What a day. We set off promptly expecting busy trains; when we got to the station they were sending F1 spectators round the far side of the circuit to Lesmos station but knowing what we were doing we jumped on a train to Monza station instead and as usual shuttle bussed it in to the park. It was a half hour walk each day from there to the circuit so from our hotel door to our grandstand seats took two hours.
On race day though we didn’t mind the long journey. There was a buzz about the place that had gradually built since Thursday and was approaching fever pitch.
The first race was GP3 and was far more entertaining that the previous day’s GP3 race. It was a British 1-2 as Stoneman beat Lynn by a narrow margin.
The British national anthem was played again in GP2 when Jolyon Palmer brilliantly recovered from starting Saturday’s feature race from the back of the grid to win Sunday’s sprint race.
It was a baking 26 degrees but the shade of our grandstand reached us by this point making it cool enough to be pleasant. It was perfect conditions to watch a race and felt exotic like Singapore the previous year.
After a quick trip to the infield for some calimari and squid we took our seats once more for the race build up. We were in the perfect position to see all 22 drivers drive round to the grid, the marching band, the grid girls, the mechanics and earlier the drivers’ parade had begun from right next to us.
The excitement when the Grand Prix began was phenomenal. Sadly, our hero Lewis Hamilton’s start wasn’t phenomenal and he slipped immediately behind the fast starting Magnussen and Massa, the former sliding to fourth fairly quickly.
Before the stops Hamilton cleared Massa to make it a Mercedes 1-2 and restore normality. Meanwhile up ahead Rosberg went straight on at the first chicane but retained the lead.
During the stops Magnussen slipped behind Vettel and later lost out to a charging Bottas also, but up front the status quo remained. That was until Rosberg sensationally went straight on at the first chicane again, cracking under pressure from Hamilton and allowing the Englishman through into the lead!
Will and I were jumping up and down in our seats at this point. I was kept busy all race keeping track of the order and every pit stop, having learned to recognise each river going by at speed. Not all the crowd were happy though; many of the tifosi left the circuit when Alonso retired to my amazement – these guys are all in for Ferrari.
Behind the two Mercs up front, Massa was a distant third with team mate Bottas now ahead of Vettel to complete a strong showing for Williams Martini Racing, far and away better than any of the team’s 2013 performances. It stayed like that to the end, with Ricciardo brilliantly jumping team mate Vettel for fifth by selling him a dummy at the second chicane.
The post-race podium was one of the greatest events I’ve ever witnessed. The tifosi invading the track complete with a colossal Ferrari flag was even better than it looks on TV. The streamers, confetti and atmosphere were phenomenal around the unique Monza podium that peers out above the fans.
We were buzzing as we met Dad and Di for beers in the shade of the lush Monza trees to celebrate a fantastic Hamilton victory that rounded off a memorable weekend.
On the shuttle bus back through Monza town we were singing with the Italian fans; the atmosphere had been so special I just didn’t want it to end.
Back in Milan I bought a shot glass and fridge magnet (standard souvenirs – I’m trying to collect a shot glass from every country I visit but sadly forgot to buy one in many countries!) We then grabbed a crepe from a great little place on Corso Buenos Aires and headed back, still pumped from a truly awesome day.