Simon Lazenby has one of the most interesting and exciting jobs on the planet. Here he tell you, the partypoker blog readers, all about it.
Half a millennia ago Magellan, the Portuguese Explorer set off on his journey attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the earth. Tragically and I should imagine much to his annoyance he was killed in a scuffle in the Philippines three-quarters of the way round, and it was left to his interpreter and slave Enrique of Malacca to complete the job on his behalf. Global travel isn’t as risky these days but either way 2019 will mark the 500th anniversary of this grand achievement and pro-vided I am still in the same job by then, Formula One will have allowed me to have completed my own round the world journey seven times, having started back in 2012.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. As someone who has always enjoyed roaming and to whom sport is central to his working week when I landed the F1 presenter’s role with Sky, I couldn’t believe my luck. Aircrew aside there aren’t too many jobs that allow you to match Enrique’s efforts on an annual basis. On top of that you get to do it with a group of friends, sharing some incredible experiences following one of the most popular sports on the planet.
When I tell people what I do for a living, it conjures up images of lavish cocktail parties on yachts bobbing up and down on the French Riviera with supermodels ten to the penny and Hollywood ‘A’ listers at every turn. The reality is very different; at least most of the time. If you’ve ever stayed in a motorway travel tavern in Japan, you’ll know there is not enough room to sit in your upright bath, let alone bring Gisele Bunchen back for an afterparty. Shanghai is polluted, Sochi does a neat impression of Banksy’s “Dismaland” and then there is Spa, in the middle of the Ardennes forest. It may be one of the best tracks on the calendar, but you have to be a hardy soul to camp out in that part of Belgium. Those woods are damp, and these are very minor complaints!
Life on the road has far more upsides than down and the most frequent question I get asked is “Which is your favourite race?”. I’m constantly revising my top five.
Right now it’s Austin; a very liberal enclave in the middle of Texas who’s motto is ‘Keep Austin Weird’. This year, for the first time since I’ve been going it tipped it down, but the bars are always packed, the restaurants full and if you like barbecue and live music, this is the one for you.
Singapore is another belter. It’s a night race, so the F1 paddock stays on UK time, and we become vampires for the weekend which isn’t a bad thing in a city that never sleeps.
Budapest is the best of the European races. If you’ve never been there put it on your ‘to do’ list, it’s stunning. Probably best to pencil in Monaco too; if only to see F1 at its vulgar best.
Every year and in every city your experiences vary, and when we stop at the end of the eight-month journey, I find myself reminiscing about the great times that we’ve had while not quite believing how much we’ve crammed into such a relatively short space of time. What you do find is that life flashes before you. Because you are constantly on the move and never in one place for longer than a week, time speeds up and when we do eventually finish the season, the three months off stretch ahead of you like a desert. To become sedentary for a while is necessary but mundane. In the four years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve become addicted to the nomadic lifestyle.
The work has thrown up some unforgettable moments. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been driven round a track by Lewis Hamilton at 150 mph, I’ve skydived with navy seals (and Johnny Herbert), attempted to act with the cast on the Neighbours set, seen the Stones in Montreal, interviewed David Beckham and on top of all that I’ve been to a few cocktail parties on yachts that bob up and down on the French Riviera!
I’m sorry, I really am, but it’s not lost on me that this is one of the best jobs that anyone could wish for and for that I’m truly grateful. Cheers Magellan, nice idea!