Adventure of a lifetime

I was hooked by Formula 1 world very early on, when i had only 7 years. That was back in 1998. Seventeen years later it was 2015 and i was 25, i still haven’t watched my first Grand Prix live. I had a chance of doing it in 2006, then 2012 and 2014 but all of those failed eventually. To me it was more than ever clear that if i ever wanted to go, with my friends who – dont understand the sport – don’t watch F1 i will never be able to go, and with those that i once could, they went. For example, in 2006 when i was only 15 i had a chance to go together with another brother & sister and family friends of ours for the Turkish GP  but i was stopped by my father as it was dangerous trip. Really it was, since his sister got a ticket on lottery they traveled separated, brother paid in agency and his sister traveling with other bus… she got robbed while travelling with the rest of the group by traffic/road thieves. In 2012 i paid for the Hungarian GP together with a friend of mine and his girlfriend, we were supposed to travel with a group in a bus, that was canceled – there weren’t enough people. In 2014 this friend of mine, with his girlfriend which is F1 fan, decides to go with his own car on their own – i wouldn’t be messing with their vacation, so i didn’t go.

That brings me to 2015 and all those with whom i once could go – that chance is blown. It’s me on my own. If i ever want to go i’d be going all by myself.

As a little kid i played football, swimmed, played waterpolo and all kinds of sports, my first jersey was actually Michael Jordan’s (present from my aunt), but nothing meant more to me than what racing did. That passion, that love for the sport, that pursuit of greatness, that determination to go for more and more and never be satisfied, pushing the limits going into the unknown, it’s in what i found great value. Values i respected and loved more than anything and put in front of any other sport. As the strongest. Thinking about it, what F1 fan i am, how do i respect those values if i don’t do that myself? And i decided. I am going on F1 Grand Prix in 2016, with or without them. Alone or not – i am going. I don’t care with whom or how – i am going!

By March 2016 i researched every agency in Macedonia about eventual trip to Hungaroring. There are only few, 1 or 2 that offer such trip and chances are 99% that both would be canceled. I found one that had good offer and really caught my eye. As i woke up, still googling while lying in bed and thinking about it, i was like – why the waiting, ring that number already…then one serious older man answered and he answered on all my questions and the most important one – “yes we are going by all means, even if we are only two” – which meant me and him, and it’s someone i don’t know. Asked for the details and i solved all within couple of days.

At first i didn’t want to tell anything to anyone, of course i told my parents, but to my friends who refused me couple of times, i wanted to hit them like a thunder from clear sky. Eventually i did told them and they thought i was joking. One week prior going they still thought that i wouldn’t be going, and i was smiling, because i paid already, i was going, and they thought ill change my mind before i am supposed to go. What a pleasure! Now i think they understood more about this passion of mine, of ours!

The day came and i left. They couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it! As i packed and put the bags in my car, with my mom sitting on the co-driver seat, i was sad and she asked why… i was sad that after 18 years finally i’ll be going on an F1 race that i wanted to attend so much, and it didn’t matter that i didn’t had anyone to go with – not at – on the contrary it would be all better for me knowing they didn’t cared that much and i would be stalled for breakfast this or that. Anyway, i was sad as well for another thing, the fact that as a kid (7y) i wished becoming a driver and a Champion and now i was going on a race seeing my favorite driver and the rest fulfilling their dreams. Sad i was because even though i haven’t started the trip i already was afraid all might end too soon. Perhaps i wasn’t really sad – but i just couldn’t believe it’s happening.

I came on the agreed place from where we had to start the trip and since the organizator told me there were 11 others and we’re going to travel with two minivans i expected those are people who follow F1, we would’ve had lot in common. I would’ve made friends with everyone. Going alone not knowing anyone, wouldn’t be a problem, but i was wrong.

As i came i saw people who were total strangers with F1 and they actually wanted to visit Budapest only. We traveled for 12 hours and i was disappointed to learn that people once watched F1 lost the passion for it, what due to rules what due to change of generations etc. One asked me if Ford is racing. Other knew only Williams and Ferrari. Third guy asked me who is Vettel. But to me, that always was a strange thing, because i believe every time it’s the same. Every time there are 20/22 cars fighting each other for the victory. It doesn’t matter if it’s these rules or some others. It’s the same for everyone down there on the track. The most important thing was and is always present. That passion to be the best. Anyway, i reminded them of some historic moments and pretty much fast i was their leader on the subject of F1, although i was the youngest in the group by far. The only other close to my age was exactly 1 year older than me, born exactly on the same date as myself, and he wasn’t interested in F1 at all. He neither watched any session. I’ll come later to those…

DAY 1 – Thursday and my first date with Hungaroring 

After 12 hours of traveling, for which by then we got to know each other much more, we arrived earlier than we should have and we waited for the rooms to be cleared by 13 o’clock. Meanwhile we walked the city for 3/4 hours and i met couple of Vettel and Hamilton fans with shirts and hats. I wanted to be equipped so i ordered one hat via eBay but never arrived so i was nervous to buy one as well asap. The hour came and we got into the hotel and unpacked, rested a bit and after 2 hours we went towards Hungaroring. All i thought down the road to it it was the experience my friends had many years ago and how the track could’ve been seen from far away, so i was searching ‘its there – over there?’ and then i saw it…it was like i’ve seen some holy place. Silence followed. Then we arrived close enough to see the barrack for tickets. I was so excited, i gave them 100 euros for General Admission weekend ticket, got the ticket and forgot to wait for the change, instead i run toward nearest fan shop and found original Vettel hat. I wanted to say to that young lady – shut up and take my money – looked the hat, it was original and all fine – 5 seconds – ‘i’ll take it!’. In the next 5minutes i was about to enter F1 permanent race track. I was nervous and i had goosebumps all over my body. We arrived and what can i say – passion in a nutshell! People cheering, screaming, singing, flags weaving, beers here and there, sausage smell everywhere, fan shops on the side full with people, and of course…the door of the circuit, the entrance, that couldn’t be seen fully since it was full with people standing in front of it.

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So close yet so far

I got adrenaline rush, i started searching for Ferrari/Vettel merchandise that i desired, since there was no way that i am going to watch F1 race not equipped with Ferrari Merchandise. Wanted all to be perfect. I found it and immediately changed my existing shirt with the new Ferrari shirt of 2016, in front of around 1000 people. Just like that. I did that and returned fully pumped with beer in my left hand in between the crowd with the other holding my GoPro and filming. Enjoyed seeing these people sharing the same passion i have. Then, the gate opened…

I entered the circuit and i run, i run into unknown…didn’t know where but i just followed the crowd, running in front of me, i wish i could’ve caught all, but i couldn’t. They were way earlier than me since i entered the perimeters of the track 45 minutes the least later once they were opened. By that time the pitlane was full. Approaching it from far away i heard the pistols for the tires. They were so loud and happened so sudden i looked up and said ‘what the hell was that?!’. Of course i knew what it was but still i was surprised of the noise. So somehow i still managed to get into the pitlane and get in the first positions to see in front of me the team crew practicing changing the tires and so on. I could see the wings closely. The cars lifted on their tools, noses opened with those complex things inside and so on. I couldn’t believe what i see. It felt like i was here before. Like i know that place from many years ago, and certainly i did. But now everything appeared to be more realistic. Very fast i found my way through the crowds, in front of Ferrari. I enjoyed their practicing for half an hour before i run down the pitlane to check the others as well. I wasn’t only Ferrari fan at that point. I saw everything and headed down towards Turn 1.

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Towards Turn 1

When i came into Turn 1 thousands of memories what from F1 Grand Prix what from Sim Racing flashed in front of me. This and that, here and there, how and why and so on. I was standing on the far left side of the Turn 1 at the 50 meter mark and i was smiling. Just like that. Turned around and looked around me. How unreal was that someone approaches this with some 290/300km/h and makes it into the corner with 100km/h if not more. Then it hit me – it can be done by an Formula 1 car and you are going to see it tomorrow, this is it!

 

After filming and shooting for hour and a half, me myself and another guy from those 11 we left the track. From those 11, only 3 didn’t visited the track, but those 6 i had no idea where they were. We run in every place to try and see as much as possible as fast as possible. While leaving, fans were passing by, going uphill towards the bigger parking area where we had our car parked, screaming and singing like their favorite driver just won the World Drivers Championship Title. For an F1 fan like me, it was a place where i belonged and understood things the best. I laughed and i enjoyed them. There was one crazy Vettel fan, one of many, who was very probably drunk and weaving with a enormous Vettel No.5 flag over cars windshields and screaming Vettel’s name. He run against 10-11 cars like that. After everyone had a good laugh we took few pictures. Me and him, on my request.

That day – visiting Hungaroring – was nothing that i expected, and i expected to be way lower than what it actually was. And it was BRILLIANT. I felt like i have been there for 1 day not 1 hour and a half. We came back into the hotel totally exhausted so i only refilled the batteries of the GoPro and my mobile phone and we felt asleep very early on so we can be ready to jump on feet early next morning for the first practice sessions. As the night fell i was lying on bed and watching the ceiling with hands behind my head, while the two other men in my room who together combined were 5x older than me were already sleeping – and yes, they were groaning! But, i wanted to go on F1 race at all costs right, so all i was thinking was – ‘if this day was this special, what the hell is going to happen tomorrow when i will see the F1 cars in motion for the first time in my life, in live’… (i saw the McLaren of Hakkinen in 2000 in Skopje presented on a square and Ferrari back in 2011 in Barcelona – but neither was moving) Although the window behind me was opened and warm wind was entering the non-existing air conditioning room making it all the harder, I felt asleep like a baby.

DAY 2 – Friday practice sessions and how we met Hamilton 

The next thing i remember was myself jumping from bed as fast as i could, afraid i might lose a good position on the track. We had General Admission tickets after all. I drove to the track following the organizator of the group. We parked on different place, better one, exited faster and upon leaving the parking lot i met a couple from the other mini van, since we went with two, and we greeted each other. I was happily surprised that unlike the people in my van, this couple was all about F1, so i hanged around them, and together we did all. We found place from where we could watch the race. It was right about the exit line on the last corner from where we could’ve see whole Sector3, and the start. It was perfect. And then, i heard an F1 car for the first time. I took my GoPro and trying to turn it ON i see there is no SD card. I’ve must have forgotten while rushing in the morning. Damn! But still it was more than perfect because not a minute later the first car i saw in my life alive and moving in front of me like some symbolic meaning, was the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel…yeah…and when they saw how much i favored him they showed me photo of the previous day when we were allowed to enter the pitlane, and how they pictured him on 10 meters of them. I was very much disappointed knowing he did had autograph session and i missed it – it was the only chance i thought. Anyway knowing how crowded will be the next day thus making it harder to find a spot we gave a blanket to a nearby beverage seller and politely asked him to put the blanket every morning on the same spot so we could have place everytime. He politely agreed to it while we bought water and beers only from him.

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Happiness

While a bit disappointed from what i have just learned, that i missed Vettel, first practice session finished, then the second one as well. We watched other series too, but nothing is compared with F1. Once P2 finished, we left. Arrived at the hotel, rested a bit and then took drive around Budapest. Beautiful city. We went into the old town for a walk. Night came and it was really, peaceful and relaxed atmosphere and then while taking photo of a woman, in the footage on the camera a black man appeared and i said “who is this now interrupting the photo!!!” and while i continued to take 4-5 fast pictures of her, she moved as i was looking into the camera and heard she say “isn’t this guy looking like Hamilton” on which i instantly raised my head and saw Lewis Hamilton standing on 5meters of me, taking picture of some statues in the old part of the town. As he heard the sound of the camera when i took picture of him he looked at me and said in defending style, going one two steps backwards with hands raised on his chest height “no no please dont take photos of me, delete it please, no one can know that i was here” and i was stunned… i replied “no no sorry” whatever that meant. The woman was fast to seize the moment saying “one photo please for my kids” and i took one photo of her with Hamilton and he left in a hurry into the darkness of the old town historic buildings. Then we waited for someone to approach him and ask for an autograph or something, as we waited from some distance. He had some friends with him and two girls. One girl after 5 minutes approached us and told us “no photos please leave” so we did. What the hell happened i kept repeating in myself! The day before i missed autograph of Vettel, i was very disappointed.

We got back into the hotel, i transferred all videos and pictures again in the laptop and fell asleep. Tomorrow was saturday’s practice and quals. We had to go again early, if not earlier. So we did.

DAY 3 – WHAT A DAY !!! 

We took again our breakfast fast as pit crew members do their pitstops and we left for the track. It was more crowded. We parked and the three of us again left while the rest who wanted to watch but weren’t that much bothered, remained around the cars and walked too slowly for us. As we were rapidly walking towards the track a crowd of people were seen on the first entrance where they go with cars and with lots of guards. It was very fast put to my knowledge that F1 drivers are arriving. My heart pumped fast, it was a chaos. I had to see Vettel. I came from behind on already 4-5 rows of people in front of me aligned, till the very front and i saw Max Verstappen already giving autographs and Ricciardo then Carlos Sainz followed by Jenson Button and then then Adrian Newey came with Christian Horner. I missed those but i got autographs from Nasr, Magnussen, Bottas and caught Fernando Alonso as i fast moved to the front of that very tight crowd. Anyway i think he (Alonso) saw me in red and no.5 and skipped my stretched hand. After all the “curse” i had on him i think he had every right to that hahah. Anyway, Nico Hulkenberg appeared and signed as well as Rio, Pascal Werhlein, Marcus, i skipped Danil Kvyat, then Lewis Hamilton appeared and everyone got crazy. I got autographs from him, since i was by that time in first up in the front. Second later Sebastian Vettel himself, appeared with a bag on his back and casually he walked down and gave autographs to all who asked for it. I shouted few times ‘Champion! Seb! Seb! Please! Seb!’ then he signed on my brochure. If i only had known this sooner i would have came much earlier. I couldnt believe what just happened. Sebastian Vettel himself, and if that wasn’t enough Kimi Raikkonen signed as well. Very much happy and in disbelief what had just happened we went to watch the practice session after which at that point i already established an opinion that the Red Bull is the faster car than the Ferrari after they did the race simulations. I was kinda down, i expected more from Ferrari. So , then quals came and by that time the sky was covered in clouds. Right when the quals had to start, 5 – 10 minutes prior that strong shower hit the track and my feets were swimming in the shoes who were wet. I had only an umbrella over me and a blanket beneath me that the seller put early in the morning for us. The quals due to the rain and the changing conditions were all i could wish from qualifying. We had thriller quals, sadly Vettel was only 5th. Nico took the pole, Hamilton second, Ricciardo and Verstappen. Although in normal circumstances usually i would be disappointed only this time i was disappointed a bit but still enjoying it the time on track. It was weird. The other series we’ve watched, they were cool as well but then again, it was nothing like F1.

After long exhausting day as we came around 5 o’clock i just jumped on bed and fell asleep. Thinking about the whole day. When we came and spend whole day on track and it felt like i’ve been whole day and not only 3 hours on track, i kept thinking how long instead this weekend will be and how much we have to see and enjoy and now all of that was gone. The practice the quals and the only thing left next was the race itself – the main event obviously. That was the third day.

DAY 4 – DDay! 

I knew that i had another 2 hours of joy till i returned to the reality. Practice done, qualifying done, one question mark remained – what will happen in the race. Will Vettel do good? Will i be that big unlucky guy and Vettel won’t even make the start? I was nervous as hell in a good way. If there is one actually. Anyway, we saw GP3 then GP2 then Porsche Supercup and they all finished before i blinked an eye. Didn’t felt it. It was very good no words about it, but when all finished and they did the ceremonies that almost no one watched and they sprayed champagnes for themselves, F1 show came.

Gird girls entering the track aligning in hundreds meters waiting for the drivers to climb on the truck for their parade. Photographers running all over the place for better view. They come on the track, climb onto the truck and crowd is cheering and screaming. It feels like there weren’t any races before this one. Then the cars after quite some time appeared on the grid and teams preparing them. Sooner than it looked they finished and drivers sat in their cars. Preparing to take off. Suddenly every mechanic is running towards the sidelines and the drivers are left alone, on their own. It felt lonely but powerful. Anxiety. Fear. Goosebumps. Adrenaline. All in line waiting for those red lights to turn off.

They did!

I never heard older F1 car with the older generations of engines and how much powerful they are, but knowing from what i saw in live, that sound on TV had nothing to do with how strong these hybrid cars looked on the start. It was so powerful, then scary of the thought how much stronger were then the older ones? Before i could think of that question they went off. Fighting for every inch i had seen my first F1 start in live. I was smiling. It was beautiful. Then i counted lap by lap as it approached the end. Unlike on TV when you follow the gap on the graphics here in live i was measuring the gap with my own eyes from what i was seeing on the track. I decided few points where i would compare the gap of two cars. Thats how i saw that Red Bull was faster in race simulation. Anyway sooner rather than later the Ferrari started catching up as the Red Bull started wearing off their tyres. Kimi had great fight with Max and people cheering for him were crazy. People around me at the time were watching only, while i was pointing to the now new friend of mine how Kimi does this and that and tries to find a solution to pass him, and then i told him “you see this? he is taking wider line so he can have better exit this time and try again…now he has a chance! just look!” and he had it. The guy turned to me said “bravo how you saw it” i answered its simple. Kimi at that moment really had better exit and you could’ve seen it from where we stood. He came along Max but wasnt really enough to pass him. I got nervous when he touched with Max, but angry with Kimi for not beine decisive enough. He weaved too much. While Max was very smart and holding him off slowly but surely. He wasn’t doing any sudden moves. Surely enough the race was finished. Although i was cheering for Vettel to pass him in the closing laps it wasnt enough. Race is over.

Hamilton Rosberg Ricciardo Vettel Verstappen Raikkonen was the order of the top 6
It wasnt something i wished but it was okay.

The ceremony i didn’t watch, i run instead and tried to get down there on the track to take few last pictures before we go and leave this amazing place. Walking down the straight finish line i though of all the races i have seen from my 7 years old till today. How Schumacher charged in 98 how Alonso won there for the first time in 2003 when i watched in a Hotel in Ohrid, how he past Schumacher from the outside years later and i was pissed, how Button won for the first time, how in the past from the videos Piquet past Senna, last year how Vettel won… etc. I wasn’t smiling. I wanted to stay a bit longer and i wanted a bit more. I certainly didn’t want to finish. But there is an end to every miracle, otherwise it wouldn’t be one, it’s the same with Formula 1.

Till next time!

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After the race on the straight finish line

My full album: https://www.facebook.com/duxavramovski/media_set?set=a.10210102579507504.1073741832.1428146962&type=3&pnref=story

Guidance for Hungarian GP: https://duxvideos.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/guidance-for-hungaroring-grand-prix/

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