Jonathan Kempsell got to be part of an official Formula One team during the Italian GP.
Earlier this year, TW Steel ran a competition across their Social Media channels for one lucky winner to ‘Join The Team’ – the outstanding prize on offer the opportunity to become a team member of Sahara Force India Formula One Team during September’s Italian Grand Prix at the renowned Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
As the ‘Official Timing Partner’ to Sahara Force India, TW Steel was excited to bring a member of the public closer to the action courtesy of its partnership with the team and where better a setting than in the final European round of the 2014 season in amongst the famed ‘Tifosi’ of Italy.
The winner, Jonathan Kempsell, already has a pretty cool job working for Tesla Motors in the United Kingdom but for the Italian Grand Prix he got to ‘Join The Team’ and work with Sahara Force India experiencing life behind the scenes of a Grand Prix weekend.
We caught up with Jonathan on his return from Italy to get his thoughts on his BIG TIME prize.
Q: When you first entered TW Steel’s ‘Join The Team’ competition, did you ever think you’d be the lucky winner?
Jonathan Kempsell (JK): “No! I’ve never won anything like this before, it was amazing.”
Q: What motivated you to enter? Have you been a lifelong fan of Formula One™?
JK: “I’ve always loved F1 and TW Steel watches. I also studied Motorsport Technology at university so to have a chance to see F1 up close and personal really motivated me to enter.”
Q: How were you feeling when you first arrived at Monza, knowing you were actually going to be working for Sahara Force India and experiencing a Grand Prix weekend at close quarters?
JK: “We pulled into the circuit, parked up and then went through the turnstiles into the paddock. It was at that point I knew it was going to feel special as it was a side of the sport I’d never seen before. It was amazing to walk past all the other team trucks and hospitality units and then get to ‘home’ for the weekend at Sahara Force India’s paddock base.”
Q: How much of the Monza atmosphere were you actually able to soak up while fulfilling your duties? Did you get to experience the passion of the legendary ‘Tifosi’ at any point?
JK: “I got to walk the entire circuit with the drivers and engineers and that really allowed me to take in some of the atmosphere and of course see and hear the fans. It also gave me a completely different view of the track and all its gradients and turns, something TV just can’t capture.”
Q: What one thing surprised you most that you hadn’t expected in terms of your unique ‘behind the scenes’ look at a Grand Prix weekend?
JK: “The long hours everyone on the team puts in. That, and just how quickly they break down the paddock while the race is still taking place.”
Q: Of all the things you experienced in Monza, what stands out as your BIG TIME moment?
JK: “My Big Time moment was definitely escorting Nico (Hulkenberg) and Sergio (Perez) to the meeting area for the drivers parade and then being in the company of the whole grid.”
Q: Timing is obviously a critical element to any team and you were able to experience their time management first-hand. Is life in the team as flat-out as the action on-track?
JK: “They have a structured plan for each day and you could see during the practice sessions and the race how critical the instructions were to the second in terms of pit-stops and so on. The guys come out to execute their job as planned almost to the millisecond.”
Q: Life in the paddock is undoubtedly an exclusive experience – from a fans perspective did it meet your expectations?
JK: “It exceeded my expectations! Being there was a surreal experience when you’re used to just seeing it on TV.”
Q: Who at Sahara Force India did you enjoy working alongside the most and why?
JK: “Mark, the Team Manager. He took the time to show me around the garage and the trucks explaining how it all worked. He was amazing, as were all the staff on the team though. They really made me feel so welcome. I wish I could go to every race with them!”
Q: Has your ‘Join The Team’ experience changed the way you watch a Grand Prix now?
JK: “Well I’ll definitely be looking out for the Sahara Force India team a lot more on the TV. I have a new found respect for the hard work that goes into executing a Grand Prix weekend.”
Q: Describe your Monza weekend in five words:
JK: “Unforgettable! Money can’t buy experience!”