Getting back to the factory in Milton Keynes today and thinking back over the past week, it really is hard to put into words just what the team experienced and achieved there.
To take off where we left on the last blog, one of Friday’s highlights was the Starlight Children’s Foundation and their trip to the Energy Station to meet Seb and Mark. Bernie Ecclestone flew four seriously ill children to Monaco on a private jet to watch the race and meet the drivers as part of a five day break for them. Witnessing that and how determined the children were was inspiring and we were truly lucky to have had them on board with us.
Friday night saw some of us attend the Amber Lounge fashion show at the Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel which was dripping in just about all the nouns we’ve come to expect from somewhere as legendary as Monaco: Fashion. Models. Music. Money. Royalty. Fame. Boats. And Formula One. Indeed drivers such as Ricciardo, Vergne and Petrov all dressed to impress and put on a show for the spectators around the outdoor pool of the impressive location. A synchronised swimming troupe wowed the crowds with a splashing display to the Shirley Bassey classic Goldfinger. Models upwards of 6 foot sauntered around the pool in barely there swimwear which probably didn’t discourage the generous bidders of the evening’s charity auction to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Special Special Olympics focuses on giving opportunities to athletes with intellectual disabilities. Lots included the use of luxury villas, jewellery and the chance to have three insane dresses tailor made to fit you. People were bidding in excess of 250,000 Euros! Guests included Bernie Ecclestone and Princess Charlene of Monaco and an unexpected live performance by man of the moment, Labyrinth. How did we get there? By speed boat of course.
Qualifying and Rain Dancing
Qualifying was a tense part of Saturday with Mark bringing home the P2 spot which translated to a pole position start on Sunday’s grid because of Schumacher’s penalty. This set a nice tone for that evening’s party on the Energy Station where Red Bull and Toro Rosso both danced the night away to the beats of Seb Fontaine and our resident DJ, Erok. We were also treated to a performance by Flying Bach. If you don’t know who they are, then get to know. Even the weather didn’t stop play as the roof of the Energy Station saw people raise their hoods and continue dancing into the night in the rain. We rounded off the evening with a night cap in Rascasse – simply because seeing as it’s on the way home, it’d have been rude not to.
Race Day Ripples
Even with the upper hand of starting first and knowing Monaco is a tight track with very few opportunities to overtake, Sunday was still tense. Nerves that turned to joy as Mark crossed the finish line ahead of the pack and Sebastian made excellent progress through the race to secure P4. The celebrations on top of the Energy Station around the pool will always stay memorable as one by one the team went in and under to celebrate Mark’s first win of the season.
Inglorious Basterds star Michael Fassbender was one of those on board to celebrate the victory – you can hear what he had to say about his time with us over on the podcast.
Sunday night saw a team party in which Mark whipped out some fierce shapes on the dance floor and one member of the team showed the Flying Bach boys how it’s done by clearing a space and then doing a running slide across the soaked floor. Neighbouring fireworks lit up the night sky of the harbour side venue which apparently symbolised the end of the Royal dinner taking place nearby. We’ve no idea what time we left, just that it wasn’t long after our heads hit the pillow that it was time to wake up and be on the bus headed to Nice Airport and flying home to tell anyone who’ll listen what an amazing time we had.
So from no words have come quite a few here. It’s back to reality in the factory today, everyone is physically and mentally exhausted but with the ‘Formula One or Formula Fun’? boundaries once again well and truly blurred. The general mood is a collective tiredness but one punctuated with very big smiles.
Roll on Montreal…