6:30 am. Rise and shine! It's a
fairly decent day, a few clouds but mostly sunny.
7:20 am. Gather my belongings, take the
Friday ticket out of the safe and head down to the lobby to meet Michel.
Michel has arrived in a Taxi as his car
is in the shop, and is waiting with the cab just outside. "Bom Gia" (I've
learned that it is correctly spelled Bom Dia.) Good morning! We jump in
the taxi and head off to Interlagos.
The traffic is not too bad at this time
of day, but still have those crazy "Moto Boys" (Delivery boys on small
125cc motorcycles). These guys have no brains! They drive between cars at
the speed limit when the cars are stopped in traffic! Apparently there are
a few of these guys killed each week. (Why am I not surprised!)
Anyway, Michel and I have time to catch
up on things, talk about the upcoming race and who we think will win etc.
You know the same conversations everyone is having. :) It is really
nice having Michel in the Taxi, as he knows what the driver is saying and
what to tell him, rather than me with my Pigeon Portuguese.
From the Hotel I'm staying at this year
we take a different route, so I never get to see the Senna tunnel, on
route to the track.
The authorities have actually organized
the traffic better this year, so the trip in is much quicker and before we
know it, we are at Gate 7 where we get out of the Taxi, Michel pays the
driver 50 Reais (which reminds me I owe Michel 25 Reais. Ooops!) I'll get
you next time Michel!
Michel has to enter in a different Gate,
so we arrange to meet in the same place after the practice, or in the Pits
if Michel can get in there.
Even the the electronic gates are in the
right place, they are definitely better organized than last year. So much
so, they won't let me in until 8:00 am. So here I stand watching
everyone around, when I here this English voice. I turn around and
there are two women from England, who are BIG Schumacher fans and made the
Pilgrimage to Brazil because it was going to be Schuie's last race. They
are going to be in the Orange Tree stand as well. So at least I know I
will be able to talk to two people. :)
8:00 am on the dot, they start letting
us in. This year no problem with the electronic gate. I stroll
down the road through the tunnel under the front straight to the Orange
As I walk in the entrance I immediately
recognize the big security guy from last year who wished me "Good Morning"
on the Sunday morning. I say "Bom Gia" and slide my ticket and enter
the stand. I realize that all the security people are the same from last
year and one of them recognizes me, and says "Hello", "How are you?" Now
he never spoke English last year. :)
I walk around the corner to see if I
recognized any of the staff on the Food stand. Bummer! not only is
there no one I recognize, but it's a completely different company as the
concessionaire. However, it is the same company as the one in the
Mall I went to with Jose and Debora................so Cheese bread balls
will be forthcoming. :) But they are not open yet. I can't even get
a cup of coffee yet. :( So I decide to take a wonder around the
infield to the F1 Village and behind the pits, just to see if there was
Not much going on in the F1 Village. The
Official memorabilia stand and the Ferrari stand are setting up. In the
far corner is a magazine stand setting up, with three Brazilian beauties,
one hands me a magazine and says something I don't understand. So I just
say "Englaise?" She looks at me and says NO, then says "Free" "Oh!
Obrigado" on reply and "Bom Gia", with a big smile from her and the other
two they all say "Bom Gia". Made my morning! :) I'm easily
pleased. I open the magazine to find it's in Portuguese, so I put it
in my Back-pack and head off to the backside of the Pits. Stopping for a
coffee at the next open vendor.
The coffee is what I needed. I
take a walk further up towards the Pits and just hang around drinking my
coffee. Not much going on, the teams are arriving in their
minibuses. I don't really recognize anyone so I head back to the
These are a couple of pictures
from just before I get back to the Orange Tree stand, outside the fence.
In fact that is the Orange Tree stand you can just see the
corner of on the left, with the white cover and blue seats. That makes
this a different view of where most of my pictures will come from.
Michel manages to call me on my cell
phone and tells me he has no opportunity to go into the pits so he will be
going home after 2nd practice, but would pick me up at the Hotel around
8:00 pm to have dinner.
The food stand is open now so I have
another espresso coffee and figure out where I'm going to sit as there is
no allocated seating again. I don't actually mind that, here in
Brazil, because it's a small stand and every seat has a pretty good view.
Although I don't remember some of these poles in the way. I think
they raised the roof and had to add the cross bars, which do seem to get
in the way a bit. So that will be a challenge when the time comes.
There is not much happening. Well
actually there is nothing happening until 11:00 am, which is the first
free practice session. Then nothing again until 2:00 pm, which will
be the second free practice session, which lasts until 3:00 pm. At
3:20 pm is the Pit walk I get to go on. A slow day to be sure. But
I'm going to enjoy it, after all, I'm in Brazil, the weather is overcast,
with sunshine in the forecast and
I'm at Interlagos for a Formula One race. :) (I'm actually hoping it rains
for the race on Sunday)
I hear engine firing up in the Pit lane
just behind me, followed by the howl of the V8 at full song coming down
the straight out of the Pits.................the first Friday driver is on
the track! :)
I'm wondering if I will see any of the regular drivers in the first
practice. My guess is no.
But even I can be wrong :)
And the cars with all the good-byes
Honda really went to town on Davidson's car. Friday first practice
is pretty exciting actually. These guys don't worry about blowing an
engine, so they are really getting after it. Putting miles on the
car, seeing how the tires work and last. Sometimes it's as exciting
as the race.
I have a lot of pictures from Friday
practice 1 and 2, but I'm not going to post them all. There will be
a link after the second practice session that you will be able to Click on
and see all the pictures. I have not reduced them or edited
them.......because if I did, I would still be doing that and not getting
this story done. :)
12:00 noon, first practice is over.
It's a REALLY exciting day! Nothing else happening until 2nd practice at
More people arrive, the Corporate
groups. Not quite sure who they are. As they come through the
electric gate they are handed the mandatory White and Pink shirt plus a
This Company has hired some girls to stand around holding flags.
Poor girls! It's not exactly warm at the moment and they look pretty cold.
In fact one guy even offered his jacket to one who was shivering,
but she refused.
It's not too difficult to tell who
The woman who is charge of the Orange Tree stand, never seems very happy.
Oh well! Still a little longer before the 2nd practice, so I'm taking a
nap, as so many others are doing. :)
Wake up call! The sound of the first
cars on track screaming down the straight from the pits. BMW,
Williams, Red Bull and Honda first out.
And as Steve Matchet calls them "Super
I think it's great to see the different lines they all try coming into the
corner, to maintain speed and try to make a three corners into a two apex
corner. It's a great place to be on the track. There is a great
overtaking opportunity coming into the first part of the corner.
It's not the best picture, but you get the idea. The cars really get
loaded up on the left side from through "Larange" and get quite a roll on
the body. The rear left tire tends to look a little flat and as if it's
going to come off the rim,
while the inside right front is trying to leave the ground. Which to
me suggests a softer suspension setting than at a lot of other tracks.
Check Jenson out here.
There is about 15 minutes left in the session and suddenly there is a mass
exodus of the two major Corporate groups. Click
here for all the Friday practice
photos, there is quite a few. This is my "Artsy" shot.
Normally we call it "out of focus" but the pro's say it's on purpose. :)
I am with the two women I met at the
gate this morning, Jacky (who is originally from South Africa, but now
lives in London and her friend [ I forgot your name
please email me] is from Derby) are amazed that all these people
are leaving so early just to get into the pits. Last year it was
nothing like this. We had to keep asking when we were going to the
pits, so I said, "There must be some Corporate thing going on, because the
Security will collect us all and escort us to the Pits the same as last
year." WRONG! The women were right!
I take the time to go to the bathroom
and when I come out there is no one around so I asked Security where
everyone was and when we would be going, and they told me they had already
I head out and up the hill to the pits
to discover there was a line, and at the beginning was the Corporate
crowds. I walked around the corner and back down the other hill looking
for the end of the line, and found Jacky and her friend. Who had also
taken the same walk as me. While we are standing there, they tell me they
had come out to the track yesterday and managed to get into the pit area
and also had Michael sign a banner they had made. These Girls are
definitely Schuie fans! The banner said something like "Thank you Michael
for 16 years of excitement in F1" with some pictures on it, plus now, Michael's
We finally get to go into the Pit area.
I'm just giving you a link to the photographs I took while I was there.
There is 192 pictures. Enjoy!
You can see from the pictures I spent a
pretty good amount of time at each pit. When I reached the Ferrari
Pit, I am gestured to leave and go back. I try to explain I need
some pictures. Then this guy starts blowing his whistle and waiving me and
everyone else towards the other end of the pits.
As I walk back taking more pictures more security with whistles join in.
These are the whistles with the ball in and are really loud and annoying!
Even the mechanics expressed opinions about them. But they were doing
their job. We were scheduled for 1 hour in the pits, and that is exactly
what we got. Last year, I think I spent almost two hours there.
I leave and head out to find a Taxi back
to the Hotel.......................
When I get outside the gate it is just
turmoil! Everyone all over the place! And it just looks like Busses on the
street. I turn and ask a Policeman if he speaks English...."No" OK
so I ask "Aqui para Taxi" he looks at me a little strange and says "TAX?"
Sie. (It is actually spelled Taxi, but they don't sound the i ) He
basically tells me to stand where I am and hail a cab. So I wave at every
cab going by.
Finally one stops, I jump in and give
the driver a piece of paper with the Name and Address of the Hotel on it.
He looks at and says "Sie" and away we go into the traffic jam. :) I
realize this is going to take some time and just nod off in the back of
the cab. I wake up a little while later, and the driver is saying
something about me sleeping with a smile on his face. I guess I must have
been snoring! :) Oh well! A few phone call by the driver and we arrive at
the Hotel. It didn't really take that long after all and the bill
was 52.00 Reais, I tried to give the driver a tip but I needed change from
70. He saw I had two 1's in my hand and gave back the 20 and took the 2. I
say "Tabien?" (That's OK?) "Sie". I get out saying Muito Obrigado (Thank
you very much) and head up to my room.
Michel arrived at the Hotel at about
8:30pm to take me to his house for dinner.
I have to tell you, Michel's house is a
"shrine" to F1! Not only does he have the mandatory F1 wheel coffee table
but the ceiling lights are F1 wheels with tires! There is a Benetton nose cone
standing in the corner of the living room. The living room also has photograph pictures (Large)
adorning all the walls. He is a F1 Fanatic as we all are. He wanted
to show me his collection of 1:20 F1 models, so we go into his office/den, where
he has a glass cabinet, floor to ceiling approx. 8 feet long filled with
completed models, but not just one of certain models, every variation of the car
that was ever raced! One shelf is Ferrari's only and I don't think he has got
into the late 90's with that collection yet. :)
Michel is on the left, and that's Alex on the right.
I am given a
drink, it is a called a Caipirinha, by another friend of Michel's, who is
also there for dinner. It is VERY GOOD! (It's basically a Brazilian
Alesandro (Alex) was also at the house
for dinner. He was the A in AMD and Michel the M in AMD. Alesandro
produces all the masters for the ACE models. He is an artist and very picky
about detail. He was very proud to show me the prototype of the Shadow
DN9B Samson version. Through Michel (as Alex's English is not vast) he
explained the problems they had with the Lion decals, and being able to shape
them to the contours of the body. He showed me the prototype decals, 3
different versions. The detail of the decals are incredible! Then he
showed me the final version which will be included in the kit. It is in
multiple parts for ease of application, but it fits absolutely perfectly.
Sorry, no pictures, I am the first person to see these items before it is
completed, But I tell you...........these models are NICE!
Michel's girlfriend was cooking dinner
all this time, and informed us that it was time to eat.. We sit down at
the table and she opens a cupboard to get something and I noticed the cupboard
full of more model boxes! I thought I was bad! Michel pulls one of the boxes
down. It has a finished model inside it. He tells me they are the finished
models he has nowhere to display yet. :)
The food was
excellent as was the company. They are a fun loving group and many jokes
were told across the dining table. In fact although every one of us is a
F1 fan, the replay of the race was turned off while we ate dinner.
disappeared and it was 1am before we knew it, and Michel was kind enough
to drive me back to the Hotel.
All in all a
GREAT! day albeit tiring. :)