The night before the Formula One British Grand Prix, many of the drivers (Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella have been confirmed so far) will be attending the Grand Prix Ball at Stowe house, which is but “a gear change from Silverstone circuit”.
The annual event includes champagne reception, ‘gourmet’ dinner, F1 drivers, a charity auction, Belinda Carlisle, George Benson, Eddie & The Robbers featuring Eddie Jordan and special guests and DJs from around the world. One of the highlights in past years has been the ‘Dodgem car challenge’ where the general public share a dodgem with an F1 driver or celebrity and have to make sure the jug of water, which they are conveniently carrying, returns after play, as full as possible.
So why write a blog about all this? Well… in the world of Formula 1 it is nigh on impossible to get near the drivers. If you can catch Lewis Hamilton with a telescope you are doing pretty well.
This became all the more apparent on my trip to California Speedway a few months ago. The drivers walk through the pits (which is pretty much open to the public) and often stop for autographs and a chat. I must admit I loathe asking for autographs, you will no sooner see me running after a driver with a pen and paper than you would see me skipping through the paddock singing nursery rhymes.
Having said that, I would have no qualms about trying my best for an interview… This may sound contradictory but there we go, it is. While at Mugello for the Ferrari World Finals, my colleague Rob Widdows sent me off after the press conference to hunt down the Scuderia’s press officer Luca Cogliani. His parting words, as the conference was coming to an end, were “don’t give up, I don’t want to see you back here unless you have given him an issue of Motor Sport or you are being escorted.” Blimey.
So off I went, hidden in amongst the Ferrari ‘crew’, past the photographers, past the security guard who looked a little like the man off Hitman (the film) and eventually ended up in the private area. I lasted approximately 3 minutes before being shown the door and told to hoof it.
However, this is the beauty of the Grand Prix ball. Yes the tickets are quite expensive and yes you may well not even get a chance to ask Coulthard why he keeps crashing, but you may well be able to have a chat with one of the drivers without having to chase after them like a Jack Russell after a stick. Don’t buy tickets for this reason of course… go along for a very different night.
For more information go to www.gpball.co.uk