As Pre-Season testing comes to an end in F1, we wait for the first race in Australia. But at the latest test, Feature Writer Aaron Gillard had the fortunes of being in the Paddock itself. Hear what he experienced in the latest edition of the Roar From The Paddock!
In my last edition of the ‘Roar From The Paddock’, I discussed the concept of testing and how it is more than just teams testing their new machinery ahead of the upcoming season.
I was fortunate enough to be invited and attend the second test of the 2019 Formula 1 pre-season testing as part of the media for the publication I write for, The Checkered Flag.
The media world is often a world few have experienced themselves and few have talked about the life of being a journalist, PR or a representative of a team during crunch time in F1.
As a journalist over the last three years, I have only experienced few Motorsport events, but have plenty of experience with sports reporting relating to Football and Ice Hockey.
This being the first time I’ve stepped into an F1 paddock, media centre, the track etc. It all felt…. Weird. The quote ‘big fish in a small pond’ wouldn’t accurately put how I felt walking down the paddock for the first time. More like a small fish in a big pond… a very big pond!
I know a few faces that was within the F1 paddock, so that became reassuring knowing that if I ever got lost or had no idea on what to do, I can just ask them. Building connections always helps and allows you to get into areas which may help your coverage and experience at the event.
Being a first time for attending such event, at first it felt daunting. Here I was in an F1 paddock for the first time and I’m here to do a job. As much as I love the sport, the role is more important here. You never know, this could be your last. Not to bring such negative light to it but if you want to establish yourself as a reporter and a journalist, you need to deliver and do your job.
But anyway, the first gig of the day came around lunch time when I attended Nico Hulkenberg’s media conference in Renault’s Hospitality. First time I’ve ever met Nico and be in a conference so there was a bit of excitement and nervousness to it. The ten minutes flew by: five in English, five in German and Hulkenberg answered his question and was off. The afternoon session then began but I was focused on working on turning the Hulkenberg quotes into articles, which successfully went well.
After the days worth of testing, it was time to meet some of the drivers and get their thoughts after the test. Since I was based above Red Bull’s garage and that they had a strong day, it would make sense to go and see Pierre Gasly. Unfortunately, everyone had the same idea. Swarms of media surrounded a little closed-off space where Gasly placed himself. I was at the back, ready and waiting for the young Frenchman. I conveniently placed myself behind Will Buxton. That would be awkward if I dropped my phone next or onto Will whilst he’s chatting away. I made sure I didn’t but that was a challenge itself.
After gathering Gasly’s quotes, I quickly rushed around the paddock to see if I can get anyone else. I managed to find Alexander Albon still chatting away and grabbed the last few quotes for a report I would do later in the evening.
The second and final day for me arrived. I arrived early. Around 8AM I would say, so that’s pretty early for me. The paddock was quiet, which was perfect for me to have a wonder around and see what’s what and see where about everyone is.
After grabbing a coffee, a few cans of Rich Energy (Yes, they really exist) and the paddock started to get more busier, I headed back to the media centre and found Red Bull were doing some pit stop practice. It was interesting to watch as the team would practice different scenarios such as front wing changes, penalties etc. It also helped that the view we got was directly below them, so we had a perfect view on what was going on.
As the morning test went on, I tweeted the times and what was going on over the course of the day. We witnessed Vettel’s big shunt at Turn 3 during the morning session, which was really the talk within the paddock and in the media centre. Soon after, it was Lunch. Ferrari had a press conference with Vettel, which was swarmed by the media to get questions in to the German over what happened. But I went back down to Renault to meet some Australian named Daniel Ricciardo.
Now I said about that I needed to my job as a journalist, and sometimes you need to ask questions to the people in the paddock. I did just that to Ricciardo, and it was the opening question as well. I asked “Have you noticed any difference with the car from the opening two days of the second test compare to the first test?”
He answered pretty detailed, explaining about how the car behaves in the morning and in the afternoon and talked about the extra bits they’ve tried on the car. It was great. Well detailed in his answer and of course, massive relief off my chest. I asked my first question in F1. Felt amazing. Had a big smile on my face. (Probably not as big as Ricciardo’s smile.)
So after lunch, I got down writing up Ricciardo’s quotes and released a report. Around 3 O’clock, I went down to Williams’ hospitality for a media conference with Claire Williams. It was well attended, as I would imagine with what has been happening at the team lately. One of the many people in attendance was a man who had been receiving a lot of attention for his possible absence. Sky F1’s Ted Krativz. I couldn’t believe it. He was here. I think the sight of Ted made everyone smile. It certainly did for me.
In the open conference, Claire was very polite and apologised to the media about not being as open as she would like to be over what is going on. She answered all the questions with honestly and was friendly to the media. After her conference, it was drawing an end to the day. I finished up writing Claire’s quotes and prepared to head down to the paddock and meet some of the drivers. In my plan, I aimed to meet Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez. I did so with succession, getting some useful information about the Honda engine and the future of the Mexican Grand Prix. After these were done, it was time to leave. It almost felt like an end of a movie as I was just leaving the paddock, the sunset stood brightly over the hills of the Catalan countryside.
It felt emotional to leave. To leave so soon after my first time in an F1 paddock. Being there felt awesome and it is something I want to do in the future. Let’s hope one day this will be a more frequent trip.