Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Belgian GP - Day 3

Sunday had arrived. The hard work on Friday and Saturday would come to naught if Sunday wasn't a fruitful day for teams and drivers. Sunday is the D Day in F1. A lot can happen on a Sunday. Sebastian Vettel in P2, Kimi Raikkonen in enjoyable was our Sunday? Time to have a quick recap.

Enroute to the circuit :

A lot of companies offer supercars or even race spec cars for track days at Spa, some were on display.

Supercars on display near the circuit :

A Misty start to the day :

The day begins with the GP3 Race 2. I had the opportunity of being at the end of the Pit Lane and witnessing some Practice Starts. 

Video Link :

GP3 Race 2 Start ( Video Link ) :

The second order of the day was the Formula 2 Sprint Race. 

Cars lining up on the Grid for the start of the F2 Sprint Race :

Race Start ( Video Link ) :

Shots from the F2 Sprint Race :

The Sprint race ended and it was time to welcome the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene and Sebastian Vettel to the Suite for Interviews.

Maurizio Arrivabene Q&A :

The Video Link to the Interview :

Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari F1 Suite :

I missed Vettel's Interview since I was away in another area getting a photo with Bottas and Seb turned up before his allotted time.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Meanwhile there was some activity happening ontrack too!

A Vintage Ferrari F1 car doing the rounds around Spa :

A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me a spot on the Gold Tour - The Paddock Club Truck Tour which follows the F1 Drivers' Parade Lap on Sunday. You must receive a Golden Ticket in the F1 Race Programme on Sunday to be eligible for the experience.\

Some great pics from the Sunday Paddock Club Truck Tour :

We made it back to the Club and there was still time for a final walk of the Pit Lane.

Shots from the Final Pit Lane Walk of the weekend :

The Drivers getting ready for the National Anthem at the front of the grid :

Counting down to the Formation lap :

Time to roll out for the Formation lap :

Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :

The Mechanics rushing back to their Pit boxes to prepare for any eventuality during the opening lap :

The 5 Red Lights illuminate and as they go out, the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix is a go!

The Video Link to the Race Start :

Safety Car Period ( Video Link ) :

Shots from the Race :

Kimi Raikkonen was one of those affected from the first lap shunt and suffered from the DRS Rear Wing Flap Failure. His car also had a lot of floor damage and he couldn't continue racing. Sebastian Vettel jumped Lewis Hamilton at the start and the latter could never mount any challenge after that. Ferrari took a deserved win, Lewis Hamilton in P2 and Max Verstappen in P3, leaving the Fans in the "Orange Stand" in a very joyous mood.

Parc Ferme and Sebastian Vettel takes the win, a comfortable win for the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Celebrations and Interviews before heading to the Podium :

Parc Ferme Celebrations ( Video Link ) :

Podium Celebrations :

Video Link :

Photo Session time :

Time to take the chariots back to their pens!


A Moment with the Hosts at Ferrari ( always smiling and welcoming ) and Julia from Red Bull :

I got an opportunity to head down to the Paddock post race and meet and interact with some F1 Fraternity!

Antii Kontsas, Sebastian Vettel's Physio :

Noemi de Miguel, Presenter for Movistar F1 :

Sir Franz Tost, Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal :

Mark Webber, ex F1 Driver and Channel 4 Co-Presenter :

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber F1 Team :

Charles LeClerc, Sauber F1 Team :

Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Carlo Santi ( Kimi's Race Engineer ) and Carlos ( handling Engine Data ) from Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

The Paddock Packing up for Monza which was the weekend later. 

I made my way back to Aachen, thankful to the Lord for the experiences I experience in life. Yes I was massively disappointed with the result for Kimi but the day was very memorable nonetheless. 

Once again, Scuderia Ferrari had showered me with world class hospitality. Edge Global Events didn't put a foot wrong and ensured a hassle free weekend for me. There is nothing more that I could have asked for from these wonderful people!

The "Paddock Club Diaries" from 2018 will conclude after the Abu Dhabi GP ( Season ender ) experience. So watch this space!

Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Belgian GP - Day 2

Spa - Francorchamps is one circuit where a spectator loves the early mornings. I love the mist that settles around the Ardennes offering a cold yet blissful view. I headed out from Aachen at 630 in the morning to behold this.

Enroute to the Circuit :

The Sun breaking through the morning mist...this is the Beauty of Spa!

I missed the early morning Pit Lane Walk thanks to the traffic coming into the circuit.

The Paddock Club opened its doors for the guests and it was time to look forward to an exciting day ahead of Practice and Qualifying!

Coffee and Croissants to start the day :

I decided to head down to the F1 Village for some shopping and had a chance to meet Paddy Lowe briefly.

Paddy Lowe of Williams Martini F1 Racing Team :

The F1 Village, one of the Best Villages in the year. There is such buzz about the place :

I returned from my shopping spree and I had the privilege of being on the F2 Tour and visit the MP Motorsport Garage.

MP Motorsport F2 Car Systems check ( Video Link ) :

Some more shots of the F2 Paddock, a lot more access and easier to meet drivers and team personnel :

I also had the chance of meeting fraternity from GP3.

Callum Illot, Scuderia Ferrari Academy Driver in GP3 :

Jean Alesi, ex Ferrari F1 Driver :

The tour ended and I rushed back just in time for FP3.

Shots from Free Practice 3. 

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets from Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. FP3 ended and it was time for the second pit lane walk of the day.

The second Pit Lane walk of the Day :

I also got a Paddock Pass thanks to Ferrari and went for a stroll in the Paddock.

The local hero and McLaren F1 Driver Stoffel Vandoorne :

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

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

Belgian Air Force practicing for the Fly Past on Sunday :

Lunch :

It was soon time for Qualifying. I was able to capture shots only from Q1 since I spent the next two sessions in the garage.

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in Q1 while Sebastian Vettel topped Q2. However the weather changed drastically and it started pouring in Q3. Shockingly Ferrari fueled Kimi for only one timed lap and as the rain eased off towards the end of the session, the Iceman was stuck in the garage and dropped from P2 to P6 on the grid! Lewis Hamilton took pole from Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon! The latter was a huge surprise as Racing Point timed it right with their lap. Kimi was livid, distraught and going through a range of emotions. Ferrari had messed it up again :(

Post Qualifying, Ferrari's Reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi came for a quick Q&A :

The Interview ( Video Link ) :

Kimi Raikkonen followed soon after. He was not in a very good mood and understandably so..

Kimi Raikkonen Q&A ( Video Link ) :

Formula 2 Feature Race follows soon after qualifying and is one of the most exciting support races of a F1 weekend.

Time for the Formula 2 Feature Race :

Feature Race Start :

I decided to walk back to the Taxi Stand and as I passed through the Support Races Paddock, I saw a couple of interesting things.

Now that is one way to deck up a Segway! 

Tadsuke Makino, Russian Time F2 Driver :

Time to head back to Aachen :

It was a great day at the Belgian Grand Prix. There was immense disappointment with the strategic error made by Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen but all was not lost. Sunday is what mattered...

Once again thank you to Scuderia Ferrari and Edge Global Events for the amazing hospitality. The Sunday Experience follows soon!

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!