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      11-06-2011, 10:00 AM   #1
Echo M3
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The F1 Paddock Experience

As I had mentioned in another thread, I was fortunate enough to get access to the F1 Paddock at the Indian Grand Prix, courtesy of the Mercedes F1 team. Some of you asked for pictures and stories, so I decided to oblige. Apologies if the pictures aren't terribly clear, they were taken with my iphone. So here goes:

My tickets came in the mail 2 days before the actual event, which was a bit frustrating. However, the packaging and presentation was beautiful







I flew into Delhi on Friday evening, got to the hotel, ate dinner with a close friend, and then went to bed. I woke up to an incredibly smoggy, cool fall morning, thinking, "Oh shit, how will the drivers see anything?!". The only respite was that the highway to the circuit was brand new, had NO SPEED LIMITS, and was straight as an arrow. I kid you not, I was passed by a 530d that must have been doing at least 130-140 mph. It was anarchy on the road.





When we got to the circuit, my excitement truly grew. There's something special about arriving at a track early in the morning - perhaps it's the anticipation of everything that is to come.





We breezed through the four or five check points, got through paddock security, and I found myself facing an imposing set of stairs. At the top was an immense and amazing sight.













We got there a bit early, so we had a chance to see a few of the F1 royalty enter the paddock (FI drivers):





Once we got in, we had a view of our seating arrangements and balcony from which we could watch qualifying and the race.

Mercedes hospitality area, with food, booze, Swiss waitresses and live timing screens: everything a man could want:




Balcony seats for the race/qualifying:



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      11-06-2011, 10:00 AM   #2
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Part 2

Then came the pitwalk. By FAR the highlight of the weekend. Unless you are a celebrity or a major, major sponsor, it is the closest you can come to touching a Formula 1 car on a race weekend. I'm going to group all of my pit walks (there were 4) into one big picture gallery here.





Stuck my hand through the pit fence for this one, and snapped a few until a marshall yelled at me:













Inside the Mercedes pits (kind of):

Michael's front wing:







Nico's car:





Almost got run over by the medical car









The podium:



Before qualifying:







Practice and Qualifying photos:










Last edited by Echo M3; 11-06-2011 at 10:12 AM.
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      11-06-2011, 10:01 AM   #3
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Part 3 - Race day brings celebrities and more

We watched the support race after qualifying and then headed back and ate dinner in the hotel on Saturday - it was way too tiring, after standing in the heat for 7 or 8 hours.

Sunday morning, before the starting grid presentation began, we were treated to a little (HUGE) treat - we were told that the Mercedes
drivers would pay us a VERY quick visit and speak to us for a few minutes. I got Nico's autograph, Michael was a bit too quick for me .









We got lucky for the starting grid presentation. Where we decided to stand on the balcony happened to be the only entrance on to the grid for the media and celebrities!



Ralf Schumacher commentating on German tv. Funny enough, I saw him at the gym the night before, which was awkward:





Bruno Senna







Bernie



Richard Branson.



Vijay Mallya



Deepika Padukone (popular Indian actress) with Siddharth Mallya (Mallya's son)



Shahrukh Khan (was there promoting his Ra-One film, seen on the FI noses) and Gulshan Grover (old Indian actor, always played the Villain)



Mr. Bean aka Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Mcrashed-laren



Sachin Tendulkar (no explanation necessary) with Karun Chandhok



Mass exodus after the cars leave for the formation lap



Race/post-race photos





Journalists waiting for Felipe after he crashed out





Parking lot post-race

















So, that's the end of my little chronicle. I didn't take many live-action photos - I mostly took videos during the actual race. If I get a chance, I will upload those, too. Hope you guys enjoyed it!

Overall, it was an awesome, awesome experience - definitely a once in a lifetime kind of event. If any of you have the opportunity to make it to the paddock, do not hesitate - DO IT! As a Formula 1 addict, it was absolutely amazing. I am very content knowing that I will probably be relegated to the grandstands in future events.

My only (tiny) complaint was that the majority of the paddock visitors are more concerned about networking and socializing than the actual racing at hand. A few even thought that qualifying was the actual race, etc. Although I guess that if you have enough money or influence to get on the paddock every single grand prix, you wouldn't care about the racing, would you?

Last edited by Echo M3; 11-06-2011 at 10:45 AM.
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      11-06-2011, 10:09 AM   #4
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Nice pics. Thanks for posting.

I saw on Germany Tv that the India F1 race had the cheapest gen admission F1 tickets at 1K euros each!
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      11-06-2011, 10:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dackelone View Post
Nice pics. Thanks for posting.

I saw on Germany Tv that the India F1 race had the cheapest gen admission F1 tickets at 1K euros each!
Thanks! Although I think something was lost in translation (or calculation). The cheapest tickets went for 1,000 rs, which is around $20. I think the most expensive were $750 (main grandstand), not including paddock tickets.
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      11-06-2011, 10:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman10 View Post
My only (tiny) complaint was that the majority of the paddock visitors are more concerned about networking and socializing than the actual racing at hand. A few even thought that qualifying was the actual race, etc. Although I guess that if you have enough money or influence to get on the paddock every single grand prix, you wouldn't care about the racing, would you?
Shame to read this. Hopefully the teams can focus on getting more fans their 'ultimate experience' rather than just their sponsoring parties.

Anyway, thanks for sharing, it was great to read/look through everything! Hope I can have the opportunity someday...
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      11-06-2011, 10:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman10 View Post
Thanks! Although I think something was lost in translation (or calculation). The cheapest tickets went for 1,000 rs, which is around $20. I think the most expensive were $750 (main grandstand), not including paddock tickets.
Yes, and the BBC pre-Race mentioned how even at those prices it was difficult to get much of the local population involved. Maybe raffling off a part of the tickets would be a good idea.
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      11-06-2011, 10:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by yakev724 View Post
Yes, and the BBC pre-Race mentioned how even at those prices it was difficult to get much of the local population involved. Maybe raffling off a part of the tickets would be a good idea.
Thanks. The problem was the tiered pricing structure. All the cheap tickets (<$100) were sold out. However, all the grandstand tickets were at least $250, which in India is unheard of. There are enough people that can afford it, believe me - one visit to an upscale Delhi mall (where everything is 1.5-2x the price of things here in the States) will convince you of that. The problem is convincing people to spend that kind of money on a weekend of racing instead of on cricket or the movies or something else.
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      11-06-2011, 10:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman10 View Post
Thanks! Although I think something was lost in translation (or calculation). The cheapest tickets went...

One thing I did see on German Tv coverage of the F1 race.... was how the promoters of the race in India had set aside this are for the "average fans" to come sit on this hill and watch the race and have a picnic. It really reminded me of the hill just after turn one at Lime Rock Park, in CT. It looked like a really nice way to enjoy the race.
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