It was a dream come true for me. Ever since I started watching Formula One, since around 10 years ago, I had always wanted to be there.. to watch and hear the power of those machines, and finally I did that.. and wow! It was an amazing experience.
9 of us met at the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof on Friday ready for the grand adventure. And boy there was excitement even before we started the journey. One of my friends forgot to take his tickets for the race and he announced that minutes before our train was scheduled to leave. Well.. we had no choice, but to continue.. We weren’t going to miss the race because of a minor memory lapse! We send him packing asking him to take the next train and meet us somewhere on the way. The initial part of the trip was thus spent on speculating whether or not he will make it in time. He did eventually and we all had a good laugh about it.
That settled, we continued our journey in the night. It was really an adventure reaching the place. We had to switch 7 trains in the night and didn’t get more that 15 minutes of continuous sleep that night, despite which we were all in high spirits till reaching the Mayen Ost station, the nearest that the German railways would take us to the circuit. Then came the surprise. To our shock there was no bus or no other easy way to reach one of the biggest international sporting events in Germany! We struggled to find a taxi and finally when we got one we had to pay dearly for a 25km ride. No option, we had to take it or miss the qualifying. We reached on time and the taxi guy atleast left us within walking distance of our stand. All that was soon forgotten. As soon as we heard the engines of each of those amazing machines roar we forgot all that struggle and all that tiredness. It was crazy! The noise was defeaning as we enjoyed every second of it all. We even had a glimpse of the crash of Lewis Hamilton just around the corner where we were located. But all this was just a demo of what was awaiting us at the race next day.
After a struggle to get back, we finally made it to Cologne where we had to spend our night. It was a pity that we couldn’t explore the nightlife in the city thanks to our tired selves. It seems to be a wonderful city and I’m definitely going back to visit. But now our focus was on F1 and we needed to get a good sleep if we were to enjoy ourselves at the race on Sunday.
Next day we reached on time, all set for the race. It started. It was the kind of excitement you would never get watching a race on TV. The atmosphere was truly wonderful! And lo.. just as the race started, it started raining.. and it rained heavily. We had not been prepared for the rain and got totally drenched but no one really bothered. All we were interested in was the race. And after a few crashes and mistakes the race got stopped! It was a pity since an unknown Markus Winkelhock was leading by nearly 20 seconds at that point that too in his first race! But the restart spoiled everything for him and it was back to the same old story. Ferrari and McLaren chasing each other. And towards the end, a brilliant drive by Alonso saw him overtake Massa and win the race. We joined the celebrations with all the fans there witness to a great race.
After the race too there was plenty to do. There were some stalls set up by the teams and it allowed us to see some F1 cars close up and also see some stunts. We had a lot of freebies to take home too.. from photos with the F1 chicks to team posters. Wanting even more we did a bit of souvenir hunting and I controlled myself to grab just a model car and an authentic team cap – needless to say, both were of Renault. It was a pity that Renault were no where near their world championship class of a year ago. I am sure I would have enjoyed the race even more last year when they made everybody else look like minnows. But nevertheless it was a great experience. I wouldn’t say once in a life time, because I am sure that this is not my last race!
I had booked the tickets long before I even left India and needless to say this was going to be one of the highlights of my visit. And it was. I am not sure if anything can beat this experience. It was worth every single Euro I spent (and it was a lot!). Finally even I can declare – I was there. I saw it live. :)