After our few days in the beautiful Bellagio on our holiday last week, we packed our bags and headed south to Limbiate, a small town outside of Milan and close enough to Monza to get to the Autodromo Nazionale for the Italian Grand Prix.
I thought we might get away with doing a little less walking for the second half of our holiday but no – at least this time none of it was uphill though. Our journey to the circuit every day involved a twenty minute drive to the station at Dessio, a few stops on the train to Monza and then a lovely forty-five minute walk through the beautiful old town and then through the Monza Park. It meant that we didn’t have to battle with the thousands of other people crammed onto the buses to and from the circuit each day, and the park was pretty (plus lots of people walking their dogs so I got my daily fix of fluffy).
On the Thursday of the race weekend we headed to the circuit and joined loads of other people in the pit lane where we got to watch some of the teams practising pit stops which was pretty cool, and then we walked around the pit straight and bumped into Jenson and Checo (McLaren) just before they jumped into a van to do the track guide for Sky and for the BBC. As the sun started to set, we wandered around to the old banking which used to be part of the track until 1969. It’s so steep it’s insane – we climbed up it but to get down again we had to shuffle on our bottoms!
After free practise on the Friday, we had a Paddock tour organised thanks to a contact of Simon’s at the Caterham team and the lovely Cyril who let us hang around a little longer than we should have done! We managed to have a chat and some photos with Simon Lazenby and Ted Kravitz from Sky F1, Eddie Jordan and several of the drivers, which was awesome. Cyril also showed us around the Caterham garage so we saw the cars being taken apart for the night as well, and then a quick drink in the Caterham motorhome. It was a brilliant experience and made the whole weekend perfect – hot sunshine, fast cars and a few celebs, fantastic! The race itself wasn’t one of the most exciting of the season but just being there is exciting enough, and the track invasion as soon as the chequered flag was waved at the end of the race was also totally insane – thousands of fans (many Ferrari, of course) climbing over the fences and running down towards the podium to see the drivers and their trophies, and enormous confetti cannons going off, covering us with red, white and green confetti and streamers. We got squashed but caught up in the euphoria – there really is nothing like it. Just being there for the long weekend is brilliant and if I could, I’d be off to a race once a month at least.
We were totally knackered by the end of it all, and were up and out of our apartment at 6.30 on the Monday morning for our long drive back up to Paris where we stopped for 24 hours before heading home to Blighty – ciao Italia!
Top left: Mark, me, Simon Lazenby and hubby Simon Top right: Simon being “interviewed” by Ted Kravitz Bottom left: with Eddie Jordan Bottom right: Simon and me in front of McLaren’s motorhome with their ’50 Years’ livery
Bottom left: with Roman Grosjean, Lotus Right: with Jacques Villeneuve
Left: Hubby with Pastor Maldonado (Wiliams) Top right: with Max Chilton, Marussia Bottom right: with the legendary Nikki Lauda