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The Unofficial F1 World Tour 2010 - Part 4 - Turkey and Canada are next on Alex Snell's journey

Published by Alex J Snell

Here we are again, ready to catch up with the travels of our intrepid explorer Alex as he takes in each and every Grand Prix of the 2010 season. We've been following him for a while now and you can catch up with all his adventures here, visit his Twitter account for up to the minute info, or head on over to his travel blog for more words and pictures.

Race 7 - Turkey

I was lucky enough to get stuck next to none other than Jonathan Legard in the queue for passport control. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I promptly disturbed his peace and said hello, and he turned out to be a genuinely nice chap. We had a yarn about my favourite GP so far and why, then he went on to warn me to lower my expectations for this one, and to fully expect to be the only one in my stand for the majority of the weekend! But in all seriousness he was a true gentleman (so I now feel bad for slating hım when he replaced James Allen!).

The empty grandstand seating looks over the circuit in Turkey
Credit: Alex J Snell

As for the actual track, well it's fair to say it's one of Tilke's best (if not best). From my vantage point on the last corner I was able to see the cars sweep around the legendary Turn 8 in the distance, before disappearing, then re-appearing as they rode the crest of the back straight. From here, there was an uninterrupted view as they negotiated the heavy braking of turn 12, then through turns 13 and 14, and up the main straight before dipping out of view into turn 1 - a pretty darn good view actually!

I did also hop on the circuit bus - it's free and circles the track throughout the day. I'd recommend it as you can see all the way around the track, and so really appreciate the contour changes of this circuit. The primary reason though was to check out turn 8 up close..... and it's real jungle out there! Seriously, it's covered in thorny bracken and overgrown bush, if you're heading that way I'd read up on your Ray Mears beforehand! Other than that though it is a great place to see the cars really pushing the limits, and on occasion exceeding them!

Petrov circles the track during Friday Free Practice before meeting his adoring fans
Credit: Alex J Snell

There was a driver's signing session at the end of the day which I stayed around for. The whole thing was pretty much taken over by all the Russian fans here for Petrov, who were fanatical to the point of tears when he showed up - great to see such enthusiasm though.

As I was walking away a member of the Virgin team walked past, and upon seeing my shirt (a Virgin one) promptly stopped me to ask where I'd got it. Turns out he was Virgin's sponsorship manager and that my shirt was apparently out of date! Seeing as I'd only bought it at the race previous I couldn't help but crack a joke about it, to which he handed me his card and told me to text him and he'd see if he could sort me out a new one, what an absolute result! So I'm hopıng today that good old Randy wıll be able to get me a paddock tour, and if I'm lucky I mıght even get a Virgin team shirt too!

Randy came through with the paddock tour for me which was brilliant. He took me through the FOM technical centre, showing me all the timing screens and all the associated technical wizardry, all the telemetry feeds, and where all the live feed comes from. This is basically a giant screen split into around 30 individual screens, each showing a different camera from which they choose the actual footage we see on the TV - all very cool! The whole thing is housed in a giant grey bunker, inside of which there's practically no light, other than the luminous glow from the myriad of screens, it's all very sci-fi-esque and seriously impressive in a geeky way!

Next thing I knew, I was being shepherded into the Virgin hospitality home! From here on in it's all a bit of a blur, but basically from this moment I was treated like a true VIP - and it was quite possibly the greatest day of my life! I was taken to the Virgin garage, and was actually in there as they were furiously workıng away on Lucas's car to get it ready for the start of the race.

The Virgin mechanics prepare for race day under the watchful eye of Alex
Credit: Alex J Snell

It was at this point that I became aware that people had actually heard about me, and even more bizarrely they knew who I was! Can you believe it - I was getting introduced to members of the team and they were saying how good it was to meet me - that's surely the wrong way around!!

As for the actual race I had an all together different experience to that which I'd been expectıng. Ewan sorted me out wıth a genuine pair of team headphones, with which I could hear all the team radio between the drivers and the pits - this really was a fantastic insight into what really goes on during a race. The majority of the conversations were unfortunately regardıng blue flags, but there were some hairy moments near the end of the race as the mechanics back in the garage were fretting over Glock's car making it to the end (which it thankfully did).

I could easily write thousands upon thousands of words about it, but to be honest to try and sum up what yesterday meant to me would be impossible. Feeling as if I was on the inside of a sport that I've followed all my life, being privileged enough to meet so many of it's stars, and to be made to feel like a real part of one it's teams was the realisation of every F1 fan's dreams. And yesterday, this incredibly lucky, and equally grateful so and so was able to live that dream.

Race 8 - Canada

This place doesn't just embrace F1, it lives it! According to the TV over 300,000 fans were at the race yesterday, and I feel privileged to have been one of them. The crowds were electric, and the race being an absolute blinder undoubtedly played it's part too. I was truly swept up in the enthusiasm of the crowds and found myself wildly cheering along with them for practically the entire race. But that's what this place does to you, it picks you up on a wave of excitement as soon as you step off the plane. Refusing to let you go until the weekend is over, and you're left in no doubt that you've had a good time!

A pit stop challenge on Crescent Street, outside a Gilles Villeneuve Expo
Credit: Alex J Snell

If you head on downtown you'll find entire streets shut down, heaving with fans all determined to have a great time. The main focus is on Crescent Street, and on Saturday night it came alive as thousands of F1 fans descended upon it. Entertainment wise there were appearances from both Virgin drivers, Jacques Villeneuve and Mario Andretti, as well as plenty of bands and DJ's playing long into the night.

Getting back to the race itself and I was chuffed to find that the circuit was opened up to the fans once the action was over. Following the herds I rushed out onto the track too, grabbing lumps of rubber as I went to keep as souvenirs. Now you might be thinking that sounds pretty sad, but when I tell you that some people were actually kissing the track you'll soon see how worse I could have been! Taking a stroll on the actual track is always a buzz, and wandering up from the hairpin to the main straight yesterday was no exception. Especially being up close to the infamous 'wall of champions' - now that was very cool!

The fans invade the Montreal circuit after the race has finished
Credit: Alex J Snell

Strolling on up to the pits and I found that all of the cars were on show in parc ferme, along with several team engineers taking the opportunity to check out the competition up close! Also on show was none other than Eddie Jordan, who came running over to the pitlane fence to gee up the fans, who naturally responded with excited screams (and so did I rather ashamedly!). Hopefully that didn't make it on TV!

After peering through the fence for a while longer I decided to call it a day and make my way back. Even hours after the race had finished the crowds were still partying. Like I keep saying, they just don't stop over the F1 weekend, it's incredible. Contrasting it to Turkey for example, the difference is colossal, and I would even say that for sheer partying exuberance, it tops Australia (which was awesome itself!)

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