How To Get F1 Autographs Like a Pro
With the Formula 1 circus coming to town this weekend, racing fans won’t get a better chance to meet their idols. I’ve seen it go awfully wrong several times every season, so here are some tips on getting lucky.
- Join a contest to meet some driver, even if it means spending $100 for the chance to see a person you need to Google first.
- Go to public appearances. Some sponsored events even take place at our go-kart tracks. Be an hour early and still find yourself crowded out. Wonder why you even bothered when you get out-tussled by security and other fans.
- Stake out like a One Direction fan at trackside hotels and play the long waiting game.
No one said it’s easy.
Outside hotels and the paddock, there are now (small) dedicated areas where security staff tell fans to wait. Listen to them, even though you’re not where you want to be. No-one wants you to block the path or get run over by a truck.
When it pays off and you finally see a driver, remember they are humans as well, albeit fit ones who can drive very quickly. Like everyone else they get alarmed by random strangers rushing at them from nowhere in an unfamiliar place, so don’t do that.
The likes of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen are known to ignore crowds of fans. Sometimes they have a tight schedule to keep and don’t stop. Maybe there is no reason other than the right to say ‘no’. Be gracious if you get declined anyway.
The pros do it differently though.
They hang back from the mob and pick their moment, saving their energy for the racers they want to meet the most. They say ‘hello’ to former and reserve drivers whom other fans don’t recognise because they’re not in the programmes or on TV. I met Valterri Bottas, Paul di Resta and Max Chilton this way before they got their F1 breaks. Try it, and have a chuckle when other people ask you who you just spoke to for the last two minutes.
It’ll be difficult, so befriending the other fans (instead of seeing them as rivals) makes it more fun. Who knows, they might help you take a photo or even spot the lesser-known faces heading towards you. Have fun, and don’t forget to enjoy the proceedings!