Music and motorsport: the perfect combination?

One of the world’s biggest pop stars – Justin Timberlake – is set to perform ahead of the US Grand Prix in October later this year. A crucial move to secure ticket sales for the event.

After the phenomenal success of last year’s Austin act Taylor Swift, the organisers of this season’s event have looked to go even better and greater.

Bobby Epstein, president of the Circuit of the Americas, says music artists see the weekend as a global stage and Timberlake “fits right in.”

Organisers behind the event last year signed up Swift to drive larger crowds to the big race and introduce more people to the sport, and they are hoping to do the same with Timberlake.

“Last year did what we hoped it would do, which is not only enhance an already great event but also give us the chance to expose a lot of new people to the sport,” COTA chairman Bobby Epstein tells Reuters. “And it worked. I think where we saw a big change was in the average number of tickets sold per transaction, which told me that families were buying. And so I think we’ll see that continue.”

Timberlake will play to an expected enormous crowd on 21st October, ahead of Sunday’s race. The booking comes at a critical time in Formula 1 as ticket sales of the sport appear to be struggling.

2017 has already lost the German Grand Prix after reports circulated in November last year that the race weekend would be cancelled.

There are other races where their futures’ remain uncertain too, another dent to the sport. The German race is the third event as of late to make headlines about departing the calendar, following Malaysia’s announcement that the 2018 race will be its last, while Singapore is also reportedly thinking heavily about its F1 future.

With race fees on the rise, tracks are doing their utmost to attract fans to their events.

Timberlake has a huge following, being one of the most successful solo artists of all time. His appearance will be sure to bring in a different audience to the US race.

Going forward, it seems essential for organisers to take music artists into consideration. Granted that not all events can afford such big bookings, but it is at least something to keep in mind as Formula 1 enters the next generation of the sport.

With social media more prevalent than ever, music and F1 shall make a perfect partnership for the sport to grow. Now it is vital to appeal to a wider audience. COTA have caught onto that, demonstrating how to put on a show for all.

Music and motorsport are a well-paired couple, securing the all-important ticket sales for those who are on the fence about attending.

Artists have often featured at races, although no one, arguably, has set the standard higher than the organisers of the Austin GP.

One thing remains certain, F1 and music have to keep collaborating.

Destination Guide: Melbourne

Formula 1 returns this weekend, and ahead of the first race of the season, I spent some time finding out what to do if you are lucky enough to be attending the 2017 season opener.

Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state Victoria and is home to over 4 million people. Founded in 1835, the area is steeped in diverse culture, which is near impossible to experience anywhere else in the world.

Situated in the vibrant city, Albert Park has plenty to offer. At just 3 kilometres from the central business district, the green space has played host to the Australian Grand Prix since 1996. In that time, it has had some of the biggest names in motorsport grace its tarmac.

The suburb is a hit with tourists, with its many streets featuring shops, bars and restaurants – a must, especially if the sun is shining. Whilst out and about, take advantage of Bridport Street with its cafes and Victoria Avenue which is renowned for boutiques and delicatessens.

Eating Out

Melbourne is home to many restaurants, providing cuisines from just about any culture imaginable. A firm must is Chinatown – the food is very good value and freshly prepared. The atmosphere at night is incredible, too. Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar and Laksa King are among my favourites. The Railway Club Hotel Steakhouse is said to be one of the best places to eat if you’re looking for steak, but their grills are also highly commended. Situated on Raglan Street, you’ll be a little further away from the hustle and bustle, but within walking distance of the other bars along the Yarra River.

Like anywhere else in Australia, food and drink can burn a hole in your wallet. However, if you’re prepared to venture further out of the CBD, then meals become more reasonable and some even say more quirky. There are many urban eat-outs along side streets which are becoming more and more popular with both locals and tourists. Don’t be afraid to try somewhere new!

Nightlife: The city is famous for its vast array of nightlife and there’s no doubt that all the stops will be pulled out for the Grand Prix weekend.

If you’re looking for something a bit different, then head to Art Nouveau Curtin House. The Bar & Rooftop is a cinema on top of a skyscraper – they say champagne tastes better at altitude. Screening movies throughout the week,  ensure you book upon arrival in the city to avoid disappointment. Watching Indie classics with a beer in hand, there’s not much to not like.

There are half a dozen places to choose from on Swanston Street, (a tad to the north of the Central Melbourne Station) while a night out in the clubs and bars of King Street (over to the west of the CBD) bowls along at a blistering pace. Either way, bars and clubs in Melbourne are rated as some of the best on the planet. However, if you are truly looking for the best, then the districts of Collingwood and Fitzroy (to the northeast of the city) are the places to hit up. They are what earn Melbourne its unique partying label.


Seeing the Sights: If you are lucky enough to have a few days to get over the jet-lag then there’s plenty of places to visit in and around Melbourne. From beaches to river cruises and amusement parks to botanical gardens, there is, quite literally, something for everyone.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are perfect to take a stroll around, even if there’s rain in the air (which there can often be, as Melbourne is famous for its four seasons in a day). Take a rug, a picnic and pick a good spot by the lake. It’s an idyllic space to take five away from the mayhem of the race track. The grounds are beautiful and there are many different pathways to explore. Within easy distance of the city centre, you’d be crazy not to get up that little bit earlier and have a walk around. They’re open from 7:30 a.m. daily and entry to the Melbourne Gardens is free.

If that’s a bit too tame for you, head to Eureka Skydeck to see if you have a head for heights. It’s known as the highest vantage point in the southern hemisphere. And if just the viewing floor is still not enough for you, then experience Edge, which allows you to tower over the rest of the city at over 300 metres up. Oh, and the cube is made of glass. Unsurprisingly, there’s not other experience in the world like it.

Lastly, if none of those are taking your fancy then head to St. Kilda. Home to theme parks, species of penguins, markets and much, much more, it’s no surprise that St. Kilda is Melbourne’s beachside playground. Luna Park is a family friend amusement park. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012, Luna Park mixes traditional rides with more modern day attractions. In fact, it boasts the title of having the oldest continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world and the only one of its kind with a standing brakeman in control aboard its moving carriages. Whatever your age, it is a great day out. Even if you don’t visit Luna Park itself, St. Kilda is an essential.

You can find more about things to do in Melbourne here:

Transportation: Wherever you’re staying in Melbourne, I’m sure it comes without saying to allow plenty of time to get to the race track. Like any city, the roads can often become gridlocked. Not so fun, but the tram runs through the city is a great aid in keeping things moving.

Several tram routes service Albert Park. You’ll be pleased to know that they are inexpensive too. Oh, and on Friday and Saturday, the service runs all day and night and on Sunday until 11 p.m, giving tourists plenty of time to do a bit of sightseeing before vacating the race track.

Last year, Melbourne introduced a ‘free tram’ which permits travel from the iconic Queen Victoria Market, across to Victoria Harbour in Docklands, up to Spring Street and over to Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. Most of Melbourne’s bus routes run well within social hours.

Of course, if you are staying in the city centre then there’s always the option to walk. The streets are clean and always well lit. It’s also good to take in the view on foot. Melbourne is unique, to say the least.


Conclusion: I fully admit that Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world. There is something for everyone and truly unlike any other place I’ve visited. Be sure to pack for all weather occasions; even if it’s forecasted to be sunny then it’s not unfamiliar for rain clouds to appear out of nowhere.

The race track itself is one of the best on the calendar, providing a great weekend no matter what happens out on the circuit. Just be sure to take a look around the city too!

Q&A: Working in F1 with a fear of flying

Formula 1 and flying go hand in hand. You can’t work on the F1 race teams without making flights at least every other week. Simple.

But what happens if, like millions of other people in the world, you suffer from a chronic phobia of flying? After all, it’s a completely rational fear.

After posting ‘Help! I have a fear of flying.’ ( Help! I have a fear of flying. )a few months ago, a couple of you got in touch.

However, one response stood out.

Can you work in a race team if you have a fear of flying?

I spoke to an F1 team member recently, to see how they cope with travelling.

How many flights do you board a month?

It all depends on how many races I’m attending. It also depends if the races are back-to-back, because we will often take a chartered flight. I would say six is a good average.

Where do you prefer to sit in the cabin?

I keep changing to be honest! The one thing that remains constant is that I prefer to sit over the wing due to the ride being more comfortable. In terms of window or aisle though I prefer the window for short-haul, but aisle for long haul. I choose aisle for long haul because I can’t sleep on any flights so need to move around. I am starting to lean towards window for both though, just because I find staring out of the window so relaxing, which is important for me.

What coping mechanisms do you use?

I have several. I take anxiety tablets an hour before the flight. It’s not advised, but I also have a few glasses of red wine before and during the flight to calm the nerves. Other mechanisms include squeezing mini stress balls and, quite simply, chatting to cabin crew. They always make me feel at ease, even during very bumpy flights.

 What triggered your fear of flying?

I can’t pinpoint one reason really. When I was younger, I loved flying, but like most children I was naïve to the world and ultimately fearless. Now, with all that’s going on in the world and every plane disaster being extensively reported it’s not surprising that my mind switches to panic.

 What thoughts come into your head when someone mentions the word ‘plane’?

Tedious. Weirdly, for short-haul flights, I don’t tend to feel too nervous because I know that in an hour or so I’ll be back on the ground. But for a long haul I feel physically sick. The fact that I can’t sleep on a plane, despite trying everything available, probably contributes to that. I have to find things to occupy my mind so I don’t panic.

Has your phobia eased?

It eases and escalates in equal measure. I can be completely relaxed on one flight but a nervous wreck on another. I’m not sure why, but I have been fluctuating all season.

Do people around you notice your phobia?

Yes, several colleagues are now aware of my fear. Some I have told prior to flying, others have witnessed me gripping the seat frantically during turbulence.

What has been your worst experience in flight?

I haven’t had any terrible turbulence. But on the way to Malaysia this year the first hour of the flight was very bumpy and that left me on edge for the entire flight. The cabin crew were also advised to strap in on the way back from Japan just recently. The turbulence wasn’t actually too bad but knowing the crew were strapped in too made me fear the worst.

What feelings run through your head before you take off and once you land?

Before I take off I pray. I’m not religious in any way but I pray for safety. Because even though extremely skilled pilots are controlling the plane I feel as though my ‘fate’ is out of any human control. So I feel incredibly nervous. Looking out of the window helps me relax though so I will just stare outside and will often begin to feel more at ease. I am always ok when coming into land because I know the flight is coming to an end. When the wheels touchdown I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s total relief.

The drivers seem to have fun whilst flying
The drivers seem to have fun whilst flying

Do many people in the industry have the same fear?

I know some people in the industry that do. But it feels embarrassing. Because we have to do it so much, and we fly with colleagues who are seemingly completely comfortable with flying, it’s hard to talk to anyone about it.

Does knowing that you’re on the same flight as some of the drivers/celebrities of the sport make a difference?

Yes actually. When you step onto a plane and you see the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart and various drivers and team bosses who have been flying all over the world for years it does make you feel at ease, because you think to yourself: “How is he/she feeling right now? Are they scared?” And 99% of the time they’re completely relaxed, reading a newspaper, having some wine or fast asleep. The hope is that one day I can be as relaxed as they are. I’m sure a flatbed in business class would help!

Is Monaco really worth the hype?

Monaco, the playground of the rich and famous, millionaire’s paradise – call it what you want. Regardless, the fundamental element stays the same: she’s very pretty.
I’ve been aware of Monaco from a very young age, grâce à Formula 1. I have grown up admiring its formidable settings and lavish yachts. One day I had to visit and everyone I spoke to told me that I had to also. The Casino, the shops, the cars and the incredible views, it was straight to the top of my to-do list.

But surely, a trip to Monaco is unrealistic for someone like me? Go there and it’ll cost you an arm and leg…


During my summer holiday, I got to visit and had the most incredible two days.

Arriving in the principality on a stifling hot day in mid-July perhaps wasn’t the smartest time of year to go, but hey, we were visiting France anyway and any excuse would do. Off the train my friend and I got, lots of luggage and bags between us – unfortunately, we hadn’t exactly packed light knowing that we were going to be away for over three weeks. We didn’t worry though; the hotel was less than 1 km away, or so Google Maps had said.

Now, I am not even going to attempt to lie to you here. The first three hours we spent in Monaco were painful and I very nearly wanted to jump back on the plane and go home. And I hate aeroplanes.

Out of the train station we went, turned left towards the hill that would take us up towards the Casino. Simple. I have done my Duke of Edinburgh, I know how this stuff works.

I did not know how this stuff worked.

It took over two and a half hours to reach our room, and in that time there had been blood, sweat, arguments, more sweat, tears and lots more sweat. And please do not laugh at me, but neither of us had realised quite how hilly this poorly sign-posted piece of land was. No wonder there were public lifts and steep stairs cut into the cliff faces. They were shortcuts.

Anyhow, after crashing on the bed in our apartment room, not so fresh, I was in a bit of a mood with Monaco. You know that person who you try and try to like but still end up immensely disliking them, even though they have done nothing physically wrong? Well, that was me and Monaco.

After a cool down and a life-saver in the form of coffee, we ventured to the beach. I had spoken to the receptionist and she told me the simple directions – two lifts, stairs and BAM! we were there. Oh no. An hour later and I was losing faith very rapidly in humanity.

Being the only one who could speak French, I asked a number of locals for directions and they all gave me completely different information. Diabolical.

We did eventually get to the beach, that wasn’t really a beach. The sea was nice but the sand and stones were clearly a man-made addition for the principality. Perhaps the only upside was ordering a Sprite and getting a MASSIVE Spritzer for the same price as my lemonade. Thanks very much.

Actually, that didn’t work out too well either. I ended up taking a bit of a stumble and ended up having a nice gash on my knee for the rest of the trip.

Mercifully, things picked up that night. We got changed, looked semi-acceptable for where we were (I accepted a long time ago that I would never look like Kim K) and headed to the old town.

It was dusk by the time we got off the bus, a stop earlier, to overlook the harbour.

Lights twinkled, the sky was clear and flooded with stars, the colour changing every second. All previous annoyance dissipated. I fell in love with Monaco there and then. It had taken just a couple of hours to steal my heart.

It’s a common conception that Monaco is expensive – and it can be if you get drunk at Jimmy’z (or just have one drink at Jimmy’z) and shop at Gucci. In my opinion, Monaco is as costly as you make it.

Our meal on the first night, in the old town, cost us around thirty pounds, a glass of wine each included. I am no mathematician, but that isn’t exactly a rip-off for some top quality Italian food with a beautiful ambience. We were just a stone’s throw away from the ocean.

The bus system in Monaco is incredible – 48 hour tickets are inexpensive and very, very easy to use. The addition of the night bus makes travelling home from bars and restaurants even simpler. And, the best part about it is you feel safe. Very different to a night out in Essex. No S.O.S bus here with sick sloshing from side to side…

The following day was spent doing all the touristy things – Casino Square, the palace, walk of the Grand Prix track…oh, and a look in the windows of the designer shops. One can dream.

From there we headed up to a small village called La Turbie, about a thirty minute bus ride from central Monaco. I had read up this online and knew what to expect. Regardless, I was still blown away.

The view was incredible.

Sitting on the edge of the cliff, high up, watching as clouds covered the view before moving away and revealing the whole of Monaco. I was moved, genuinely. All the not-so-great things that had happened in the past year, they were forgotten about. All that mattered was then and there…that view!

That night we ate at Stars ‘n’ Bars. Meh. Food was average but then again you paid for the setting. It is a paramount for any racing fan like me! I had to pinch myself several times; I couldn’t quite believe where I was eating my dinner.

Partying in Monaco can be done on a budget too. We went to a Christmas bar, and all drinks were 5 euros, reasonable enough considering you were in the harbour – the most iconic place in the whole of the principality.

Again, the night bus was fab.

Monaco was less expensive than I had imagined. In fact, it was considerably cheaper than St Tropez and Nice. We did it on a budget and we had a fantastic time, even if we did spend most of the two days sweating in the sun. But that wasn’t the only reason why I would recommend it to everyone.

The locals were lovely, welcoming and keen to show us their favourite spots. The weather was amazing, public transport put England to shame and the architecture was breath-taking.

Monaco did not disappoint, and is definitely worth every single inch of the hype.

So pack your sun cream, battery fan and a map; you’ll need it.


Helena xx







Help! I have a fear of flying.


Flying. Sounds like a simple way to get from A to B, but believe me it isn’t – and not just because of the 123564 calculations that have to be performed in order to make it possible.

Someone only has to mention a word associated with an aeroplane, and I’m off on one – stomach churning, sweaty palms, heart racing – you get the not-so-pleasant picture. Perhaps the only comfort among the terror is that millions of people are in the same position as me.

Yet, what on earth possesses us to turn into a trembling wreck? Flying is now more than a common phenomenon. The bloody statistics say so. Thousands of flights a day, thousands of planes in the sky at one time. Safer than driving a car or riding a bike, apparently. And that is saying something, especially if I am behind the wheel.

Those facts and figures do not help a person like me, though. In fact, they make it slightly worse.


More information can be found here at

The chances of dying in a car accident are 1/5000, whereas dying in an aviation incident is 1/11000000…

Yes but that isn’t the point, you hear me scream. My point is it only takes one thing to go wrong and it’s, effectively, game over.

And don’t try and tell me it isn’t because I have watched and rewatched every episode of Air Crash Investigation to know that one tiny, tiny screw bolt is capable and more of bringing down a 747. May I just say that it is seriously a good programme if you haven’t already watched it, go do so! (Like, it’s seriously awesome despite being ever so slightly terrifying 🙂 )

I ought to love flying because I love speed and I love roller-coasters. So what makes being strapped into a seat on a 300-tonne metal bird, of which you have absolutely no control over, any different? OH, precisely that.

I have flown across the globe several times – to Straya and back etc etc, you get the picture. I have encountered some of the worst turbulence, been in an emergency landing situation and been on an easyJet flight where the pilot told the passengers a number of times that he was deliberating what route to take when coming in to land.

We could have the longer, more straightforward route. Or, get this, the shorter, trickier route. It just depended on how nice the old air traffic controllers  were feeling.

In my short but very eventful life, I have never known anything quite like it. As we came down through the clouds we were chucking a left here, a right here…15 degree turns my ass. The whole plane was, no understatement, screaming as we bumped around. And don’t even get me started on the state of my poor mum.

Somehow, we landed on the tarmac at the airport and not in some farmer’s field. I presume it was a miracle if not some incredibly good luck.

When we pulled into the parking stand, the pilot, who had spent the most of the two-hour flight chatting to us, said – and now I quote – ‘well folks, we took the tricky route and saved two minutes.’

I do not think it was worth it.

My friends, up until holidaying with them, thought I exaggerated my fear of flying. Now that they have had me gripping onto their hand for four hours and having to physically drag me to the airport gate, they believe me.


So what is the ‘worst’ part of the flight – and apparently, I’m not allowed to say all of it? Well, for me, it’s the moments just before take off.

You hear the engines roar and…you’re off. Hopefully.  There’s absolutely no going back now. Supposedly, you can’t just put up your hand and say ‘hang on two secs, I just need to grab a bit of fresh air before we hurtle down the runway at some insane speed.’ Yeah, you can’t do that. Shame, really.

My fear of flying is embarrassing, despite genuinely not being able to help it. I drink the bottle/s of Rescue Remedy, do some positive thinking, meditating, listen to music, not watch scary aeroplane programmes the month before I fly. You name it, I’ve most probably tried it. Including getting absolutely hammered in the Business Class lounge – not so classy, I know. But I was desperate, you have to understand that.

Regardless of trying absolutely everything, whenever I step foot on an aeroplane I am 100% convinced that it is game over. The air hostesses smile at me and tell me to enjoy my flight. PHA…sorry, enjoy? Yes, thank you very much, I’ll try and enjoy myself when we are 35000 feet above the ocean. Top.

From 2002 to 2007, there were 109 deaths due to aircraft crashes according to the FAA whereas 196,724 people died in automobile accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

I’ve spent about an hour Googling ‘how safe is flying’, which isn’t a very good idea. Type ‘I have a headache’ into the search engine and it gives you three seconds to live.

Now a load of scientific facts have popped up – admittedly I have glazed over them. Gravity…upthrust, down thrust(?)…something or rather. Whatever. I shall never have the brain to understand how the things are kept up in the air, but it seems to work. For the majority of the time.

It’s a bit of a lottery, flying. I don’t suppose you can decipher between when an aeroplane is going to make it to its intended destination or when it’s not when you pull up at the airport. Perhaps it’s chance, or perhaps it’s just the black and white reality of life. Deal with it.

Maybe it is time for me to put my faith in the statistics and ignore the niggling voice that takes over from the very second I book a flight.

Why do I bother to put myself through the worry and stress?

I could rant for a long, long time about what makes flying so terrifying and about how much I have to go through just to go on holiday. But at the end of the day, I would spend the rest of my life stuck in the UK (pretending trains or boats do not exist) until some magical teleportation device is invented. Note to inventors: please could you hurry up a little bit!

I put myself through hell for a few weeks because the end reward is worth it. I love travelling and I love seeing new cities, exploring different cultures and learning new languages. Yes, I will do it for the Instagram feed!



This is why I travel!

So, in a way, flying is my worst enemy – but it’s my best friend.

My best friend that I absolutely hate with all my heart.

Do you also suffer from a fear of flying, or do you know of any tips to help combat the phobia? Comment below!