It’s the Italian Formula One Grand Prix this weekend and we’ve been reminiscing about our trip three years ago where I fulfilled a long-time goal of seeing a F1 race.
This was one stop on a month-long visit to Europe. I want to revisit the trip for this blog (original posts are on a private orphaned blog and I would like to rescue and consolidate the content over here) in more structured fashion, but I will dip into it now with this segment.
I started following F1 in about 1990 though drifted away a bit with the death of my favourite driver, Ayrton Senna, in 1994. Nevertheless, it was still an ambition to get to a grand prix. I was excited when our planning showed the Italian GP would work in with our rough timing and itinerary, as Monza is one of the most historic F1 venues. We were online as soon as the tickets went on sale, bleeding a little at the cost but this wasn’t a time to go ‘budget’.
Milan isn’t far away so that’s where we stayed, navigating our way to the track on both Saturday and Sunday.
The old disused circuit was another massive drawcard for me as I love ruinous and abandoned structures. I couldn’t wait to see the old banking up close.
When the F1s came out in dribs and drabs for a practice session it was one of those surreal moments to finally see them and hear them in their ear piercing glory (at the same time noting that I needed to find better ear plugs for Sunday).
After some pretty heinous accidents, use of the banked oval ceased in the 1960s.
On Sunday the trains deposited us at one end of the track rather than the station, so we didn’t have to faff around with an additional bus but still had a lengthy walk to get to our seats. It was another glorious day though, any fears of our expensive tickets being a wash out long since gone.
By early afternoon Sunday the build up to the main event was underway. From our blessedly shaded seats we had excellent views over the start grid and the thronging crowds of race teams, drivers, media, marching bands, the very-well-looked-after punters up in the Paddock Club, and… am I missing anyone?… oh yes, the grid girls. Heaven forbid there should be a race meeting without them.
Formalities over, it was race time, and time finally to hear all the F1s together at full noise. Amazing. (And those new earplugs did the trick!)
It was an efficient race with no incidents so it finished well within the two hours scheduled. Ferrari did the ultimate and won at home, all the more significant as they hadn’t done too well in recent times. That was quite something to witness.
We stayed up in the stands for the podium presentation watching the spectacle of the crowd invasion, the Tifosi unfurling a massive Ferrari flag and dancing and chanting under the podium. After a while we became invaders ourselves and spent a memorable hour or so walking around the track.
My F1 initiation was complete.