Spain was a fantastic race to be at in 2016. I also had the opportunity of meeting F1 personnel in 2016 so returning to Catalunya in 2017 needed little persuasion.
It is one of the easiest tracks to get to and offers a lot of access for the fans.
Liberty Media, the new owners of F1 have also added a lot of experiences to the fans and guests of the Paddock Club and I shall be documenting some of them in the post.
The Spanish Grand Prix was held from 12th May to 14th May and this is Day 1 i.e. Friday Experience from the weekend.
The Passes arrived on time :
I got a chance to meet Fernando Alonso on Wednesday as he was launching the "Join the Pact" McLaren campaign for the upcoming weekend. McLaren were staying in the same hotel so it was nice to bump into F1 personnel on a regular basis.
A Selfie with Fernando Alonso!
Gavin Emmett of BT Sport; Gavin was present to interview Alonso for BT Sport and it was nice to have a chat with him.
Enroute to the circuit :
The Paddock Club doesn't open until 10 am. However the Pit Lane is open for the guests and Friday Morning is the best time to be in the pits as most teams allow guests to get close to the cars.
A 2 lap run in a Formula Minardi 2 seater is one of the newest offerings for Paddock Club Guests :
Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :
Haas F1 Firing up before FP1 ( Video Link ) :
Kimi Raikkonen's car Systems check before FP1 ( Video Link ) :
Shots with the GoPro Hero4 Black from the Pit lane:
We were ushered into the Paddock Club and the Club had a new vibe and feel to it. A freshness, unlike the same old same old. Show Cars at the entrance, music, dance, simulators, it just felt different.
Shots of the Paddock Club :
Photos with the Display Cars from 2016 outside the Paddock Club :
As Always, Ferrari had their own suite and like 2016 Pirelli shared the suite with Ferrari.
Shots of the Ferrari F1 Club shared with Pirelli.
I took some time to take in the sights before the session began and was happy to see the same set of fans with their flags showing their support for Kimi Raikkonen and his Physio Mark Arnall
Kimi Raikkonen Fans showing their support :
Stands empty on Friday morning but the numbers increase considerably by afternoon :
It was time for Free Practice 1 to begin :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 in FP1 :
Pit Walls busy :
Chequered Flag to mark the end :
Lewis Hamilton was fastest with Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel hot on his heels.
It was time to have a quick lunch before heading down to the second pit lane walk of the day :
I spotted Pascal Wehrlein having his lunch while walking towards the pit lane!
Mark Sutton, Ace Photographer!
Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :
Renault Sport F1 Getting ready for FP2 ( Video Link ) :
Shots from the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Garage :
Photos with Kevin and Paul, New Friends!
Mark Arnall, Kimi Raikkonen's Physio and a thorough gent!
Dave Greenwood, Kimi Raikkonen's Race Engineer :
Max Verstappen Fans in attendance :
We made it back to the Paddock Club and it was time for Free Practice 2!
Shots from FP2 :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team in FP2 :
Chequered Flag :
Drivers returning to the pits after FP2 :
Lewis Hamilton was the fastest again. Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were within half a second of his best time.
Post FP2 we were joined by Scuderia Ferrari F1 Development Driver Marc Gene who shared his views on the team's chances for the weekend and the setup required for a track like Circuit de Catalunya
Marc Gene in the Ferrari F1 Club ( Video Link ) :
I also got a chance to interview him!
A Moment with Marc Gene!
Formula 2, formerly known as GP2 and F2 in short have their qualifying session in the evening.
Shots from the F2 Qualifying Session :
It was time to go downstairs after F2 Qualifying and experience the newest offering by Liberty Media for the Paddock Club Guests - a tour of the F2 Paddock and an interactive session with Russian Time Racing and a tour of the track on the Parade Truck.
Some more shots of the Display Cars outside the Paddock Club.
Part 1 of the Paddock Club Guests' Experience was a tour of the F2 ( formerly GP2 ) Paddock and an interactive with Russian Time Racing. Our Host was an ex-Porsche Carrera Cup Driver Sam Power. He is an absolute star! Knowledgeable, Technical, Humorous he has it all! It would be criminal to not be with him on tour!
Part 2 of the Paddock Club Guests' Experience was the Paddock Club Parade Truck Tour - A Tour of the Track on the Drivers Parade Truck. We were joined by Driver Coach Michael Reedy who is training Haas F1 Development Driver and Jenzer Motorsport Racer ( from GP3 ). He talked us through the entire circuit and the various challenges a driver faces; not to mention the hillarious exhange and banter with Sam Power throughout the tour. The track's gradient changes were eye-opening. It definitely isn't as easy as it looks on TV.
Selfies and more Selfies!
Photos taken with the GoPro Hero4 Black on the Paddock Club Parade Truck tour.
Video Link of the Track Truck Tour :
The Tour ended and it was time to head back to the Hotel.
Returning to the Hotel
Reached the Hotel and was overjoyed to see Hilton hosting McLaren F1 Team.
What a day it had been! Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari looked strong and the signs of a strong Sunday seemed certain. Credit to Liberty Media for freshening up the Paddock Club Experience for the guests.
A Big Thank you to Edge Global Events for arranging the Passes and ensuring a hassle-free weekend, Thank you to Scuderia Ferrari F1 and Pirelli for their Hospitality!
Saturday and Sunday Experiences to follow soon! Watch this Space!