I’m not a materialistic guy. I consider myself more of a philosophical one, always curious for almost any discipline, or for any episode emanated from present times.
However, such a characteristic of me was put to test at Monza. For the first time, I felt attracted by second residences. I believe that the day I become older and richer, I’ll buy one of these flats close to the circuit. From the outside, they reminded me the vulgar Valencia’s constructions where lots of people from Madrid spend their summer, but nowhere near that hostile environment for the human being: the beach. Who needs it when you have Parco di Monza five minutes from your base? Even I would be happy to own a comfortable apartment at Seregno, the town where our hotel was located, a few kilometres (two train stations) to the North.
We walk by Viale Brianza and we have still a long way to go before we reach the accreditation center. Being our first day, it’s the perfect situation to become distracted by any stimulus we find out (even more if it is a racing stimulus). Suddenly, a painting on a wall catches Diego’s attention. It is to the right of the entrance door to one of these buildings with minimalist but cool flats. Can you imagine, next to the entrance of your block, a huge picture of various Nigel Mansells driving the cars of the different teams for which Il Leone raced for? There it was, near the mail boxes and the entry phones. A woman gets into the domicile with his (supposed) little daughter and a few shopping bags, not paying any attention to the piece of art to which they’re so used to. They look resigned to the fact that we would want to take photographs of it. A few metres later, we reach the dealership of Vittorio Brambilla’s family. On the outside, they don’t forget to pay a tribute to him similar to the Mansell Wall.
During the whole week that we spent around Northern Italy, I really appreciated the particular way in which the region gets lighted up on a sunny day and the amplitude of the streets and local roads close to the track. I’m (saying) sorry to the environmentalists, for that I’m aware of the convenience of concentrating population density, so that we don’t waste more space than necessary, nor more energy for transportation in order to go from point A to point B.
By contrast, the first impression I had got when I got out of the airport on Wednesday afternoon, was a bit disappointing. It’s such the fuss with the stylish marvel that Italy is supposed to be, that a bubble bursts in your mind when you feel like in Far West, waiting for the damn train at Milano Forlanini. Is this really Duomo‘s land? But from then on, time goes by and you start to feel the charm of the country.
Once we get the passes, we come back a long way and walk through a ‘Hansel-and-Gretelesque’ street (maybe I’m biased because of its sweet coffee shop, but the cobbles and the style of the constructions make me think this way) that ends up in the entrance to Parco di Monza. It seems as if its sign is trying to tell us: “Remind you, this was not suppossed to be a race track in the first place”. Notwithstanding that it has to live with another sign that name the following inner street of the park as ‘Via Enzo Ferrari’.
But the real amazement comes with the ticket office just to left of the entrance, hidden behind some trees (the same trees that were there when -insert here your preferred racing moment from Monza-). Leave it without signs and you’d be allowed to think that you’re watching a very poor and little stable. Nothing to do with the revolving doors next to most of the ticket offices at Barcelona, for example. By the way, once we are on Saturday or Sunday, you can find people screaming to the crowd that they are interested in buying your ticket, just in case that the sound of the current power units dissapoints you.
Nonetheless, we have still a long way to go until we reach the main straight, but it is a pleasant walk through the trees. I can tell you that there is more disorder than at Barcelona when people rejects forming a civilized queue in order to enter to Thursday’s pit lane walk. Once inside, you won’t be surprised if I tell you that Felipe Massa attracted the most attention. Fact is that, honestly, we hadn’t revised the motorsport news since the hour of lunch, and at that time we only knew that Massa and Claire Williams were going to hold a mysterious press conference… So I took the fuss as a clue of what they might had just been announcing.
That same afternoon, we enjoyed a walk by the main straight and Variante della Roggia. A beautiful place, but the old banking got most of our attention. True, it’s amazing the degree of inclination it reaches, and how you fear for your heels when you keep on trying to make steps over it. But the sad finding is that, a few years ago, a local luminary intended to bring races back to this old piece of Motorsport History. Yes, it sounds like a hopeless project regardless how you look at it, but those who pretended to go for it left us all a shameful souvenir of the episode: up there, an initial layer of cement remains over the original surface of concrete. The cement looks exactly the same as the one I remember from my infancy, bicycling or playing games at Parque de las Delicias/Tierno Galván from Madrid. You could see it if you looked to the floor at any of its passarels. It was an integrated part of the scenery; at Monza, it isn’t.
At least you can go to the zone of general admission at the back straight, before Parabolica, to watch the bench seatings and contemplate exactly the same material that rests under the layer of cement applied to the banking.
Flash forward to the Sunday: what about the famous track invasion? Well, it was mostly as I expected it to feel like. It was like any successful demonstration, with two main differences: first, people around you are having fun instead of complaining; second, we experienced extremely anxious and claustrophobic moments just inmediately after the race, when the police agents opened the doors of the track to the public. People squeezed us towards the fence and it got to the point that a crying child had to be attended by a policeman, such was the shocking sensation of being catched up between the crowd and the wall.
Once over the same asphalt where GP3, GP2, Porsches and F1 cars had fighted a few moments ago, we still found some more surprises, like the almost imperceptible shadows that remain of old Campari advert on the bridge at the entry of Rettifilo chicane, hidden behind the Pirelli billboard from 2016.
And I’m sure that I will keep remembering details even when we publish this piece and you have already read it. Now the book shop comes to my mind; seasoned people like Diego Merino tell me that the old one, recently sold to the new owners, was much more complete. I must admit that I prefer the deep catalogue of Shopping Formula 1, at Maranello (but I’m judging just by what they exposed inside their respective facilities).
To have a walk under these huge trees while you wait for the historic surprise round the next corner, is the closest motorsport experience to expect that a dinosaur emerges there from the shadows. Ron Howard, George Lucas, maybe Steven is happy to borrow you his franchise. Or maybe it’s enough to let Universal distribute it, so what are you waiting for? Oh yes, I understand, the Philosopher Stone… the required licence from FOM.