I’ve been following Formula 1 since 1997, the fierce battle between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher for the World Championship title so impressed the 9-year-old that I didn’t miss a single race until the mid-2000s when Ferrari’s dominance made many fans bored. But even then, I followed the news and watched the stages from time to time.
The second time I discovered F1 was after Jenson Button and Brawn GP’s phenomenal team win in 2009. Although the next four years it went to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, and then, with the transition to the turbo age, the baton was passed to the Mercedes team drivers, during those 10 years a lot of interesting things happened in the Championship.
It’s often mistakenly assumed that racing is an hour-long qualifying on Saturday and a 300-km race on Sunday. Certainly winning the race is the most important part of the weekend, and the three drivers who take home the trophy will be the center of attention, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Formula 1 is a complex organism, with team staff, FIA, and promoters working as a unit, and the most important part of the process is the fans, especially the Italian Tifosi. Yes, it’s more interesting to watch the race itself on TV, but no matter how talented the director and cameraman are, they can’t capture the atmosphere on the track, so once or twice a year I try to get out to one of the stages. This year I went to the Grand Prix of Bahrain and visited Russian Grand Prix for the second time, and now I want to share with you my impressions from watching it live.
Paddock, pit lane, and Scuderia
What you will see from the main stand, can never be compared with the TV picture. It’s about the start of the race when in one second the fastest cars on the planet go into battle, and while many criticize the sound of the new F1 cars, I like the fact that now you can not wear earplugs during the race without consequences the next day.
It’s interesting to watch the wave of pit stops, especially if it happens while the safety car is out and most drivers decide to change tires at the same time.
The special atmosphere of the Grand Prix does not end there – it is very exciting to watch the fans being carried from podium to podium as the fastest drivers of the planet arrive. There are autograph sessions for the spectators, and the lucky few can stroll along the pit lane at a designated time.
There are concerts throughout the weekend, and team guests can visit the pits and see the work from the inside. Like at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, I was the guest of Shell company, which has been the technical partner of Scuderia Ferrari for more than 70 years. Like last time, I also had a chance to visit the team, and I was amazed by how crowded the pits are and how many people manage to work simultaneously, doing it in the most professional way. We didn’t see much, of course, because everyone was busy preparing for the race, but we were allowed into the laboratory.
The answer to the question at the beginning – to go to the Grand Prix is definitely worth it, especially if you’ve never been to a race of this level, but I do not advise to save on tickets, just sitting on the podium, you will hardly enjoy it.