Earlier this month, my childhood dream became reality when I had the privilege of attending the Spanish F1 Grand Prix in Barcelona. Thanks to Shell and Scuderia Ferrari, I was invited as an exclusive guest and given a behind the scenes VIP tour into the top secret world of Formula 1.
Little did I know that we had no ordinary grandstand seats, but very exclusive entries to the VIP world of the Ferrari Formula 1 Paddock Club, a venue where F1 teams and partners entertain their guests and clients. This was my first F1 Grand Prix experience.
On arrival, I couldn’t help feeling like a movie star while walking down the red carpet towards the entrance of the Formula 1 Paddock Club.
While approaching the turn style, I glanced to my right and could not believe my eyes. An Enzo Ferrari was nestled in amongst all the other supercars parked in the car park. The Enzo is a limited edition sports car of which only 400 were produced worldwide. The car park looked like a sea of wealth. Every type of supercar imaginable was there owned and driven by the wealthy guests in attendance.
The minute I entered the Paddock Club I was totally amazed. If folks were not standing on the balcony watching the live action, they were lazing around on the white designer leather couches, sipping premium champagne while catching all the action on the big screens. I just had to sample some of the exquisite cuisine and decided on a butter chicken dish that was out of this world.
The service was 5-star from start to finish and there were waiters walking around with trays of Mum Champagne, tasty snacks and other beverages to ensure you are always comfy and well looked after.
There was even a F1 simulator car in the room so that you could try your hand at racing around the virtual track yourself. Even though we were under cover, the Spanish sun was baking down, so I decided to give the ice cream bar a try. It was filled with Italian flavours so I settled for a rum and raisin ice cream to cool off and get the taste buds going. For those with a sweet tooth, the ice cream bar also had an abundance of sweets, candy floss, macaroons and many other mouth-watering treats.
Shortly before the main race, we were taken on a tour of Ferrari’s garage and Shell’s Trackside Laboratory. Shell not only develops the fuel and lubricants for Scuderia Ferrari, but also provides the racing team with a full analytical service at every race, using cutting-edge technology and expertise.
Every time a Ferrari car returns to the pits, the Shell scientists take samples for the Shell Trackside Laboratory. They conduct more than 70 tests per weekend on the Shell race products used in the cars, to ensure that the drivers will be able to get peak performance at all times.
I’ve heard people say that the new 2014 cars with their V6 turbo engines don’t sound very impressive. That may be so watching it on tv, but they are pretty darn amazing when standing trackside. I got goose bumps almost every time they blasted past us down the start finish line. They certainly have a different tone, but it is a beautiful one.
While standing on the balcony, I was able to look directly over the Ferrari pit lane and catch all the front row action. You can feel the roaring engines as they enter and exit the pit lane and I was amazed at how fast the pit-stops happened. If you turn away for a second, you will miss it – it’s extremely fast.
After spending some time on the balcony I decided to grab a comfy seat and watch the action on the huge television screens strategically placed for easy viewing. They cover the action on the track, as well as the live timing screens used by the teams on their pit walls. It certainly was the perfect way to experience all the thrills and spills of the racing in lavish luxury and style.
Walking around the rest of the Paddock Club area, there is a good chance you will bump into some of the famous faces of F1 racing. While heading downstairs to go on a tour of the Ferrari team garage, I walked past Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. The highlight for me was Kimi Raikkonen popping up to the Ferrari suite and having a short chat with us before the race. I even caught a glimpse of racing legend Jackie Stewart strutting along in his funky tartan cap and pants.
The racing in Spain was a little less exciting with the Mercedes team once again dominating the day’s proceedings. Lewis Hamilton took his fourth straight victory for Mercedes and took a three-point championship lead over teammate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso played second fiddle to two-stopping Ferrari teammate Raikkonen for much of the race. The Spaniard passed the Finn with three laps to go, but his sixth place was very distant – Hamilton’s Mercedes was 87.7s ahead, and even lapped the seventh-placed Raikkonen.
Even the closest television coverage cannot compare with the amazing and “celebrity like” experience of the Formula 1 Grand Prix Paddock Club. It really blew me away and was an experience I’ll remember forever. Thank you Shell.
Good news for F1 fans looking for the same adrenalin rush? Shell Helix is currently running a competition offering you the chance to win an exclusive all expenses paid VIP Ferrari Experience at the Formula 1 Belgium Grand Prix later this year. For more details go to https://mycar.shell.com