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Italy 2009

14th September 2009

The Grid.

1.25pm on a Sunday; it must be time to go to the grid!

As we circumnavigate the globe following the sport we love, the working lives of most Formula 1 regulars are full of special moments, but of all the perks – and there are many – having access to the short strip of tarmac that’s at the centre of the sporting world is up there with the best of them.

The level of anticipation is turned up to 10, the grid girls pose, the mechanics stare, the cars arrive and are pushed silently into place, jacks are up and wheel guns chatter as cooling equipment goes to work.

Climbing from their cars, the drivers seek peace. TV crews move in, thrusting microphones this way and that; photographers dart from car to car, always alert for that winning shot.

Politicians parade and celebrities preen. Every inch of tarmac is alive with excitement.

Nervously patrolling the rear of their cars, mechanics as bouncers protect their charges’ diffusers from prying eyes as rival designers hover nearby.

Bernie walks past, A-lister in tow, seeking out the press so as to make the celebrity glow.

As start time approaches the drivers get ready, the rituals of preparing for battle an almost private affair.

Suit is zipped-up, balaclava pulled down, helmet squeezed on, chin strap snug tight.

Roman gladiator-like they walk to their cars before climbing aboard, ready for the fight they prepare to take flight.

“Is time to go.”

Ah, the oh-so-polite Germanic tone of the grid police heralds an end to the fun; how fitting that the party is halted by the Hun.

A shot or two more is fired off slick, before departing stage left and getting to my start-shot post quick!

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