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So it was a while ago now, but something I’ll never forget – the weekend I went to Monza as a guest of Shell and the Ferrari F1 team. Back in the days when I was running the Badger GP blog site, we were punching above our weight and with our unique take on covering the sport, we got noticed by some PR folks. A phone call came in one day from Shell and with that, an invitation for the Italian Grand Prix, but not just the race, it was a weekend in Milan. Hello, yes I think I can do that!

The weekend consisted of spending a day at a test track driving various sporty Italian hatchbacks around and learning about car control and the such – the sort of thing you used to see the Top Gear folks doing. It was a lot of fun and it was also the first time I met Sam Collins (now of F1.com fame with his tech talks) and a few other motoring and F1 journo types.

An evening in Milan followed, soaking up the atmosphere and learning more about Shell fuels than I ever thought I’d know. Clue – they are really good! Come Saturday and with Alonso on Pole for Ferrari and Massa in 3rd, there was a lot of excitement in the red camp and what were we doing – having dinner in the team motorhome, right there in the paddock at Monza – yes really. It was pretty epic, I got to see all the behind the scenes of the team over a race weekend and have an ridiculously tasty dinner.

As you’ll see from the photo below, red tops were mandatory, but I was more than happy with that. In fact I think I still have my Shell Ferrari polo somewhere.

All of us, including a Sam Collins with short hair!

Now, this was a good 11 years ago now and back then the Internet wasn’t what is now. Social Media was only in it’s infancy and when I wrote an article about having dinner with Ferrari, it only lasted 24hrs before I was asked to take it down. I duly did, but how mad is that – this was A* content and something that would be all over an Insta story in 2021, but hey ho – I thought I’d share the story now!

So yes, the food was ace, I met some amazing people, including the then race manager who we quizzed about knowing the rules (it was an in joke at the time about Ferrari pushed the rules more than any other team and had the FIA on side as Ferrari International Assistance, just in jest of course)

Come the end of the meal and after a fair amount of extremely quaffable wine, I desperately needed the facilities before the trip back to Milan, at the time the only toilet available was one single toilet and it was only afterwards that I realised it was in fact Fernando’s toilet. Haha, now that’s something I may have mentioned to a few folk since and I’d love it if any asks “what’s the best toilet you’ve used?”, sadly no one ever has.

If you ever get the chance to go behind the scenes at an F1 weekend, you’ll love it.