2013 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix – My Weekend in Sepang
The day started at 4.30am for me. Why did I get up so early? Well, I was heading to Malaysia on the Friday itself, with an early morning flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. First time I took a budget flight and it’s actually not so bad, I sure as heck wouldn’t mind taking these budget flights again. Since the Sepang International Circuit and Kuala Lumpur International Airport was close by, why the heck not fly on the day itself. And I learnt from the day itself right away, if you’re going to Sepang, don’t ever take the cab, just take shuttle bus. Actually, don’t ever take the cab in Malaysia, those guys will try to cheat you off by making you pay for a little bit more than you should.
The one good thing about the Malaysian Grand Prix is that for the Friday, it’s free admission to ANYONE and the only reason to bring a ticket would be for the pit-lane walk (which I didn’t go as I was a bit tired). As it is free admission, you don’t need to watch the action from your seat, you can watch the action wherever you damn well please. So for the first F1 practice session and the GP2 session, I was watching the action from the main grandstand just opposite the pit-lane.
I was right opposite the Marussia and Caterham pit garages as they were the nearest and the ones that wasn’t the most crowded (don’t need to say which ones were the most crowded), so I might as well watch it from there. It was pretty cool to see the cars come out from the pit-lane and doing those pit-stops and the practice starts. And of course, those cars streaking down the front straight at full speed, they really are freaking loud but that is music to my ears.
After the first F1 practice and the GP2 practice, it’s time for a break, I’m not interested in those Malaysian Super series of whatever it was called, so I got my lunch, and guess what? They actually have A&Ws over at Sepang. Singapore doesn’t have A&Ws anymore and the last time I actually had them was over in Calgary, Alberta during my short trip to Canada in 2010 before the start of my national service. I sure miss those curly fries and obviously the best bit of A&Ws, the awesome Root Beer!
For the second F1 practice session, I was watching from the other side of the main granstand, overlooking Turns 9, 10, 14 and the back straight, so it’s another good view from there. After enjoying the view there, I wanted to watch the action from opposite the pit-lane once again and we would stay there for the duration of the second practice session and GP2 qualifying. Just as I made it there, it started to rain! So nice timing from me there, didn’t get to see any action for a while thanks to the wet track. I was close to the Red Bull and Ferrari garages so I got to see those guys in action. Pretty good view there, and after the session ended, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button stopped for the inspections so I got to see them in flesh (Raikkonen as well). GP2 qualifying was good too, Coletti scored the pole. Saw one of the dumbest things on the big screen when Cecotto shoved Bird off circuit for whatever reason. And just in front of me, I saw Canamasas and Berthon nearly trading blows, pretty interesting qualifying eh? After the session, it’s time to head to the hotel to check in. I did get to see the ten Sauber showcars near the main grandstand, pretty cool.
After a nice breakfast from the hotel (aren’t they always nice?), it’s time to get to the circuit via the shuttle from the hotel, so that’s nice. A shuttle full of Brazilians sure can be quite entertaining. Friday is free admission, so for Saturday and Sunday, it’s to the proper seats. Got my seats at Grandstand F and actually, the view there is pretty good, you’ll get to see Turns 5, 6, 7, 8 and 15 (the last one). If I had gone a few rows further to the left, I would have gotten a great view of the two long straights!
First piece of action was the GP2 Feature Race and it was a great race, lots of action around. Got to see two team-mate taking each other out, lots of overtaking at Turn 15. For that race and the F1 third practice session, I was moving around the grandstand to get pictures from all sorts of views and I think I got some good ones from both sessions. The fish and chips they’ve got there is not bad too!
Qualifying was good session, but I didn’t move around much this time. Usual suspects got eliminated from the first session and the second session. The second session was a bit crazy. It started to rain with some 8 minutes or so to go for the session, so a few guys had their sessions ruined by the rain. I did get to see Paul di Resta spinning like a top at Turn 8 thanks to the wet weather and him being on the dry tyres.
So with that, the third qualifying session would be on the intermediate tyres and everyone sitting from the back rows moving to the front, it may have been a “covered grandstand” but we were still hit by the rain! I thought for a moment the Mercedes might spring a surprise but guess who got the pole, Vettel again. Massa got a big cheer when he bit Alonso to 2nd. Luckily the rain stopped before the Q3 started. Oh, and if you can drive to the circuit, you might as well do that, long wait just to get onto the shuttle bus.
After another good hotel breakfast and checking out of the hotel, it’s time to head over to Sepang for the Sunday action. I had a major dilemma for the first part of Sunday, head over to the F1 autograph session or watch the GP2 Sprint Race. I knew that there was little chance for me to get anything, the autograph session didn’t look as properly planned as those guys over in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, so GP2 it is for me. Did bought a Webber and Button shirt and Michael Schumacher’s 1991 Belgian GP debut race minichamp model.
The GP2 sprint race was as good as the sprint race, with Coletti winning this time. Great races for the likes of James Calado, Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer and Conor Daly. Nice to see Conor go from one of the slowest in practice to scoring points in the race, hope to see him in action in Singapore for the GP2 race.
Next up was that Malaysian series. The best bit was Saturday’s race because a Singaporean won it, so for those Malaysians to hear the Singaporean anthem must have been awful for them and awesome for me. IN YOUR FACE SUCKAS! The Asia Porsche Carrera Cup race was good as well, didn’t see the other sessions as it was the last one, but for sure I was going to watch the race.
After that, it’s time for the big one, the 2013 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix. And to make things even more interesting, it started to rain 30 minutes before the race started. Kinda sucks that they didn’t have a driver parade as they do in Australia and Singapore, their was only at the front straight with some kids asking some silly questions, really? I’d rather have those guys go around the circuit for the parade.
Got a good view of all the crazy action on the grid and got to see the tents come up thanks to the wet weather. The start was ok, didn’t see anything crazy but then as I was filming the guys crossing the line for the first lap, Fernando Alonso goes off at the first corner on the second lap. I had originally planned to watch the race there, so that kinda sucked, didn’t see anyone go off from where I was for the F1 race (for other series, I did see some off moments).
It was a good race, Webber was looking good the whole way and all of a sudden, Vettel closed on him and passed him, obviously I didn’t know what was going on at that time, the speakers didn’t give any good info about the race. I saw the Mercedes guys overtaking each other for a while but then it stopped, didn’t know about both team’s message to their drivers about holding station. One obeyed, the other didn’t.
So Vettel won in controversial fashion. I would only know about it at the airport a few hours later, we didn’t get to hear the post-race interview. But the way Vettel celebrated the win, I didn’t think there was anything up. Still, it was a good race. After the race, time for the long wait for the shuttle to the main entrance and another long wait for the shuttle to the airport. Didn’t stay on for the Guns N Roses concert, I’m sure I wouldn’t get a good view of it anyways. McDonald’s dinner and a few hours of waiting with free wifi at the airport. Just before I headed for my gate, I bumped into Fernando Alonso and got a picture with the two-time world champion, talk about good timing. Good weekend in Sepang. Would I go there again? I just might actually. Not as good as Singapore, Melbourne or Sonoma, but still quite good.