About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander D'Italia 2009

We slept in this morning. In fact, as I write this Brandon and Katrina are still sleeping...its 8:20am. Katrina finally woke up at 9:15.

We headed to the Autodromo at 10am, arriving inside the track at 10:20. It was deifinitely much more crowded on the streets this morning. I'm glad we only had to walk. After getting in the gate, the first place we checked out was the F1 Village.

An F1 Simulator

We really like the look and paint of the BMW car.

It was getting close to race time, so we headed into the track and found a seating area just before the finish line, as the cars come out of the final turn. The first 'race' was the Formula 1 3rd practice session. We do not pretend to be experts of even novices at this sport, but this is what we figured out. The practice sessions are 1 hour each. Drivers/teams try to run the fastest laps possible, making adjustments to the car with pit stops (in their garages, not on pit row). They get practice time on the course, a chance to make changes to the cars and they earn times and spots in the Qualifying session.

We watched this for an hour, slowly making our way around the porabola curve at the end of the course. With a point and shoot camera, I've learned that you basically take 3 types of pictures:

The 'totally missed shot'.

The 'going so fast it's blurred shot'

And the 'clear but I'm lucky it is even in the frame shot'

After the practice session was over, we were hungry for lunch. We made our way to the center of the track and found some brats for lunch. We also found a shady bench along the track to sit, eat and watch the Porche Mobil 1 Supercup Qualifying session.

Porshe paddocks

This is the smallest of the giant video screens at the track.

We wanted to see a bit more of the track, so we made our way to the forested section of the track. Katrina and Brandon enjoyed some ice cream while we tried to find some good views of the Porche session. This part of the track was very crowded. We had only 45 minutes until the Formula 1 Qualifying session. We decided that our spot from earlier in the day was our best option, so we braved the crowds and headed back that way.

Sometimes translations can be interesting.

I wonder, how many tires does it take to run a weekend of racing? I counted 7 Bridgestone semis in the tire paddocks. Each one was full of tires.

One of the GP2 paddocks. With our tickets, we couldn't get anywhere near the F1 paddocks.

The Formula 1 Qualifying session was similiar to the practice sessions, but with a few differences. This time drivers had 3 15 minute sessions to post their best lap times. After the 3rd session, the top ten drivers once again raced for a top lap time and pole position. Claiming the pole position was Lewis Hamilton of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes but .01 of a second. He will start in the 1st position at tomorrows race.

What's that growing in your ears? "What dad, I can't hear you!" Did we mention how loud the Formula 1 cars are!!!

One of many track and safety crews waiting for a call to action.

A new Ferrari driver had a bad practice session. He lost control in the final turn, skidded through the gravel and hit the tire barriers pretty hard. He walked away, but his car lost two front wheels and more...

The session ended around 3pm. Brandon and Katrina were tired and ready to walk back home. I decided to stay and watch one more session, the GP2 32 lap race. I had an hour to kill until race time, and a good spot to watch the race would be easy since a huge number of people were leaving now that the Formula 1 was over. I walked with Katrina and Brandon back to the F1 Village and said goodbye.

I wandered the village for awhile, then made my way back to the final turn to watch the GP2 race. Basically, GP2 are Formula 1 cars, just a lower level. The skies were getting dark as the race was about to begin. The they opened up and dumped heavy rain. Unlike the people in the big money covered seats, the rest of us ran for cover. I hugged a tree. I had about a 1ft square area under a tree that kept me mostly dry. Some people sat in porta potties. The rain delayed the race for about 45 minutes then the sun came back out and the race was underway.

Rain delay

The first 4 laps were fun to watch even though they were run under a yellow caution flag. The track was slippery and cars were spinning out on the turns. No damage or crashed, just fast cars losing grip on the road and spinning at high speeds.

Beginning of a wet and slippery race.

This driver made it back on the track.

Winner of the GP2 race.

There was one more race for the day, the Formula BMW race, but I was tired. Time to walk home. I exited the back gate into Parco di Monza and walked through the non official vendors area outside the fence, then walked home.

Katrina and Brandon were both sprawled out on the couches when I arrived home. Katrina was reading, but very tired. Brandon was bored, so I played some Wii with him for awhile.

Tomorrow I will watch the big race on TV. Formula 1 racing was a lot of fun. Will I continue to follow it, probably not. It was an opportunity not to be missed since we live only a few blocks from the track and it is such a huge event here in Monza and Vedano. Once again, I feel lucky to witness another interesting event here in Italy.

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