Day 5 (Selfie Day)
It is not what they call it but it is how I call it now. I was told at the end of the day on friday that I could take pictured with the drivers and whoever I met at the course. Unfortunately for me I was not made aware of this earlier, but there were still two days ahead to catch up.
Again I did some grocery shopping before going out to the course. I picked up the crew at the hotel and continue the routine by heading out to the circuit. I could tell race day was getting closer since traffic is already increasing. Once I got there I helped out on a few things It does feel cool when you have special access to places I would not have dreamed of about a month ago.
Once qualifying sessions got underway I knew the paddock was again the place to be. I finally met Niki Lauda, a three time Formula One World Champion that still carries the scars of that horrific accident in Germany over 30 years ago but watching him in person is a true honor for any F1 fan.
It got even better from that point on. I had lunch at the Mercedes Petronas Formula 1 Team Hospitality Suite and then spotted Pamela Anderson going through the paddock. I did manage to get my first selfie of the weekend with her. Then came the drivers and obviously on the top of my list were the two mexicans, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez. I did manage to take a picture with them and a couple other drivers including pole-sitter Nico Rosberg.
It finally felt like a Formula 1 day and I can’t even tell you what to expect from today that is the actual race day. Watching the national anthem ceremony from the track was quite nice and everything is going to get better today. Sadly I don’t want to wake up from this dream.
DAY 4 (Engines Roar?)
After a quiet first three days at the Circuit of the Americas it was finally a day for racing action. Fans from all over the world started filling up the stands that had been empty and racing cars that had been parked in the paddock were finally getting some laps in around the track.
After some grocery shopping (once again) I went to the hotel where the crew is staying and then headed out to the track. We arrived as the first practice session was almost over. When I finished unloading I had the chance to walk through pit lane. This time mechanics were working on the cars and getting them ready for the second session. I did not spot any celebrities during that time but you could start to feel race weekend was here.
Later on I walked around the paddock and saw some drivers. As this happened I was trying to keep an eye out for Fernando Alonso, which is probably by now the only driver I have not made eye-contact with. A few minutes later practice number two began and I looked for a decent spot to watch it from. It was really nice to see the cars finally in action but there was something I did not like completely, the engine noise.
I remember eight years ago when I attended the France Grand Prix in Magny Cours when I left the track not being able to hear a thing for about half a day after the race. My ears had been destroyed by the sound of the engines, this time the cars could have been on track for a day and I doubt it would have had the same effect on my ears. It is not as loud anymore.
The day was over way earlier for me than what I expected. After day one of racing all I could tell my boss about the experience is that it did not seem real, I was starting to really live the dream of watching those cars and drivers I love watching on tv whenever a Grand Prix is happening. I had wanted to be here the past two editions but the third time is definitely a charm.
DAY 3 (Not a Dream)
It started like a regular day in this job. Wake up, shower, go to the track and then go to pick up groceries. Security was tight for the first time since the week started so you instantly could tell it was getting closer to race day. On my way back from the supermarket I witnessed a crash happen right in front of me, I barely had time to react and felt like I could be hit any moment, thankfully it didn’t happen.
Once I got things into the compound I had free time and since the track was closed I headed to the paddock where most of the action was taking place. It’s like I entered a candy store. I was in front of the drivers who were being interviewed by hundreds of media outlets. Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and otheres were some of the drivers I saw in the area. When I went back to the office I said I could quit now, obviously it was just a joke.
To make things better I was sent to a shoot at the hotel where Sebastian Vettel was staying for an interview with the four time world champion. Unfortunately I am not allowed to take pictures with the drivers, which really hurts since I have these amazing athletes standing within an arm reach from me.
Even better, this will keep getting better. I am getting along with most of the crew and today (Friday) the practice sessions will begin. All the anticipation starts getting more intense and I sadly know that soon this will be over but I am going to try and get the most out of this.
This is a job people can have without knowing much about Formula 1. But it is exactly being almost the opposite of that what is making this experience even better. I am working with a team that travels with the Formula 1 over the world. I am able to exchange points of views and knowledge with people that have seen it all. Sorry, it is really hard not to brag about what is happening here.
DAY 2 (It’s Official)
I have covered NASCAR races before coming to Austin. I had been in the Cowboys locker room, a Rangers wild card game and ringside at a UFC fight, but nothing has amazed me more than this Formula 1 experience.
The Circuit of the Americas is about 20 minutes outside of downtown Austin. Right now it is a mostly quiet setting, with mostly media and engineering crews walking around the place. As the time goes by you can see the setup looking more like a racing site and the teams were today putting the cars together for what will be friday’s first open practice. From that moment, silence will be a thing of the past.
After running a couple of errands in the morning around the track and another trip to the grocery store I had the chance to do what I wanted since last night. I had about an hour off before my next task and I saw that there wasn’t much going on in the track. I changed to my workout clothes and entered the track for a run. It was exciting even though I was on my own. I started from pit lane, went up the hill that takes you to the first turn and it was a lap to remember. Every step of the way I reminded myself how lucky I was to be doing that. In that same place, cars will devour the asphalt not even 48 hours later. I took as many pictures of that run as I could, and a video once I headed to the final stretch. It wasn’t fast but it was worth it and the track is nicer than what it already looks in pictures.
After that I changed back to my work clothes and went back to the TV Compound to get the instructions for the media accreditation and I can now say this is really official. They are actually quite nice and while I may lose a lot of things, that one will be stored for a lifetime.
The day ended with an errand back to the hotel in downtown austin to pick up something that needed to be taken back to the track. I am really memorizing the routes around town and doing my best to avoid traffic. Today that run was definitely the highlight of my day, and the accreditation means I made it. Chances are I start meeting the pilots tomorrow, so it will only get better.
DAY 1 (Setting Up)
It was finally here. The day I got to meet those people I had been exchanging emails back and forth. At 9:40 am, I was officially welcomed to the RTL family for the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.
RTL is the biggest private television station in Germany. I was about to look for tickets as a fan when all of a sudden my luck changed for the better. A friend of mine, who had worked with them last year told me she would not be able to work it this year, that they were looking for someone to help them and the opportunity I thought I would never had presented itself right in front of my eyes. Before I knew it I had a temporary job at the United States Grand Prix with RTL.
Today started with grocery shopping. What made it interesting was that we had to go to two separate markets and buy enough food for around 40 people. It took a while to get this done and quite some patience by the cashier to get everything through. Once that was done we headed out to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
At the track we organized what would be the production compound for the week. It all started sinking in when I saw the technicians from the different teams come in and out of the paddock area. When I finally got a break I decided to sightsee the place I would call home for the next few days. I walked along pit lane, sat on the stands, and climbed the iconic tower that offers the only seat in the house where you can see all the action take place. I can’t even imagine how it all will look on Sunday with over 100,000 people. Today there were barely 1,000 there.
I was told Niki Lauda will be working with the station I am helping. That was some great news, one of the all time greats in the sport will be my co-worker for a few days. The sentence that sums up this day is; “No need to dream, it is real and it will only get better”.
During my break I started taking pictures, because I don’t want to forget how lucky I am to be doing this. Life has been rough with me on my job-hunt, so this is a gift from above that as a big fan of the sport I can’t even explain how big it is for me.