2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian GP- My experience with Monster India, Marussia & Paddock life

Was it a dream? I asked myself as I landed back to home. It was all like a dream, isn’t it? Just 4 days before a GP, you are said that you will be in the paddock, in the garage and checking out F1 from inside is nothing like reality. But it was for me in the end, a serious dream come true and one which I cannot forget for my entire life. A lot has to said about Monster India, Marussia F1 Team for creating such opportunity for us fans.

Barely 2 hours before the entry closure time, I entered myself via Monster India’s Facebook app & Twitter, am glad it was just in time. The next part was receiving the shortlisting call & then the telephonic interview which is my first ever interview of this sort. I did my best there and actually was surprised that results went my way, I didn’t believe and I was like, “Is it really happening? Did I really win something?” It was unreal and was seriously overjoyed with what was happening.

The next thing, pack my bags get everything in place for my going to be awesome trip. I had to miss the Friday sessions as I was due to meet everyone at Monster India office. It was great to meet everyone there, everyone were friendly of course and welcomed me well. I also met up with Mr. Sanjay Modi the MD of Monster India, I can only imagine meeting such big personalities but it was happening. I was briefed about what to expect and what to do, gearing up for the important day.

I reached the track fairly early on Saturday for FP3 session from the Main Grandstand. The view was super as podium was diagonal to my seat and the garages of SFI & Lotus in front. I actually wanted that the session get over quickly so that I get inside and begin with my work. Thankfully, it got over early not literally of course. I met up with one of the Marussia PR at the paddock entrance gate and an unexpected way greeted me. It was actually a tunnel underground way from grandstand to paddock which I can term as “Tunnel to heaven”, pretty cool way. I was greeted with Martin Brundle standing at the check-in gate and Bob Fernley inside the paddock.

I went in straight to the Marussia’s garage and hospitality meeting Graeme Lowdon, Marussia’s President & Sporting Director. And then went out to explore the paddock area. The first person I meet, Mr. Sameer Gaur the man behind BIC or F1 in India. It was a good small chat with him with F1 in India. As I moved on, I heard 80’s Bollywood song coming out from Mercedes garage and I asked them if they understood something, their reply, “No but it’s actually fun listening and perhaps shaking some legs on it”, that’s how one enjoys. McLaren mechanics were cleaning some car parts which seemed like hair dresser and when I said this to them, they just burst out in laughter. I was tweeting as well most of it if anyone had checked.

After a brief time checking out the place and meeting Geido, Bottas, Max (Caterham, Williams & Marussia reserve driver respectively), I went straight into the garage for the qualifying session. The mechanics were working on the car quite frantically as Timo & Charles came in and quickly settled in their car. I was standing behind Charles car’s, wearing those fancy headgears listening to the talk between Charles and his engineer. The mechanics keep on working even after the car leaves, cleaning the whole area quickly which shows how important every persons work is. I have only heard about the heat inside the garage but seriously I could feel it specially when the car came in, it was too hot. Hats off to the mechanics who just have to work on.

For a brief moment got myself on FOM or garage TV as the cameraman came in for Charles in the garage posy qualifying. After that I left the garage to cover Charles & Timo’s interview as I saw the “Media Pin/Pen” from up close. For a brief moment I came in to change to the Marussia shirt as I went back to the media area where I met almost all the drivers in the grid. Due to time shortage, it was only hi & hello and short thank you. But standing in front of them in itself was the thing for me. Not to mention that I almost bumped into Perez. In all the media huddle, there was one Lotus man cleaning Grosjean’s tyres, chatted a bit about his experiences and how is to work in F1. He answered duly and was a very nice person. After that it was time for my garage tour of Marussia, I got the in hand view of all corners of the garage and even saw the parts of the cars which I have only seen on TV or in pictures.

It was then time for me to sit down with Graeme Lowdon to have a brief chat. I must say, he is quite a passionate man and wants to succeed, do well with his team. We talked upon various things including India, BIC where he insisted that they would not want to lose India as a potential market plus the fantastic track which already becoming one of the best in the world. We also touched upon Marussia’s progress, specially them being at P10 position in CC and for the first time defending their position rather than fighting for it. He mentioned that though we can say Charles is by far the best rookie on the grid beating his teammate but Timo has helped him a lot throughout the year. It was said to be a 20 minutes talk but it stretched well beyond to about 40 minutes in the end.

After that my day was somewhat over but with some friends over at SFI and Marussia’s permission, I toured the SFI garage. It was surreal to be there. There I met Jules Bianchi, SFI reserve driver who had come in after running the track. As I walked towards the Marussia hospitality, I saw Dr.Mallya, Bob Fernley & Monisha chatting as Kamui was watching from above the Sauber hospitality. I caught with Dr. Mallya for few minutes as he went in the SFI hospitality. By that time it was end of the day for me as I went back to Marussia hospitality and then back to the gate again. A day well spent with Marussia, learning, experiencing and meeting the people whom we have only seen on TV.

The following day, it was all about enjoying and that’s why I went in early morning and spent some time in F1 Village with my friends. I headed to the grandstand then as I watched the pre-race preparation and grid presentation. From there I saw Harbhajan Singh, Ajay Devgn, Sonaskshi Sinha, Sania Mirza, Shoaib Malik, Mohd Azharuddin, Vicky Chandhok, Dr. Mallya, Bernie Ecclestone, Nikki Lauda, Martin Whitmartish, Nobert Haug, Christian Horner and all the drivers of course. The drivers parade was different from last year as this time it was done in the huge truck. The install lap was done as the cars headed to start/finish line and it was like everyone from pit garage was there. I also got the in had view of the mayhem when formation lap starts.

Alonso seemed the clear favourite of many as he got the loudest cheers post race during podium. It was nice to see Vicky sir giving away the trophy. Post race I decided to wait and beat the traffic and perhaps it was good idea as I got to see what happens post a race is over. The teams quickly started to demolish the garage and put everything inside. FIA were checking all the cars one by one as Hulk’s was kept in a different room, perhaps being checked for fuel. I was seeing how they do it. Sam Micheal & Andy Stevenson were there standing and chatting. By that time, it was time for RBR team photograph but unfortunately it was going on, on our side and so I couldn’t see. But I did get to see BBC & Sky people and even Vettel, Marko.

I even saw some of Jake & David’s dancing as they were getting ready for BBC Forum which am sure not many will be able to see. At least they waved to the handful of people there. The track looked stunning in the night. Once again I was one of the few left to leave the track, of course spectator wise. All in all it was one hell of a weekend for me. I mean, not everyday we can get into the paddock or garage and watch things up close. I feel a proud fan in the end and believe that I should be there one day working, my next dream. And dreams do come true.

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  1. ' Darshan' can feel from our words mate that you enjoyed Indian GP very much, and why dont you should be?
    Getting into pit garage, seeking time with drivers engineers and other pit crew members is like DREAM.

    Cashless moments those were, I ENVY YOU, YOU BLOGGER :P :P!!

    Keep up the good work!!

  2. Thanks Ankur. It was indeed a dream come true for me in every way.


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