While at work on Friday afternoon, I received a message from the Lotus team simply asking what I was doing on Monday. Naturally, I was thrilled - it was pretty hard not to do a small victory dance while at work! I promptly phoned my Dad and told him that we'd be heading to Brands on Monday.
Over the weekend, I had work to do. I spent some of Saturday working on an essay (about bipolar disorder and the cerebellum, if anyone's interested!), but most of the weekend was spent baking the promised cakes for the Lotus team! I settled on baking half chocolate, half vanilla and raspberry cupcakes, but I needed to make them Lotus themed. I decided to buy black cupcake cases and top the icing with edible gold shimmer spray - I think they turned out rather well!
Once the cupcakes were ready, we headed off to the circuit on Monday morning. When we arrived, the 2015 Lotus was being prepared in the garage, and occasionally came out for the odd lap. The last time we saw a modern F1 car in the flesh was in 2013 at the Silverstone young drivers' test - with the old, loud cars. So, it was pretty cool to see this year's F1 car - especially at Brands Hatch! One thing that did strike me though was the sound. The sound itself was quite different, but still a nice noise, but the car was so quiet! I must say I'm looking forward to the next rule change aimed at increasing the loudness.
After the car had been out for a few laps on its own, the filming car was sent out to capture a few close-ups of the car in action. This was quite interesting - although I was hoping for a short race between the two!
Once the morning's filming was over, we headed off to the car to grab the cakes and waited for 2pm to roll around - the time of our garage tour! We met the other winners (all thoroughly great people!), and then headed down for the tour (walking past the trucks and Pastor Maldonado on the way!). First stop was to watch Pastor's pit stop practices from the pit wall (how many people get to say that?!). Dad managed to speak to an engineer to ask about some technical aspects of the car (side note - everyone at Lotus is incredibly friendly and amazing!), and I watched Pastor head out and through the pits for his stops. The stops were fantastic - Pastor's wheels were spinning before they touched the ground, so these were real racing stops (and my grin was getting bigger all the time).
After the practices were over, we also saw a Lotus road car speeding around the track - and I managed to get a great view from the pit wall.
Once Pastor was wheeled back into the garage, he left the car. He then came over to meet us! I know Pastor gets some bad press for race incidents, but he really is a thoroughly nice guy. We spoke about whether he liked Brands Hatch (yes), and how fast he thought he could go round the circuit (seconds, if the limiters were off). He also signed the only item I could find in our house with a Lotus on it - a vintage ice bucket of all things! We posed for pictures, shook hands, and carried on with our tour.
After meeting Pastor, we had another wander around the pits, past the trucks. We then bumped into Jolyon Palmer - Lotus's third driver. We had a great chat with him, talking about GP2, F1 and testing. He also signed my ice bucket, and I was a very happy fan! On our way out, we had a smile and wave from Romain Grosjean as he headed towards the cars. Overall, the tour was fantastic. Everyone is very friendly and happy to interact with us fans. Not bad, in exchange for 36 cupcakes!
The rest of the day was spent watching the final runs - including the old and new F1 cars running together on the track!
Overall, we had a really fantastic day. Although there wasn't a huge amount of running on the track, there was a great atmosphere, and it was interesting seeing the filming going on at the circuit. Of course, the garage tour was the highlight of the day, and the team were brilliant at welcoming us. So, massive thanks to Lotus F1 team - you've definitely confirmed us as fans for life! Best of luck in Spain, and we hope to see you at Brands again some day!