Monza is the temple of speed, the grand prix to attend if you're looking for an electric atmosphere. Fast corners, long straights, and the formidable Tifosi.
Today I got back from the best weekend of my life. I am not exaggerating here; it was everything I had ever hoped for and more. Even now I can't stop smiling. It was no secret that Monza would be my first grand prix. And what a race weekend it was!
I attended with my Dad on general admission tickets and we based ourselves at the second Lesmo on the Saturday and Sunday.
The Saturday was tough. I knew it was going to rain, but the weather forecast said it would stop my mid-morning. Unfortunately, it didn't. This resulted in very little on-track action and the Formula 1 qualifying being pushed continuously back. I was more frustrated that I had been looking forward to the event for so long and was met with a torrential downpour which resulted in me not being able to stop shivering.
By half past three, the majority of people that were sat on our stand had packed up and gone home for the day. I was tempted too, but I hadn't come all that way for nothing. I was going to stand with wet everything until a decision to postpone qualifying until Sunday morning was made.
I am so happy that we stuck it out. Watching the cars run in the wet is something that will stick with me for a long time. The spray coming off of them was unbelievable - the skill those drivers have is undeniable. I was in awe. This is when the drivers earn their money.
So, as we stood in the now eased off rain, getting sprayed by Lewis Hamilton's ferocious path, I was more content with the day had ended up.
We were at the track by half past seven the next morning and already the queues to enter the gates were long. The atmosphere was already fantastic, a sea of red waiting in line to access the autodrome. We got talking to a young couple from Ireland who were somewhat grand prix veterans (already). I was sad not to get their name as they were so friendly, making me excited for my race adventures to come!
At eight am we were in our seats, to the left of the big TV screen at the second Lesmo. Again, the view was spectacular for the tickets we had. I was expecting to only get glimpses of the cars through the trees, but no. We had a view of the cars as they came out of the first Lesmo and down the straight and then the entrance to the second Lesmo.
The rest of the day was like a dream. A utopia.
The GP3 race was enthralling - I wasn't expecting the cars to sound as good in person. It was also wonderful to see fellow D2BD member Tatian Calderon have an excellent race.
The wait for Formula 2 zoomed past (pardon the pun). We chatted to a couple from the States who were also attending their first grand prix. With them was their five-year-old son who was absolutely dumbstruck at the racing cars. He especially liked the safety car which he called the saviour car. I think that name could stick!
F2 was brilliant. The race was a good one to watch and the crowds were beginning to get into it, which is good to see. By this point, the area was rammed.
By the time the F1 came around, I was nervous. I was scared that I wouldn't enjoy it as much as what I did watching it in my living room. What if I didn't like it as much? What if this, what if that.
Now, I can't believe for a second that I doubted myself.
The sounds and the smells, the vibrations and the atmosphere all left me tingling. I had a buzz inside of me; F1 is a part of me.
I smiled throughout the whole race (except when Max Verstappen picked up a puncture in front of us). I was, truthfully, lost for words.
They were my heroes pushing everything to the limit, right in front of me.
I completely lost the track of time and actually couldn't believe it when the race was over. How had an hour and a half passed?
When we left our stand I was physically shaking. It was the adrenaline, all of the excitement I had been feeling. But, it wasn't over.
We took advantage of the open track post-race and walked anti-clockwise back to the Parabolica. It was hot, sweaty, but I savoured every second and every step. The track itself was immensely busy with fans and it now had a carnival atmosphere. People played music, celebrated and took endless photos.
I left that track having covered 20 miles in two days. I had blisters on blisters, sunburn and hat hair, but I knew that I had just had the best 48-hours of my life. I said to my Dad that I was emotional and he understood. He knows what a massive part of my life F1 is.
Being an avid fan that weekend was phenomenal. I cheered, I wore merchandise and never wanted the experience to end.
So thank you F1, and thank you Monza.