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The Unofficial F1 World Tour 2010 - Part 9 - Alex Snell's adventures take him to Korea and Brazil

Published by Alex J Snell

Hello there, thank you for joining me once again as we head into the home stretch of Alex Snell's incredible journey around the globe, attending every single Grand Prix in 2010. The season itself is over, but we've got just three races to recap on. With such highs already in the adventure, what else can Alex get up to? If you'd like to read more from Alex, visit his travel blog, or get up to the minute updates on his Twitter account. Now, over to Alex.

Race 17 - Korea

Downtown Korea looks enchanting in daylight
Downtown Korea looks enchanting in daylightCredit: Alex J Snell

Tuesday 15:10

Now despite the entry time this blog really should begin exactly 7 days ago, and at around 38,000 feet somewhere over Russia. It was at this moment, whilst I was flying back from Tokyo, that Korea was finally given the green light by the FIA. So after months of media speculation, and countless animated debates over whether to book travel arrangements or not, we all got the answer we'd been looking for. So groggy from the flight home I booked the cheapest flights I could find, posted a lame tweet about borrowing a tent for Korea, and then hit the hay.

Awaking the next morning with hotel-sorting top of my agenda I sat up in bed and fired up the laptop. Without thinking I went into autopilot and logged into Twitter (my usual first port of call for the day), and boy am I glad I did! It seemed that my tent plea had struck a chord. Nestling amidst the numerous offers of tents in return for paying people's airfares, was my saving grace. A message from 5Live Radio to say that they had a spare room up for grabs - what a result! So within a couple of hours the room was sorted and the travel arrangements for Korea done and dusted. Huge thanks to Jason at 5Live for thinking of me and everyone at LSA, as I said at the time - you were all real bacon savers!

Wednesday 23:13

When the receptionist started to dither with checking us in, Adam, ever the opportunist, pointed at the first name he recognised on the list and rushed on. The upshot of this being that I'm now staying in Anthony Davidson's room! And it's pretty darn nice too, I've (sorry, Anthony has) a PC, a gigantic Plasma TV, a walk in bathroom, and a massive bed. I just hope I don't meet him in the lift or something, can you imagine - "so how's your room then Ant?, what?, there was a mix-up and you've been shunted into a pokey little room, err.... that's unfortunate....ahem (frantically jabs at lift button)!".

Thursday 18:31

After a fairly late start I took a wander around Mokpo today to attempt to get my bearings. Brushing aside the ever-present haze of smog, it turns out that Mokpo is actually a genuinely interesting place to visit, if not a little neon and seedy for some peoples taste! But it's obvious that they've made a real effort for the race. A 15 minute walk from my hotel takes you down to the seafront, and here you'll find a weekend-long celebration of the event. There are rows of tents show-casing Korean culture, enough pimped out rides to keep Westwood busy for years, and an impressive stage set-up at the centre of it all. In all honesty it's a far greater effort to embrace F1 than the majority of the places I've been to this year have been able to muster. So kudos Korea!

Friday 07:26

An early start for yours truly as I'm blagging a ride into the track on the media shuttle. Sat alongside me is none other than James Allen, who quite unbelievably recognised me from the article in F1 Racing and came over to introduce himself! Now that's a moment I won't be forgetting for a while!

Friday 07:55

Oh, and it turns out that Anthony Davidson isn't here this weekend. So I can stop looking over my shoulder every time I leave my room!

Friday 19:55

Now that was a corker of a day! As some of you will undoubtedly already know, in the absence of Virgin's usual tweet-machine Geoff, I was tweeting from the garage in his place. I'd known about the possibility of this coming off for a while now, but fear of jinxing it prevented me from shouting the odds sooner. So phone at the ready I spent both practice sessions in the garage, witnessing first hand what it takes to run a modern F1 team. And just because it was practice don't be fooled into thinking that it was any less pressured or urgent. With a busy evaluation programme for both cars everyone, drivers included, were pedal to the metal! Watching a team work at such close quarters was a fantastic privilege, as was getting to listen in on the driver feedback as they discussed perfecting the set-ups with their engineers. Lucas in particular gave incredibly detailed and technical feedback, most of which went entirely over my head!

Felipe Massa expresses his opinion post-qualifying
Felipe Massa expresses his opinion post-qualifyingCredit: Alex J Snell

Saturday 16:01

Now that was a tight qualifying session! I was on tweeting duty from the Virgin garage for Q1, but stretched my legs for Q2 and took up a position on the inside kerb of the final corner. Peering through one of the photographer's openings in the fencing I was within touching distance of the cars as they tore past. In all honesty I'd under estimated the sheer brutality of being so close to that level of speed, and I don't mind admitting to giving myself a little scare! Although light relief was at hand as a nearby Marshall beckoned me to move away whilst I was clearly already retreating under my own steam!

The Virgin mechanics get busy during a pit stop
The Virgin mechanics get busy during a pit stopCredit: Alex J Snell

Sunday 19:30

Well, I wouldn't say it was a farce, but it could have gone smoother! In truth that amount of rain should never have caused such havoc, but with track being so fresh it was unfortunately inevitable. That said though, once the race was finally underway it was action packed, and the result has blown away all championship predictions that went before it. Obviously being in the Virgin camp for the weekend we were all distraught with Timo being punted off by Buemi. Seeing how hard everyone works over a race weekend really brings home how important, and well-deserved a good result is to the team. So here's to hoping that Brazil treats you better!

As for right now I'm stuck in an almighty traffic jam trying to get out of the circuit. Which is a shame as it would be unfair to leave here on a low point. For all it's faults the circuit has enormous promise, and importantly it looks like the kind of layout that will promote good racing. With time and experience I can see this becoming a fantastic event, but it's just not quite there as yet.

As for my weekend, well result aside it's been stupendous. I'm under no illusions just how lucky I am to have been afforded this opportunity by the Virgin team. For a fan to have such access over a Grand Prix weekend was unbelievable, but to be able to masquerade as a part of the team was something else. Feeling like a genuine member of the paddock over this weekend is something I could only have ever dreamt of, so once again, thank you to everyone in the team, this weekend was one I'll never forget.

Race 18 - Brazil

Wednesday 22:43

If I'm being honest this is one that I'm feeling slightly apprehensive about. Hardly surprising though given the fact that upon mentioning Interlagos to anyone within the F1 circle, the response will almost certainly fall into one of the following three categories. Senna, Brazilian Steakhouses, and armed car- jackings! However, having never been there myself I'm reserving judgement, although adopting a slightly cautious approach whilst doing so!

A view of Interlagos in the sunshine
A view of Interlagos in the sunshineCredit: Alex J Snell

Friday 08:43

I've arrived at the circuit now, and I'm happy to report that it's a total doddle to get to. In fact it's one of the easiest (street circuits excluded), that I've found this year. Fifteen minutes on the train and you're dropped off at Estacio Autodromo, which as the name suggests is right where you want to be. Wandering the streets that surround the track it's almost as if the circuit has been dropped into the centre of a town. looking around it is a tad run-down, but nothing like the slums that people would have you believe. If anything it adds a real sense of character to the location.

Friday 09:56

Right now I've arguably one of the greatest views in F1 before me - the Senna curves of Interlagos. The price of the ticket may have been extortionate, but sitting here now I'm not even remotely bothered. No doubt all of you have that one corner of a certain track, that for some unknown reason made a lasting impression on you after you saw it first. Well this is that corner for me. When I think of F1, I think of this corner. I think of all the greats that have risen to it's challenge, of all those title deciding races that have been played out on it's tarmac, and of the feverish passion of the fans who pack it's grandstands. For me it represents everything that drew me to this sport as a young boy. There was absolutely no way I was coming to Interlagos and not sitting here! And just as I knew it wouldn't, it hasn't disappointed.

Friday 12:47

One of the common things I've heard on my travels this year is the bemoaning of the new Tilke generation tracks, and in particular how they lack character in comparison to the classics. Now having been lucky enough to have sampled both, and being here now in Interlagos, it's easy to see just how true this is. This place oozes emotion, it echoes with history, in fact, thinking about it the whole city does. Immediately upon leaving the airport we turned onto the Senna highway, you've Senna's grave barely half an hour from here, and you'll find his name painted on countless murals that adorn the crumbling walls of this track. This truly is must visit destination for F1 fans.

Mark Webber steers his car through the wet
Mark Webber steers his car through the wetCredit: Alex J Snell

Saturday 10:41

I'm absolutely drenched, much like the track. The stands here today are totally rammed and the weather has done nothing to dampen the spirits of everyone, myself included. This should be interesting.

Saturday 15:09

And the Hulk smashes it! Utterly unforeseen and totally terrific! There wasn't a single fan here who didn't stand to applaud that performance. Williams drive or not next season, that was an astonishing final flying lap!

Sunday 10:19

I'm now sitting just outside the circuit walls enjoying some meat on a stick, washed down with a cold cerveja. It's a simply fantastic day here, the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is rising. And as it does the carnival atmosphere continues to flourish, the colour, the music, the dancing, the sheer joy of the fans here is totally intoxicating. Right now I honestly can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

The mechanics rush to the rescue
The mechanics rush to the rescueCredit: Alex J Snell

Sunday 19:06

What a day! That was quite possibly the best race day experience so far, and for that I've the Brazilian fans to thank. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. Shame about the Hulk not converting his pole into a better result though, but never mind. Things at the top of the table are still looking pretty interesting, although Alonso must have been grinning ear to ear when he realised that the Red Bull's hadn't switched positions! All to play for in Abu Dhabi then!

Sunday 21:34

I'll soon be off to the F1 Rocks afterparty to cap a storming weekend off. For all my initial reservations about Sao Paulo as a destination it has been truly fantastic. Granted there does appear to be a perpetual traffic jam snarling it's way around the city, but in all honesty it's no worse than most big cities, and Sao Paulo is certainly that. No doubt the news back home was dominated by the Jenson-Jacking, and judging by the messages I received over the weekend it was obviously on people's minds. But from my perspective the city has been nothing but welcoming. The people have been warm and friendly, and I've genuinly never felt threatened or uncomforable at any point. I urge you not to be put off by Sao Paulo's reputation. I've had a fantastic weekend here, and as I've said before, the atmosphere at the circuit is just magical.

Monday 11:31

If the night before can be judged on how bad you feel the next day, then last night must have been immense..... and it was! The venue was stunning, and without a doubt I've never before been in the presence of so many 'beautiful people'. God's finer creations aside we also had a number of drivers in attendance, both the Nicos, Lucas, and Bruno (who I managed to sneak a quick photo with - such a nice guy). It was the perfect way to end such an epic weekend, partying, like only the Brazilians can!

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