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The Unofficial F1 World Tour 2010 - Part 3 - Alex Snell continues round the globe, taking in Spain and Monaco

Published by Alex J Snell

Now we have a gap between some rather unexpectedly crazy racing and the super Silverstone action, it's time to catch up with our good friend Alex Snell, who is travelling the globe with tickets to each and every race. You can read the first and second part of his adventures, visit his Twitter account for up to date information, and see expanded thoughts and pictures on his travel blog. For now, though, we're travelling back in time to Spain.

Race 5 - Spain

Hola, people! You find me sat in the main grandstand opposite the Ferrari garage awaiting the start of this afternoon's pit walk, and unsurprisingly, the Alonso fans are already here in their hoards!

First impressions of the circuit are promising. I've gone General Admission for this race and thankfully there seem to be loads of really good vantage points around the circuit. It's a real mix of leafy paths, hidden grassy spots, and connecting bridges & tunnels, which not only makes for an enjoyable exploration, but is also a welcome 'green' contrast to the concrete jungle of Shanghai.

The lush surroundings at Barcelona make a welcome change to all the concrete
Credit: Alex J Snell

I'm now waiting at Montmelo station for the train back to Barcelona, post pit walk trauma! What started off as a really good opportunity to get closer to the teams soon descended into a primary school bundle, as literally thousands of Alonso fanatics piled into the pitlane. Which through an undoubted masterstroke of planning had one entrance, but no exit! So around 30 minutes after the gates had opened, the pitlane was at bursting point, which is exactly what it did!

Despite the angry waving from the marshals, the crowd (including me) scaled the pit fence and jumped out onto the track to avoid the crush. Others soon followed and so we ended up with am impromptu track invasion - a little anarchy goes a long way! Once on the track I couldn't resist having a little jog to the start line, and made sure I gave the pole position a little moonwalk!

A close up of the Virgin car in pieces during a special garage tour
Credit: Alex J Snell

I was contacted on twitter (god bless twitter!) by @virginracing after they'd heard what I was up to. The chap behind the account is a guy called Geoff, and he offered to give me a garage tour if I fancied it - what a stupid question, ha!

He took me around the actual Virgin garage, the mechanics were still beavering away and Geoff mentioned to me that over the past 3 days some of those guys have only had 4 hours sleep, now that's a serious slog!! It was a real privilege to be able to see an F1 car up close in it's uncovered state, the exhaust system in particular is an impressive piece of packaging when you see what's actually under there!

We then strolled back via the 'prat perch' as he called it, where the team boss and engineers sit during the race, back through the garage and out into the hospitality centre. Here we walked straight into Lucas Di Grassi & Nick Wirth playing with radio controlled helicopters! I then got to take this in for a while, and even stood in an impromptu meeting of the team!

All in all it was an amazing experience. I owe a huge thanks to Geoff, who not only thought of this, but then took the time out of his busy day to personally show me about.

The fans are out in force for the Spanish Grand Prix
Credit: Alex J Snell

Looking back on today's race, I can imagine that it was a pretty dull affair for most of you back home, admittedly the action was a little bit thin on the ground. Except of course for Hamilton's little blow-out! Now this being Spain you can imagine the crowd's reaction when they realised Alonso was up into 2nd - the whole place erupted! Thankfully I didn't see any of the idiotic racism I'd heard about, but there were certainly plenty of over the top celebrations when Hamilton's car was towed past!

In all honesty I think the crowd really made the event for me today. Having the GA ticket made sure I checked out a few spots during the course of the race, and the crowds wherever I went were fantastic. You could visibly see them surging as Alonso neared, almost akin to a continuous Mexican wave following him around the track! So despite the rather tame race the crowd provided more than enough entertainment.

Race 6 - Monaco

It's now Thursday afternoon and I'm sat at Casino Square in Monaco, the sun is shining, the skies are blue, and all is good in the world! This place is just like you all imagine it to be, beautiful cars, beautiful people, and beautiful scenery.

I had a little rush to pick up my ticket and get back to my stand, but running just isn't done here. One because it's just not cool, and two because it's full of seriously steep hills! As far as the track action goes, Free Practice was livened up by Chandhok spinning out in front of us. This brought out the crane, and as quick as he'd spun it, his car was up in the air and off the track - the marshals don't muck about!

The seats really are fantastic (and so they should be given the price!), you really do feel so close to the cars, the sounds of the screaming engines collide against the buildings and are amplified to almost unbearable levels - it's an immense experience!

Alex spies Toro Rosso's Sébastien Buemi during the free day on Friday
Credit: Alex J Snell

The paddock is almost a miniature version of it's usual self, and is within touching distance for the fans. Walking along the deck that follows it's perimeter you could see inside each and every motor home. Even into Bernie's where I was able to spy a certain Flavio Briatore lunching, obviously now back in from the F1 wilderness it seems! You're also almost guaranteed to spot the drivers as there's literally no where for them to hide! As such Monaco on a Friday has to be one of the most rewarding fan experiences there is - and you don't even need a ticket!

So what is the most exclusive of all races is bizarrely also the most accessible.

Nico Hülkenberg passes underneath the watchful eye of the Monaco yachts
Credit: Alex J Snell

Race day didn't disappoint, it was every bit the eye-popping spectacle that you'd expect from this place. Sitting on the entry to the swimming pool, the cars came tearing into view head on. Almost in a heart beat they were upon you, before viciously flicking left then right at incomprehensible speeds as they negotiated the entry.

Having sat at various points around the track I've come to the conclusion that there really isn't a bad place to watch this race from. At every point you're assured the same drama of these wheeled torpedoes scything their way through the constricting barrier-lined streets. It's an unbelievable experience to be able to witness these drivers and their machines at such close quarters.

The race itself had it's fair share of safety cars as usual, but there was clearly only ever going to be one winner - so congrats Webber!

A spy shot of the Monaco race winner Mark Webber
Credit: Alex J Snell

Wandering along the pit and paddock it was amazing how quickly everything was being deconstructed and dismantled. What had been a full on living and breathing F1 paddock only a couple of hours ago was now in crates being loaded onto trucks. It did afford me a few sneaky little glimpses into the back of the pit garages though, as well as being able to watch the Sauber cars being loaded into their trucks.

Having grown up watching this race and dreaming of one day being here, I can honestly say that this is one reality that outstripped the fantasy! I urge each and every one of you to experience Monaco on an F1 weekend. Fan or not it's something you've just got to add to your own 'list of things to do before I die'!

Stay tuned for the next chapter in Alex's adventure, and check out more great pictures on his Flickr account.

All content in the series The Unofficial F1 World Tour 2010