This is a guest post from Darshan Chokhani ((I am a final year B.COM (HONS) student in Finance. I like to surf over the Internet, hang out with my friends, listen to music, watch movies and blog of course. I am a sports geek since I follow lots of sports including F1, cricket, tennis, football, WWE, etc.)) who was the winner of the “Social Media Speedster”, a contest organized by Monster India and Marussia F1 Team during the recently held F1 India Grand Prix, 2012.
I have been watching F1 since early 2000’s, not regularly at the start but with Narain Karthikeyan and Force India’s involvement, there was no looking back. So much so that now I would love to work in F1 for a team or maybe a circuit. I have been to both the Indian GP’s now and it’s absolutely a pleasure to be there. Last year, I went all alone and this year through the Monster India and Marussia “Social Media Speedster” contest.
The contest got me overjoyed with the prize on offer. I had read about an overseas contest of Monster.com of similar nature and I knew this will be a super opportunity. I’ll be honest here to tell that I only came to know about the contest a day before it was to end via Twitter and merely 2 hours before the deadline I entered myself. I had to fill up some forms on the Facebook app and share my blog and tweet with the hashtag SMSpeedster to get myself in.
Once all the formalities were done with, I received a call from Monster India that I was shortlisted for a telephonic interview. The following day I was interviewed by them, I was asked about myself, my blog, Marussia team and F1. It was a good interview considering it was my first ever interview and I felt pretty confident to win it.
And after few days I was informed that I was the winner and I’ll be going to Buddha International Circuit (BIC) spending a day at Marussia garage and tweeting LIVE. In my mind, I was uttering, “Is this really happening?”
I missed the Friday sessions as I was travelling on that day to go to the Monster India Gurgaon office. There, I was asked about my involvement with F1 and was explained as to what I have to do. It was a good experience interacting with experienced PR people in the social media field.
The next day which was a Saturday was an important one for me, I reached early for FP3 and just after that I headed to the paddock entrance.
I met the Marussia PR who took me to the Marussia garage and hospitality where I met the other PRs and Graeme Lowdon, Marussia’s Sporting Director. I was nervous like anything. I was told to explore around a bit and in the same time tweet what I was seeing.
First of all, it was great being in the paddock, I could smell the oil in and around while the team members were all relaxing and having a great time. Not many drivers were around but saw Van Garde and Bottas.
Later on, I had the chance to meet Sameer Gaur, had a bit of chat with him about BIC. While moving around, I heard Mercedes garage playing 80’s Bollywood songs, they didn’t understand a thing but that didn’t stop them from dancing.
By that time, qualifying session was on and I was inside the garage standing behind Charles Pic’s car. I was just living in the moment, not everyone gets a chance to be there. In the same time, I was tweeting about what was happening.
Mechanics were still working till the last moment as Charles and Timo came in and quickly went inside the car to start their run. I could feel the car heat when they came in, before quickly heading out again after changing tyres. As their run ended in Q1, I headed to the “Media Pen” where I watched the drivers getting interviewed. I was there till the end of qualifying as I watched drivers coming and going, perfect time for me to take some pictures and even talk with them briefly.
After that I headed back to Marussia hospitality and it was time for a garage tour. The tour guide happened to be a driver in junior ranks and was a quite a jolly person. I saw all the car parts from inside as he explained us well about everything. After which I sat down with Graeme for a short interview, which went a bit long but it was great to talk to him about various things. By that time I had stopped tweeting as my battery was about to die and most of the work was already done but my paddock experience didn’t end there as I wandered around the paddock and with some friends at Force India, I toured their garage briefly. And outside I met the owner Dr. Mallya and even Monisha (Sauber’s team principal). By that time, my time was about to end in the paddock which proved to be a super day for me as an F1 fan.
It is the thing which I feel every F1 fanatic should get a chance to do. I have been thinking about doing the PR/Communication job for long in F1 and this was a perfect opportunity for me. This perhaps is one of the best contests thought about by Marussia and Monster.
I had little to complain about anything as both Monster India and Marussia team took best possible care of me. Only small complain will be that they could have planned about all this maybe 2 weeks before the GP rather than confirming everything 4 days before the GP. But overall, I feel it was well organised and everything went smoothly. I had an EPIC time in there!