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News - German GP
The chance of a lifetime
24 Jul 2012
So how would you like to spend a weekend as F1 team member? That was the tantalising prize on offer in the Whyte & Mackay ‘Be Part of the Sahara Force India Formula One Team at the German Grand Prix’ competition, which was held on www.skysports.com recently.
To win it entrants had to name Whyte & Mackay’s ambassador – the answer being Paul Di Resta, of course. The lucky winner was Ian Hulmes, a 29-year-old from Richmond in North Yorkshire.
“I’ve always enjoyed F1 and I watch it all the time,” says Ian. “I’ve been to the Monaco Grand Prix a couple of times. I entered the competition because of my passion for motor sport, and I thought it would be really enjoyable to see it from the inside, as the prize was a weekend with the team and the chance to have a go at a pit stop. I was at work one day and Whyte & Mackay rang me up and said I’d won!”
Ian is no stranger to competition cars, albeit at a more modest level: “I served my time as a mechanic when I was younger, in club rallying and rallycross, so I got my interest in the sport from that. Now I’m an electrical engineer, servicing forklift and warehouse equipment, so I enjoy the technical side of F1 as well. I’m probably more interested in the cars and how they work than the drivers.”
Accompanied by his wife, Ian arrived at Hockenheim on Friday, and was welcomed into the team wearing full race kit. He spent most of the day in the pit garage, where he was given a full introduction to how everything works on a race weekend. During the sessions he was able to listen into the radio conversations, which gave him a unique insight into what was going on. For someone who’d never been into an F1 paddock before, it was an amazing experience.
“It was special, just listening to them talking on the radio and watching all the guys doing their jobs. And qualifying on Saturday was really exciting, with a bit of a wet track as well! It was amazing to hear the amount of chatter on the radio, and how busy they all were.”
Ian got some hands-on experience during pit stop practice on Saturday morning, when he was invited to join the regular crew.
“First thing in the morning they do around 10 practice pit stops, so they let me do some of them, taking one of the rear wheels off and getting it out of the way. It’s harder than it looks! It me a few goes to get the knack of it. I really enjoyed it, and the team were great – everyone was friendly and if I had any questions, they would answer them.”
He also got to spend some time with the drivers – and he even got a high speed look at Hockenheim.
“I said hello to Paul and Nico, and I had a really good chat with Paul. He was very down to earth, and we talked about how he’s been getting on. Then, Nico drove us round the track in an AMG Mercedes. I think we were the first out with him and we overshot the hairpin and had a few moments. It was great!”
After watching the race itself from the grandstand Ian took home a bottle of Whyte & Mackay’s famous Thirty Year Old blend, signed by Paul, as a special memento of the weekend.
Having enjoyed a unique experience in Germany he will watch the Hungarian race from home with fresh eyes.
“I’ll be very jealous, sat there watching! But now I have a much better insight into how it all works behind the scenes. It was definitely the chance of a lifetime. I just have to find out where to send my CV so I can try to get a job...”