A personal blog piece from Badger GP’s founder, Adam, who back in March this year popped over to Melbourne for the season opening Grand Prix. It wasn’t just a random trip, and he may have discovered the ‘selfie’ mode on his phone too. For once he wasn’t there to work, but he did take the job of ‘being a fan’ a bit far…
The Formula One paddock is a strange place. Looking at it for what it is and you see a load of trucks, some temporary housing and a fast piece of road. But this is a far cry from a caravan park off the M1; this is Albert Park, Melbourne.
I’ve been fortunate enough through Badger GP to have worked in and around the paddock, interviewing drivers and team personnel, but March this year was a little different for me; I was in the Aussie F1 paddock and, for once, I’m not working. I was just being a fan.
I wasn’t alone either. Having recently got married, my wife an I headed to Australia for our honeymoon which was coincidently coinciding with the race in Melbourne. Through some Badgery connections we both scored some passes a few days before the big weekend, and then after hearing this, Marussia said they’d shout us lunch in their hospitality too. Things were looking very much up.
Over the years, my wife has gotten to like F1 – not that she had much choice! Can you imagine living with a chap who likes F1 and badgers enough to combine the two? Poor girl. Anyway, she doesn’t complain much now and this weekend furthered her interest in the sport even more, by enabling her to see Formula One from a whole new angle; the inside. We had a garage tour (thanks to Marussia’s Graeme Lowdon, of all people!), watched mechanics building the cars, chatted with team members and learned more about the running of the team over the race weekend. Graeme went as far as introducing us to his hospitality staff as friends of his, so it’s fair to say we were well looked after.
Later we bumped into friend of Badger GP, Will Buxton of NBCSN and GP2 commentating fame. We had a natter and well, took a selfie, as you do. Then his producer Jason Swales, (formerly of 5Live F1, now NBCSN) was around too, and another selfie happened. Things then spiralled. We then had chats with Suzi Perry, Damon Hill and Martin Brundle. Guess what? Yep – selfies all round. This was a fun way to spend a day.
Now, did you know that the F1 driver profile photographs they use on F1.com, and various other FOM-managed marketing, are all done at the same time? Well, they are, and they’re done in Melbourne at the first race of the season – down the end of the paddock by Caterham, coincidently just next to where we enjoyed some tasty salmon and wine with Graeme Lowdon.
We suddenly found ourselves in the midst of it and saying hello to drivers, as fans. So much more relaxing and fun than in a media interview. They smile more for starters, and hearing about Mr & Mrs Badger being on honeymoon made for a great story. Guess what? Yep – more selfies – and it got a bit ridiculous. Are selfies still cool? Probably not. In fact, I’m not sure they ever were – either way, we went all out, and here’s the gallery;
Now that’s a crazy amount if you ask me. Favourite moments include Fernando Alonso being ushered away from an obsessive selfie fan, Kimi Raikkonen muttering in agreement for a photo, and Sebastian Vettel appreciating my attempt at asking for one in German. Prizing Mrs Badger away from Lewis Hamilton was tricky too, but he genuinely loved our honeymoon story.
After the Thursday we returned to the grandstand for the rest of the F1 action, and I have to say that Australian Grand Prix is by far the best F1 event I’ve been too – and not just for the epic and ridiculous selfie mission. The track is great, access is great, food is great, organisation is superb and it’s in Melbourne, my second favourite city (after London).
It’s worth pointing out that much of this fantastic experience was made so by Marussia F1 Team – a team that recognised the importance of fans and getting them involved directly into Formula 1. I can’t thank them enough for making our honeymoon that little bit extra special. And of course thanks to our anonymous friend for the paddock passes, they know who they are, and I can’t thank them enough.
Thank you Marussia, thank you Graeme.
Finally, just one more selfie. #ForzaJules.