The Gallery of Memories makes an early return in 2019 with the weekend from the 2019 Japanese GP! It was my first time to Japan and I was really excited to be at the legendary Circuit of Suzuka! The weekend was shortened to a Friday and Sunday due to the Typhoon Hagibis hitting the central part of Japan, Suzuka one of the places affected.
However I did have the opportunity of meeting some of the F1 Fraternity and here is the latest edition of the "Gallery of Memories" series!
Mr. Sami Visa! Kimi Raikkonen's PR! He is such an amazing and humble guy! So blessed to meet him!
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault Sport F1 Team :
Takeo Yokoyama, Technical Manager for Repsol Honda Team in Moto GP. I had never imagined meeting him at a F1 race weekend; as a big Repsol Honda Fan, this was truly an honour!
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team :
Sergei Sirotkin, Renault Sport F1 Team Reserve Driver :
Alex Albon, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :
Lance Stroll, Sportpesa Racing Point F1 Team :
Toto Wolff, Team Principal, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :
The Boss, CEO of Formula 1, Mr. Chase Carey :
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team!
Meeting some Japanese Super fans in the Paddock! The Duo had the best day of their lives, thanks to Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team who invited them to enjoy a whole day in the Paddock! I was really awed by their passion!
China is a short trip from Japan and it was amazing to meet the ICE ARMY from China! Fanatical Kimi Raikkonen supporters this lot!
The Gallery of Memories was a short post yet a memorable one from Japan. The Passion of these fans is unmatched. The Love for F1 is unbelievable..a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun is a must do for every F1 follower.
A Big Thank You to Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team for their Hospitality over the weekend. The Paddock Weekends follows suit!
Sunday at the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix was an emotional one, a day of tributes. It was a day when the entire Motorsport community, teams and fans alike stood together as one to honour the racer that Anthoine Hubert was. It was a day when the Community reaffirmed, we stand together in the face of this loss and tragedy..we mourn today yet one day we shall rise again..
The Formula 2 Sprint Race was cancelled as a mark of respect. All the teams from both the Support Race and F1 Race Paddock congregated on the Pit Straight to pay tribute to the memory of Anthoine Hubert. The fans had decided to rise in standing ovation on Lap 19 ( the number on Hubert's car ) during the F1 race as a mark of the respect for the racer. The schedule for the rest of the day was unchanged.
Making our way to Spa Francorchamps :
The Paddock on Sunday Morning, a busy day ahead for everyone but the atmosphere was sober and grim after the incident on Saturday.
Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren Racing F1 Team :
Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :
I made it into the Motorhome and Breakfast was waiting for us :
Post breakfast I went for a stroll through the Paddock and some more heroes from this profession.
The fighter Robert Kubica, Rokit Williams F1 Racing Team :
Esteban Ocon, Reserve Driver for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :
Double World Champion in Formula E, ex F1 racer Jean-Eric Vergne :
Sebastian Vettel! Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team!
Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :
Time for a quick bite before heading out for the Pit Lane Walk of the day :
Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :
We took our spots outside the Paddock to watch the race start and the Belgian Air Force obliged us with an amazing Fly-Past :
Video Link :
The Grid Kids making their way back from the Starting Grid :
The Race got underway shortly after.
Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :
Race Start ( Video Link ) :
Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen had a coming together at La Source hairpin in the opening lap. The Finn was left with a badly damaged floor and had to go through 2 pit stops before coming out at the back of the pack. Max wasn't as lucky and ended up in the barriers before Kemmel Straight. There was a collective groan from all the Dutch Fans who had made their way to the race to see their hero race. Credit to them, they stayed back to honour Hubert ( lap 19 tribute ). The Safety Car was deployed on the Opening Lap.
It was a difficult race for Kimi thereafter.
Race Restart after Safety Car Period ( Video Link ) :
Shots from the Race :
Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team fighting hard in the Race :
I was in the Team Garage for the Latter Part of the Race and was able to watch a Pit Stop from the Garage!
Video Link :
Kimi came home in P16. Antonio Giovinazzi was doing a fine job in P9 until a mistake on the penultimate lap made him crash out of the race. It was a wretched weekend and zero points for the team :( Antonio also suffered from an impact ( whiplash ) injury and had to be attended to post race.
The cars making their way to Parc Ferme after the Race :
Charles Leclerc took victory from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Sebastian Vettel ended up P4 after some poor strategic calls by Ferrari. Ferrari were relieved to finally win a race in 2019. It was the start of a 3 race winning streak for the team, an indication that one should never write off the Prancing Horse.
Parc Ferme and Interviews for the Top 3 finishers.
Video Link :
The podium ready to welcome the Top 3 :
Presenting the Top 3 finishers of the 2019 Belgian GP :
Podium Presentation Video Link :
National Anthems time :
Trophy Presentation :
Video Link :
The cars sent to FIA Scrutineering :
I made my way back to the Motorhome and the team were distributing some Magnums. Helps cool everything down.
Packup time for the teams. The next race ( Italy ) takes place on the next weekend, so the turnaround time is very less for the teams.
Taking some more shots outside the Motorhome before its dismantled and shipped out :
I got to meet some more technical personnel!
Kimi Raikkonen's Race Engineer in Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team, Mr. Julien Simon-Chautemps :
Masahi Yamamoto, Managing Director for Honda Racing in F1 :
The Paddock being wrapped up :
After a certain time, it becomes quite unsafe to loiter around and its advisable for guests to leave the Paddock Area.
An earlier-spec Renault Sport F1 that was on display in the Paddock Club ( I guess ) :
Bye Bye Circuit de Spa Francorchamps, see you next year!
Walking back to the transfer area for my ride back to Hasselt. Some final selfies with my pass which would no longer be valid..a great souvenir to keep though!
I reached Hasselt pretty late at night ( thanks to the Traffic heading out of the track ). My friends Jane and Kaz had already reached the Hotel before me and were waiting for me at the bar. We sat together late into the night, talking, laughing remembering the weekend gone by. Kaz, a Leclerc fan was overjoyed with his win..Jane and I, Kimi fans had forlorn faces. We also raised a toast to the talent Anthoine Hubert. He will surely be missed.
Before I retired for the night, I pondered on the weekend gone by..the excitement and the highs of Friday and Saturday, the joy cut short by Hubert's demise on Saturday, the emotional Sunday that was. I felt so honoured and blessed to be a part ( albeit a small one ) of the Motorsport family that is spread all across this world.
I thanked God for His Grace and all the blessings I have had in life..I was living my dream..like so many others..
Once again, a Big Thank you to Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team for their Hospitality and Warmth over the weekend. True we didn't have a good weekend, but we keep our head down and keep pushing!
Saturday on a Grand Prix weekend features the last Free Practice Session, FP3 and Qualifying for F1. Its shortly followed by the Feature Race in F2. This was a Saturday that we can never forget..
An early start to the day helped us beat some traffic to the track.
Enroute to the Circuit from Hasselt :
We were also in time for the Saturday Morning Pit Lane Walk.
Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :
The Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team Garage :
Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo being Fired up before FP3 ( Video Link ) :
A beautiful morning in the Paddock :
Healthy Breakfasts anyone?
It was then time for Free Practice 3 and I found a nice place to shoot some pictures of cars going up Raidillon :
I made my way back to Turn 1 ( La Source ) and met Porsche Carrera Cup Drivers on the way while going through the Support Race Paddock.
Dylan Pereira, Supercup Porsche Carrera Cup Racing Driver :
Some more shots of the cars coming out of La Source Hairpin :
Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team during FP3 :
Charles Leclerc was fastest in FP3 from Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were P8 and P9 respectively.
A Quick Lunch in the Motorhome :
Timo Glock, Ex-F1 and DTM Racer :
The Motorhome, a busy place during Lunch :
Heikki Kulta of Finnish Press :
It was also time for the 2nd Pit Lane walk of the day.
The Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team Garage!
I headed out to the La Source hairpin stand after the Pit Lane Walk to meet my friend and long time Kimi Supporter Zakria!
Qualifying got underway soon after. Shots from Q1 :
Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team during Q1 :
Charles Leclerc was the fastest in Q1 from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Both the Alfas made it into Q2!
Shots from Q2 :
Antonio Giovinazzi's car suffered a mechanical failure in Q2 and couldn't set a time. He would eventually start the race in P18 after serving the penalties incurred for the parts change. Charles Leclerc was the fastest from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen made it into Q3.
Shots from Q3 :
Charles Leclerc took Pole from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen qualified a commendable P8 ( effective P6 after Ricciardo's and Hulkenberg's penalties ).
Ferrari were ecstatic after locking out the front row!
Post Qualifying celebrations :
Taking the Cars to Parc-Ferme :
I made it back to the paddock to unwind for a bit before heading home.
Mark Webber and David Coulthard, highly successful Racers in F1 and beyond :
Brett Arnall, Mark Arnall's brother and my friend Kimi Raikkonen fan Jane Bleach :
During the F2 Feature Race, a massive crash happened just after Raidillon. Young Drivers Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa were involved in the incident. The Race was red-flagged and later cancelled. Both were rushed to the Medical Centre.
Inspite of their best efforts, Anthoine Hubert didn't make it. We were shocked and shaken after hearing the news. True Motorsports is dangerous but a talent who was only 21 was taken away from us, in the cruelest way possible. Words fall short to describe the mood in the Paddock. Everyone rallied around the near and dear ones of this Renault Program young driver. It once again showed how closed knit the Racing Community. Juan is still under treatment and after a couple of critical surgeries is on a rough road to recovery. All of us shed tears, all of us were one...all of us..
As we head back to Hasselt, our hearts were heavy, our senses numb, we still didn't want to believe this to be true..but such is life..
This incident reminded us that racers sacrifice their all to live their dreams, to race, to enthrall, to entertain, to give us memories that will be etched in the hearts of us fans forever and yet, all it takes is a moment, one instance to end it all. This Sport unites us..as one big family..fans and racers alike..we race as one, we win as one....and in the times of mourning we mourn as one..There is an old saying "life goes on"..for Anthoine's Family, life would never be the same again..