4. How I first saw a Formula 1 car and almost got deaf
Or what is it like to be an F1 fan in Russia
I started watching Formula 1 in 1992 when it has been first broadcasted on Russian TV. To be fair those days it was not easy to follow F1, as there was no full coverage of the season, they used to show some of the races, and sometimes it was not live and you could wait for 1-2AM sometimes to turn on the TV and watch the race. The biggest problem was to avoid any kind of radio and TV sports news to avoid knowing the results before watching the race. Luckily those days there were no social media, and it was much easier to manage the information flow.

Racing had been in low priority on TV for a long time and even in 2000-s you had to call all of the sports bars in Moscow to find the one who would have live broadcast from RTL (in German, obviously) or another foreign channel, and it was not easy to get there as I was 14-15 years old those days.

I remember one day we went a sports bar together with my father, and there were no places to sit and we have joined a German man's table, who was in Russia on business. In that bar, they had a contest, so each table could make a forecast for the Top-3 at the end of the race and will get a 6-pack of beer if they make it right. Our German friend was kind enough to offer me to take the call. I guess that was the only time I was lucky enough and 2 hours later we shared the prize. As I was 15 those days none if prize reached me, obviously.

My first F1 merchandise was a Ferrari cap, which a friend of mine has brought from Austria. Apparently, it was a fake one made with a bit of a poor quality, but still having those laurel wreaths on the cap visor was something really cool. I felt like I am the one in the world who knows what it is and I have never met other boys with this kind of caps.
Evgeny is around 12 years old here, sitting on the border log between Germany and Czech Republic wearing his first Ferrari merchandise. Those days he used to be a musician and traveled for festivals and contests.
The years were passing, my hobby was getting bigger and bigger and I have been updating my merchandise with the help of friends who were going abroad. Those years I have been supporting Michael Schumacher and the number of golden stars symbolizing World Champion Title on the caps was increasing pretty fast.

Though you could follow F1 on TV and in printed magazines it felt like it is something out of this world, happening far far away in a distant galaxy. But one day it has changed.
In Prague wearing some fake merchandise which is a cheap nylon T-shirt with Michael Schumacher photo on it
October 18, 2003

I have just turned 17, that was my first year at the university, the studies have recently begun, and it was a beautiful but cold autumn day in Moscow. The day I have been waiting so much...

Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli were the first ones who visited Moscow for a road show with the real F1 car from Mild Seven Renault team. Together with a friend, we arrived at the Sparrow Hills where the Moscow State University is located. We had no idea how long we should be waiting, there was no schedule or any announcements, so we decided to go early in order to get the best places to see. We waited 4 hours on the street at blistering cold and a bit of rain but in the front row keeping our half a square meter. Luckily we were rewarded with the best sound of an engine one could possibly think of - V10
The crowd was huge and there was a lot of pressure ( I mean physical one) coming as everyone wanted to get as close as possible to the fence, and I was the one in front just 3 meters away from the track. I remember those emotions. First, you hear how the beast has been awaked as the noise from the fired engine approached. We were waiting and waiting, and then...



A blend of pain in ears and pure excitement came up when Fernando has changed the gear right in front of me. Why nobody told me it gonna be SO LOUD?!
I could not even see what that actually was but remember it was something blue and yellow which passed by like a meteorite. It appeared were right in the middle of the straight where the car was getting to maximum possible speed. A couple of seconds later again ...

It felt like you have just seen a UFO in a 3 meters distance and you didn't have a chance to get any details, but you have seen it... with your own eyes... and now you are in a privileged group of people who have actually seen-a-Formula-1-car-not-on-TV.

I made 2 pictures on my first 3.2Mp digital camera that day: the blurred F1 car going from the right to the left, and the same one blurred F1 car going from the left to the right. But still was pretty happy with the result.

That was one of the happiest days of my life. I have seen a REAL F1 car in action, I have seen a REAL F1 driver even though I could not understand if that was Fernando or Jarno driving, as that was so fast, and I have heard a V10 engine with my own ears, which was a bit painful.
I will definitely go through the archives of my own photos to find some from that day to update this post just for the history.

It was an absolutely amazing day and that evening I could only dream about visiting a Grand Prix sometime in future. Well, I couldn't imagine I would be able not only to visit a Grand Prix 7 years later but also get into Paddock without any permission, meet the drivers, take some photos and get some autographs.

But let me share this story in another post.
Stay Tuned!

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