**I wrote this on Tuesday evening during my flight to Singapore, haven’t had a chance to post it until today (Friday I think). Singapore is great so far!
It wasn’t actually that long ago that I last wrote, but it feels like awhile to me. I was in Belgium at the time. From there I flew to Milan for the Italian GP at Monza. Then I flew to Lyon in France, for a test at Magny Cours. Then I flew to Frankfurt (via Brussels) for a weekend away in Germany. Now I’m on a plane from Frankfurt to Singapore. This is my first ‘Premium Economy’ flight, and it’s better than I expected. Seat reclines a little more than I’m used to, and there’s a decent amount of leg room. Which is good, because I will be here for about 14.5 hours…
The other exciting bit about this flight is that I’m on an A380, which I’ve never been on before. It’s an impressive plane, with by far the largest in seat entertainment screens I have ever seen. Though I guess I don’t know if that’s an A380 feature or a Singapore Airlines feature. Either way, both have been rather impressive, I had possibly the best airplane meal (chicken curry with rice) of my life an hour or so ago.
Anyway, onto the bigger things I guess. Monza was an interesting weekend for me, in addition to doing F2 and GP3, I was shadowing the Pirelli engineer working with Williams F1, as I am replacing him for most of the races starting with the next one this weekend in Singapore. It made for a weekend for me, long and busy days. Except for Satruday, when it rained all day, cancelling all of the GP3 activity, and delaying F1 qualifying by about 2 hours. I didn’t think my feet were ever going to dry out….
The highlight of the week for me was a truly epic meal out in Monza, it was a Napoli restaurant which means they specialized in pizza (DI = ~6) and we ate an awful lot of it. I also had melloncello for the first time, and it went great with the limoncello. Oh, and we had our fantasy football draft Sunday night of that weekend, which I always enjoy.
So then I flew to France for a 2018 F2 Development test. There will be a new F2 car next year (it was unveiled at Monza) and this was the beginning of the development testing. It wasn’t a terribly exciting couple of days for me, not much tyre work as they were still sorting the car. But I got to talk to the Dallara guy, and I learned some things about both the current and the future car that interested me.
Really early the morning after the test, I flew to Frankfurt to meet John for a long weekend as a tourist. We had a night in Frankfurt, a night in Munstermaifeld and then 3 nights in Stuttgart. The plan for the trip was fairly simple: go to the Nurburgring, go to the Porsche Museum, drink German beer and eat schnitzel. In Frankfurt we accomplished the later 2 quite successfully. The following morning we picked up our rental car and drove to Munstermaifeld, which was the closest hotel to the Nurburgring where I could find a hotel room for us. As it turns out, the DTM was racing on the Nurburgring GP circuit that weekend. After checking into the hotel, we headed to the track, after stopping for lunch at a really good restaurant on the edge of an old volcano that was now a crater lake.
We arrived at the ‘Ring about 4 pm, with the public lapping beginning at 5:15. The plan was to rent a Suzuki Swift that was track prepped to do a couple of laps, however it had been raining all afternoon and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When we arrived at the circuit it was pouring, and we made the decision to be observers rather than participants, discretion being the better part of valor and all that. So we drove around and explored the circuit, found some really good vantage points, and even managed to get to the inside of the Karousel, which is the most famous corner on that track. It was a really fun couple of hours, though the weather definitely dampened the collective enthusiasm.
The next morning (we are now on Saturday I believe) we headed to Stuttgart. Our plan for the trip as to drive to the Rhine River, and then up it most of the way to Stuttgart, before getting back onto the highway. It was a spectacular drive, John said he though there was a castle every mile along the river, and it was pretty close to that. We stopped in one of the towns just to wander around and it felt what I think of as very typically German.
After arriving in Stuttgart and ditching our rental car, we discovered an Irish pub called Biddy Early’s I believe. We decided to setup camp there for the evening, after we discovered there was going to be a live band there. And they had several German beers on tap which we enjoyed.
Sunday was the highlight of the whole trip for me, our day at the Porsche museum. We arrived shortly after it opened, which worked out well as it was relatively quite. I was previously there with my Dad in 2009, and this time we were able to see everything we wanted to much quicker than last time. Which was strange, though it enable me to go through my favourite bits again. It’s really hard to describe in words, I put some pics up on Instagram/Facebook. Suffice to say, the one and only road version of the 911 GT1 98 was there, and if I could have any car in the world… I was also reminded that if I could have been anything, it would have been an engineer at Porsche Motorsports in the 1970s. And it was some good inspiration to get going on my 914 project!
We actually ended up with enough time to do the Mercedes Benz Museum on Sunday afternoon. It was also pretty awesome, I don’t know as much about Mercedes but they do have a pretty expansive racing history, and there were a lot of awesome old race cars there. So a busy but very enjoyable day! And we topped it off by going to another Irish bar (O’Reilly’s) to watch some (American) football. It was a little odd drinking German beer, eating a (British) meat pie while at an Irish bar in Germany with a Welshman, but it was quite fun! Except when some Italians requested to watch a few minutes of a (European) football match…
Monday was a relatively relaxing day. We hit our local cafe for breakfast which was delicious, and then wandered around Stuttgart for a few hours. Eventually we stopped at a cafe for ‘a cuppa’ as John requested, before wandering back to the hotel to get checked into flights and do some other administrative stuff. Then we wandered back out to find a patio, and ended up at a great place that looked out over the square that faced one of the government buildings. From there we went back to Biddy’s for another beer and some pool, before having one last (and possibly the best?) schnitzel at a restaurant related to one of the local breweries. Then we wandered to O’Reilly’s for a night cap before returning to the hotel.
I will arrive in Singapore about 7 am local time, which is 1 pm German time, so I guess Noon in the UK, or 7 am EST. If all that math is correct, I will be 12 hours ahead of Ontario, and I think that’s right. Singapore is a night race locally, it starts at 8 pm, and all of the days start proportionately late, I believe I am expected at the track at about 4 pm every day. So I am not at all sure yet what time zone I will attempt to live in for the next 6 days….wish me luck!