The weekend kicked off with a nice, strong coffee and two macaroons at the Formula 1 Paddock Club. This was my second time at the races, but first time with Rolex, thanks to a honorific invitation of Petite Genève. Albeit watching the race is nowhere as exciting as participating in it, the world of Formula 1 is enthralling. Performance is delivered by the complex system of gears, where each cog is a technician, a researcher, a CNC operator or a driver. A perfect team-machine.
The best person I could wish for to accompany me at this event was Sophie, an F1 insider, who manages everything at the Paddock Club on Rolex’ side. And when two ladies sharing the same astonishment at this world enter an event like this, it’s always a fun time! – at least for us.
Rolex, the master of brand building arrived to F1 in 2013 with the aim of conquering the 300 million fans watching the circus world-wide. Probably the most popular technical contest, Formula 1 complements the sponsorship portfolio of Rolex well, which has already contained high-tech and classic 4-wheel competitions such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the parades of Monterey Classic Car Week (the brand is a patron since 1997) or the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Throughout the years, the brand’s name has become entwined with a number of legendary drivers too. Sir Malcolm Campbell, the English racing motorist gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s. He competed in Grand Prix motor racing, winning the 1927 and 1928 Grand Prix de Boulogne in France. Scottish racecar driver Jackie Stewart, a 3-time Formula 1 World Champion or Danish driver Tom Kristensen who won the 24-hour Le-Mans race nine times.
Several watch brands sponsor drivers or teams but since last year, Rolex is the Official Timekeeper of Formula 1. The royal jewels of Kingdom Rolex shine in practically every corner of the race course; in addition the brand has been added to the name of the first race of the season: Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
Between 24-27 July, the F1 horses arrived to their stables at Hungaroring. This track, inaugurated in 1986 the first of its kind behind the Iron Curtain, has been in the elite circle of three racetracks with Monte Carlo and Monza which have been continuously hosting Formula 1 races for over 28 years. It was originally intended to be a city track, but the plans changed and it was built just outside Budapest with the crazy curves of a city.
We went down with Sophie to the pit lane. She knows so much about F1 and I have such an unquenchable thirst for information that this is what you call a perfect match.
Rain at the Hungaroring that lies in a valley dominated by dirt can turn expectations upside-down. The über-slippery mixture of water and dirt puts the drivers some very challenging situations. Teams were getting the tire-sets prepared and the specially detailed weather forecast app of Sophie predicted wet conditions for the weekend – all proved to be right.
In Hungary strong engines are less important, the track is technical and the emphasis is on aerodynamics and downforce that is essential in the bends. We went into the garage of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and watched the technicians in action. Just as in watchmaking, inexhaustible patience must be a requirement for admission; they were polite even though I’m sure they wished all the curious visitors were somewhere else.
Pilots have super-human reflexes. In order to take this on board, they have to come into a certain state of mind closing out the disturbing noises of the world. They do all kinds of repetitive exercises and redo them hundreds of times over and over again before they get in the car. To raise the interest in F1, motorhomes are few steps away from the pit lane and pilots have to walk among the VIP visitors to cross. Whenever they do this, they try not to lose concentration and hardly look up and have earplugs in. Some listen to the same music, others kick the ball in their motorhomes, but eventually they become extremely focused when they hit the track.
In the Paddock Club proud owners of Rolex racing timepieces were less focused, enjoying glasses of champagne, beautiful meals and chats with fellow spectators while sunbathing their watches.
Thank you Petite Genève for the unforgettable experience!
Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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