September is here which means we are two thirds of the way through the F1 Championship and have reached the final European Grand Prix – Monza, Italy! You couldn’t avoid the excitement at London Heathrow as fans gathered to depart and make the short journey over to Linate, Milan. We seemed to have an average split of Hamilton and Vettel fans – with discussions turning to race predictions almost immediately.
Upon arrival in Milan, we took the short transfer to Como, a gorgeous city at the Southern tip of Lake Como. It was hard for anyone to contain their emotion as we drove along the waterfront and took in the view of the lake with the back drop of the mountains – simply magnificent.
We had two hotels in Como – Hotel Barchetta Excelsior and the Borgo Antico – both ideally located just minutes from the lake. Welcome drinks were held that evening at the Barchetta, where prosecco was flowing and we had enough canapes to feed 5,000! It was a great start to the weekend with everyone getting the chance to meet like-minded fans and enjoy their first night in Italy.
As the evening went on, what started as glorious sunshine soon turned to cloud, as the first of the rain began to fall…we should have been prepared for what was to come!
Saturday - qualifying day and one of the wettest in the history of Monza! Italy usually enjoys late summer sunshine with only a handful of wet weekends in recent decades – however the rain was relentless as it hammered down for the entire day. With Monza having the highest average speed of any of the Formula 1 circuits, this certainly made an interesting wait as the anticipation built throughout the delays for the starting time. The commitment of the fans during the day was certainly impressive, and when the qualifier eventually began, it was worth the wait – with Hamilton setting a new record of 69 pole positions. Excitement for race day was now at an all-time high.
When we woke on Sunday morning, the weather took a complete u-turn with glorious sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s - it elevated the mood even further as we climbed aboard the transfer to the circuit. It was a sell-out capacity audience, with crowds heaving all around the track and the atmosphere buzzing. The sea of red was unavoidable as the Italian Ferrari ‘Tifosi’ flooded in from all angles.
The race did not disappoint, being the fifth fastest Grand Prix of all time (averaging 151.4 mph). Running at the front for almost the entire race, it was a win for Hamilton with his Mercedes teammate Bottas coming second. Vettel came third, with a solid performance after qualifying poorly. With apparent steering problems after going off the track at the first chicane, he suffered damage and acknowledged that he simply couldn’t match the pace of Mercedes. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo gave the stand out drive of the race, starting in 16th after taking a 25 place grid penalty, he managed to come fourth after charging through the pack (including two bravura moves).
Our Hamilton fans were overjoyed as this now means he is leading the race for World Champion by three points. Unsurprisingly, he still became the villain of the day as the fiercely partisan crowd booed him on the podium, but that didn’t stop him revelling in the glory.
The trip back to Como was buzzing with excitement from the day’s events and we arrived back in time for a leisurely evening in the city and some more fantastic Italian food.
With afternoon departures on the Monday, it gave everyone a chance to explore the Lake and take a trip up the Funicular to get the perfect photo of the spectacular views before joining their transfer back to the airport. Everyone had a fantastic time and we had a great group, some of which were first timers when it came to F1 – they have said they will be booking their next trip immediately!
Singapore is up next, and with Ferrari the hot favourites, it should be a fantastic fight.