The British Grand Prix Badgerometer Part 1
Dinner in the Energy Station and meeting Silverstone Superstar Sebastien Vettel
A note from the Editor: If you’re new to F1 Badger then thank you for stopping by. Emma E Rouge is our regular columnist who produces the much-loved “Badgerometer – The F1 Top 5″ after every grand prix. With Badger being live from Silverstone, she’s treating us to a week-long extended version of the Badgerometer – Enjoy, AM
Finally the Badger goes on the road and because so much happened over the weekend, the Badgerometer is going supersize this week with a series of articles in no particular order and this week’s ‘miffed with’ is to be replaced by a ‘stunned by’ and I will do my best to adequately describe the horrors bestowed on us by Eddie Jordan later on in the week.
And so, last Thursday we packed up the sett and the Badgerometer notebook and embarked for Silverstone in a rather overloaded silver Saxo (beer and Pimms aren’t light!) The journey was largely uneventful apart from two stalled starts, one at the end of the road when I realised I did not have my sunglasses (not much use for them as it turned out) and secondly about 15 minutes in when I realised I had also forgotten my sleeping bag (a much needed item as it turns out with the chilly Silverstone evenings). Eventually we hit the motorway and a couple of hours later we approached Silverstone and as the motorway embankment gave way to the fairly beautiful Northampton countryside a mobile phone was heard ringing in the back. A mad scrabble by fellow passenger Naomi led to a very productive phone-call informing her she had won a competition to have a tour of the Red Bull Racing garage, the pit lane and dinner in the paddock. I was jealous I will be honest, but only for about 10 minutes when I received the same phone-call causing a bit of jealousy from our driver who in turn received a call 10 minutes later to say he too would be attending which was lucky as he was the only genuine Red Bull fan amongst us – myself and Naomi having fallen for the charms of Jenson Button long ago during the BAR/Honda years.
Arriving at Silverstone we momentarily got lost before pitching our tent at Badger camp and setting off for the track to meet the Red Bull marketing guys David and Anthony. Standing outside Bridge café we were handed the most precious thing I have ever held…..annual paddock passes for the 2009 Formula One season, then it was a quick hop over the bridge through the turnstile and we were in the paddock. It was quiet and filled with anticipation, ok it was filled with trucks, big trucks and shiny hospitality suites, also made out of big trucks.
We were ushered into the Red Bull Racing ‘Energy Station’ where we were given champagne and nibbles and went to stand on the balcony.
Next was a wander through the Red Bull garage and into the pits where BMW and Ferrari were doing pit practice, disappointingly Brawn were nowhere to be seen but we did enjoy watching a bored looking petulant Raikkonen ignore the dozen or so people taking photos of him from behind a rope 10 feet away and then for what I can only assume was a lack of something to do start idly kicking a bin (we wonder what it had done to him?)
Wandering back down to Red Bull’s garage we were also allowed a closer look at the neighbouring Torro Rosso car and then it was into our host’s garage to get up close and personal with the weekend’s winning machine, but of course we didn’t know that at the time! As we goggled at Vettel’s car with the front wing missing, due to the fact the new wing was being kept a closely guarded secret at that point a closer look inside the tiny monocoque revealed Vettel has a pretty pink cushion taped to the bottom of his seat! Wandering back to the energy station we stopped between the garage and the tyre store so our guide could answer some more technical questions regarding KERS.
I’ll be honest I chose this moment to switch off and gaze longingly down at the Brawn garage in the hope of glimpsing Button, I didn’t.
On returning to the Energy Station it was more champagne, pasta and chocolate mousse and the chance to meet some other Badger and F1 fans. Then all of a sudden a stampede down the stairs began where a rather embarrassed looking Vettel stood looking a bit overwhelmed at the sudden flurry of attention.
Not wanting to miss my chance, I managed to get next to him and photos were taken, sadly he wasn’t looking at my partner’s camera so the pic isn’t great but its still me standing next to Vettel and if you look closely you can see me greedily grabbing onto his elbow!!!
And that was the end and suddenly it was time to leave the paddock, hand back the precious pass (did I mention it had VIP engraved in it, not just printed but engraved into the metal bit!) and trudge back to the campsite to relive the experience over a very British glass of Pimms!
It was a great experience and hats off to Red Bull – they laid on a great spread and their relaxed attitude allowed us a good look at the Ferrari and BMW (we were told if we got any good pics to forward them to the team), a great insight in Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing and how they are connected and best of all a tip that Webber and Vettel would be running light fuel loads in Free Practice 1 which won me 35 quid when I bet a fiver on each of them for fastest lap, in fact if Webber had been just two tenths of a second faster it would’ve been £100. Badger fans will be pleased to know I wisely spent the money on retro F1 wear picking up a Honda hoody and Jaguar Racing T’shirt but tempted as I was I left the Spyker pit suits on the sale rail!