The Vodafone Fanzone: a McLaren fan’s dream

So, as you may or may not remember a couple of weeks ago I attended the Bavaria City Racing event in Dublin, which featured the likes of Jenson Button and Giedo van der Garde and a host of other motorsport. If you’ve forgotten you can re-cap by reading my blog post about it! On the Saturday night before the main event I was at the pre-party and standing in a ridiculously long queue for the toilet when I overheard someone talking about something McLaren related. Obviously, being a huge McLaren fan my ears pricked up and I listened in earnest as they discussed something they had been at during the day to do with the team that involved sitting in one of their cars. This all sounded great to me, but I feared it would be some restricted area that only VIPs could attend. That, or it would be too expensive. And so, you can imagine my delight as they uttered three magical words: “it was free”. I got straight on the case of discovering what it was and was relieved to find out it would also be running on the Sunday. And so, bright and early on the Sunday morning, I set off (with my Lotus fan companion in tow) to find the McLaren zone.

On arrival we were told we had to register in order to be able to partake in any of the activities. This offered the opportunity of signing in with Facebook so that our friends could see what we’d been doing. We were given wristbands with a little chip in them so that we could “check in” at every stand and our scores/times (if applicable) and photographs would be uploaded straight to Facebook – a prime example of social media at use! We were told that the simulator was the most popular attraction so we chose to queue for it first. It was fun and a lot more difficult than I’d imagined. Plus, it was the new layout Silverstone and as I was so accustomed to the previous layout I was over cautious on my warm up lap as I tried to learn all the new corners. When my flying lap came I started off fast – my years of PS2 practice were paying off – and was going well until I got caught out at the new section and had an off – my flying lap was ruined. The steering wheel vibrated as you drove, fighting to get away from you as you turned a corner, or got onto a straight. Plus, being quite short I could only just reach the pedals which made it slightly more difficult. When I got out my legs ached – and did for the rest of the day!

After that we queued to sit in the MP4-21 to get our picture taken. Confusingly, they kept calling it Jenson Button’s 2005 MP4-21 – those were Jenson’s BAR days and the 2005 car was the MP4-20, but we’ll let that go. So, here I am in my McLaren:

We also completed a wheel change which was timed. Our time was a 6.47s – I was quick with bringing the wheel in but my companion got caught out by the tricky wheel gun. I think it is safe to say we won’t be getting calls any time soon from pit crews who require our services. Here we are, ready for action:

One of the other activities was a helmet simulator. Basically, you put either Jenson or Lewis’ helmet on and there was a little screen in the visor. It felt like you were the driver and it took you on a virtual lap of a circuit – it was quite cool. I was determined as we queued that I would get Lewis’ helmet so we strategically ordered ourselves so it happened:

Also on display were Lewis and Jenson’s race overalls. We then left to go and watch the actual displays and during the time we missed Jenson visiting the fanzone, which was a shame! However, much to our delight we discovered at the end of the day that my Lotus fan companion (also my boyfriend – we have a great rivalry) had set the fastest time of the day in the simulator and so would be winning a 2012 McLaren shirt. As you can imagine, he was thrilled… He offered me the shirt and said that the pride was enough. Back in 2011 he gave me a McLaren hoodie for my birthday, and the next race Lewis won. When he gave me the shirt, Lewis won at Canada. Coincidence? I think not. I’m already working on the next one…

All in all we both thoroughly enjoyed it!

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