On the Thursday before a race, there's usually a signing session where the drivers rock up to sit and sign autograph cards and programmes for fans that are lucky enough to get close. In Hungary, Tabatha and I took Timo and Jérôme down to the sharp end of the pitlane and while T&J were signing cards, I tried to hand some out to some of the fans behind the barriers who were obviously never going to get close.
But that's apparently not allowed - the security guards stopped me from handing out cards to people that weren't in the official queue, so my only resort was to throw a load of cards into the crowd of fans. Not as satisfying, but at least it spread the MVR word a bit further!
It was pretty much the same story for the pitlane walkabout. The guards put up a load of barriers to stop fans getting too close - they don't do this for the Paddock Club walkabouts as there aren't so many people around.
In germany, @JonnyBowersF1 and I had managed to give about 20 impromptu garage tours to small groups of fans who showed an interest in the team - it didn't take long before a queue started forming. I firmly believe that F1 teams should try harder to get fans closer to the action. It's not impossible - usually. In Hungary though, security would not let us do it. I only managed it once, with a bit of local help from Brigi (aka @brigi00) who did the translating (and was lucky enough to win two Paddock Club tickets for Friday as a reward for that, and for writing a guide to Budapest for us).
When a fan from the UK who had been in touch over twitter, sadly I can't remember his name, turned up and I wanted to show him round, I wasn't able to do it. His son's sad face was enough to make me dash for the motorhome to dig out two caps. That helped a bit and I also figured, well, why not take their camera and take some photos in the garage, so at least they'd have something. They thought it was a good idea and handed over their camera and I went and snapped a few photos. Walking back to the barrier, I realised what I'd done. There were tens of cameras being proferred. I handed one camera back, and took another two into the garage. I settled on three shots, front three-quarter, side and cockpit with steering wheel. It's always one of the favourites.
Turning back to the crowd, I realised I had no idea whose cameras I was holding. Fortunately, the owners did. For the next 20 minutes I was just taking photos on other peoples cameras and handing them back, and I think I got them all right. I wouldn't have minded keeping the Nikon D300 though, the owner looked very worried when I waved goodbye at him!
F1 can't allow everyone access, but my view has always been that if you do what you can, the fans will appreciate it. Last year, I managed to get passes for a few fans that otherwise would have had no chance of seeing behind the scenes. It's by no means easy, but it's very worthwhile when it works.