German F1 fan Nikolai Vogler went to his home race at the Hockenheimring and the back-to-back round in Hungary one week later. Here’s his view from the stands.
While the F1 teams had to handle two races with just one week in between, me and a group of friends decided to follow them to the German and Hungarian Grands Prix.
Thursday 22nd July
Today was an amazing day I had waited a long time for. I packed a tent and my clothes in the car and drove to Speyer, a city near the Hockenheimring. There I met a friend, who, like me, is an F1 fanatic. But we don’t share quite the same view on drivers – he’s a Fernando fan, I support Lewis.
We headed off to the track where we were joined by another friend. We took in the pitwalk and a tour by bus around the track. All day long it poured with rain. We saw many cars and some drivers in the pitlane, but today was just the beginning. The engines stayed silent for now.
Friday 23rd July
Today we heard the lovely sound of the F1 engines again for the first time since we were at the Nurburgring last year.
The first free practice session was wet, but this was no reason to feel bad. We saw many spins and smaller mistakes by the drivers, lots of good action at the track. But Lewis stuck his car in the barriers and his running was limited.
We decided to sit at the south grandstand where we can see the motodrom, the corners before the finish line. The second practice was good to, but not as entertaining as the really wet first one.
Most of the support for German drivers seems to go to Sebastian Vettel, but there were many old and new “Schumi” fans too.
Saturday 24th July
On Saturday the weather improved. I was a bit sad of it, because I knew that now there was no way there would be anything other than a Red Bull on pole position.
Vettel got pole position and most of the German fans where happy about it. I thought Lewis’s performance was good after his crash on Friday, but Ferrari are clearly faster this weekend.
Sunday 25th July
Race day. Everyone was at the track early to avoid the traffic. After all the sessions of training and the qualifying, now we would finally see all 24 cars in action in the race.
In the morning there were many support races – including GP3, GP2 and Porsche Supercup – to fill the time until the Grand Prix starts. The drivers are taken around the track on a flatbed truck to wave to the fans
There next action on-track featured drivers performing stunts on motorbikes. It’s all a side-show to the main event, which gets under way at two o’clock.
There are sighs of disappointment in the crowd as Vettel gets away poorly and cannot hold his position in front of the field. It isn’t the closest race we’ve seen and there’s no big crash – but a big scandal. While Massa is in front, he gets a message (hidden but obvious), to let Fernando pass. And he did. He has to.
What a shock. I never thought that you can do such an order again so obviously. I really never could imagine that after the scandal in Austria with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, that someone could be so bold, to do it again this way.
In the end, Fernando officially wins the German Grand Prix, Massa finishes second. A double win for the team but a big loss of credibility for the sport. Many people who went home after this ‘race’ were unhappy.
But we have another chance to see a real race, and spend the next three days travelling to Budapest and sightseeing.
Thursday 29th July
On our way to Budapest we overtook some of the teams’ race trucks. We went to the Hungaroring on Thursday which was my first time at the track.
We pitched our tent in a campsite with an international flavour, surrounded by Germans, Austrian and Poles. The weather was sunny, and we went to the pitwalk again. This time I got an autograph from Lewis – my highlight of the day.
Friday 30th July
For the first day of action in Hungary we went to the Red Bull grandstand, after the last corner near the gird. We saw some Formula BMW and also the F1 practice sessions, which were a bit dull, because there was not so much action on the track.
After a hard day walking around the hilly track we headed back to the camp site for a barbecue.
Saturday 31st July
The highlight of the day was qualifying, but it was horrible to see how fast the Red Bull drivers were. It looked like it was going to be a very boring race.
Sunday 1st August
We watched the GP3 race in the morning, where there were two big crashes including one car flipping over. Fortunately nobody got hurt.
After all the support races it was time again for the big event. The race seemed not so good at first, until the safety car brought the action back.
Vettel made a mistake, so he got a drive-through penalty. That was his race done, he was third in the end. But the other Red Bull driver was a worthy winner. Fernando Alonso finished second, while the British guys were unlucky (Hamilton) or not fast enough (Button) the day.
After this dramatic race, with crashes in the pitlane and hard driving between Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, we were happy, but also sad that our last F1 trip of the year had come to an end.
But we’ll be back again, this time at the Nurburgring in 2011.
See TrueF1Grit’s comment here for another view on the Hungarian Grand Prix from a fan who was there.
Image (C) Williams/LAT
From the stands
- F1 still struggling to gain a foothold in India
- Why the Hungarian Grand Prix is a must-see race
- Why the Spanish GP was better in person than on TV
- Watching Brazil’s spellbinding F1 season finale
- Silverstone fans’ mixed views on the rain-hit weekend
- Nigel’s memories from the last 37 British Grands Prix
- F1 Fanatics meet up in Melbourne
- Watching at the Paddock Club, Parabolica and podium at Monza
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Steven’s 51 F1 race visits in 25 years