Richland F1’s Jack Leslie recounts his experience in the Formula 1 paddock at last weekend’s German Grand Prix.
It is quite incredible and slightly unbelievable to think that just over one month ago I had never actually been to a Formula 1 race, and now I have been to three – two as a journalist (Austria and Germany) and one as a fan (Britain).
Following the long trip to Austria a few weeks ago, the journey to Karlsruhe for the German Grand Prix was much more comfortable. Well, that was until we actually reached the city and realised that every other road was being dug up or worked on.
Thursday was my first day in the Hockenheimring paddock. I had previously been told that the media were well and truly spoiled at the Red Bull Ring (we were) and that the other races would be a disappointment. They were right.
The facilities for the media at the track were okay. We had everything we could need, but they were just quite basic. Plus, we had to pay €80 for Wi-Fi, although problems meant refunds were given out and wired internet was installed for the remainder of the weekend, and no windows.
Media day, as Thursday is often known as, was largely spent walking from motorhome to motorhome gathering quotes from the drivers, as well as writing up other news pieces. It didn’t help that it was amazingly hot and it stayed that way for the following two days as well.
A particular highlight was hearing from Daniel Ricciardo, who was on top form. After asking us what song we wanted to hear him sing when he was handed the microphone, he then went on to say that his car’s secret was that he “kisses it every night, with tongue” and joked about the FRIC system.
Overall, it was a good first day in the paddock and it only got better as the weekend progressed. Friday was the first day of on-track action, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton unsurprisingly topping the first and second practice sessions respectively.
The biggest story of the day was Susie Wolff’s FP1 outing. She did well considering her lack of running in the car, completing 22 laps and finishing in 15th place, two tenths behind Felipe Massa. She was certainly pleased with her performance, although it had looked set to be a repeat of Silverstone after an early sensor calibration issue.
Saturday was undoubtedly the busiest day of the weekend, with plenty of post-qualifying media sessions following a dramatic afternoon at the Hockenheimring. I always had something to do but I was overall quite pleased with my work.
Lewis Hamilton’s brake disc failure caused plenty of gasps in the media centre as the Mercedes driver crashed out of the fight for pole in the opening segment of qualifying. It made writing the report a lot easier, as it was pretty obvious Rosberg would end the top 10 shoot-out at the top of the timesheets.
It was then time to run around the paddock collecting quotes and hearing from the drivers and team members, before transcribing and posting. It set things up for a very interesting and exciting race – possibly the final German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring.
The first three days of the race weekend flew by and suddenly it was time for the race. My morning started like the previous two, with breakfast at Ferrari, before then passing a certain 2008 world champion as I headed back to the media centre.
Pre-race in Austria was relatively quiet, but before the German Grand Prix I was a little bit busier writing preview pieces (such as the starting grid) and news stories. Soon it was time to get prepared for the five lights to go out, with a dramatic first corner sparking more gasps from the watching journalists as Felipe Massa’s car was flipped over.
Fortunately he was okay but the safety car was deployed to allow the Brazilian’s damaged FW36 to be removed from the turn one run-off area. After seeing the replay, it was clear to see that it was a racing accident, with Massa failing to see Kevin Magnussen on the inside and the Dane being left with nowhere to go.
Rosberg dominated the race to take his fourth victory of the year, but the action further back was exciting to say the least. There were some incredible battles in the midfield, with cars often going three-wide on the run to turn six (as Kimi Raikkonen found out).
Lewis Hamilton’s charge through the field was incredible, although not completely clean, as he made up 17 positions to finish third, just behind Valtteri Bottas at the chequered flag. It was another great race and one that was frantic but fantastic to cover.
Like in Red Bull Ring, I had to pinch myself at times over the weekend to make sure it was all real. I was really pleased with all of my work – I did 51 articles over the four days – but the journey doesn’t stop here, as I will be off to Budapest shortly for the Hungarian Grand Prix and hopefully another very successful weekend.
Images copyright Richland F1