How can you describe the feeling of being at a Grand Prix?
It was just the qualifiers, but seeing the cars flash past just a couple of yards from me on the Monte Carlo quayside was a truly extraordinary experience.
The Sparco yacht was moored right in front of the Tabac and we could see the cars as they came out of the Nouvelle Chicane right after the tunnel, take the curve, flash past us and disappear toward the Louis Chiron and on along the quay. I kept trying to guess the liveries at a distance and I was surprised to find that the McLaren was one of the hardest: the glare made it seem almost black.
The most intense sensation was the roar of the engines: as they fly down the Beau Rivage they sound like they’re right in front of you instead of hidden by the buildings. And the growling and howling of the engines as they took on the curve where we were, braking and then accelerating away immediately is just something the TV just can’t communicate.
Obviously I didn’t get the chance to really enjoy being on a luxury yacht the way I’d like to: too many people to meet, and photograph (we even had Olivier Panis and the whole Oreca team aboard), not to mention watching the qualifiers. When you’ve got Formula 1 live before your eyes nothing else seems to matter.
I can’t help feeling a bit of envy for those lucky people who live in Monte Carlo and get to see this incredible spectacle every year from their balconies. Then in the evening we’d either go into the city or stay on the quayside strolling among the drivers and their teams, and at the restaurants it was no rare thing to see them at the next table.
The Monte Carlo GP has definitely become my favourite event of the whole championship.