One of the things I’ve always loved about being a reporter is the opportunity to dive into new worlds, go back stage and witness events that you couldn’t do otherwise. The F1 was one of those experiences. I went into the stories with no knowledge about the sport – OK, I know it involves really fast cars.
In any case, over the four-day weekend, I prowled around the pit and paddock, one of a swarm of journalists from all over the world in Abu Dhabi to cover the races. The folks at Scuderia Ferrari gave me a tour of their pit facilities. By the end of the weekend I had a sense of the team names and who the most competitive drivers are.
One place I couldn’t get a sight of was the grandstand. It seems my press pass didn’t allow me to actually venture out and about. Maybe this stems from the idea that most reporters cover the GP just want access to the pit, the crew and the drivers. But my story was a business story and a story to illustrate what the GP might like for Austin. I don’t know if I should’ve asked for this access or whether FIA just wouldn’t allow it.
Even if you’re not sympathetic to a reporter’s woes, it does raise an interesting point. John Sinders, a Texas investment banker who now lives in Dubai, said even his VIP Paddock Club passes wouldn’t allow him to access the grandstand.
This so annoyed him, he didn’t bother to go on Sunday, the final race day. Sinders is a racing enthusiast; he owns a racing team in Dubai. But he also views the grand prix as a unique way to entertain clients. He said he was unable to access half of his clients, those who were sitting in the grandstand. “Tell Austin not to do that,” he told me.
So, Austin Formula 1, consider the message passed on.