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Old 23rd February 2014, 18:17   #1
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Default My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

As a partner of MRF for their racing series, we were contracted to provide the tyre changing and wheel balancing services for the F2000 series. This is the official support race for the Indian Grand Prix.

The race was scheduled for October 26th and 27th. We had to start our work a few days before that, on 22nd October itself.

We went and set up our equipment. On the 23rd, the pitlane was open for everyone. The security mechanism was not yet in place. As we were officially a part of the Indian GP 2013, we could enter the pitlane and actually soak in the atmosphere. This was probably one of the most exciting things Iíve done.

Unfortunately, I didnít find any F1 drivers but I did see a lot of F1 mechanics running around looking busy. Some were quite jobless.


The following are images of the entrance to the pit garage from the paddock area. This is unseen by most people.

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These guys use PURE Nitrogen to inflate the tyres. They actually carry bottled Nitrogen and inflate the tyres using this tank itself.

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At the end of the paddock, we saw where a team from Pirelli were changing tyres and balancing it. One guy Frederick from France was in charge of that. He runs a company who contracts workers for special projects like this. Pirelli is a client of his and he provides the manpower.

They don't use a machine to change tyres. The do it manually. I don't know any further details. He Also mentioned that the track was slippery as no rubber has been laid down. The support race is not laying down enough rubber.

Quite unlike everything high tech about F1, the tyre changing and wheel balancing is quote basic. They donít use any fancy equipment! The tyre changing is actually done manually to make sure that each tyre fits perfectly on the rim without any issues. Also, the shape and profile of the rims vary wildly from team to team so a standard tyre changer may not be suitable. Also, the bead has to be seated perfectly and this is where the tyre fitting guys take utmost care to ensure there is no problem while fitting the rim.

Balancing is some special machine which does not do just a balancing. It can be customised via a software to each team's requirement depending on rim and suspension.

The very surprising thing is that the weights being used to balance the F1 tyre was the same we were using at our section of the track! Itís the same we use in our tyre shops and what we sell. I was quite surprised to see that.

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I don't know any further details. He Also mentioned that the track was slippery as no rubber has been laid down. The support race is not laying down enough rubber.

After taking a walk through the paddock, I went back to our ďpoorerĒ section of the BIC and continued our work.


Later in the evening, one of the senior guys from MRF wanted to go to the paddock and I went along with him and his team members. This time, we not only just entered the paddock but even the pit lane! Many of the garages were closed but some garages were open and we could see the mechanics working hard!


The Lotus team was working hard playing some nice music loudly in the garage. The McLaren team was also hard at work.


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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 25th February 2014 at 07:48.
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Old 23rd February 2014, 18:24   #2
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

On Thursday, I dedicated myself to my work as we had a lot of work to be done.

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Old 23rd February 2014, 18:27   #3
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

On Friday, we came a little late to the track, just as the first practice was ongoing! The sound of the F1 cars gave me goosebumps, the way they would do to any petrol head! It was just orgasmic! The thrill of listening to an F1 car at full tilt is something that cant be explained.

Our support paddock was at the back of the track overlooking the back straight which is the longest and fastest part of the track. So, the cars were at full throttle while they passed us.

There were a few containers (which were used to transport the F2000 cars and parts) and we climbed up on these containers to have a better view of the track. It was absolutely thrilling.

Took a few pics as well.

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I must mention that MRF had a beautiful lounge for their guests, visitors and drivers. The catering was top notch. It was clearly 5 star level. I was allowed full access to this lounge and I made full use of it by having breakfast, lunch and tea there! I would have to be a fool to not make use of such a fantastic spread.

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 23rd February 2014 at 18:30.
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Old 23rd February 2014, 22:57   #4
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

On Saturday, the security to enter the track area was immense! Some foreigners were inspecting each and every car. Clearly, they donít trust Indians alone!

We continued with our work but the F2000 had their first race. This meant they could enter the actual pit lane! I was very excited and went in with them! We went just after the qualifying of the F1 cars.

J Anand and Karun Chandhok
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So, many of the F1 cars were in Parc Ferme being weighed and I had some good time to take a close look at the cars. The surprising thing is that when we were inside, there was no major security. We could get really close and personal with the cars. I could touch them if I wanted to, but I didnít want that extra 0.0005 grams of dirt from my hand get transferred to the car and upset their Power to weight ratio!

This was truly the highlight of my week uptil now. I was right next to the F1 cars.

Pictures below.

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During the F2000 race, we were actually sitting on the chairs/seats used by the bosses of the F1 teams. We were using their pit wall bank of screens and telemetry to keep up with the F2000 race. We got a beautiful view of how people like Adrian Newey, Chris Horner, Ron Dennis, Stefano Domenicali and others watch the F1 races and the kind of information and weather updates they have at their disposal.

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What I really didnt like was that the Force India team had barricaded their pitwall area. I mean, Ferrari, McLaren, RedBull, and EVERY other team had kept their computer screens on and the entire area open for the support race to use. But what was Force India thinking? They are some super popular team and everyone would wreck their screens? I think it was quite pathetic what they did.
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All these Mercs had the distinctive logo of the BIC Paddock Club painted/stickered on. These cars were used to ferry guests from the parking lot/entrance to the paddock club. Mercedes was the official partner of BIC. They have supplied dozens of cars including the safety car (not the official F1 safety car, but another SLS AMG which is at BIC the entire year), a couple of GLs, E classes, etc....

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In the midst of the roaring engines, these gentlemen are not bothered. They are the drivers of the limousines, buses that are used by the F1 teams and their guests. They couldnt be bothered with the hype of the event. They probably dont understand F1 and clearly dont care! Peak afternoon was a little warm and these people preferred to sleep in the shade!
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This is the main entrance to the Paddock Club which is reserved for VIPs and people who have paid a huge amount of money. I believe a large number of these people are from the sponsors like Airtel and other companies.
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The camera helicopter which was circling the track to capture footage. One practice (or was it qualifying?) was delayed because the haze surrounding the track made it unsafe for the helicopter to take off (and in case of an emergency, the medical chopper also couldnt have taken off).
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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 24th February 2014 at 01:15.
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Old 24th February 2014, 01:25   #5
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

Some more pics of the F1 cars.

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If you see the Ferrari car, you will notice that they have used tape generously! This should convince you that your car is much better put together than a Ferrari F1 car!



After qualifying, the circuit was playing loud Hindi music and the local crowd was enjoying it in the boxes overlooking the Pitlane. The phirangs were amused.
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Old 24th February 2014, 01:38   #6
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

On Sunday, the crowd was insane even to enter the venue. Being part of the support staff, I again got the pit lane access during the F2000 race just before the F1 race.

There were some ethnic folk dances in the pit lane.
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These cameras are mounted on what seems to be a carbon fibre beam extending above the spot where the F1 cars stop during their pit stops. It seems to be there to record the pit stop alone.

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All the images of the cars and garages you see here are a couple of hours before the main race.
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3 different signals used by the teams to signal their drivers during a pit stop.
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You can see a slight glint of gold under the engine cover of the Red Bull car. I remember reading that gold is the best reflector of heat and it was used the Gordon Murray designed McLaren F1 in 1994. Probably the Red Bull team is using gold sheets for the same reason!

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 24th February 2014 at 01:41.
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Old 24th February 2014, 01:44   #7
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

What was really cool was that all the pit garages were open and since the F2000 race was going on, we could literally reach in and touch the cars if we wanted! It took a lot of self control not to do that!

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A quick picture of F1 race director, Charlie Whiting.
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This box looked like it had been packed with some sort of foam with cutouts closely resembling the shape of the engine cover and other carbon fibre body panels.

I guess this is how McLaren transports various body panels without risking any damage.

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Tyres being warmed up before the race.
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Another very cool thing I noticed was the Podium. What we see on TV normally are the 3 steps on which the top 3 drivers stand. What you dont get to see is what is next to that!

Take a look!

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 24th February 2014 at 11:23.
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Old 24th February 2014, 01:55   #8
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Yes, that's me with Niki Lauda! Triple World Champion and now famous because of Rush! Of course, as a die hard fan of F1, I've known about Lauda long before the Page 3 guys heard about him thanks to Thor's movie!


We stayed back for a little while after the F2000 race and this is when I ended up meeting Niki Lauda! Of course, we didnít speak much! We just stood next to him and didnít let him move and took a quick pic!

You can actually see the scars very clearly in real life. I think Niki Lauda doesnt even bother to try hiding it nowadays.

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The beauty of our timing was that during the F2000 race, to make it easier for the F2000 cars to use the pitlane, the F1 team had pulled back their barriers to the edge of the garage. It was during this time that I managed to take a lot of pictures and get close to the cars and the garages.

The moment the F2000 race was completed, they pushed the barriers forward by about 10-12 feet. This was in preparation for the ďPit WalkĒ. The Pit Walk is an exclusive event where Page 3 celebs and other members of the Delhi swish set walk down the pit lane, take pics in front of the pit garage and pretend to be F1 fans for a few minutes.

I may sound snobbish but I really hated this. These are people who probably didnít know what F1 was till 2 years ago. These people donít know who Niki Lauda was, who Senna, Prost, etc were. But they come here because of their money/connections and get to do stuff that true petrolheads like us donít get to do. It really pisses me off that F1 in India at least (may be true of other countries also, Iím not sure). Is meant only for the rich and well connected.

Sure, I admit there were a few people who were genuine enthusiasts, but they were very few. Most of them were only interested in checking in on FB and tagging themselves and their friends.

I wish a true enthusiast would get the same chance to get up close and personal with these machines.

Anyway, rant over, my consolation was that I clicked pictures and wandered around the pit lane and was much closer to the F1 teams than these Page 3 people.

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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

After meeting Niki Lauda, all the F1 drivers trooped out in a line to go climb aboard a bus which took them on a lap of the track.

I was within touching distance of most of the F1 drivers.

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Old 24th February 2014, 21:59   #10
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

Following are the pics of the F1 cars during the race.

It was truly a different experience for me! I was not forced to sit in any one stand! Initially, I was on top of the containers from where I had a brilliant view of the back straight.

Then it got too warm for me, so I went in to the MRF lounge and watched the race for a while in the luxurious atmosphere with waiters to make sure I didnt feel hungry or thirsty!

The best part of this was that while I was seeing the cars on TV, I could hear them just behind me. The MRF lounge was not sound proof but blocked most of the noise (music). However, you could still always hear the F1 cars zooming past.

As you can see from the pics below, I also managed to enter the main grandstand. How? I still dont understand! I heard a rumour that the since the race has begun, security is non-existent. So, I tried my luck. I just walked from the support paddock to the tunnel entrance (near the paddock club). There is a long tunnel which runs under the main straight which leads to the main entrance of the grandstand. I just walked over and no one bothered to check for tickets or passes or anything.

So, I ended up in the main grandstand for the last lap and I was there when Vettel was doing his burnouts and everything.

I also had a pretty good view of the podium. (pics in the next post as I seem to have hit the limit of 30 pics per post)

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 24th February 2014 at 22:02.
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Old 24th February 2014, 22:05   #11
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

Pics of the podium ceremony.

I apologise for the horrible resolution of the pics! Especially the pics of the podium ceremony! The compression to 1 MB destroyed the images!


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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 24th February 2014 at 22:07.
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Old 24th February 2014, 22:32   #12
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

This brings an end to my incredible story.

This report glosses over the ridiculous amount of tyres we changed and the strict deadline we had to meet. But then, that is all in a day's work! I truly enjoyed changing tyres and balancing them with the music of V8s playing in the background! As an experience it is unmatched.

That one week was one of the best weeks of my life. Everything I had dreamt off happened. Of course, I would have loved to meet someone like Kimi or Massa, but I met Niki Lauda. I got pit access and got up close and personal with the cars like few people do. I was also allowed to take as many pics as I wanted (ended up with close to 2,500 pics).

The feeling I had every time I entered the pit lane was something I cant put into words. Fellow F1 enthusiasts will know what I'm talking about. Being at an F1 track itself is a special feeling. Being there for a week and watching the F1 cars day in and day out is something else altogether.

Not to mention that I didnt pay a penny to have the experience of a lifetime. This experience is something I have lived again and again in my mind over the last 4 months.

In the process of compiling this thread, I have relived the joy, excitement and happiness I experienced in those 7 days.

I never really cared for the Indian Grand Prix, but I have to say, having been up close and personal with the epitome of motorsport, I'm sad to see the Indian GP off the calendar for 2014.

I consider myself one of the luckiest guys to have had this experience twice in 2 months! (The previous month, in September, my team and I were allotted Sebastian Vettel's pit garage as our tyre changing and wheel balancing area for the F1600, Toyota Etios Motor Race, ITC and IJTC races).

The greatest thing about this week was that I never expected being allowed into the pit lane/paddock at all. I was content just to see the F1 cars from a distance and hear them zooming throughout the day. But being able to enter the pit lane not once, not twice but thrice is something that just blew my mind.

No page 3 pass or paddock club pass could have matched the experience I had.

I truly am blessed and I hope and pray all my fellow TBHP-ians and fellow enthusiasts (non-TBHPians as well!) get to experience what I experienced. This sort of experience should not be limited to people with connections and money. It should be available to all enthusiasts.

Let's all hope that the future makes motorsport a little more accessible.
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Old 25th February 2014, 08:50   #13
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

Nikhil, thanks for sharing, I remember you telling us about it but putting picture to it makes it even better,
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Old 25th February 2014, 09:27   #14
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Default re: My experience, behind the scenes at the 2013 Indian F1 Grand Prix

Beautiful pictures and lovely thread, Nikhil.
Now, I understand, why you had shifted base to Delhi for so long.

Thank you so much for sharing them with us, gives us quite a brilliant insight into how things look, run and function beyond the track.
Kudos to Madhus team to making it so far and doing so well.

Regards
Rohin
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Old 25th February 2014, 09:35   #15
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This is simply incredible. Beats the experience of a fancy pavilion seat anyday.

thanks for sharing!
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