Grand Prix Diary 2011 Part 15 - Japanese GP

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Grand Prix diary 2011 part 15: GP Japan
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D threw the race in Japan long before its shadow. Of course, everyone spoke about the natural disaster and its consequences before arriving. My colleague Michael Schmidt was less worried about the radiation from Fukushima than about my food intake. He thought I would starve to death in Japan as a vegetarian. When I told him on the phone that I at least eat fish, I was relieved. All problems seemed to be cleared out of the way and nothing to stand in the way of the trip to Japan.

Colleague Schmidt not ready for action

But it was on the day of our planned departure it with the calm over. I was just crawling out of bed when my cell phone rang. The display showed Michael Schmidt's office number. At first I feared that I had mixed up the departure time and that I would now receive a wake-up call. But it was to get worse: Michael informed me that he had collided with a car on the bike the night before and that he could not fly to Japan because of the following investigations. It looked like he was going to miss the race in Korea.

When I hung up the phone, I started to gasp for a moment. I had never been to Japan before and knew that from Tokyo airport we would have a fun train ride with two changes. And I knew that Sebastian Vettel would probably become world champion in Suzuka and that there would be an increased workload. The first plan also called for me to do the story for auto motor und sport magazine in Korea instead of the stories for the website. Although I often write stories for my colleagues in the print editorial team, the thought of replacing Formula 1 luminary Michael Schmidt caused a grumble in the stomach area.

Photographer Reinhard plays Japan pilot

It fit into the picture that the bus to the airport was already delayed, I had to heave my heavy luggage around because of a defective escalator at the S-Bahn station and my flight to Vienna was not on schedule either. With a lot of luck, I caught the plane to Tokyo in Vienna just in time. There, colleague Schmidt called again and gave his current clinical picture. It stayed that way. He was going to miss a Grand Prix for the first time in 20 years. After all, we had meanwhile organized our photographer Dani Reinhard to bring me in at the airportHe was supposed to take Tokyo under his care and guide it to Suzuka.

On the twelve-hour flight, I had no time to worry. My Australian seatmate chattered incessantly. Then I knew about all of his family relationships in Austria. Accordingly, I got off the plane in Tokyo and was as happy as a schnitzel to sip a coffee at Starbucks with Dani - although I actually don't like coffee. So strengthened, we made our way to Suzuka. When we got off the train in the village of Shiroko, we were greeted with pouring rain. Fortunately, we only had to walk ten minutes to the hotel. I was served for that day anyway. Only dinner with a couple of colleagues cheered me up a little.

Race Sunday ends at five o'clock in the morning

In the paddock on Thursday, some of them knew what had happened. Those who didn't know anything pestered me with questions. 'When was the last time Michael missed a Grand Prix? 1939?' Asked a team manager with a big grin. Formula 1 missed him. And so do I. Not only the research turned out to be more difficult without his excellent contacts. Without him, something was just missing. Fortunately, I was able to rely on the help of my colleagues for this. Whether my personal Japan guide Dani Reinhard or colleagues from other media - everyone offered their help. Formula 1 is not as cold-hearted as is often claimed.

Ultimately, as expected, Sebastian Vettel was world champion on Sunday afternoon. As a one-woman show, I toiled until five in the morning, then I turned off the lights. Only four hours later we had to leave for Tokyo again. The journey in the comfortable and always punctual trains was a welcome opportunity to catch up on sleep. Arrived in the metropolis of millions, the obligatory Starbucks visit with Dani was on. I strolled through the alleys a little longer, but saw little on the holiday. But the view from my hotel room on the apparently knotted highways was impressive.

Korea has to wait

The next day we walked after a subway Ride experiment through the Ginza shopping street. The Japanese were bustling around. As a tourist you didn't feel the consequences of the natural disaster. Everything seemed to be the same as always. No matter where we went, we met helpful people. Later I had to make my way to the airport again because my flight to Korea was supposed to leave at 6 p.m.

When I got there, however, I was informed that the flight would be 15 hours late have. Somehow there seemed to be a curse on me on this trip. I was carted off to an airport hotel in a bus and couldn't fly until the next morning. It had something good, however, because I learned two nice onesKnow American women who shared the same fate.

The next morning, however, the United counter was suddenly no longer where it was the night before. My need for adventure travel was met for now. After a long back and forth we managed to drop off our luggage and sat on the plane to Korea. Everything should get better there, because Michael Schmidt got rid of his rail even faster than expected.

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