Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend

I’ve realised that other than sharing the odd photo on a Project 365 or My Sunday Photo post, I haven’t actually written about enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend in all the years I’ve been writing the blog.   Formula One has been part of my life for as long as I can remember and the Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone has been a firm date in my diary since before my son was born.  So why haven’t I written about it on the blog before?  Probably because I’m normally absolutely shattered after the event and life takes over and before I know it the moment has passed.

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend

So this year, I’m writing about enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend before that happens again for the umpteenth year.   The weekend is a time for me to spend some quality time with my brother and over the last few years, with my nephew too.  It’s also a time when I pass over the majority of parenting to my son’s father.  Something I don’t do often enough really, and it gives them a few days to spend quality time together without my interference!

For the first time in years I actually only needed one layer of clothing and my waterproof trousers and jackets were left at home.  Silverstone has it’s one micro climate, and even on sunny days, it can be so windy and cold around the circuit.  I have been known to wear a t-shirt, fleece, hoodie and waterproof coat and wear my Ferrari baseball cap purely to keep my head warm.  I couldn’t quite believe that we were going to have wall to wall sunshine for 3 days without any possibility of wind, rain or even clouds.  I even ditched the trainers which only come out once a year!  Too hot for socks of any kind.

There are numerous food stalls available to purchase food whilst enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend but I always take a packed lunch.  This was the first time that I didn’t buy coffee just to keep warm, and only bought one cup on the Sunday morning just because I fancied it.

Friday is practice day for the Grand Prix teams, so you get to see the drivers out for long runs, testing upgrades and seeing the track conditions.

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend

There are other support races on throughout the weekend.  This year we got to watch the Masters Historic racing which gave my brother and I some time to reminisce on our childhood and the cars we grew up watching.

We used to buy general admission tickets for the weekend, but realised that by having grandstand tickets for the Sunday, we could make more use of the grandstand roving option for the rest of the weekend, and it’s not unheard of for us to walk over 7 miles in one day, around the circuit as we view the action from different vantage points.  We certainly did that this year on the Friday!

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend always including tracking down the drivers for us.  As children we would spend our time in the drivers car park at Brand Hatch or in the paddock, autograph books in hand, catching a moment or two with the drivers of the day.  Access is nowhere near what it was when we were kids.  It’s something that makes me sad for the kids these days.  If you want to build a fan base for the future, the kids need to be able to get up close to their heroes and the cars without bankrupting their parents.  I took my son to a F1 test day a couple of years ago, we did a pit walk, he didn’t see any drivers, he did get to see some cars, but our beloved Ferrari’s were tucked away behind closed garage doors.  He was so gutted, he still talks about that disappointment 2 years later.

There’s a buzz about trying to work out which drivers are arriving at the track in which cars.  Which ones will happily chat and sign autographs and which ones will run straight past you and into the ‘safety’ of the paddock beyond. Over the years I can tell you that Vettel, Rosberg, Webber, Ricciardo and Button have generally been great for making the time to stop and interact with the fans.  I’ve never managed to get Raikkonen to sign anything and this year when he did actually stop and sign for a few people I was just in the wrong place.  And then there’s Hamilton.  It’s so secret that I’m not a fan, I admire his driving skills, who couldn’t.  But I’m of the firm opinion that if he hasn’t organised for a film crew to record his actions then he really isn’t a man of the people.  I’ve spent too many years, in all weathers, stood with those he really do like him, watching as he either ignores everyone and runs straight past, gets dropped as close to the paddock access gates as possible, or like this year and the last, avoids everyone by entering the paddock from a different gate.  I don’t see him as a man who really cares about the fans, unless the cameras are rolling.  Maybe he’s different at other races.  Rosberg on the other hand has always been amazing, even this year he stopped, chatted and signed, had selfies taken and was just an absolute star.

Anyway, my brother and I both like taking photographs of the track action.  He’s got a 500mm lens now, and the difference between that and my 300mm shots are really noticeable.  But I’m still happy with my results.  We like to capture a bit of sparking where we can and seeing if we’ve judged our shutter speeds correctly.  I’ve learned over the years that less is more, but I still take shed loads of photos and then am too knackered to look through them properly later.

There’s a wonderful atmosphere around the track, we sat in Luffield for qualifying this year and the roof practically lifted when Hamilton pipped Vettel to pole position.  That’s what you don’t get by watching the action on the television.  We also had the added drama of the World Cup quarter-final against Sweden.  We watched the match on the big stage screens after quali and again, the party atmosphere really made for electric viewing.

The weekend always goes so fast.

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend

Before we know it the drivers are doing their parade and we looking up to the skies trying to spot the Red Arrows as the speed overhead to perform their display.  I’ve watched them for years and never tire of their show, their skill is just amazing.

Enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend comes to a head as the drivers take their cars to the grid, we’ve watched from the Club A grandstand for the last few years and watch the start up on the big screen in front of us.  I might have been rather pleased to see Vettel get the lead as I was worried that without changeable weather Hamilton would just drive off into the distance.  As it was, he had to fight his way up through the grid after Raikkonen clipped his car.  Vettel and the Ferrari’s looked awesome and then there were the two safety car incidents.  Nail biting for any Ferrari fan, and really on the last few laps it could have gone either way, fresher tyres saved the day for the boys in red I think.

For the last few years we’ve ended our time enjoying the British Grand Prix weekend by racing across the track to watch the podium celebrations.  We’ve had Hamilton crowd surf next to us in the past, and it’s a great way to finish the weekend.  We get to see the drivers on the podium and the cars awaiting scrutineering after the race. It’s always a bit of a challenge to stay together and run to our preferred point.

We always go to the side of the podium so we can take photos without battling with catch fencing, and have always managed to get right up to the barrier with just the marshalls on the other side getting in the way of our shots!

It was an excellent weekend, with lots of action and laughs and wow the weather made it memorable.  Will we be back again next year?  You bet!  Will the sunshine be there too? Who knows!

Have you been to a Grand Prix?

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