• The Inside Line

2013 season review

Kate Walker November 24, 2013

If you want a review of the action on track, look elsewhere. This season review is a rather more social affair.

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Australia

Highlight: Collecting my pass on Wednesday, I ran into a few friends doing the same. We headed to the hotel bar for a coffee and a catch-up, only to be greeted by a friend from one of the teams in possession of four bottles of champagne and no one to drink them with.

Lowlight: The rain-delayed qualifying session that saw Q2 and Q3 take place on Sunday morning.

Malaysia

Highlight: Discovering a variety of new and delicious street foods I'd never tried before.

Lowlight: Getting food poisoning on Sunday night and throwing up in my mouth on the escalators at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in front of no fewer than three drivers (including two world champions).

China

Highlight: Scoring a bargain room at the plushest five-star hotel I've ever stayed in, even if it was for only two nights. It even included free food and drink.

Lowlight: Getting back to my cheap room in the media hotel and discovering that it was raining from the bathroom ceiling. After four nights of this, it got rather tiresome.

Bahrain

Highlight: Having a dance-off with the McLaren mechanics in the paddock on Saturday night.

Lowlight: Losing the dance-off by falling over while attempting to do Cossack dancing in five-inch heels.

Spain

Highlight: The barman who celebrated Alonso's win by giving us free drinks all night.

Lowlight: The hangover on Monday morning.

Monaco

Highlight: Eating roughly 50 kilos of canapés and petits fours while sitting on a sun terrace overlooking the track at l'Hermitage following a Caterham media event.

Lowlight: Being unable to sleep a wink on Saturday night thanks to the drunken snores of a roommate. I called it quits at 4am and walked the track until the sun rose.

Canada

Highlight: Just being in Montreal. It's a can't-miss weekend for any race fan.

Lowlight: Being turned away from the door of a party with no explanation by the same organiser who had invited me to cover the event for a magazine.

Great Britain

Highlight: The traditional crispy duck night out that sees half the paddock invade the same Chinese restaurant. Many hijinks ensue.

Lowlight: Discovering that there still weren't any windows in the press room.

Germany

Highlight: Getting a ride back to my B&B one night in a Porsche 993 GT2. What a car! The Eifel mountain roads showed it off perfectly, and the air-cooled engine was incredibly loud.

Lowlight: Getting into trouble with the owner of our B&B for sitting out in the garden at 10pm on Friday night. Apparently that's not the done thing in the Nurburgring.

Hungary

Highlight: Felipe Massa letting me squeeze his cheeks while saying 'chuchy face' at the post-race party.

Lowlight: The terrible coffee in the media centre. It tastes like caffeinated ashtray.

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Belgium

Highlight: The traditional Saturday night Sparty involving caipirinhas, kilos of barbecued meat, drunken table dancing, and the odd F1 driver.

Lowlight: The Belgian police who make it their business to block every sensible route into the circuit.

Italy

Highlight: Eating the best pizzas of my entire life, and never paying more than €9 for the privilege. We may have eaten at the same restaurant night after night. But it was okay, because so did Fernando Alonso, Paul di Resta, and David Coulthard. #paddockpizzeria

Lowlight: Trying to leave the circuit. Traffic management is not their strong suit.

Singapore

Highlight: Beer and sambal stingray at the Orchard Road hawker stalls of an evening.

Lowlight: Checking into my cheap hotel only to discover that it was a windowless box filled with mould. They'd painted over the mould in silver, and were trying to pass it off as textured wallpaper.

Korea

Highlight: Staying in a real hotel with room service and a swimming pool an hour from Mokpo, and paying the same rate my colleagues were being charged in the love motels.

Lowlight: The hour-long drive to and from the track twice a day.

Japan

Highlight: Interviewing passionate and crazy Japanese fans in mega costumes at the circuit, and meeting miniVettel, who is my new favourite person.

Lowlight: There are no lowlights in Japan. It's magic.

India

Highlight: The herby chicken curry served in the media canteen on Sunday night. Naturally we immediately christened it Blash chicken curry. (Think about it…)

Lowlight: Staying in the same hotel as the marshals, who thought it was a good idea to stay up drinking till 3am every night while running through the halls screaming and shouting. Safety first!

Abu Dhabi

Highlight: Spending several hours at the hotel beach every morning before heading to the track, thanks to the later start times.

Lowlight: Being chased through the hotel service corridors at 3am when our attempt to find a shortcut back from the beach went slightly awry.

United States

Highlight: Every night out in Austin.

Lowlight: Getting stuck in multi-hour traffic jams on a daily basis. We spent more time stuck in traffic around COTA than we did in Sao Paulo.

Brazil

Highlight: Finally having the time to make the pilgrimage to Senna's grave after four trips to Sao Paulo.

Lowlight: Several hour-long post-session waits in the rain outside the circuit. It feels very safe to be standing on the streets of Interlagos in the dark with a laptop bag.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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WRITER BIO
Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to ESPN. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, her unique approach to Formula One coverage has been described as 'a collection of culinary reviews and food pictures from exotic locales that just happen to be playing host to a grand prix'.
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Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to ESPN. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, her unique approach to Formula One coverage has been described as 'a collection of culinary reviews and food pictures from exotic locales that just happen to be playing host to a grand prix'.