Badger GP’s Sarah Merritt was at the Monaco Grand Prix, and in another of our F1 team motorhome write-up’s, we take it to the next level as we talk about the “jewel in the crown” – the Red Bull Energy Station in it’s Monaco configuration.
It’s Thursday night in Monaco, practice running has finished for the day, and the track has just been opened to the public. People are walking towards the paddock, a fenced off area adjacent to Rascasse corner and offering opportunities not usually afforded to fans who might glimpse their team or their driver. Alongside this, floating in the harbour just a few metres from the paddock entrance, sits the Red Bull Energy Station, dwarfing everything but the cruise ship in the distance. And a beautiful sight it is!
I’m here to attend the now traditional Thursday night media party on board the Energy Station, and this gives me an opportunity to take a look around and take you on a virtual tour of the facility itself.
As you’ll no doubt be aware from what you’ve seen on TV coverage, the set-up includes the usual Energy Station motorhome that travels to every European race as the team’s headquarters, but for Monaco, it becomes a team base with bells on! But how does this come about?
The team start planning the logistics regarding the Energy Station in Monaco about six months ahead of the race weekend. The platform that it will sit upon is built in two parts, with one pontoon weighing 300 tonnes, and the other almost 400 tonnes. The Energy station itself will sit on one half, and the pool and storage facilities upon the other. 30 tonnes of the weight will be the water within the swimming pool itself!
Construction of the platforms starts at the end of April and takes place in Port Imperia, which is 40 miles along the coast across the border into Italy, and 70 people were involved this year. The platforms are then towed on a 6 hour journey into the Monaco harbour, and this year took their position on Thursday 19th May and Saturday 21st May. They are then welded together, and anchored in place, chained to around 130 tonnes of weight in the sea, and checked over by the authorities.
Once in place the interior design work can commence, with the electrics, furniture, decking, plants being brought in, with about 50 people working on this stage of the construction, and when complete the operational running is handed over to the Energy Station staff for the weekend. Around 120 people are involved, including the Red Bull hospitality team, chefs, cleaners, maintenance staff and electricians. There are also two doctors and two nurses based there for the race weekend. It’s a massive operation on a Monaco weekend and impressive to see it taking place seamlessly around me whilst on board.
The Energy Station is entered up a ramp, where I’m greeted at a reception desk and given a wristband. There’s a huge number of people on board, so the staff have to take care to ensure invited guests are being admitted, and one thing that is always apparent are how friendly and knowledgeable the Red Bull team staff on hand are. Familiar faces mingle amongst the guests and make them feel very welcome. At the edge of the lower pontoon and visible from the harbour edge are the two display cars. For this weekend we have an RB6, re-sprayed into this year’s livery, and last year’s Toro Rosso, the STR10.
There’s seating and food available to the right, as well as stairs up to a higher terrace overlooking the paddock. To the left, there are higher tables and a bar with staff serving you a drink of your choice on all four sides.
At the rear is the normal Energy Station Motorhome, with the ground floor reserved for team hospitality for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso staff. They will be served their breakfast, lunch and dinner here during their time in the principality. Also housed within here are the offices for the marketing team, those of the team principles Christian Horner and Franz Tost, as well as the drivers rooms, where they can grab a few minutes of peace between sessions.
On the 1st floor, there is a VIP area for lunches and dinners for some of the special guests to the Energy Station. This is where guests from sponsors and commercial partners will be entertained, as well as some of the celebrity guests that will attend Monaco over the weekend. Red Bull have a reputation for having some of the most exciting celebrities under their wing(s) and this year was no exception, with Louis Tomlinson from One Direction in town, as well as Patrick Dempsey and other members of the Tag Heuer family, Glee and Broadway star Matthew Morrison, footballer Michael Carrick, and Monaco regular, Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham.
To the left, there are stairs to the upper level, where we see possibly one of the most iconic sights of the Red Bull Energy station set-up in Monaco – the swimming pool. Who can forget the ritual of seeing the drivers thrown in here, or even, in Mark Webber’s case, somersaulting in? This is surrounded by seating and backed by a large screen where guests can view the track action whilst on board. This area also comes alive at night, with resident DJs in place and live bands – in our case, we saw a set from Sunset Sons, an Australian rock/indie band, which made for a great atmosphere. There are two more bars on this upper section, as well as another area serving food.
After a fabulous evening on board courtesy of Red Bull, chatting to motorsport journalists and members of the Sky F1 and Channel 4 teams, I can definitely say this is the place to be, and the Red Bull team certainly know how to do Monaco in style!