Monza was an unforgettable experience .Never for once did I think that we would be at such a historic race track in the midst of the passion and excitement and the roar of racing cars! Even a visit to the Lords Cricket ground to watch a world cup final isn’t some thing that one plans, for but might just dream about .A visit to Monza was never in contention even in dreams .By now you can guess I wasn’t an F1 freak !!
So the excitement and anticipation was high, so I’m sure it was for Deepa, even if she was less of an F1 freak!! We witness the qualifying rounds on the previous day and then the race itself on the big day. Lunch conversation before we set off, was on the huge roar of the engines.. Some advocated compulsory use of ear plugs or we where in for trouble.. Some said they would not allow any one to wear ear plugs as they wouldn’t want to be seen with people wearing one and watching the great race!! In the end, we where in a special glass enclosure which shut off most of the noise.. Sad to say.. because it would really have been more fun with the roar of the cars racing by.
And racing past they did as they where going in excess of 350 kms an hour and when they passed the straights where we where.. all you got to see was the blur of cars zooming past .If you blinked you may miss them .The on site TV monitors helped us keep track of the entire race and the passion and speculation on the pit stop strategies of the Ferrari and McClaren teams kept us hooked to the race all the way through.
The atmosphere was created by the surging crowd of fans on race day .Most wore the Ferrari colours and you knew where the Italian passion lay on race day. The walk around the pit stop lanes was a memorable activity .There where huge crowds even for the 45 min long walk around.. I had thought it would have been more exclusive, but the crowds added to the atmosphere .There were not much we saw beyond the surge of people.. Did get to see Michael Schumacher at relatively close range but far from hand shaking distance.
And then it was time for the great race. The pre race line up with the marker girls, bevy of press photographers, officials and celebrities down at the race track prior to the race all made for the build up of expectancy and emotional fervor.
After the warm up lap, they where ready to go and off they went to the roar of the crowd.. Including the folks in our enclosure.. The race was finally on!!
Alonso was in pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari drivers , Kimi Raikonnan and Massa. I did recognize most of the other names in the race from watching F1 races on TV , but all attention was focused on the top four .It seemed to hinge on the pit stop strategies of the two teams .. two for the McClaren team and one for Kimi Raikonnan . For long hope in the Nokia camp and in the crowds by and large rested on Raikonnan pulling it off . Specially after he went ahead of Hamilton .But with four laps or so for the race to go , Hamilton cleverly squeezed past him and the race was clearly lost for the Ferrari team .The Nokia team was despondent and most of them left the race at this stage .. partly in disappointment and partly to beat the crowds dispersing from the venue .
We stayed on till the end and drove past milling crowds of disappointed fans .Their team had lost .There was no burning of chairs or throwing of water bottles or vandalism of any kind .They just trouped away disappointed .But will bounce back with hope for at the next race day .