Have you ever met an F1 driver, and how did it go?
I was *supposed* to meet Ralf “GG” Schumacher after a GP during a *cough* “conference” arranged by the sponsor, my employer. Except his car broke down during the race and so he flew home in a massive huff instead of coming to meet us. Not really what you asked for but what the hell.
I’ve met Rupert Keegan a couple of times. Nice guy, liked him a lot. He recognised me the second time which was nice.
Hardly an A-lister, though
I bumped into Michael Schumacher on the Saturday before he broke his leg in a crash at Silverstone. He was walking out of a hospitality tent and had to walk past me to get into his Police Land Rover. He stared at the sky to avoid any eye-contact. Within seconds the Land Rover was engulfed by flocks of photographers. If he had only stopped to speak to me history might have been different.
met BriSCA F1 Stockcar driver Frankie Wainman a few times, top bloke!!!
I met Sir Jackie Stewart in the Montreal airport after the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix. He was super kind and made an awesome impression for himself and the sport on me (9 years old at the time). Also got to hang with the entire Larrousse-Lamborghini team, they were there waiting for a flight back to France. Pretty pretty cool, helped solidify my love for the sport.
Rubens Barrichello came into our shop in Cambridge a couple of times. He was really lovely, down to earth & friendly. And really sweet & wee.
I met Damon Hill at a kart race. We were both in the pits with kart trouble. I tried to explain my carb was faulty but I had my crash helmet on and I don’t think he could hear me. Just some stranger randomly waving his hands at the kart.
Also, if it counts, I met Ross Brawn once as he was staying in the same hotel. The conversation went.. “Are you Ross Brawn?”. “Yes”. *silence. Couldn’t think what else to say.
The morning after the 1968 USGP I was fortunate to meet Graham Hill at Chemung County Airport in Elmira, NY, near Watkins Glen. I was booked on a flight to Westchester County Airport on Mohawk Airlines (AKA “Slowhawk”). Once on the liner there were but two seats left (No reserved seats) and Mr. Hill enplaned, strode down the aisle and sat next to me! I was thrilled to be able to look forward to the flight with the great Graham Hill to share conversation. Unfortunately I also smelled like three days of wood campfires and the F1 driver glanced toward me, obtrusively sniffed a couple of times, then proceeded to arise and walk to the other empty seat. Oh well…
Sat next to Johnny Herbert once on a plane out to the Barcelona Grand Prix, don’t think his feet reached the floor!
I chased (well not chased he’s much older than me) Emmerson Fittipaldi around the paddock area of the Goodwood FOS this year, a top chap he signed almost everything put in front of him but left me until almost last, wondering what I may have done to offend him I settled down to dinner and immediately spilt coffee down my top, an Iron Maiden football shirt in the colours of Argentina.
I had pitlane access at an F3/GT meeting some years back. I went and got my programme autographed by Luciano Burti and Marc Hynes. I couldn’t be arsed to go and get Jenson Button’s autograph, mostly because I thought he’d still be coming 3rd in the best car in f3 the following year.
Oh well. At least, sentences, I make Eddie Jordan to superior to than to.
A lot of my friends build the Merc engine at Brixworth and the drivers regularly turn up at the ‘works do’ so I have lots of pictures of them taken with Lewis, Nico and Schumi. The drivers always seem very patient having been asked 3000 times .. ‘can I take a picture of us together?’ You’d have to pay me millions to keep saying ‘yes’. Oh.
Met Mika Hakkinen in a bar once. As I suspect most other people have done.
I met Hekki Kovelelienien (spelt wrong, but that Finnish bloke that used to drive for Caterham, although I think they were called Lotus back then, not LOTUS, anyway I digress)in a McDonalds near Kings Lynn Banger Racing track. I had to ask him if he was Hekki Kovelieneien (spelt wrong again), he was! Wished him good luck for the next race (Valencia, that crap street track in Spain).
Mark webber promptly ran up the back of his Lotus (not LOTUS) and looped the loop into the barriers. I take full responsibility for that!
Sometimes I wish this section had a ‘like’ button. If it did, I would be using it my friends, yes I would.
As with another commenter here, I met Jackie Stewart at Dorval Airport (Montreal) after one of the Grand Prix (forget exactly when). He was by himself, talking with someone over the counter. Took me a minute to decide I’d go and say hello, but once I did, he shook my hand, and was super nice.
One other time in Montreal, I saw Jacques Lafitte and Patrick Tambay in a car at one of the parades, ran out and knocked on their window and asked for autographs. They were all smiles until I said something stupid like “Vive la France”, wherein both their expressions changed and they couldn’t wait to roll up the window. 🙂
I met Martin Brundle when I was a student at Leeds in the mid-90s. He was competing in the RAC rally and the overnight stop was in the city centre. He signed my programme.
He drove his car into a ditch the day after.
I met Max Chilton at Barcelona Airport, he was the last (unsurprisingly) person to join the queue for easyJet speedy boarding, along with his personal trainer.
Emerson Fittipaldi. A really lovely bloke.
I’ve worked at the Goodwood Festival of Speed the last couple of years with Playstation. I was based in the driver’s club where a Gran Turismo rig was set up with the hillclimb circuit. He and the rest of his extended family came over to play – there were prizes at stake, and they were all very competitive. After he struggled a little, he then asked for my advice on the braking technique required for Molecomb corner. Very surreal..
In addition to the Fittipaldi story, I got drunk with Johnny Herbert once.
John Surtees. Absolute legend. I worked in PR at the time and had his mobile number stored on my phone, which I used to show off to my mates. I then called him by accident when drunk on a stag do. He was nice enough to call me back.
Jackie Stewart – I asked him to sign my 1973 Alfa Romeo GT Junior because it seemed appropriate. He asked me if I had a marker. I sheepishly looked at my feet. He asked around. Nobody. My Alfa went unsigned. But he’s alright, actually – I thought he’d be much more annoying.
Derek Bell – he was standing next to me. We were watching David Coulthard racing, and thrashing, some teenagers in karts. He was in a kart too, I might add. Anyway, we came to the conclusion that Coulthard is a but, uhm, earnest. In the same races Hill had gone ‘hilariously’ backwards and Herbert would ‘stall’ on the grid. It meant the kids got actual races with their stars and could even win. Not with Coulthard. He won every race. By miles.
A few days later I realised I’d been chatting with a racing legend. Had no idea at the time, he was just some long haired blond bloke with a nice Audi RS2.
Met Tiff Needell (yeah, he drove in F1, twice) at the old Top Gear Live show (remember those?) – he came running into the press room, arms wide apart, impersonating an aeroplane.
Every one of them was a nice person with time for others. Even Coulthard, for all his earnestness, was decent.
All this was a while ago. Don’t get out nearly so much these days…
I’ve been lucky to enough to meet a few drivers so far, Mika Hakkinen the stand-out from these having been my first F1 idol. Had a lot of time for both me and my Dad despite being on sponsor duty. Of the others I’ve spoken to, Rubens Barrichello is as fun as you think he is, Max Chilton is well grounded and easy to talk to, and Martin Brundle is always professional calming and friendly.
Silverstone, F1 test day, (this was before they redeveloped the old pits area and the cafe – so quite a long time ago now).
I nipped into the Gents for a tiddle and a nice young chap call Ayrton Senna da Silva popped in for a wee. I was so starstruck I didn’t say anything.
Also bumped into Nigel Mansell at his plush golf club – what a lovely chap, and had the enormous pleasure of having lunch with John Miles (check Wikipedia) recently – who was not only incredibly pleasant, he was also very knowledgable on current professional and club racing – what a great bloke.
Oh, forgot, I met Jonathan Palmer on holiday in St Lucia – I was looking for a witness for my wedding and, nice bloke that he is, he offered tp help out. In the end, someone else volunteered.
I recently had the pleasure of being in the audience for The F1 Show. After the broadcast we got to meet and chat to the presenters who, on this occasion, were Natalie Pinkham and David ‘Crofty’ Croft. Also there, was Anthony Davidson, playing on the Skypad. He was very generous with his time and whilst we spoke at length about Caterham’s demise et all, I couldn’t help but realise that he is the smallest, fully grown, adult male I Have ever seen.
Stirling Moss – I stepped backwards to take a photo of a pre-war Mercedes GP car at the FoS many years ago and effectively stood on Sir Stirling who was rummaging in his kit bag on the floor. I looked down and was shocked to see who it was and received a well deserved and withering scowl.
My dad sold Bernie a phone system as the “competition” salesman had a tattoo. Bernie doesn’t like men with tattoos.
I interviewed Mario Andretti once for a blog site. He lives a few towns over from me. We talked mainly about the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, but after the official interview ended, I asked posed one final question off the record. “Who was the bigger asshole, Carlos Reutemann or Nigel Mansell?” Sorry I can’t divulge the answer.
“It’s funny,” he sighed. “No one ever says Reutemann.”
Met Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Goodwood hill climb in his rookie F1 year, got out of his F1 car and there was hardly anyone there. I’d just bought my 9 year old a Pink McLaren Lewis cap and the real Lewis signed it and had a few words, lovely chap, looked so young. A minute later he was mobbed. Rooted for him ever since – come on DaHam, just two to go!
I saw that Max Chilton water-skiing in Cornwall this summer. Whilst I didn’t actually meet him as he seemed busy head-butting the water, I was close enough to make out his reassuringly expensive looking eyewear when he climbed out on to the pontoon.
So no, I haven’t met an F1 driver, but thanks for indulging me.
Met Sterling Moss a few times at the Goodwood events. During his scheduled book signings and whatnot he does make an effort, but saying hello to him when he’s walking about will get you his selective deafness and an earful from his incredibly chatty wife.
Won a competition for lunch in the Paddock Club at Silverstone with the Williams team back when Hill and Coulthard were drivers. Asked Hill to please sign my sons autograph book. He said “sorry son, I don’t have time” and walked away – we were the only guys in Silverstone cheering when he crashed later in the race.
Back in the early 90’s I was a technical sponsor of Benetton and was at a testing session before the start of the 94 season with some clients (cheaper than going to GPs). During lunch in their motor home a young man popped his around the door and asked if there was any for him. We then shared sandwiches with a pre-World champion Michael Schumacher who chatted and signed programmes for half an hour – an amazing memory
I met Damon Hill at the BTCC Knockhill round in 2008. He was there watching his son Josh, who was driving in Ginettas at the time. I got him to autograph a small picture of Michael Schumacher looking up at the tribute to Ayrton Senna during the 2003 or 2004 San Marino GP. I also told him I thought his drive in the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix was one of the best I’d seen.
… and I met Allan McNish at Donington in 2005 at a Renault World Series event. Haven’t got a clue what he said, I don’t speak Scottish.
At the FFF (Forumula Ford Festival) at Brands Hatch a few years ago, I had the pleasure of sitting at Paddock Hill with Damon Hill watching Josh Hill go around Graham Hill. You’d never have guessed he was He was an F1 World Champion, he was just like any other motorsport fan.
While at the Goodwood FoS a couple of years ago, I tripped down the stairs of one of the bridges crossing the track and fell into Sir Stirling Moss and his entourage. I stumbled up, making mumbled apologies and walked away backwards… straight into Jarno Trulli…
After Lewis Hamiltons First Grand Prix, I met him in a bar on a resort in Ko Samui…
After a couple of drinks we piled into a minivan with some others from the bar and headed for a club in town with his mate Adrian…
I survived the encounter with no stitches, or indeed scar tissue.
I sold Ayrton Senna his private jet. No, really, I did.
Had a wee in the urinal next to Damien Hill in the Grosvenor House Hotel Ballroom. In P1 I beat him by 9 tenths of a second. He didn’t show for P2
I met Ross Brawn at a restaurant during the Hungary GP 2011. Or rather me and my friend just stared at him trying to really confirm it was him until he noticed and just said “Hello”.
I met Sergio Perez once, in an Indian Restaurant the night before the 2011 British Grand Prix. I can only assume he was working on losing a few lbs very-very quickly, or perhaps Sauber were working on a new variant of blown diffuser.
My dad once bought a chainsaw off Eric Thompson – having double checked the address from the small ad against some other records, we drove over in an old Aston which was enough to break the ice & get us a delightful (if undeserved) tour of his garage & assorted vehicles.
I once nearly stood on Takuma Sato at the Festival of Speed. Wow he’s small!
I also saw Montoya taking photos of an old Mclaren in the paddock area, just like another fan. Had to do a double take just to make sure it wasn’t just some lookalike fat bloke!
I wrote a letter to Stirling Moss when i was about 8. My parents told me they had sent it but they actually didn’t. But one day 13 years later my mum found the letter and sent it to him without my knowledge. So it was to my great surprise when i received a letter just after my 21st birthday from Stirling. He included a signed photo of him driving his W196 to victory at Aintree. He wrote on it “P.s jack, this photo is almost as old as your letter!”
I saw JEV on a bus in Shanghai this year just before the Chinese GP, but I was too far away from him to approach.
Many years ago my dad worked for BP and through a connection to Mobil blagged us Belguim GP McLaren hospitality. (i wont go into the events of the previous evening where my self and ‘fat bloke’ Mark pulled two Irish translater ladies from the EU and banged them most of the night) We were allowed to join the pit walk, my father, being of nimble feet, bumbled helplessly backwarks into a bloke on the Grid. Knocking him to the ground. That chap was Gerhard Berger, who was less than impressed. So in theory my dad, who’s now in this mid 70’s decked Gerhard Berger, even Adrian Sutil can’t say that.
My mum once waited for hours at the Adelaide airport to get Ayrton’s autograph… She was beaming for days afterwards! I had a chat with Alan Jones in Melbourne a few years back about Lotus road cars, as we both have one. Nice guy – really enjoyed talking about his Elise. I recall saying g’day to Sir Jackie at the TV compound in Melbourne too. He was polite, but busy. ‘Professionally curt’ is the term that best suits that conversation. And I did meet Sir Jack in Adelaide during his twilight years. He was very frail, but he kept at the publicity he was there to do, and was all smiles. Legend.
Back when I was a Penniless Student Oaf (some time in the Pre-Cambrian) we kidnapped Stirling Moss for an afternoon and only released him when he donated a portion of his fortune to charidee. Nice chap.
My high point was Monaco 1975, when I had the privilege of hearing James Hunt – in his most public school voice – say: “Ah, Wattie” (greeting John Watson). I nailed them both for autographs – and colin Chapman, who was also standing nearby. (this was about 9pm in the paddock, int’ good old days when you could camp near the harbour and wander about the paddock all night without hindrance…)
I’ve met Alan McNish a handful of times, but the most memorable one was when he was working in his Dads BMW garage in Dumfries circa 1993. I was a computer engineer sent to get Bert’s PC up and running so he could play his grand prix racing game!
Also, my sister taught PE to David Coulthard.
Karun Chandhok at the Caterham launch at Duxford. Also Tony Fernandes, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, same event but Karun stood out, a really nice guy to chat to.
Keke Rosberg at Brands Hatch. Boring. Max Mosely Monaco 2006 at Rascasse just after Schumacher’s cheaty qualifying. Some wag had moved a No Parking sign to the spot. This was before the Nazi prostitute story broke, may not have shaken his hand after. Eddie Jordan, Monaco 2009. Also boring, and so little! Best was Jos Verstappen at the inaugural A1 (remember that?) race at Brands Hatch. I approached him to shake hands but he totally blanked me. So I flicked VV fingers at him every time he drove past. Wanker binned it on the first lap of the race, I like to think I played a part in this.
Almost walked into Jenson Button in the middle of a field, during a Prodrive summer party, either during his first year of F1 or the year before. He was walking back from the kart track towards the circus. He didn’t have as much stubble back then.
Met Damon Hill once whilst loitering outside the local spa as a teenager. I was wearing a Jordan/Ralf Schumacher sweater. Still managed to get an autograph.
Met Karun Chandok at Caterham F1 driver testing day at silverstone last year (session arranged for whatever teams could make it so Hembury could try to get the Pirelli tyres not cause drivers to ‘skidmark’ themselves) – therefore also hung about National garage with Guido Van De Garde and Alexander Rossi (plus some F2/F3/FFord/A1/GP2 stig whose name escapes me) – cool guys but never really chatted to the proper F1’ers.
Met Alan McNish on Porsche stand in his GT racing days just before his Toyota F1 stint – gentleman isn’t the word. Stand had ran out of Porsche brochures (not going to be buying one – just wanted his autograph) but he took my address (now now!) and sent me one with one signed and some publicity shots also signed. Again, cool guy.
Got autographs for my mate from Graham Hill (up to watch his son race in Ginettas up at Knockhill, Scotland) by asking if he could sign the plethora of merch my mate had brung (cap, 1:18 Arrows model, publicity shots, BTCC programme) for an in-house company magazine comp. He was quite annoyed at me for getting him to sign so much (but I did the talking just while my mate passed what seemed like a shop’s worth of stock through his digits). I’ve always wanted to apologise for that as I’d no idea my mate brang so much ‘goodies’ with him, but I’ve never had the chance (not seen him again to do so).
Also got James Thomson (WTCC now I think, but former BTCC champ) to sign my autograph book – can’t think how as I was shouting ‘John’ at him to get his attention – still turned round, gave a scribble and was jolly nice. Cool guy (I say that too much).
Got a load of BTCC driver’s autogfs by handing over free cardboard screenshade past the head of the autogf queue at a BTCC meet once – just said it was as promotional material, back in 1993 I think – but I’ve digressed to point of blether!
In 2003 I worked on a test day at Silverstone in the Jordan pit garage, putting thermal imaging cameras on the car to monitor tyres. Giancarlo Fisichella was pretty disinterested but Ralph Firman was a bloody friendly chap!
I used to work for an ultra-posh country house hotel that had an exclusive arrangement with PalmerSport to put up their highest-paying corporate bigwigs, so I got to meet Jonathan Palmer quite a bit.
The gentlemanly image of ‘the Good Doctor’ quickly evaporates once you work with him for a bit. He’s a very uncompromising character, quick to anger and not always in a constructive way. Very demanding and quite obnoxious. He was also quite blatantly nobbing his PA whenever he stayed with us. After a while, she stopped bothering to mess up her own room in the mornings.
I also got to meet Justin Wilson around the same time, as he was instructing at PalmerSport in between his Formula Palmer drives. He was a nice guy, pretty laid back and funny.
Orange did a couple of F1-related PR junkets with us as well and I got to meet Pedro de la Rosa at one of them. Also a very nice guy, though he seemed a bit subdued as it was only a few days after that terrible accident at Monza where the marshal died.
Actually, I’ve forgotten my most recent (and most cringingly awkward) F1 driver encounter. I was at the Christmas market in Edingburgh last December and I looked up from my Gluhwein only to make eye contact with the one and only Paul di Resta. It was obvious I’d clocked him, but it was only a matter of days after he’d lost his drive at Force India. I felt I had to say something and all I could come up with was “hard luck about your drive, Paul”. He just said “cheers” and nodded ruefully before turning back to his friends.
Waited an hour for Nico Rosberg during the Bahrain testing in January – when he eventually came out there was a call for “No photos” Tough, we all took some but he had a face like a bouncer asked to join a stag-do selfie. Miserable git.
yes, lots of them, regularly. Why do you ask?
I once met Nigel Mansells moustache and David Coulthards chin – which was nice
A long time ago far far away in a different life I was roped in to flog programmes at a small local charity motor show in the small town of Chesham. We had two special guests to attract the punters; James Hunt and Sir Stirling Moss, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. That was in 1980, I think, and I still have the signed programmes; a great memory. Sir Stirling showed up in a Renault 5 Turbo (the one with engine in the middle) which attracted at least as much attention as he did.
Later in life I was very lucky to work for one or two F1 teams for quite a few years but that weekend back when I was a spotty youth is the most special to me.
I once met all the drivers at once, it was at Woodcote, and owing to the fact they were doing 150mph with their helmets on and engines running wide open, the conversation was a little one way. Miserable gits!
Just met Jason Plato… and he is an arrogant wnkr
Saw his grey 911 Turbo parked outside the dry cleaners near where I live and thought “Wow! Its Jason Plato” so I hung around to say hello and meet him. 20 minutes in freezing 2 degree cold and he comes out and I say hello and he shakes my hand. I say that I really like his car reviews and all that to which he just says “yeah yeah nice yeah, bye”. Gets into his Porsche and drives off. Can’t even spare 10 seconds for a fan.
Its true what they say, don’t meet your heroes.
I spent some of my youth in a small South African city. My father was a member of a local golf club, and used to pressgang me to caddy for him. One of the members there – known to me as ‘Uncle Max’ – had a game leg, and rode the course on his motor scooter. Turns out he had two sons who were race drivers… ian and Jody!
One evening, as the adults got down to some serious 19th-hole activity, I wanted to head into the city centre to meet some friends. My father asked around the bar if anyone was going into town… and next thing I was travelling along in a 635i with Jody at the wheel!
In the ‘good old days’it was easy. My Dad took me to the British GP at Aintree in 1962 and we met them all on Friday practice day. All chatted and had time for us. Phil Hill in particular was happy to tell us how crap Ferrari were that year (he was World Champion at the time)
More recently met Sir Stirling at a motoring retro event. Brilliant bloke – very chatty and genuine. Also met Lewis Hamilton on the evening after the Istanbul GP in his first season. Also friendly and down to earth – contrary to some people’s opinion!
I’ve enjoyed a good few weekends away racing with Martin Donnelly. After a couple of beers, his driving tips are about as easy to understand as Brad Pitts character in Snatch.
Jackie Stewart – talked about himself non-stop for an hour. This was several years ago. I have since left but assume the conversation is still happening at his end.
Heinz Harald Frentzen – Kept looking over my shoulder for someone more interesting to talk to
Jenson Button – ignored me entireley
Mark Weber – sweaty and seemingly embarrassed to be driving a Jaguar
Sebastien Buemi – stropped off because someone beat him on a Forza motorsport simulator
Sir Stirling Moss – possibly the nicest man I’ve ever met, but that’s probably because he had no idea who I was, where he was, or what decade we were in.
Lewis Hamilton – all smiles on camera. All arsehole off camera.
Eats lots for a small man.
Fernando Alonso: I bet I was the first person (many many years ago) to tell him he´d be driving for Ferrari one day (forgot to mention he´d have a shit car). Used to speak to him and his father often, both were very accessible, friendly and down to earth.
Fretzen: said he would´t talk to me when I asked him (for Spanish radio) about his Spanish parentage
Hakinen: said it was very difficult to talk, maybe he could speak to me later, but on the other hand maybe not, it was complicated, he would need to think about it
Coulthard: all he could say in Spanish was “cojones” (bollocks)
Adrian Campos: told me about Alonso´s first time in a single seater, at Jarama testing a Formula Nissan. When he beat Mark Gené ´s times the latter said Fernando must of been lying when he claimed he´d never driven anything with a gear lever before.
I’ve met every F1 driver you’ve ever heard of. AND Taki Inoue. Because I was there. And you weren’t.
I bumped in to Crazy Dave and I’ve kidnapped him – hence no GP Reports since Russia. The guy appearing on the Beeb in the “tighty whites” is an imposter created by modifying Max Headroom and giving him a slightly Scottish accent and upping his tolerance level so that he can cope with little EJ.
What will you offer for me to return for Crazy Dave? To be honest he’s pissing me off and I can’t really understand what he’s talking about.
By the way – George Meadows – did Jason Playdough being a wnkr surprise you……. it seems fairly clear from his driving that he’s tending towards the arrogant side….
Used to work in a ferrari dealer. Standing under a 355 in 1996 admiring the aero undertrays. A scruffy git walks up and says “this is brilliant, it really does work…I should know, I’m a racing driver you know”..then he walks off. 10 minutes later our service manager says “that was Jason Plato”. We still didn’t know who he was(although my mate thought he was the shit one out of Wham)
Used to work in a ferrari dealer. Standing under a 355 in 1996 looking at its aero undertrays. A scruffy git walks up and says”this is brilliant, it really does work…I should know, I’m a racing driver” then walks off…. 10 minutes later our service manager says “that was Jason Plato”…we still had no idea who he was…although my mate thought he was the shit one out of Wham who occasionally crashed cars…
I’d met John Surtees and Tony Mason at the Autosport show this year. John had so many stories to tell of his years of motorbike and F1 racing while Tony talked mainly about the Monte Carlo rally.
Both genuinely nice blokes 🙂
David Coulthard once signed a Pirelli cap for me and I’ve shaken Mark Webber’s hand (and I have washed since) but I spent a great day with former-F1 driver Karun Chandhok at Silverstone when he was competing in the WEC and had a thoroughly great day.
DC sat down at a table next to me in a restaurant in Manchester once. I did say hello but didn’t know what else to say so I left him alone. Never been star-struck before!
I saw Perry McCarthy in a post office in Brentwood once. I Kind of recognised him but it wasn’t until he had gone did I realise who it was! I bought Mint munchies to celebrate which I promptly dropped outside. Legend says you can still see the splodges embedded in the pavement and people talk about it to this day. Well I do. And just did.
Crazy Dave nearly ran me over on a moped at Brands at the DTM race a couple of years back. I gave him a friendly wave and he swerved to avoid a kid and nearly took me out instead.
So overall one missed opportunity and a near miss. I think generally things went pretty well
Thinking about it, “met” Martin Brundle – signing autographs at Le Mans, 1999. Signed our programme, & took the trouble to spell my wife’s name correctly. Nice bloke. Later that weekend , we met Yojido Terada – stopped to give him a lift half way round the driver’s parade, as his ride had overheated; we were next open topped car to pass, so picked up 1X LeMans Driver & 1XHawaiian Tropic Ambassadress. Still got the pics of my wife sat on the folded up hood brandishing the big placard announcing the driver; miffed Hawaiian Tropic girl just out of shot. On the plus side, until then the hood had never fitted neatly under the cover; 1hr with 3 people sat on it squishing the frame in sorted that nicely…
I once met Lewis Hamilton. Think he remembers me as he waves when lapping me each race
It seems hell hath no fury like a fan scorned…
Sniff Petrol, I have been a “fan” of yours for years. That means I own your arse. Do as I command or I will tell everyone what an arrogant wanker you are!
Haven’t met any F1 drivers by the way but they are bound to be a horrid bunch away from the sponsors because their weeny size will inevitably mean they suffer from small dog syndrome.
Met Jacques Villeneuve at a sponsor event (Takuma Sato as well, who arrived in his Honda Insight Mk1…)
He was very nice, chatty and friendly, and even posed for a photo with us, but he’s so tiny that you can only see the top of his head above the photo frame. He was so personable that its possible I didn’t meet JV at all, but whatever the French-Canadian version of a leprechaun is.
I have met Martin Donnelly and made him coffee when he visited our company, on the way out he shouted thanks! Top bloke. Noticed a comment about Jason Plato; I have heard a few stories from those who know and compete against him, sadly, not complimentary regards his character.
The Woman Formerly Known As Mrs Larrington once sat behind DC on a BA London-Glasgow flight. I can only assume his private jet was in for a service. Seems it isn’t just TV cameras that make his head look that shape.
Mrs Tenths once hugged Lewis Hamilton at Brands when he came off, obviously before he went in to F1.
She was also “mooned” by “The Stig” while working back-stage at Top Gear Live in Dublin.
I’ve met Nigel Mansell a couple of times in pit lanes when his son has ben driving.
To anyone out there in SniffLand, GET INVOLVED with motorsport, go and marshal, you meet all sorts of interesting people!
“Interesting people” and “Nigel Mansell” in the same post?
[Shurely shome mishtake? – Ed.]
In 2003 I was invited to the Autosport Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel and afterwards managed to blag tickets to the after show at Pacha which that year was hosted by Jenny B and BAR. At 4 am I was totally wasted dancing on the Pacha dance floor accompanied by a shirtless James Thompson, an even more wasted (as only scandanavian’s can) Petter Solberg and DC (In a dinner suit, no tighty whiteys in sight). Highlight was asking DC if we could have a picture and when he said yes handed him the camera so he could take a pic of me and my mate.
At the British GP a few years back Heikki Kovalainen was returning to the big pish expensive hotel just behind the campsite, signing caps programmes etc for fans, when alk of a sudden a group of well oiled chaps started singing his name to the tune of “Hi Ho Silver Lining”
…And it’s Hei Kee Kovalainen, and away he goes…
He smiled and continued to sign like a true pro.
I’ve just noticed some spelling mistakes.
In the 60s Graham Hill was sitting on his Lotus 49s big fat tyre talking to anyone in the paddock when a 5 star anorak, note book in hand, trousers 5 inches too short approached and asked if GH remembered them chatting 2 years ago. GH looked completely phased’ obvious to everyone, except anoman, that he didn’t but said “of course I do, how are you” – off wandered an extremely happy fan/paying punter. GH a proper old school gent and looked it. P.S. Best name for a racing driver – ever- Lorenzo Bandini.
Felipe Massa at Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi. He got on the ride next to my missus, wouldn’t remove his shades. Didn’t appear to be moved to tears of laughter about my Smedley quote, being from Yorkshire, it was in the correct accent, if not a little broad.
He posed for a photo, but with me having a good time I dwarfed him in both height and weight. He gave me the time for a photo, so credit to him, but would have preferred the time with Smedley talking about engineering.
I met Peter Collins at a Goodwood 9 hour race. I was just outside the entrance to the beer tent, and he trod on my hand as he walked out. Apologised, and helped me up. Really nice bloke.
Well I was skiing with Michael Schumacher last December and…….
I met Tiff Needell once – barely counts as an F1 driver, as he turns out to have been involved in just 2 races, failed to progress beyond qualifying for the first (in the days when there were more entrants than grid slots), and completed about 8 laps near the back of the second.
He was hosting a Top Gear magazine prize-winners event – I’d won the chance to drive a Nascar round Rockingham – and was dutifully friendly and chatty. Which was good of him, as he made it pretty clear he wasn’t too happy about the recent cancelling of Top Gear on the telly, and his resultant loss of a job.
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