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Spanish Grand Prix 2011

Last minute decision at the end of April…off to Spain for the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix.  Only my 2nd Grand Prix in 10 years, first visit was to Spa in 2001.

All excited on the Friday morning getting ready to head off to Bournemouth Airport for the lunchtime flight to Gerona, Spain.  Arrived at the airport, weighed my suitcase and yes, overweight, so a quick shuffle of things from suitcase to rucksack and hey presto and a huge sigh of relief!!  My excuse was that I really didn’t know what the weather was going to be like as rain was forecast for the weekend a few days beforehand, but then again I am also female so packing everything barr the kitchen sink is the norm!!  After going through Passport Control and through into Departures a quick cup of tea and suddenly the flight is called for boarding.  Flight took off and it was a fairly quick trip over the Channel and Mountains and down into Gerona.  Yayyy, it’s sunny and fairly warm.  Car hire picked up and whoop, whoop, headed off to the Costa Brava.  The roads are amazing in Spain, and so quiet, however the weird thing was the, ummm, ladies in what could be called skimpy clothing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, took me a while to realise what they were waiting for :-/

Anyway found the way to the hotel in Calella, parked up and checked in.  Booked All Inclusive as it was cheaper to do that than just do Room Only. Nice room and hotel was clean.  Down to the bar for a quick drink by the swimming pool, so nice to be able to sit outside in the evening by a pool.  Dinner and then a quick walk to the beach, some shopping for supplies for the trip to the Circuit De Catalunya the next morning, back to the bar and a couple more drinks and then bed for me…exhausted and excited about the Saturday viewing!!

Hotel was a bit noisy due to the bars very nearby that were open until very early in the morning.  Up and out of the door for the journey to the circuit at about 7.15am.  It only took about  3/4 hour to get to the circuit, apart from a wrong turn into the VIP entrance where the double of Eddie Irvine was posing as a Police man, quick turn around and arrived at the right car park.  Out of the car and literally 20 steps and through the gates into the circuit, up some steps and yes, arrived at the track…can’t believe it, the sun’s out, there’s the smell of engine fuel in the air, my first Grand Prix for 10 years.

Through a little bit of a merchandise village to some food, grabbed a bacon roll and thank goodness I brought some drinks with me as the coffee was not good…had a wander through a bit further, wow how close to the track can I get. Found a spot in General Admin where I could see the hairpin turn 4 behind me, turns 7, 8 and 9 in front of me and just over the other side the run up from the start to the first corner.

Found a tree and plonked myself under that, big sun hat on head, suncream on and relax…GP2, GP3, Mini’s and Porsche and yes the F1 cars.  OMG the noise, how I’ve missed the noise of real F1 cars.  Earplugs in and wow, good job I had some, the Lotus Renault with it’s high pitched whistle hurt the ol ear lugs!!  The cars were beautiful going round the track, the Lotus  Renault with it’s black and gold livery shining in the sun, the Mercedes Petronas with it’s silver green, the Mclaren shining with its silver and red.  All of the cars very pretty (yes girly thing!!) Even the Safety Car looked bloomin good and the Medical Car, oh what a lovely growl from that car….sighhhh!!!

Quali time for F1 and  no, Vettel not on pole, Webber is, Vettel 2nd, Hamilton 3rd, Alosno 4th and Button 5th!!

Headed back to the hotel after the qualifying and  sorted out the pine needles from my blanket, put some more water in the room fridge, headed down to the bar for a cup of tea and sat out by the pool for an hour.  Dinner and then watched a good magician for a while in the hotel.  Off to bed for an early start.

Awake at 5am, headed into the shower, Alonso chants being heard in the streets below. It must be F1 day 😀  Headed off to the track about 6.45 and got to the track at 7.30.  Decided to get near to where I was sat on the Saturday due to the shade, me and sun don’t mix too well. Found a spot, blanket down, bacon roll bought.  Lots of people in Gen Admin area already.  Really weird being amongst so many fans that are there to cheer on one man…Fernando Alonso.  I’m not one of his greatest fans, but to see all of those fans, with the varying team shirts on, Benetton, Mclaren, Renault, Ferarri, all Alonso, hardly any other driver shirts to be seen.

So my view again 7, 8 and 9 and the run up to the start and if I stood up the hairpin 4 behind me again.  £100 Gen Admin ticket and what awesome views and 2 screens right in front too!

Marshalls out on track, the countdown starting on the big tower in front, the safety and medical car going round to check the track and the safety lights and flags and first race out is the Minis, Feisty little devils those cars!!

Next up GP2 and GP3.  GP2 a little bit of a crash, but the big one was during the start of GP3.  Stationary car on the gri and most got round it but 1 towards the back ploughed into it, bits and pieces flying off everywhere, safety car out and the cars were taken via the pit lane until everything cleared up.  Up on the screens they showed the crash but also Charlie Whiting jumping clear out of the starting box as a tyre was flying towards him…eek!!

Final race before the big one, the Porsche…not a fan, but it wasn’t too bad a race!!

Quick trip to grab a cold drink and loo break and out from under the tree, phew it’s hot…back to my spot to wait for the drivers parade.  Spain have got this bit right…all of the drivers were driven round individually in all sorts of cars, much better than being on the back of a lorry.  Everyone cheering as they all went past, extra cheers for JB from me!!

Finally race time…cars off round to the grid while I was imagining Martin Brundle doing his grid walk just across the other side of the circuit to where I was…Finally all the cars lined up, the area around me all staring at the screens, lights out and they are off…OH MY GOSH…Alonso stormed up to the first corner and into first place, the whole circuit erupted, I had my ear plugs in but boy were those cheers loud, cars round to the back of me, more cheers, now coming round in front of me and I’m sure that I was in the Alonso Bank Club, deafening and that happened for a few laps until he got overtaken.  As the race went on there was some good action…however even with the screen in front I really lost where everyone was after all the pit stops and overtaking.  Alonso and Webber fighting for 3rd and 4th, Jenson overtakes Webber and then Alonso and into thirds, yes getting a tad excited through that part of the race as I thought he was into first…wasn’t taking much notice of Vettel and Hamilton!!

End of the race and Vettel on the top step with Hamilton in 2nd and Jenson Button in third, yayyyy I got to see JB on the podium!!!

Happy that I’d had a great day of racing, headed off back to Calella with the masses, although getting out really was easy. However taking a wrong turn and heading along the wrong motorway wasn’t…eventually found a road to go off, through the hills or it could of been a mountain and down to Calella, and guess what it started raining!!

Back to the hotel, shower off the dust, couple of drinks, dinner and bed.  Up the next day for flight home.

I’m glad I went, I would go again and I would like to stay in Barcelona at some point, but to be quite honest why pay those hiked prices  over the GP weekend.  Costa Brava is a great place to stay and get to the track!!!

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