Getting a glimpse behind the scenes at a Formula 1 race and seeing what goes on in the paddock from close up – that’s what millions of motorsport fans around the world dream of doing. For Alejandro Montalvo, this dream came true at the 2017 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX. The 23-year-old Ecuadorian attended the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit in the role of DHL Fan Reporter.
As Official Logistics Partner to Formula 1, DHL ran a competition to select a Fan Reporter to cover the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The aim was to identify the contestant who provided the most creative commentary on a DHL Fastest Lap. Alejandro chose the Monaco Grand Prix and the fastest lap of the race set by Sergio Perez. The panel of judges were duly impressed. “I almost did not sleep for two or three days,” he revealed.
Advice from Pascal Wehrlein
A few weeks later, Alejandro joined up with the Formula 1 circus and took a first stroll around the paddock. Among the celebrities he met were Hermann Tilke, the architect of the Yas Marina Circuit, who explained the history of the venue to him. “We first had a careful look at the traditional architecture here and then formed it in a modern way.”
Before qualifying got underway on Saturday, Alejandro took a look inside the garages and watched the teams making their preparations. An enthralling day culminated in an interview with Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who gave Alejandro valuable advice on how best to do the reporter job: “You have to be nice and friendly.” He then added with a wry chuckle: “Don’t ask to many difficult questions!”
In the heart of the paddock
The first standout moment of the race weekend came for Alejandro on Sunday just before the start of the Grand Prix, when the winners of the DHL Fastest Lap Award and the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award were presented with their trophies on the home straight of the Yas Marina Circuit. For the third time since 2014, Lewis Hamilton secured the driver’s award for the greatest number of fastest laps in a season, while Mercedes picked up their first trophy for the most consistent pit stop performances.
Alejandro then watched the race itself (won by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas) from the grandstand of the Yas Marina Circuit before immersing himself once again in the hustle and bustle of the paddock. “I almost burst into tears because I’ve followed Formula 1 since I was a child,” he told us blissfully. “Being there that close, thanks to DHL, was the most beautiful experience in my life, which I will always remember.”