So the time to get up at silly o’clock is here and that means the start of a new season in F1. The wait is over and its time to see who ‘s who on track.
As my role within F1 falls consists of Audio Visual work within the team Motorhomes my actual F1 season doesn’t start until May when the circus moves to a mainly European location.
This means that for the first four races I am watching as a fan but as well as looking at who’s who on track I am looking at who’s who off track. All the people that are walking the paddock and working in the garages are the same mechanics, journalists and ex racing drivers that will be at the races I will attend.
Although as I said I am watching as a fan I am also watching something very familiar, similar in some ways to a déjà vu.
I have loved Motor Racing from a teenager and I have followed F1 since then. That equates to around 10 years of viewing as just a fan. 10 years of not really paying that much attention to who was standing in the garage or who was at the podium celebrations etc. Then it’s just some bloke or a group of non-descript blokes jumping and cheering. 10 years of wondering what it would be like to be there.
Personally I was very lucky to get to work in F1 and I never, not once ever planned to get a job within the sport. The day I walked into a race circuit and then into a team garage and stand next to a real F1 car was a very surreal experience. One I will never forget.
These days my viewing of the race is of course completely different. I have a good knowledge of the way things are done, the protocols that are in place and the faces of those working in the garage. No longer is it some bloke, it is a person I may consider a friend, somebody that I have had some good times with and seen them doing and saying things that will forever remain in the private domain but I know happened. I may see somebody that has been out of f1 for a season or two working for a team or organisation and I make a mental note to go see him or her when I get trackside. On track if the car is does or is doing well it adds an extra buzz of excitement that you may get a chance to run to the pit wall and be apart of that crowd at the foot of the podium yourself.
As well as that there is also the realisation in the back of your mind that your season is fast approaching and whatever you may have left to do in your preparations in and out of work it needs to be done sooner rather than later. Work wise its not so bad because you have a set deadline and the set-up time at the circuit so any final things can in a worst case be finished there. At home however you are leaving for (in my case nearly a month) an extended period and so certain things need to be planned ahead or be in place because you don’t want to be sorting your personal life when you hundreds of miles away. Of course things do pop up when you’re away but its best to try and keep that to a minimum.
When your working at the circuit you may not get the chance to pay 100% attention to the race, you may not get to see it at all so being at home on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your racing buddy is nice. Once the race has finished you can turn the TV off and go make a Sunday roast which is also nice knowing that those guys out there have to now pack up. On the other hand there is a part of you that wishes you were there and it makes you look forward to getting involved.
That feeling also comes with a pinch of guilt if, like me you have a young family. You may be looking forward to being in F1 but you are not looking forward to leaving them behind. Older children can be told and have an understanding of why you have to leave but a baby does not. This is something that I find difficult to deal with, knowing that mummy will have to deal with everything that the baby throws up which will include a few frustrated tears at wondering where I am. Skype does help a little but you can’t have cuddles through a web cam.
So watching the first four races is a mixed bag of emotions but one thing to look forward to when you do the European races only is that you know that you can watch the conclusion to the season back on the sofa with that cup of coffee and my racing buddy who also happens to be the love of my life.