the Golden Ticket, a Ticket that is placed in some F1 Race Programmes, the ticket enables you to be on the Truck Tour at the same time as the Drivers' Track Parade!

We waited for the truck to arrive and had front row seats as the Drivers headed out for the Track Parade.

Drivers' Track Parade Video Link : 

Still waiting for our truck. The main truck developed a technical snag so had to wait for the back-up :

On our way! The Track is ready for some action!

A special mention to the fans of Max Verstappen ( mainly Dutch ), better known as the Orange Army seated in the "Max Verstappen Stand".

I had the privilege of taking a Friend along on the Truck Tour. Some photos shot from the GoPro with my dear friend Jos Matthews!

The Truck tour ended and I just about had time to take some pictures before the Pit Lane shut for the guests.

The Drivers heading back to the Garage for the final time after bringing their cars on the grid. 

Grid Kids make their way to the front :

National Anthem time :

Getting ready for the Formation lap :

Formation Lap Video Link :

The 5 red lights illuminate and as they go out, the 2018 German Grand Prix is a go!

Race Start Video Link :

Some shots from the Race :

Scuderia Ferrari F1 during the Race :

A light drizzle caused a lot of unrest. Sebastian Vettel crashed into the barriers while leading the race while Lewis Hamilton stormed from P14 to take an unlikely victory. A massive blow to Vettel's title chances.

I got the chance of being at Parc-Ferme below the podium and was able to see the Interviews up close. Lewis Hamilton took victory from Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen. 

Parc Ferme :

Podium Interviews :

The Drivers headed for the Podium and the heavens opened. It was quite a challenge to take photos in the pouring rain but it didn't come off as bad as expected.

Mechanics busy covering the cars as the rain got harder :

Bucketing down!

Drenched :

Some more shots of a rainy evening in Hockenheim :

The Paddock Club was going to shut for the weekend and Ferrari were kind enough to give me Paddock passes for the rest of the evening!

Kimi Raikkonen also sent me a special gift, an autographed mini-helmet! Thank you Iceman!

Photos with the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Club Team! Great hosts!

The Paddock after a race Sunday, tear-down, pack and head out :

Sunday evening is another great time to meet the famous faces from the world of F1.

Grace Capristo, German Artist who had the honour of singing the National Anthem before the Race.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Robert Kubica, reserve driver for Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :

Paul Ripke, Photographer for Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Matteo Bonciani, head of F1 Communications for FIA :

Riccardo Adami, Sebastian Vettel's Race Engineer in Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Rosanna Tennant, presenter and host for F1 :

Lance Stroll, Williams Martini F1 Racing :

Nico Rosberg, 2016 F1 World Champion :

Will Buxton, Broadcaster and Journalist in F1 :

Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team :

Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 :

Bye bye Paddock, see you in Belgium :