Piece written by F1 ACADEMY Career Discovery Programme student Marina D'Orazio Casado in Barcelona.

My name is Marina D'Orazio Casado and I have been following the world of motorsport with my family since I was a child. I define myself as a person who likes to try new things, ask a lot of questions, and who likes every day to be different. That's why I recently graduated as a journalist, and I've been lucky enough to experience different sectors that this discipline covers.

Additionally, I have had the opportunity to get involved with motorsport through the Dona-Gas programme created by the Catalan Motorsport Federation.

Here’s a look into my experience with F1 ACADEMY’S Career Discovery Programme during Round 3 in Barcelona.

Day 1: Kicking off the Spanish Grand Prix weekend

On the way from my house to the circuit, I imagined what would happen over the next four days. It was the first day, and I was nervous, but I got over it as soon as I met the other five girls. We all introduced ourselves to the others, and together, we entered the circuit grounds following Pilar Harris, the F1 ACADEMY Discover Your Drive Lead, who would be our guide during this experience.

It didn’t take me too long to feel comfortable and once we were settled in our new environment, the real day began. After a brief introduction to the programme we were taking part in, we had a tour of the paddock to meet the five teams, their staff and the drivers.

After the lunch break, we were introduced to Christian from the Logistics department. He explained the ins and outs of his job, with the work of his team one of the most important - none of the movements or anything you see on the circuit would be possible without them. After walking through the paddock and pit lane of Formula 1, it was truly an impressive day, but nothing compared to what the next days would bring.

The F1 ACADEMY Career Discovery programme gives local students a chance to gain hands-on experience of the diverse range of roles in motorsport
The F1 ACADEMY Career Discovery programme gives local students a chance to gain hands-on experience of the diverse range of roles in motorsport

Day 2: Reconnaissance, getting to know the circuit and preparing strategy

For the second day, the girls were each assigned to a different team to follow throughout the race weekend. I, on the other hand, was lucky enough to meet Hannah Prydderch, a journalist and F1 ACADEMY’s Content Editor. She was going to be my mentor and I would shadow her for the weekend.

To get to know each other better, we decided to do the track walk first thing in the morning around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya together. After walking almost five kilometres, I could understand how, by herself, she had managed to get there, which made me admire her even more.

Nothing would stop me from following the list of tasks Hannah had prepared for the two of us. The first interview of the day was with none other than the Standings leader, Abbi Pulling, so that the audience could get to know her a little better.

READ MORE: "Don’t be afraid to get into motorsport” - Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

The next task was to attend the televised short interviews with several drivers for the International Feed. Then, we had the Spanish driver, Nerea Martí, who was racing at home this week, waiting for us to have an interview.

After a short lunch break, I went back with the girls for a little photo shoot. The drivers might be used to it, but we were a bit embarrassed. At the same time, we were laughing because we felt special, which we were, just because we were there.

Finally, we met Carrie Schreiner for her interview. The German driver opened up honestly, giving a glimpse of her personality and tastes in order for the readers to get closer to her. It's a strange feeling when you are close to people you have idolised and followed on television and from the comfort of your sofa, but who are now right in front of you. Undoubtedly, there's a feeling of joy and disbelief at how lucky you are to be there.

The students got the chance to meet F1 ACADEMY Managing Director Susie Wolff
The students got the chance to meet F1 ACADEMY Managing Director Susie Wolff

Day 3: Warming up before heading out to the track.

On the third day, I arrived well in advance so as not to miss Free Practice, which we were able to watch from the grandstand for family and workers. The results were close, which was great for the post-session interview with Bianca Bustamante, who matched Pulling's time. Hannah's next scheduled interview was with Lola Lovinfosse, who explained all the nuances of her helmet and why she had designed it that way, with lots of details that undoubtedly give personality to her equipment.

After lunch, we had time to meet and take pictures with Susie Wolff, Managing Director of F1 ACADEMY. Minutes before I met her, my emotions got the better of me and I couldn't even articulate a word. Susie represents one of the greatest examples in the sport and just having her around is awe-inspiring.

READ MORE: Nobels motivated to turn her 'tough' start to the season around and move up the top 10

By that time of the day, I had already experienced a lot of unforgettable moments, but the best was yet to come. The day before, Hannah told me that I was in charge of the scheduled interview with Aurelia Nobels, a Brazilian driver who is racing in her first year in F1 ACADEMY. I had been preparing since I received the news, and the moment had finally arrived. We were a bit shy at first, as we were strangers, but as the minutes went by, we were both proud of our interview.

Even though the temperatures were low in the morning, the sun was rising as the day went on, as was my excitement about everything that had just happened. I think you could see this in the interviews I gave for the F1 ACADEMY filming crew.

The day couldn't have ended in a better way than watching Qualifying for the weekend from Alpine’s pit wall and attending the media pen for the top three drivers once it was over. I couldn't stop smiling the whole time I was with them, especially seeing how they answered countless questions minutes after putting themselves through a tremendous physical and mental effort.

As part of her shadowing opportunity DOrazio Casado interviewed Aurelia Nobels about her season so far and inspiring young girls back home in Brazil
As part of her shadowing opportunity, D'Orazio Casado interviewed Aurelia Nobels about her season so far and inspiring young girls back home in Brazil

Day 4: Reaching the chequered flag

In the morning, I woke up with mixed feelings. I was happy to be back at the track, but at the same time I knew that this was going to be the last day. Therefore, during the morning we were together preparing for the arrival of the participants of the Dona-Gas programme. They were young girls aspiring to enter the world of motorsport, just like us, and attending the paddock as fans.

Given my recent closeness to the drivers, I was assigned to give them gifts from the team to wish them luck before the first race. I was thrilled, but not as thrilled as I was when the recipients of the gifts recognised me. This happened at the same time as my article based on the interview with Aurelia Nobels the day before was published on the series’ website. These two moments marked a before and after for me. If before I wanted to be part of this world, now I needed to achieve that dream.

READ MORE: RACE DEBRIEF: How Chambers’ ‘best start of her life’ set her up for Barcelona Race 2 domination

The lunch hour flew by and gave way to the last interviews I would attend. I had the honour of meeting sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi, who are competing side-by-side in the same category. The afternoon was again memorable, as before watching the first race, I had the chance to stop by the Media Centre and watch the Formula 1 drivers' interviews regarding their Qualifying.

To round off the day and the experience, we watched the first race of the F1 ACADEMY weekend from the pit wall once again. At the end of the day, the same feelings as in the morning came back to me, but this time in reverse - leaving behind what is probably one of the best weeks of my life.

The students got up close to all the events unfolding on the pit wall in Qualifying and Race 1
The students got up close to all the events unfolding on the pit wall in Qualifying and Race 1

As you have read, the F1 ACADEMY Career Discovery Programme is one of a kind. The amount of activities, things and places you get to know through this experience is incredible. Therefore, if you have the opportunity, you should experience it minute by minute.

Without a doubt, from this programme I will take with me the moments I have experienced, the occasions I have taken advantage of, and the people I have met. Among them, I would like to thank all the career chats, Susie Wolff for creating this opportunity, Pilar Harris for her guidance, and Hannah Prydderch for her work as a mentor.

In addition, I would like to mention the importance of sharing this programme, and with that, I thank the girls who have accompanied me this week, without whom this experience would not have been the same. Finally, I must confess that despite having high expectations, the reality has far exceeded them. For this reason, I hope and wish that more young girls can live what I have lived and so discover their drive in motorsport.