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The Paddock Weekends - 2019 Belgian GP - Day 1

The 2019 Belgian Grand Prix was a special Grand Prix. All the Grands Prix that I attended have been memorable but this year's Belgian GP was the beginning of a new experience - an experience of being a guest of the team in the Motorhome for the Entire Weekend. The weekend saw a beginning of a New Series on my Blog. 

The New Series is called "The Paddock Weekends". It was truly an amazing feeling to be the guest of the Alfa Romeo Racing F1 team for the entire weekend. I would get a Paddock Pass with my name on it, have access to their Motorhome, Garage and Podium Access post qualifying and the race. I would have to find a new spot to capture stills over the weekend ( no Paddock Club access ) which wasn't really an issue. Armed with my Sony RX 10 IV and Samsung Note 10+, I stepped out to live my childhood dream!

I stayed in Hasselt ( just like in 2017 ) and the drive to Spa Francorchamps was never more than an hour. Accompanying me were friends from UK Jane & Kaz!

This is the Friday Experience.

Enroute to the Circuit :

Some shots with the Samsung Note 10+ :

What an Elegant Race Pass!!

Friday Morning in the Paddock. Kimi Raikkonen walking in with the Alfa Romeo Team Manager Beat Zehnder :

The Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team Motorhome! The Chocolates served with Coffee were lovely. I was sharing the table with ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI! What an honour!

Sometime after settling in it was time for Free Practice 1 to begin. Kimi Raikkonen heading out with his trainer Mark Arnall :

I decided to get some shots of the Paddock while heading down to the Alfa Romeo Garage :

Waiting outside the Alfa Romeo Garage :

I got to the Garage and met a dear friend of Kimi!

Antii Pyrhonen, Team Manager for Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Team in Motocross & one of Kimi Raikkonen's closest friends :

A 40 minute stop in the garage and it was time to rush out and grab a spot to capture some stills.

Jos Verstappen, Max's father and ex-F1 Driver :

Shots from Free Practice 1 :

Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team during FP1 :

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were the Fastest in FP1. Kimi Raikkonen & Antonio Giovinazzi were P13 and P15 respectively.

The Paddock in Belgium is a two - tier one. The upper tier is used for Debriefs and Engineers' meets while the Lower Tier houses the various motorhomes of the teams.

Kimi Raikkonen, in deep conversation with his Father-in-law Mr. Kimmo Virtanen! The close!!

Time to walk around for some more selfies!

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport F1 Racing Team :

Triple World Champion and F1 Legend, Sir Jackie Stewart!

Stoffel Vandoorne! Belgian Ex-F1 Racer now racing in Formula E :

Juan Pablo Montoya, another F1 legend!

Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of Double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi :

I decided to pay the F1 Village a visit and FP2 had already begun! It was nice to see the fans unwinding in front of the big screens in the Village.

Shots from FP2 :

Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team during FP2 :

Charles Leclerc was the fastest in FP2 from Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Kimi Raikkonen was P7 while Antonio Giovinazzi P16.

I headed back to the Paddock after FP2.

The Famous Media Pen!

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team!

Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team Reserve Driver and Indy Racer Marcus Ericsson :

Fredric Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team :

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

The day was winding down. A lot of the personnel left for their hotels. I was busy in conversation with the near and dear ones of Kimi Raikkonen when I was invited to share a seat at his table..THIS...

Mr. Kimmo Virtanen, Minttu Raikkonen's Father and Kimi Raikkonen's Father-in-law :

Beat Zehnder, Team Manager for Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team :

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team :

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Racing Team :

Jehan Daruwala, Indian Racer in F3 racing with Prema Racing Team :

Ottmar Szafnauer, CEO and Team Principal, Racing Point F1 Team :

James Vowles, Chief Strategist, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Racing Team :

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

George Russell, Rokit Williams Racing F1 Team :

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault Sport F1 Team :

Max Verstappen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Alexander Albon, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Kimi Raikkonen! Yes its Kimi Raikkonen!! The Weekend is made! He now races with Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team :

Returning to our hotel in Hasselt :

It was an amazing Friday at Spa Francorchamps. The Alfa Romeo duo seemed quick and the weekend ahead promised to be a really positive one! 

I would like to thank Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team for the hospitality shown towards me over the weekend.

The Saturday experience follows next!