British GP Silverstone 2010

British GP Silverstone 2010
Hamilton gets pushed to the second row ready to start the British GP

Monday, 19 July 2010

Christian’s Autograph Book: Part 4 (International Edition)

Seeing as I haven’t stopped talking about it for the last two weeks, I’d be surprised if readers didn’t know that I spent a long weekend last week at the home of Formula 1, Silverstone, for the British Grand Prix. Welcome to part 4 of a regular feature that I post after our trips to watch motorsport, documenting the great (and sometimes not-so-great) and good that we have cajoled into adding their moniker to Christian’s autograph collection. The great thing about having a seven year old son is that it gives me an excuse to get over excited if I spot a racing driver, and his dimensions make him perfect for pushing him to the front of the crowd.
Highlights so far in this series have included Romain Grosjean, Darren Turner, Daniel Ricciardo and Tim Harvey, and although we were delighted with each of those at the time, the bar, as I’m sure you’ll agree, was set pretty low heading into the Grand Prix weekend.
So here goes, the international edition of Christian’s Autograph Book:

19. David Coulthard – DTM and 13-time Grand Prix winner. (DC was appearing at a Red Bull publicity event at the beer tent on our site, and was supposed to be coming with Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel, although they were somewhere else trying to stop Mark Webber doing a Basil Fawlty on Vettel’s race car. Tester Ricciardo was also in attendance, but we already had his)

20. Vitantonio Liuzzi – Force India F1 driver. (The Italian was staying at the hotel on the site where we were staying, and spent time signing autographs for the fans)

21. Tony Fernandes – Lotus Racing team principal. (Thoroughly nice chap. Turned up outside the hotel and signed autographs and posed for pictures whilst asking everyone’s name and chatting away like he was one of the lads. Stayed for about twenty minutes, and then got back in his Aston Martin and drove off – he wasn’t even staying at the hotel, just came to meet the fans. Had the desired effect though; I bought a team hat the following day. Legend)

22. Fairuz Fauzy – Lotus Racing test and reserve driver. (I knew I had seen him somewhere before. He was a little taken aback when we recognised him, but didn’t mind signing for the people who wanted one)

23. Lucas Di Grassi – Virgin Racing driver. (Seemed nice, even smiled when my friend’s son asked him if he could have his team cap – then ignored him)

24. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari F1 driver and double World Champion. (Don’t get me wrong, I get just as mad as the next person when I hear his constant whining over the team radio, and when his car pulled up at the hotel, my head was full of pre-conceptions of how he would snub us all and head indoors. I was wrong. He headed for the far end of the queue and proceeded to sign for every one of the 100 or so people in attendance, smiling for photos, and being generally very pleasant, I couldn’t bring myself to dislike him for those ten minutes, there was something very special about being that close to a World champion, something very hard to explain. After he finished signing, he ran the full length of the crowd and remembered exactly whose marker he had taken to sign the autographs, handed it back and thanked them. He shocked me, did Fernando – I still cheered when he got a drive through on Sunday though)

25. Robert Kubica – Renault F1 driver and Grand Prix winner. (I don’t know if it was coincidental that his Renault Megane (I bet he doesn’t drive one on his day off) drew up at the hotel at the same time as poker-buddy Alonso, but it did. As a consequence, what would usually have been the one of the highlights of the evening passed by without much fuss)

26. Nick Heidfeld – Mercedes GP test driver. (Signed inside Christian’s programme, and then signed the cover as he pulled it away – nice touch?)

27. Gordon Shedden – Regular BTCC race winner. (Definitely the most random of the weekend. Parked in the space next to us at Stafford services on the M6 on the way home. He too was on his way back from the Grand Prix with his wife, and we had a good chat. Very nice guy.)

The ones that got away:

Michael Schumacher. (Saw the crowd outside the hotel and got his driver to go around the back).

Vitaly Petrov (and his mum). (Signed a few, but got bored before he got to our end).

Felipe Massa. (Pulled a very clever (if a little mean) stunt, by sending his brother out, complete with big shades, so everyone would think it was him. While everyone was calling over his bemused looking sibling, Felipe sneaked in on a moped (nearly running Alonso over [by mistake? You decide]), and went straight into the safety of the hotel).

Jean and Nicolas Todt. (Resisted some pretty half-hearted calls from fans for an autograph).

Next update will probably have to wait until World Series by Renault, at Silverstone in September, at the earliest, although it will probably be an anticlimax after this one.

Follow me on Twitter: @daimccann
My limited pictures will be up on Flickr page soon: Ifitsgot4wheels.


Anonymous said...

So, you met Fernando and were surprised that he is actually a nice guy? Well he is, and what are you going to do about it now?

Maybe you should stop reading the shit the british press usually writes about him.

And what 'whining over the team radio?' The only one i remember 'whining' was and is Hamilton. But you are probably a Hamilton- fan, so you won't call 'whining'.

Fernando was, and is, a great guy who gets constantly bashed by the british press. If that is what influences your oppinion about him, you have been manipulated by journalists, and that is nothing to be proud of. Maybe you can learn something out of it. One should never give up hope.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Toys out of the pram time? Maybe it's the Alonso fans who give the bad impression rather than Alonso himself...
Thanks for your insights and enthusiasm. I only discovered your blog today, but am looking forward to more :)

Dai McCann said...

Thank you for your kind words, it makes it seem worthwhile when I get some nice feedback. I'm trying to get a couple more up this week, work permitting.
As for the Alonso fanboy, good luck to him, it's nice to show your support to someone - even if it does make you blinkered.
I actually thought I was being quite kind about him :-)