My Italian Grand Prix weekend began with a budget flight to Bergamo followed by a bus to Milan. To keep costs down, I reserved a room in a friendly flat on the north side of Milan via Airbnb and took public transport to the circuit each day. The circuit is located in the heart of Europe’s largest city park, so there is lots of walking to get from place to place, but the surroundings are picturesque and the vibe is laid-back and friendly, even if you are not a Ferrari fan.
All the grandstands are open for “Free Friday,” when the F1 cars first hit the track for two practice sessions. I got my money’s worth by watching the action from almost 20 grandstands throughout the day. The best views can be found in the grandstands on the opening Prima Variante turn.
To save my tired legs, I spent €10 on Saturday to hire a bicycle for the day from a guesthouse next to the circuit. I checked out the views from the more remote Lesmo bends at the top of the circuit, watched qualifying from Seconda Variante, and explored the old banked oval circuit, which was last used in the 1961 Grand Prix and is slowly being taken back by nature. It’s supposed to be off limits, but wasn’t too difficult to enter through one of the many holes in the fence.
Leaving the circuit on Saturday, I stumbled on a crowd of fans gathered near the exit to the pits area. I quickly realized they were waiting for an opportunity to meet the drivers, so I decided to hang around. The drivers happily posed for photos and signed autographs, just like they used to when I went to the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide back in the 1990s. The highlight was when Lewis Hamilton hopped on a motorbike and did a huge burnout, which I captured on camera.
I only used my allocated seat--a bleacher on the main straight--for the race on Sunday. It cost a reasonable €150 for the three days, and was a solid choice for the race build up and start. It also gave me the opportunity to participate in one of Monza’s best-known traditions: joining the tifosi for the podium celebrations after the race. Running down the main straight after the race had just finished was an experience to remember, and capped off an amazing weekend.
I also had the opportunity to meet lots of friendly fans from all over the world, spend the weekend in a cosmopolitan city, and drink lots of good espresso. For the record, Lewis Hamilton took the win for Mercedes on his way to winning the 2014 driver’s championship. Keen to go to Monza yourself? You had better hurry up as the current race contract only has two years left to run (2015 and 2016), and there is no guarantee it will be extended.
About this Race Track Pilot
Andrew Balfour went to his first Grand Prix at the age of 11, and now indulges his passion for the sport with regular trips to races around the world. He set up F1Destinations.com to offer fellow fans detailed F1 travel advice.