Saturday, November 9, 2019

Saturday of a Formula 1 Weekend


The Alfa Romeo folks had a great display of cars, free coffee bar, and fan activities. The other
teams did NOT have anything like this for us poor people that weren't in the exclusive ritzy places, so big props to Alfa Romeo. Plus, they really do have the coolest car logo on the planet. I mean seriously, when your badge has a snake eating a guy... Oh, this first car above, 

is an Alfa Romeo F1 car from a previous year. Sweet!
F1 has a standard format for all their race weekends (OK, all their races but Monaco, where they start on Thursday and take Friday off, which manages to extend the party by 24 hours!) Saturday features an afternoon critically important qualifying session, which will set the starting order for the 20 cars. Earlier in the day, there is the final practice session, Free Practice #3, which gives the teams just one hour on track to make their final tweaks to the cars, and then focus on either their 1 lap qualifying, or to gather more data for longer runs on the different tires if they're focusing more on the race more than just the qualifying lap time.

This is a re-make of the first Alfa to race in F1, which was in 1950.
Also sweet!
So the F1 guys are on track for just 2 hours on Saturday, what else do the fans have to do? In Austin, there are some other support races going on, so while the big guns are quiet, the F4 teams are also qualifying, and the Masters Racing teams are doing the same during their allowed times. I confess I don't know much about the Masters guys, but they were driving some older F1 cars, and they were LOUDER than the current 4 cylinder turbo cars.

Before showing you cars on track, here's some of the things we saw around the track. If you're wondering, the Alfa Romeo tent had the best coffee anywhere at the track, and it was free!

And of course you can pose in their car on track (OK, it's cardboard and it's not on track)
but it's a fun photo. Hey, and if you post your photo on line and tag it, they'll
give you an Alfa hat or Alfa flag!
I picked the flag! Alfa logo in green, on the red COTA track. 

Next to the Alfa tent, was a display for Carrera sunglasses. I spotted Alfa driver
Antonio Giovinazzi  in there taking photos with fans!

So, of course I got in line and got a photo with Antonio. Believe it or not,
I was the last person in line. I thanked him the best I could in Italian, and
he said "Prego!" Also exciting, over the weekend the team
announced that they had resigned Antonio for next season,
so we'll be rooting for him big time!

Then I met this Sergio Perez fan! Sergio being from Mexico, I guess
it makes sense that some of his fans are wrestlers, or Luchadores!

Julie and I got into the photo op mood, and posed here. I almost dropped my
coffee, but survived! The stands in the background are part of the
Austin soccer stadium, so that was a great place to hang out and watch 

the action on track on a big video board, or just sit on the grass or in the stands. 

Remember I said it was like going to the State Fair?
We came back later and watched the guy get shot
out of the canon back there! Scroll down for the video too!

Walking on the pedestrian bridge to the infield, just part of the
track. Every F1 track has a different paint scheme, so when
you see this many red white and blue stars, you can
bet it's in the USA. 

F4 drivers have fans too!
The F1 teams had times on Saturday when their drivers
went to the Amphitheater and signed autographs. 

Pedestrian bridge. Not sure if I've bought enough Pirelli tires
to pay for that sign, but my FIAT had their tires as OEM. 

One of the F4 cars about to go on track. 

Safety is big in auto racing, so besides the fences,steel
Armco barriers, and gravel traps, there are these types of barriers
in spots where it's likely cars will go off track. Plus you can see
corner workers all over the place, and the yellow crane in the background
that can remove a damaged car from the track. 

TV camera guy, high in the sky. No idea how many cameras it takes for
an F1 broadcast,but it's a lot! There was a remote controlled
camera in front of our grandstand at turn 12.


Masters cars
Masters cars on track

Masters

Here is the view from our seats in Grandstands at turn 12.
Cars are braking from 200 mph or so right in front of us, turning left,
then sweeping back around 13, then 14, and 15. We figured this
was a good spot to see some action, plus in the distance we can see turn 1,
and off to the left out of this shot we had just a glimpse of cars
heading away from us to the far end at turn 11.
Oh, and it's a great day weather wise too!
               
Top ten at the end of practice 3 on Saturday. The Max Verstappen
fans like the Dutch guys sitting behind us were happy to see him
with the fastest time.

One of the Toro Rosso cars. They are also sponsored by
Red Bull, but since the main team is named Red Bull,
these two cars are Toro Rosso.

After the practice session, there was more food and fun, and then the F1 qualifying session. Remember, it's like being at a State Fair, so between the crowds, food, and entertainment, it's a weekend long party!

Let's do lunch!



Ze Wurst Lunch,  hanging out in the Heineken area.



This area sponsored by Heineken, oddly enough!

Back at the Haas Hill we spotted their reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi.
Here he's being interviewed, in between the cardboard cutouts of
the Haas drivers. 
Amphitheater panorama. 








Thanks again to the Black Rifle Coffee Company for the
free coffee!

Another great day at the track. 

Does Texas have mermaids? You bet!




OK, you want to see the human cannon ball? HERE YOU GO!


Hmmm, those don't quite look like the real drivers just walking around! 


Hey it's Lewis  Hamilton!


OK, back in our seats, ready for qualifying!


Carlos Sainz in the #55 McLaren


Max Verstappen in the #33 Red Bull, followed by Alex Albon in the #23 Red Bull





And the final qualifying, with Bottas on poll, Vettel 2nd, and Verstappen in 3rd. Can't wait for race day tomorrow!








Thursday, November 7, 2019

Formula 1 Friday, Part II

Hey look, a six time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton! He clinched title 6 in Austin. 

After the morning practice session, Friday afternoon was highlighted by another practice session! We mostly spent this time in our seats at Grandstand 12, watching the cars brake into corner at turn 12, after they were over 200 mph on a very long straight.

Photography tip: Carry a little step stool to get that
extra foot of elevation to shoot over crowds and fences!
We followed this guy over one of the pedestrian bridges, so
right about here we're walking over the track. 

The Haas Hill area had these cutouts of their drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Both drivers will return in 2020 with Haas. 

More off track activities, come back later and hang with Haas
test driver Pietro Fittipaldi. If his name is familiar,
his grandfather Emerson Fittipaldi won the Indy 500 twice, and two
F1 championships! 

Julie and Brian enjoying the awesome weather!

Saturday was the big autograph meet-the-driver sessions
for all the teams. We figured it would be a mad crush of people
and skipped all of them. 

So, we're hanging out in the Military Outpost, with the Amphitheater on
one side and the track on the other. Sitting in the shade on a warm Texas
day, checking out the Ziegenbock beer. 

Oh, and then the Ferrari Pope stopped by! I'd seen this guy or another
Pope on TV somewhere, he had a great outfit for the day after Halloween!
This reminded me of the Tour de France, with the wild fans out on the mountain
roads dressed in all kinds of crazy outfits!

This guy had a classic Ferrari jacket, and said this autograph
on the back was from 7 time champ Michael Schumacher. 

Near the top of the Grandstand at turn 12, ready for practice. 

Overlooking turn 12, with  more track in the background.
Top 10 Scoreboard and the COTA tower.
Turn 1 is way back there in the upper left.

Haas driver Grosjean went off track and crashed into the wall. In
the upper left of this shot you can see his car being towed off
by the yellow crane, under the Pirelli banner. He was OK and
they fixed his car for Saturday. 


Ferrari exits 12

Final standings for this practice, Hamilton fastest. 

One of many signs to help you find your way around
the facility. Come back later for Saturday and Sunday!