Sunday, 17 April 2011


Sunday 17th April 2011

MP3 track of the day: The winner takes it all– ABBA

Weather: Mixed. The weather has changed dramatically over the race weekend. Friday was sticky, Saturday was cold and now Sunday was hot, right up until the start of the race; as the cars left the grid clouds came over the stands and the temperature became cooler. No rain today and only a little breeze.

Last night the Colombians had to move dorms and they ended up moving into my dorm. This was good as the whole room was now occupied by F1 fans; we chatted for a while, casting our predictions for tomorrows race, before I went to sleep and they went out. I had been warned that one of the Colombians snored 'a little' which, having slept in many dorms, wouldn't be an issue.

A little! I awoke up at 3am to, what I thought was, the sound of an F1 car starting up. I got out of bed, went into my locker and pulled out a pair of ear plugs. All was fine after that and I soon drifted back to sleep.


The day started as normal; I waited for the Colombians within the reception area before we headed to McDonald's for breakfast. Again we were later than planned however it didn't matter; as far as the race was concerned we were scheduled to arrive with loads of time in hand. I double checked that I had my race ticket before I started to board the train; one of the Colombians stopped me saying that this wasn't the right train. Five minutes later another train stopped and we got on; surprisingly it was less crowded than the previous two days. Once at the stadium I went through the usual checks (which were a farce; I opened my bag and the security guard never even looked inside … I could have had half a pound of cocaine, a penguin and a space shuttle in there and I still would have got through). Sadly we had just missed the coca-cola girls jumping around; the keen eyed Colombians saw the lead girl head around the back of the stand. They were off like a short and, once I'd caught up with them, they were having their photos taken with her. Not content with just one girl they spotted the whole dance group and got a photo with all of them. We then headed to a motorbike stand where the girls there looked as though they had been hit in the face, by a bus … twice.

After this we sat around for a little while before I departed and headed to my stand. Once at my seat I met an oldish couple who hadn't been here yesterday. They were both from York - they both had a strong Yorkshire accent – and they both were lovely. As we waited for the Porsche race to begin we chatted about my travels, their Chinese holiday and many F1 topics. At this point the sun was beating down and the Brazilians, in the stand next to us, were starting Mexican waves with great success. After throwing my hands up, many times, I tried to cover up as much as possible (however I think I've got a little burnt). The Porsche race wasn't that interesting and so I continued chatting throughout, occasionally refocusing on what was happening on the track.

After the race there was a ninety minute break until the F1 started; the grandstands continued to fill and so I decided not to bother leaving my seat. Instead I applied more sun cream, ate some of my supplies and chatted. The race started with the drivers parade; I looked out for Hamilton however, I was so far away, I couldn't make out any of the drivers. Once over there were performing art dances all along the pit straight. As I couldn't see the acts I didn't pay much attention; they were televised but I felt, unless you saw them live or at home, they lost their impact. I didn't concentrate on the TV until I saw Mclaren mechanics work on Hamilton's car. At first I thought nothing of it however, as time went by, I started to worry. Most of Hamilton's competitors were already on the starting grid and he was still in the garage. What made it worse was that the Mclaren mechanics, usually so calm, were running around under the watchful eye of Martin Whitmarsh. When I saw one mechanic grab some tissue, to mop up a leak, my heart sank … I had come all this way and it looked as though Hamilton wouldn't even start the race. With ten minutes to go I heard an engine start up; I looked at the pit lane exit to see a silver and red Mclaren, with a yellow drivers helmet, race around the first corner. He was out. Once on the grid the mechanics were still playing around with Lewis' car; my expectations for his race started to drop … well at least he would start. All seemed well as the parade lap started and, once the lights went out, I was happy to see Mclaren one and two.

The race was brilliant. First position changed hands so many times that I couldn't count the amount of leaders. At one point during the race it looked as though either Button, Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg or Massa could have taken the chequered flag. I flicked between the TV and the track, trying to work out who was in what position. Unable to see the information on the TV, I gave up-to-date commentary to the couple from York; we all cheered when Hamilton finally passed Vettel and into the lead. It was great; the stand was littered with Ferrari hats and here we were seeing Hamilton winning with Ferrari doing nothing.

Wanting to avoid the crowds, the couple from York left two laps before the end. I wished them a pleasant trip and they did the same. I couldn't keep my eyes off the track and, as Hamilton came around the last corner, I stood up and cheered. British flags were flying, cheers could be herd from all around the stadium and Ferrari fans made their way out of the stands. Today was Hamilton's day and all the British fans stayed to cheer Hamilton lift the winning trophy.

I left with a huge smile on my face; as I walked towards the Mclaren merchandise stall I was surrounded by British flags. Unfortunately the Mclaren merchandise wasn't reduced, probably partly due to the fact that many Chinese had thrown away their Ferrari hats and were queuing for new clothes. I decided to purchase my stuff once home.

Leaving the stadium was, surprisingly, very well organised. The ground had many exits with metro signs pointing to two locations. Each location consisted of two sets of ten rows. Fans would fill each row before the police closed it off. The rows had two open ends and so, once the metro station had emptied of people, the police would open one end of these 'temporary queues' to allow people through. As the Colombians recommended purchasing return metro tickets this morning (clever that) I walked past huge queues at the ticket machines and went straight onto the train. On the train I met two Americans and we talked about the race; I was hardly able to remove the smile off my face.

The Colombians had beaten me back to the hostel. Once through the door I shouted 'Lews' and they congratulated me. Even though they were gutted (as Ferrari did NOTHING) they still said that it was an excellent race. I chatted with them before they had to leave to catch their train to Beijing. We exchanged email addresses so hopefully we'll meet up again. I spent the rest of the evening reading about Hamilton's great victory wondering if, for the next three days, seeing Shanghai's sights were going to be able to rival the race. I doubt it. However I need to do another food shop (as I have nothing left) before posting home another parcel; after that I hope to visit Shanghai's Expo site.


Toodle Pip!

P.S. Both F1 races, that I've attended, Hamilton has won … maybe he should pay for me to attend all races from now on!

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