My Weekend With The Tifosi: Experiencing The US Grand Prix With Ferrari And Hublot
Schumacher, Schecter, Lauda, Ascari, Fangio, and Räikkönen. Behind the scenes of a Formula One race with the legendary Scuderia Ferrari team.
Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1950, the legendary Scuderia Ferrari F1 team is arguably the world's most renowned racing team. As the oldest and most successful team in Formula One, Ferrari maintains an almost mythical status among lovers of cars, racing, and sport. As a petrol head myself, I grew up watching Schumacher and Barrichello's almost decade long dominance. Flash forward to 2019, Ferrari is as active and has formed a very special partnership with Hublot that goes way beyond the production of branded watches.
Hublot and Scuderia Ferrari
Since 2011, Hublot and Ferrari have been actively engaged in a technical and engineering partnership which brings the best minds from each group together to make some exceptional Ferrari themed watches. This year, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Ferrari, Hublot released a slew of novelties to celebrate the Prancing Horses (read HERE).
While I've attended my fair share of Formula One races, I'd never experienced a race weekend with Ferrari. Thanks to Hublot, last weekend, I was able to travel to Austin, Texas for the 2019 USGP. The race takes place at the Circuit of the Americas, which is a 3.246-mile purpose built track encompassing 20 turns and drastic elevation changes. The track made for the perfect environment to experience Ferrari's straight-line speed and engineering mastery.
2019 United States Grand Prix
While Formula One is very much an international sport, the United States holds the unique distinction of being the country with the most Grand Prix held at different locations. Since 1908, the United States has held 49 races at 10 different locations. Austin's Circuit of the Americas has held the race since 2012. While Ferrari has dominated the USGP going back to Carlos Reutemann's 1978 win at Watkins Glen, the squad from Maranello has only won once at Austin, with Kimi Räikkönen taking the top prize at last year's race.
Ferrari's 2019 driver lineup consists of Four-Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, a 22-year-old Monégasque driver with incredible talent. Prior to the weekend's third practice session, Watchonista was able to visit Ferrari's hospitality suite. While sipping delicious Italian espresso, we spotted more than a few racing luminaries. Within a few minutes, I spotted Mario Andretti (interview HERE), Lewis Hamilton (interview HERE), Valtteri Bottas (interview HERE), Damon Hill, Carlos Sainz Sr, Jacques Villeneuve, and many more!
Thanks to Ferrari and Hublot, we experienced a full race weekend as a Tifosi, i.e. the supporters of Scuderia Ferrari. We had prime viewing for the final practice session and qualifying, which saw Ferrari qualify 2nd (Vettel) and 4th (Leclerc). We also had the unique opportunity to visit Ferrari's pit boxes, which are quite impressive in terms of mechanics and the remarkable cohesion and teamwork of the Ferrari squad.
Of course, no weekend with Ferrari would be complete without a Hublot x Ferrari piece on the wrist. I wore the Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D Carbon. A 45mm timepiece fully encased in ultra-light 3D carbon which is very similar to the carbon fibre used on Ferrari's monocoque chassis. This ultra-light flyback chronograph was the perfect accessory for a weekend with Ferrari. Priced at $27,300 USD, it's actually quite a reasonable price considering the engineering and materials that went into making this piece.
After an exciting qualifying and race day with Hublot, we returned on Sunday for the race. The All-American festivities included the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, Matthew McConaughey, an F-18 flyover, and plenty of pomp and circumstance. From our vantage point, we could see the front row of the grid of 20 cars. After a formation lap, the real action began!
Unlike other racing categories that require multiple laps behind a designated pace car, Formula One starts each race from a standing stop. After a formation lap, all 20 cars take their grid position and wait on the "lights." On a bridge above the front row five red lights are illuminated and one by one, the lights go out. When all of the lights go out it's GO time!
As the cars rocketed up the long hill towards turn one, the two Ferrari drivers kept a cautious distance to the other runners. Leclerc quickly navigated his way through traffic to assume the second position, while Vettel suffered a full suspension failure after running over a curb. With Vettel retired from the race, Leclerc kept the charge but couldn't manage to catch the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.
After 56 laps, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas took the win and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished in 4th place. It wasn't the result that those of us cheering for Ferrari wanted, but it was still a very memorable weekend overall. Many thanks to Hublot North America for hosting us and providing this once in a lifetime experience.
Hublot spotting at the 2019 F1 USGP
Throughout the weekend, we interacted with Hublot's invited guests. These collectors and friends of the brand had some mightily impressive pieces on their wrists, which we've shared with the photo gallery below!
(Photography by Watchonista, Callo Albanese, and Chris Shaw)