Paving the way forward: Susie Wolff

In the latest blog post in this inspirational series, we look at the career of former-DTM racer and ex-F1 driver Susie Wolff.

Susie Wolff is a former racing driver who made history in 2014 when she became the first woman to compete in a Formula 1 race weekend since 1992.

Now, she’s retired her racing boots but is currently the driving force behind Venturi Racing Formula E team as the team boss in the ground-breaking all-electric series.

Before gracing some of motorsport’s most elite racing series, Susie began to learn her race craft in karting. Her first true taste of success came in 1997 when she won the 24hr Middle East Kart Championship and the Scottish Junior Intercontinental A title.

By 2000, Susie had a stellar karting CV to her name. In her final year of karts, the Scottish-driver finished 15th overall in the Formula “A” World Championships and was named the Top Female Kart Driver in the world.

“If a little girl is interested in racing, and she switches on the TV and watches racing, she won’t see any role models. So why she should believe that she can do it when she doesn’t see anyone else like her doing it?”

Susie Wolff

Her step up to single-seaters came in 2001, in the shape of the Formula Renault Winter Series. During the following year, she tackled the Formula Renault UK Championship head-on. Learning what life was like at the wheel of a racing car, Susie’s first podium in the series came in 2003.

In 2004, Susie visited the rostrum a further three times, finishing the year fifth in the overall championship. Next on her career path was a brief outing in British Formula 3, before making the huge leap to the world-renowned Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters in 2006.

Susie raced in DTM for six seasons, earning her best season in 2010 when she finished 13th overall whilst competitng against the likes of David Coulthard and Gary Paffett.

In 2012, Susie turned heads when she was announced as the development driver for Williams Racing. Impressing the prestigious Formula 1 team, Susie kept her role throughout 2013. The following year saw her commitments grow, with Susie being named as the official test driver for the team.

Working closely with the engineers, team personnel and drivers, Susie made history at the 2014 British Grand Prix when she became the first woman to participate in an F1 race weekend since 1992. For over two decades F1 hadn’t seen a female at the wheel at a grand prix. Wolff, however, changed this on home soil.

Despite the promise, Wolff’s free practice session came to a bitter end when the engine blew. However, she was given another shot at the next round in Germany where she impressed.

The Briton was 15th, just 0.227 seconds slower than team-mate Felipe Massa, an 11-time grand prix winner.

BBC Sport

In 2015, Susie got to drive at two more GP weekends, with the second outing being at the British event at Silverstone. This time, her engine held out and she was able to complete the FP1 session as 13th fastest.

At the end of that year, Susie announced that she would be retiring from racing. However, with motorsport a way of life for her, Wolff decided to give something back to the racing community. This was when Dare To Be Different was founded – a platform that aims to inspire and connect women in motorsport.

Alongside her commitments to D2BD, Susie was a frequent member on the Channel 4 F1 coverage line-up – presenting sports content to fans all over the UK.

Recently, Susie has been raising her young son – Jack – as well as holding the role of team principal at Monaco-based Venturi Racing. Despite no longer racing, Susie remains a very prominent figure in motorsport.

From driving in DTM to gracing the most elite level of motorsport in the world, Susie Wolff has made a huge impact on the future of women in sport. And, with her foundations set in Formula E, she is going to continue to pave the way forward for the generations to come.

Rembering Maria Teresa de Filippis – the first woman driver to enter an F1 world championship

Following on from the excitement of W Series, this new blog will focus on the stars of the motorsport world throughout the years. It will show their achievements and the pioneering contributions they made to the sport while sharing their passions and success. 

Maria Teresa de Filippis is remembered as the first women to have entered a Formula 1 World Championship grand prix, but she had a successful career in many different strands of motorsport. 

Maria Teresa was born on the 11th November 1926 in Naples, Italy. As a teenager, she was a keen horse racer and tennis player before beginning her racing career aged 22. She began racing after her brothers bet that she wouldn’t be fast enough and went on to win her first event driving a Fiat 500 on a 10km route between Salerno and Cava de Tierreni. For the remainder of the 1940s, Maria Teresa forged a career in hill climbing and endurance racing. 

Before her debut in Formula 1, Maria Teresa competed in and finished second in the 1954 Italian Sports Car Championship. She made her first F1 outing in the non-championship Gran Premio di Siracusa, where she finished fifth. 

Maria Teresa’s first World Championship race would come at the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, driving the Maserati 250F and, ending with a 10th place finish. She took part in two more World Championship races in 1958 at Oporto, Portugal and Monza. However she would fail to finish both of these races due to reliability issues. In Monza, she was running in fifth place fourteen laps from the end when her engine cut out. If the Maserati’s engine had made it the end of the race, she would have been remembered as the first women to score points as well as the first to drive in a championship race.

Despite her success in these races, she was unable to take part in the season’s French Grand Prix. In a 2006 interview she shared that the race director had not allowed her to take part, stating “the only helmet a woman should wear is one at the hairdressers”.

Maria Teresa failed to qualify for the 1958 and 1959 Monaco Grand Prix. She called it a day on her racing career in 1959 after the untimely death of her team principal Jean Behra. Maria Teresa got married and started a family after leaving the sport, she did however return in 1979. 

In 1979, she became a member of the Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 for Retired Drivers (now called the Formula 1 Grand Prix Drivers Club). She became the club’s secretary-general before advancing to vice-president and then honorary president. Maria Teresa was a founding member of the Maserati Club in 2004 and went on to become its chairperson. She was also an honorary member of the BRDC. 

Maria Teresa de Filippis died in January 2016, aged 89. She was, indeed, a pioneer in our sport and her achievements should always be remembered. Her involvement in five World Championship events and her three World Championship race starts, despite the difficulties she faced, truly helped to pave the way for the acceptance of women in motorsport. 

Hazel Southwell: “It’s incredible how much talent is in the motorsport field”

Before she made the switch to motorsport journalism, Hazel covered music, politics and humanitarian issues – a far cry from the Formula E paddock and other motorsport circuses that you’ll find the Londoner following.

If you’ve read any number of motorsport journalism pieces, then there’s a good chance that you’ve read something by Hazel Southwell. Her journalism is exciting, captivating and has you clinging to every word. She writes in a way that allows you to see topics in an entirely different light and explains concepts through original methods.

Why the switch, then? Well, Hazel had reignited her passion for all things fast and furious. Yet, there was an element of despair there. No one was writing the way she wanted them to write. So, she decided to have a go herself.

“In 2016 I took myself to the Marrakech Eprix during what was a pretty terrible period of my life, not really sure what I was doing if I’m perfectly honest,” she says. “I’d never been to Morocco, I’d never gone away totally on my own, and I had never gone overseas to a motorsport event before.

“I wouldn’t say it was trivial – I did things like having to walk from Menara airport across the city to the hostel I was staying in because every hotel, riad and cupboard was full of UN employees there for the COP22 conference. But I did it and I enjoyed it and I thought ‘fuck it, I’m going to do this, I’m actually quite good at this.’”

Hazel is a freelancer now, covering all things motorsport for a number of websites including Drivetribe and RaceFans.net. One of the things that makes her so inspiring is the raw account she gives to the reality of her career. Just because it’s motorsport, it doesn’t mean that it’s glamorous. For the majority of the time, it’s very far from that.

“I hate being forced to write pieces I know are objectively bad or boring,” she says. “Having spent so much money and time and effort barging my way into motorsport, I’m not going to let anyone shove me around. I know I can write, I know I understand digital editorial, I know I understand fans and how to make content for them and I’d loathe anyone breathing down my neck telling me what to do.

“It’s also extraordinarily badly paid. But I can swear in interviews and wear ball gowns at race tracks and to be honest neither of those are movable character traits, for me.”

Hazel documents her travels to all four corners of the world as she flies to cover Formula E. Ryanair and hostels were on the agenda once again, and that’s all part of the freelancer experience.

“I would say it’s really annoying having to pitch everything. I would love an editorial role – but there aren’t many of those and this way I get to write a huge number of pieces for a huge number of places,” she says. “This month I’m writing one for a sci-fi magazine, for instance, which is the sort of thing that having a diverse background gives me an advantage in.”

So why do motorsport journalism? It’s simple. It’s Hazel’s “lifeblood”. When Formula E came along, it quickly meant more to Hazel than it did to most – and that comes across in her beautiful writing.

“I’ve said this a few times but there has never been a moment in the history of motorsport, of any sport, where something so pivotal is happening,” she says. “Formula E’s technology has to transform the automotive industry or there won’t be one and we’ll all be screwed.

“If you’re the same as me or younger, so basically all millennials and post-millennials, then we’ve all been taught since primary school that the world’s ending and a decent chunk of that is down to cars. You’re told it so often it’s almost numbing. And it’s just delivered with this blase, ‘write it down in your copy books, we’re all going to die in about fifty years’ but without an answer.

“Formula E is, to me, for the first time, something that bucks that narrative. This is fast, dangerous, exciting hope. Hitting the streets and proving something in this fantastic dog fight – this sparky little upstart that dares to offer the chance of a future, if we can be brave enough into turn one of history.

“I get all teary-eyed talking about it because I’m a fucking nerd but honestly, I think this is an extraordinary moment and my god I hope it works.”

At the end of 2018, a once unthinkable event took place in Saudi Arabia – Formula E visited the capital for a race. Hazel was openly cynical about the sport she adores going there. She was familiar with their human rights situation, and she knew that – as a female journalist – it was going to be “beyond difficult” to take herself there. But, looking back on it now, she considers it as one of her favourite motorsport events that she’s covered.

“I get that a lot of people said it was a PR exercise but to be honest, it really wasn’t; it’s not like Formula E is the Super Bowl in terms of people suddenly changing their opinion of the country because it hosted us. It also wasn’t a compromised event – like when WWE went and only took male wrestlers and only men could watch.

“It was a mixed event, with the crowds full of teenage girls running around screaming about Jason Derulo (who played a concert, one of the first Western concerts in Saudi Arabia) and families and young men in Ferrari jackets over their traditional clothing. Westernisation isn’t always, by default, a good thing but this was a crowd genuinely enjoying the event and excited by the first event in their country of this type.

“There were so many women there and they’d spot I had a media lanyard and come over and we’d talk to each other through google translate. For the Saudis, it was a huge event – and I was really happy for them. Riyadh isn’t rich (Jeddah is the centre of commerce for Saudi Arabia) and it was just normal people enjoying normal things they’d never had access to. Again, I kind of tear up a bit about the whole thing.”

Hazel believes that we should be optimistic about the future of motorsport journalism and what it has to offer. While she’ll continue to give her readers a unique spin on races and stories, Hazel is adamant that there’s lots out talented writers out there.

“There’s some tremendously interesting stuff being done in new mediums like my friend Stuart, who does great videos explaining F1 as Chainbear,” she says. “I have so many friends who are brilliant this would rapidly turn into a list of shout-outs. But I do think it’s amazing, for a niche sport, it is incredible how much talent is in the motorsport field. Really, I am so proud to be part of it. “

Header photo credit: Lou Johnson

How to break into motorsport journalism

The media industry is a notoriously tough place to break into, and motorsport journalism is not an exception to that rule in the slightest. While there are no set formulas to getting your foot firmly in the Formula 1 paddock, we’ve spoken to a budding Spanish journalist to find out how she managed to get her first couple of FIA accredited races.

Sofia Tera has been determined to call the Formula 1 paddock her home for several years now. Since the age of just seven, she can recall watching racing on the television at home. Back then she preferred two wheels to four, but she says that the tables have turned now.

Writing quickly became a hobby of hers as she entered her teenage years, and it all stemmed from there.

“I cover mainly Formula 1, but one of my favourite motorsport series to cover is Formula 2,” Sofia tells Females in Motorsport. “I have always liked Formula 2. The racing is close and there are a lot of hungry young drivers that could become the future of Formula 1. It’s a very interesting and fun series that deserves attention.”

Sofia writes for a Spanish motorsport and motoring website, where she can be called upon to write anything from in-depth features to breaking news stories. During her time at CarandDriver.es, she has learnt to be versatile in her approach, a skill that she considers key when it comes to motorsport journalism.

 

Credit: Roksana Cwik

 

“It’s a very demanding job,” she says. “You have strange working hours since the racing activities take part mainly during weekends and you need to stay alert during the rest of the week waiting for news to create content. Therefore, you have to be versatile. Motorsport media consumes a lot of time every day and you don’t have a clear departure time because a big story could happen at any hour of the day. Also, you need to take care of your contacts and sources. Networking needs a lot of your time too.”

When looking at the key skills a journalist should have, she feels that it all comes down to being a good listener.

“A journalist needs good communication skills because you need to know how to ask the right questions to receive the answers you are looking for, but you also need to be a good listener,” she says. “People usually focus on how you have to talk, but it’s very important to know how to listen. Good knowledge of what you’re reporting about (motorsport in this case) is essential. Curiosity and interest are two very important features of a journalist too. And this might sound very basic, but a journalist needs to have a passion for the job.”

Being an international member of the press, Sofia strongly recommends being able to speak a second language – it has certainly helped her on her road to success.

“Speaking several languages is crucial in our lives, not only in motorsport,” she says. “Media is essentially all about communication, and you need to know languages to build relationships or simply ask questions. A lot of people think that speaking English is enough, but the need for speaking more than two languages is increasing everywhere. Motorsport is no exception with the big number of nationalities involved in racing all around the world. It has helped me to communicate and be more confident in general.”

 

sofia tera 2.jpg
Sofia in the Formula 1 paddock

 

With the highs that come from landing your dream job, there are – of course – struggles on the way. Many people who work in the industry describe what a tough and challenging road it can be to getting recognised. But, it is important to not give up on your dreams.

“There were some critical moments where I was close to giving up,” Sofia says. “I felt I had nowhere to go and my situation wasn’t improving at all. I really thought all my effort wasn’t worth it. Media is a very difficult job, especially for young journalists because people usually don’t take us seriously. And I said, motorsport consumes a lot of your time. It’s really tough to make a living from racing. One day, I convinced myself that I had to keep on working. I am fortunate enough to write about something I like so much. Even if it’s demanding, I love motorsport. I can’t see myself having another job. It’s my passion and I really want to be in the motorsport world. I feel like that’s where I belong.”

With Sofia’s role, she has now attended three grand prix as press and two pre-season tests. Her favourite thus far has been the Italian event last year, and she describes the weekend as “magic”.

“The fans are great, the track is amazing and the last race had a lot of action and drama,” she says. I had the chance to see the podium from the media center and it was one of the most beautiful experiences. The fans on track, with all their flags and banners, the drivers celebrating, the atmosphere… It’s unique.”

Sofia has great advice for those wanting to break into the industry. She says that having your own blog is a good place to start. There you can find your own style while writing about things that interest you.

“A blog is good because you are the one who decides what to write about,” she says. “Once you have found and improved your style, you can write for websites as a volunteer. This may create bigger exposure for you as a writer. With hard work, people will begin to recognise your writing which can lead to the chance of writing for bigger websites.”

In order to be constantly improving your writing, Sofia says it’s paramount to read the work of other journalists who are already successful in the field.

“You need to read lots of articles and analyse what structures and tones they’re using,” she says. “You can analyse what works and try to add that to your skills. Of course, don’t copy, but create your own twist on things. I still do this, because your writing skills improve with every piece you read and write. You never stop learning, especially in journalism.”

You can follow Sofia on Twitter here.

The art of motorsport perfume

There are many avenues to find a route into motorsport and designing perfume is no exception. A niche idea created by Katie Forman has seen her brand grow with motorsport fans and enthusiasts.

Females in Motorsport got handed a sample of her work at a Dare To Be Different community event before Christmas. From that moment onwards, we fell in love with Petrolhead, a fragrance that promises – and delivers – to be bold and fearless.

“A couple of years ago, I had just had a hip operation from a sporting injury and was recovering on the sofa thoroughly fed up and decided to google: “how to make your own perfume in the UK”,” Katie tells us. “I came across The Cotswolds Perfumery and fired off an email asking if I could make a perfume, thinking it was a long shot and thought nothing more about it. But I quickly got a reply saying yes they could help and did I want to arrange a meeting. When I was up and driving again I hopped in the car and drove to the Cotswolds thinking I would make my perfume and come home again. How wrong I was!”

 

img_7346
The face behind the creation

 

By the time Katie got home from that first meeting, she’d turned a small idea into a plan for a big adventure – a perfume brand with a difference. ByKathryn had been made.

Once her niche idea was created, she set about brainstorming for her first product. Soon enough, Petrolhead was born.

“Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful and it can instantly trigger a memory,” Katie says. “When I wear perfume I am creating those memories and I wanted to create perfumes that were all about the vibe, the mood, the memory. Perfumes with attitude.”

With Petrolhead, Katie knew that she would be pushing the boundaries. It was brave, bold and unique.

“I thought it would be fun to take on one of the biggest stereotypes of them all; and because I am a Formula 1 fan and decided to call my first perfume Petrolhead – which means a car fanatic and is usually associated with men,” she says. “I thought: Why not take this and turn it on its head and create a perfume that was for women who write their own rules! But more than that, I wanted Petrolhead to reflect the motorsport world where men and women can compete together – as Petrolhead has citrus top notes and spicy bottom notes, with jasmine and rose in the middle I created a perfume designed for women but men wear it too. My motto is: if you like it wear it.”

Katie has been following Formula 1 for over a decade now. When she was younger, she used to compete in equestrian events. Surprisingly, she noticed how there were many parallels between the two sports despite them seeming very far apart to the naked eye.

“In equestrian, men and women compete together; gender isn’t an issue,” she says. “Although you were the one in control of the horse you relied on teamwork to get you there and months of dedication and preparation. One tiny thing could go wrong on the day and scupper your chances, but when it all came together and you succeeded the feeling was amazing, but it was more than just about you.

“When I discovered Formula 1 there was so much about it that resonated. The adrenaline, the danger, the quick-mindedness of the driver, the teamwork, the setup of the car, adapting to the weather and the circuit. I loved that motorsport was open to men and women – I was just sad that more women weren’t competing. But in the time since I have been following Formula 1 and started looking at the other classes, more and more talented women are moving up through the ranks. It has been wonderful to see.”

 

PR & PH 15ml.jpg
Katie’s two perfumes: Padstow Rocks and Petrolhead

 

Her creation Petrolhead is all about writing your own rules and with that, Katie hopes to play a part in empowering women to achieve their dreams.

“I would like my perfume to inspire women to think “yes I can do that!” if they want to,” she says. “Even if there aren’t many women doing it. To question when someone tells them they can’t and to dig deep and see what they are made of – to dream big! 

“I have always worked and competed in fairly male-dominated worlds, but it has been important to me to keep my identity and femininity. I worked as a groundskeeper for a tree surgeon for a couple of years and I did all the heavy lifting and jobs the boys would do but I had long blonde hair and I wore perfume and makeup – not that it lasted long! I didn’t try to be a boy, I was simply me doing a job. Why make it more complicated?”

In terms of who inspires Katie to be pushing her own boundaries, she says Susie Wolff is an important role model to her.

“I was sad to see her hang up her racing boots but what she did, and indeed is doing with Dare To Be Different, for women in motorsport is brilliant,” she says. “In fact, I have started collaborating with Dare To Be Different and Petrolhead as we have very aligned missions although from very different start points.”

With that in mind, 2019 will see Katie working hard to design a new perfume creation.

You can take a look at Petrolhead and Katie’s other creations here.

The ladies behind the all-female endurance racing team

An all-female racing team will enter the competitive 6 hour Ford Fiesta Endurance race which will take place in Ireland next month. The ladies will represent females in Irish motorsport as they make history and become the first women only team ever to compete in the event at Mondello Park’s international circuit.

Women in Motorsport Racing will be made up of four formidable ladies – Emma Dempsey, Ruth Nugent, Aimee Woods and Nicola Watkins – all of whom have previous racing and motorsport experience.

This event is one of the highlight’s on the Irish motorsport calendar, with ex-Formula 1 drivers among this year’s competitors.

Who are the ladies that will be racing?

Emma Dempsey is no stranger to racing, and has strong motorsport links in her family. Her father was a successful driver – Cliff Dempsey – and now Emma is following in his footsteps, making a name for herself. After a break from competing, Emma returned to the fast lane this year. She works as a mechanic on her father’s racing team, preparing the race winning single seaters.

Ruth Nugent has been a dedicated motorsport marshal for over 12 years now, volunteering at many motorsport events. In her first year of competitive motorsport, she finished in the top 10 of the Irish Ford Zetec Championship, where five rounds were held across Mondello Park and another Irish circuit.

Aimee Woods is a driver instructor at Mondello Park and has competed in various championships throughout her life. Like Emma, she was born into a motorsport family and her father is a successful racing driver.

Completing this highly experienced team is PR manager Nicola Watkins, who has raced in the Irish Ford Zetec Championship since its launch in 2013. Prior to that, Nicola commenced track racing in Irish Strykers.

This racing team will be prominent in the fight to encourage more diversity in the sport.

“To have the very first team of females enter this six hour race means so much to all of us as drivers,” Emma Dempsey told Females in Motorsport. “We are supporting one another on our journey and hoping that this continues into the future. We will be up against some of Ireland’s greatest racing drivers, so know it’s going to be a tough battle, but it all comes down to getting to the end of the race with no drama.

“We all get on really well and have great personalities in our team. We’re out to have fun and to try do our very best.”

With the ladies all familiar with motorsport paddocks, they’ll give their competitors a good run for their money while celebrating the ever-growing number of women that are now competing in motorsport.

The team will showcase their talent at the 6 hour Ford Zetec Endurance Race which takes place on Sunday 4th November at Mondello Park.

What it’s like to attend your first Formula 1 race

Since the age of just 10 I had endlessly dreamed of attending a Formula 1 race. I wanted to experience the sounds and smells first hand and, more than anything, I wanted to cheer on my heroes as they put everything on the line. 

This time last year, I was in the midst of experiencing the best weekend of my life. It was everything I had expected and more. Special. Something to cherish forever…

Monza is the temple of speed, the grand prix to attend if you’re looking for an electric atmosphere – fast corners, long straights, and the formidable Tifosi, it has it all.

A bold statement I’ll admit, but I am not exaggerating here. As an avid Formula 1 fan, it was everything I had ever hoped for and more. Even now I can’t stop smiling, reflecting on my time in Italy. Besides, it’s no secret that Monza was my first ever live grand prix. And what a weekend it was!

I attended with my dad – a lifelong F1 fan – on general admission tickets, and we based ourselves at the second Lesmo on the Saturday and Sunday. The views were better than I had expected, considering we hadn’t paid the extra for a grandstand seat.

Saturday morning came and we left our apartment near the city centre early – 0530 early – and already it was raining. The day was tough, but came with rewarding results.

The weather forecast said the rain would stop by mid-morning. Unfortunately, it didn’t. This resulted in very little on-track action and the Formula 1 qualifying being postponed continuously.

I was frustrated, and I couldn’t cover that up. I had been looking forward to the event for so long and was met with a torrential downpour which resulted in everyone being soaked through, with no race cars.

unnamed-12
Dad and I, absolutely frozen and just a tad damp

By half past three in the afternoon, the majority of people that were sat on our stand had packed up and gone home for the day. I was tempted too, but I hadn’t come all that way for nothing. I was going to stand with wet everything until a decision to delay qualifying until Sunday morning was made.

I am so happy that we stuck it out. Watching the cars run in the wet is something that will stick with me for a long time. The spray coming off of them was unbelievable – the skill those drivers have is undeniable. I was in awe. This is when the drivers earn their money.

So, as we stood in the now eased off rain, getting sprayed by Lewis Hamilton’s ferocious path, I was more content with the day had ended up. Having walked 10 miles that day, and now being the very proud owner of several blisters, I was very thankful when we reached the warmth of our apartment. But, rest assured, I was damn exciting to do it all again the next day. Just right after I’d had a pizza.

We were at the track by half past seven the next morning and already the queues to enter the gates were long. The atmosphere was fantastic, a sea of red waiting in line to access the autodrome. We got talking to a young couple from Ireland who were somewhat grand prix veterans (already). I was sad not to get their name as they were so friendly, making me excited for my race weekend adventures to come!

unnamed-11
Our stand early Sunday morning

At  0800 we were in our seats, to the left of the big TV screen at the second Lesmo. Again, the view was spectacular for the tickets we had. I was expecting to only get glimpses of the cars through the trees, but no. We had a view of the cars as they came out of the first Lesmo and down the straight and then the entrance to the second Lesmo.

The rest of the day was like a dream. A utopia.

The GP3 race was enthralling – I wasn’t expecting the cars to sound as good in person. Being a part of Dare To Be Different, it was wonderful to see fellow a member of Susie Wolff’s initiative –  Tatiana Calderon – have an excellent race.

The wait for Formula 2 zoomed past (pardon the pun). We chatted to a couple from the States who were also attending their first grand prix. With them was their five-year-old son who was absolutely dumbstruck at the racing cars. He especially liked the safety car which he called the saviour car. A year on and I’m still certain that the name could stick!

Alas, F2 was brilliant. My dad who hadn’t even followed it until now remarked upon how exciting te racing was. And that’s a fact you can’t deny – the racing the series provides in fantastic.

Thankfully, we weren’t the only ones watching. The crowds in the surrounding seating areas were beginning to get into it, which is good to see. By this point, the everywhere was rammed.

By the time the F1 came around, I was nervous. I was scared that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as what I did watching it in my living room. What if I didn’t like it as much? What if this, what if that.

Now, I can’t believe for a second that I doubted myself.

The sounds and the smells, the vibrations and the atmosphere all left me tingling. I had a buzz inside of me; F1 is a part of me. I smiled throughout the whole race (except when Max Verstappen picked up a puncture in front of us) when I was, truthfully, lost for words.

They were my heroes pushing everything to the limit, right in front of me. I still regularly think about it now – the feeling of elation watching the battles unfold right in front of you. The exact sensation is hard to pinpoint, yet all I know is that you feel exhilarated.

I couldn’t believe it when the race came to an end. I struggled to process that 90 minutes had passed. Immediately, I wanted to rewind and watch it all again.

When we left our stand I was physically shaking. It was the adrenaline, all of the excitement I had been feeling. But, it wasn’t over.

 

We took advantage of the open track post-race and walked anti-clockwise back to the Parabolica. It was hot, sweaty, but I savoured every second and every step. The track itself was immensely busy with fans and it now had a carnival-like atmosphere. People played music, celebrated and took endless photos.

unnamed-9.jpg
Walking the track post-race

I left that track having covered 23 miles in two days. I had blisters on blisters, sunburn and hat hair, but I knew that I had just had the best 48-hours of my life. I said to my dad that I was emotional and he understood. He knows what a massive part of my life F1 is.

Being an avid fan that weekend was phenomenal. I cheered, I wore merchandise and never wanted the experience to end.

So, thank you F1 and thank you Monza. You have made a million memories that I’ll have forever more.