F1 Season is in full swing. Indeed, the Grand Prix weekend in Montreal was two weekends ago when youthful superstar Sebastian Vettel finally claimed his first victory here. But Vettel’s moment, indeed the entire race on Sunday, was but a part of the weekend.
The past two years I’ve been a guest in the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Suite, directly above the team’s garage, in the Formula One Paddock Club. It’s a display of opulence, cool, and celebrity well beyond your typical behind-the-ropes bender. Should you be invited next year, here are four helpful ways to pass other moments before the chequered flag.
By 9am, they uncork red wine to breathe, preparing for lunch. But if you’re drinking off a hangover, you needn’t stoop—champagne’s on the flow by 9:15. Delicious amuses bouches are on offer throughout the day, before and after an impressive three-course lunch. Have a sweet tooth? Enjoy the all-day candy buffet. Sweet liver? Bar’s open too. Downstairs, trackside, there’s a gelato bar and more champagne. But accelerate gently. It’s a long race.
2. Visit the ‘Garage’ (It’s Clean As Any Spa)
The media centre is sequestered in third-world conditions compared to the Paddock guests’ gilded cage—but they’re closer to the action. Only by invitation do you get access to the race lane and garage. Still, most get at least one invite each day. Plus, there’s the lunch-hour Pit Lane Walk during the two leading up to race day. Photography’s banned from the back of the garage—I wouldn’t want you photographing my wife’s backside while her pants were down either—but you’re free to shoot from the pit lane in front.
3. Star Fu Gaze
F1 attracts plenty of celebs. Last year, I bent elbows with hoser-racer-actor Jason Priestly and discussed vocal training with hoser-crooner Matt Dusk. This year, Infiniti hosted wizening heartthrob and mondo race fan, Hugh Grant.
4. Oh Yes, Watch the Race
100m from the finish line, blessedly shaded though, you get a good picture of what’s going on. But that doesn’t stop most fans studying their tablets to gauge stats, standings and—bizarrely—watch the race!
So even if you don’t get invited backstage next year, take heart that you’re doing the same as most who were.
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of the author.