Falling in love with Formula One
SAO PAULO, Brazil:
I've never really been in love with Formula One.
Sure, I'd wake up in the mornings or whenever and watch the races, follow the news, cheer on my favourite team and driver, get myself gear; but the truth is, it was more of a strong infatuation. It's almost like that girl who you think is super hot, but you harbour no real intention of settling down with her. I'm sure someone out there can relate.
Anyway, after spending much of yesterday, front and centre, in Formula One's grip, at the legendary Interlagos track for the qualifying session of the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, I think I'm in love!
Sure, upwards of 230/MPH sounds quick, but you really don't get a fair idea of just how fast these beauties are going just by watching on TV!
Sitting less than 10 metres from the track in the Mercedes Benz premium paddock, overlooking the pit lane, F1 comes to life in special ways, especially for a first-timer like myself.
The experience did not stop there, however, with the group getting a first-hand, close-up look at how the pit crew operates, with an actual walk-by of the pit lane as the teams pulled apart, tweaked and reassembled the cars shortly before the start of the qualifying round.
The excitement started long before that, however.
Brazil is clearly crazy about motorsports and F1 in particular. Football is clearly their first love, but with Felipe Massa still doing well on the circuit, and with Brazilians accounting for over 100 wins in F1 history, I should have expected the amazing circus that has been taking place.
Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull - everyone wearing their colours, showing their support for their favourite team. Thousands crowded the street for miles leading into the Interlagos racetrack; and to think that it was only qualifying day!
Giant posters, life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the top drivers - Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Massa, Fernando Alonso - all over the place, and just like in Jamaica, people trying to sell parking spots on the roadside.
These drivers are larger than life! People climb over each other to get a glimpse.
One wink from Rosberg as he walked by a few females and hysteria broke loose. I drive, too, ... much slower, and not an F1 car, but I drive. Still, my wink is far less effective.
Turns out that one of the photographers here representing Mercedes is a big fan of all things Jamaican, especially Bob Marley.
You see, I always wear something representing Jamaica wherever I go - that seems to always get a door opened where there was none - you know what I mean? People like us.
Mauricio likes Bob.
"My older brothers used to play a lot of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh; I grew up on it. A lot of Brazilians like Bob," he said, before catching me off guard with an off-key effort of Three Little Birds.
If qualifying day was this intense, I can only imagine what the actual race day has in store!