Yes the race was two weeks ago but I’ve been so busy that I’ve completely forgotten to post this up until now.
When I heard this year’s F1 Malaysia Grand Prix would be the last one at Sepang, I knew I had to make the trip up north one last time. My feelings aside about the country, Sepang is one of the better circuits I’ve been to, it’s got so many good spots around the circuit and you get to see the cars a lot longer than what you normally would like for those street circuits in Singapore and Melbourne.
So two weeks after the Singapore Grand Prix, and the first wet night race for F1 too, I was off to Malaysia and like always, took the early morning flight on the Friday itself. I got to Kuala Lumpur with plenty of time to just stroll to the bus that takes us to the circuit. And of course the driver lost his way trying to get to the circuit so we reached there while it was drizzling. Thanks man.
For FP1 I found a neat spot right in front of the Haas pit garage with a good view of the Renault, Toro Rosso and McLaren garages too. But that was all I got to see for a bit as the rain got heavier and that delayed FP1 by 30 minutes. Still, it’s not always you get to see the driver walking around their pit garages and talking to their guys up close, or in my case, with the aid of my camera.
It was pretty cool to see the drivers just before they got into the cars and getting out of pit-lane and even seeing a few pit-stops practices. That’s one of the best bits about the Sepang race weekend, it’s free seating anywhere on Friday, including the main grandstand. So of course I took the chance to walk around a bit. Not so much for FP1 due to the rain though.
For FP2 I did walk around. Instead of seeing the pit-lane opposite me, I was seeing Turns 9 and 10 and the backstraight. After the first few minutes I went over to the tower to get the best views of the car and then came the bad news. Seems like I wasn’t the only one with that idea as the whole top deck of the tower was packed with people. I had a hard time just trying to get a picture of any of the cars around the sea of people. I did get some good shots after all. And once again it was a shortened session due to the Grosjean crash.
I got to Sepang a little later than usual on Saturday and I realised it was a mistake. I had completely forgotten that Sepang did do those F1 forums witht he drivers so I missed that one. I will say that Liberty Media have done a great job making the fan experience even better off track, there were a lot of activities you could do in the F1 fan village, from the gaming zone to the pit-stop challenge to even a trampoline bit while waving the flag!
I got the same tickets as I did last time I was in Sepang at the K1 Grandstand but this time it was free seating, no seat numbers allocation, nothing! And when I got to the grandstand, the first 6 blocks were full! Not ideal at all. But since it was FP3, I went all the way to the end of the grandstand to see the view from in front of Turn 3 and some bits of 1, 2, 4 and 5. The middle bit is still much better.
So that’s where I was for qualifying and also because the superscreen was there so we could at least follow what was happening on track. Turned out to be a good spot for taking some pictures too actually. Anytime a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull drivers came out, they had the loudest cheers. So imagine the reaction from the fans when Vettel never came back out for Q1. I had a good laugh, more bad luck for Ferrari. I’m all for that.
Not much else happened in Q2 and Q3, Lewis Hamilton took pole ahead of Kimi Raikkonen with both Red Bulls on row 2. The travel back was a nightmare though, we were stuck in traffic for what feels like forever. You’d think that it wouldn’t take long to get from Sepang to KLIA, since they’re just opposite one another, yet it took us almost an hour to get there. Not much else I need to say here.
Raceday Sunday and guess what, I got there just as the driver’s parade ended. Yup, that damn traffic again. And once again the first few blocks were full so I ended up sitting almost the same area as the day before but this time in the 2nd row because I realised I could get a clear view of the cars for my pics even from there so why not get closer? And no-one will block me right? Not quite.
The race was pretty good from my point of view. Kimi Raikkonen never started the race so even more bad luck for Ferrari so more joy for me. The race start was clean, Hamilton lead and Bottas almost got 2nd but Verstappen held on. Then on Lap 4, in came the move from Max Verstappen to take the lead from Hamilton and the fans went nuts (as did I)! That was good stuff. A few laps later, Ricciardo had another great overtaking move to get 3rd from Bottas. Good day for Red Bull!
I got to see a lot of close racing from my area since turn 1 was the hardest braking point on the circuit. And yes I did see a few incidents and spins that happened right in front of me. The Sainz-Ocon incident and Palmer-Magnussen incident happened at Turn 1. It’s not everyday you see two racing cars spinning around in front of you. I also saw the Alonso-Magnussen shuffle happening, that was a close one.
Verstappen ended up winning the race, only his 2nd win in F1 and a day after his 20th birthday too. Hamilton finished 2nd and Ricciardo just held off Vettel at the end to make it two Red Bull cars on the podium, that’s a good day in my view. And then Vettel had just three wheels, he collided with Stroll after the race! Haha! Vandoorne had his best race with 7th so another good day for McLaren so more good news for me. Not a bad last race for F1 in Sepang, I will miss watching racing there. The three times I’ve been there, it was always good. We need more circuits like these in F1 and less street circuits with restricted views.
So last weekend was a historic race huh? For the first time in the long Formula One history, we had a wet race at night! So that was a pretty cool experience to be in the first one ever. Oh and the Ferraris before retiring on Lap 1 for the first time ever too which really made my weekend haha.
So after my bad experience of sitting in a grandstand in Singapore 2 years ago and saying I probably won’t ever get another grandstand sit here again….yup I bought one. I couldn’t help it and I just had to give it a try so this time I went for the Esplanade Bayfront grandstand, I thought it might be a good spot to check out. Turned out to be a really good spot so I’m glad I did get seats there.
For once, I didn’t really do much in the lead up to the racing weekend. It didn’t help not hearing about any driver’s public events or appearances anywhere! They must have been all private events this year so that really sucked. You want to bring the sport closer to the fans but you keep blocking them off with little events and the only way to go to their autograph session is by winning tickets for it. Not cool. They really need to look at the way Australia does it.
I was really looking forward to watching the cars in action this year. Unlike some others, I actually do like how the cars look this year. And there were some good looking cars this year. Toro Rosso, Force India, McLaren, Sauber and Renault all have great liveries on their cars for the 2017 season. Quite rare to have that many good ones on the same grid.
So for Friday I started the day out at Turns 11/12. Since I was stuck in zone 4 for this year, that was the first place I had in mind to check out. After all, there aren’t many good spots in zone 4 so I might as well spend most of my time at the better spots. At any point you could be seeing the cars from the side view, the back view or the front view around that Turns 11-12 area. Good spot for taking pictures of the cars too. So much so I spent the entire FP1 at the Turns 10-12 area.
If you’re ever at the Singapore Grand Prix and all you’ve got is a zone 4 ticket, the really good spots are at Turn 8, 11/12 and 14. I even tried to see the action at the turn 13 hairpin but you had to stand on a railing just to see the cars. The bit before Turn 14 is also another good spot, that’s the place where you’ll hear the cars at their “loudest” and also the easiest place to see sparks flying off these cars which is always a nice visual. Too bad I can never get a good picture for it. It’s usually the one spot where I’ll be taking videos instead of pictures. You can actually hear the differences from each power units in action.
There is an interesting spot on top of the Esplande building overlooking Turn 15, you can see the cars from the view of the 4th floor and since the building is inside the circuit, anyone with a ticket can watch it from there. It’s also one of the few spots around the track where you can get a picture of these cars without those catch fences being in the way but only for one specific spot. I liked it so much I almost spent all of FP3 at that spot. I probably should have as I didn’t get one good picture of the cars from Turn 15 when I decided to switch with 20 minutes to go.
The atmosphere was amazing with fans from everywhere coming down to Singapore. There were people from Netherlands (lots of Dutch fans here), Denmark, Mexico, Canada and even good ol’ USA but the main ones are the Brits and the Aussies. I ended up sitting around some of them during the race and of course they had a friendly banter with one another with Hamilton and Ricciardo fighting for the win.
There’s no clear cut favourites on who the fans all support so it’s nice to see all different supporters, as it tends to be the case around here. You’ll always hear a cheer for either the Ferrari guys, Mercedes guys, Red Bull guys or the McLaren guys (McLaren fan here). Oh if you were wondering, there was a loud cheer when the two Ferraris crashed into each other during the race. Guess my area was the anti-Ferrari zone.
The same can be said during qualifying. I went back to Turn 11 because there was a super screen there and I wanted to see what times everyone was doing. The crowd around me for qualifying were pro-Verstappen. I was a bit surprised to see a lot of Dutch fans here in Singapore, they really do travel around to support their guys. Good on them. I was sure a Red Bull car would be on pole position with how quick they were in all three practice session but of course Sebastian Vettel had to ruin that and take pole away. Laugh it up Ferrari fans, guess who got the last laugh?
For once I didn’t really bother with the music concerts. I mean look who was there. One Republic? Don’t know them. Chainsmokers? Never heard of them. Calvin Harris? Who the heck is he? I honestly have not heard of him until the friday of the racing weekend. Turns out his is dance music. Really, you’re going to have that shit at an F1 circuit? Where’s our rock & roll music? I mean think about it, F1 is an adrenaline pumping sport, rock and roll gives you that adrenaline rush too! I mean it’s perfect for an F1 race and it’s my kind of music. So until we get someone good, I won’t bother with these concerts. Then again, I’m here at an F1 circuit for the racing itself. I guess you can see why the Australian Grand Prix is still my favourite race to visit, it’s all racing there.
So Sunday was fun in some ways. Looking up in the sky, I knew this could be the day we actually do get hit by the rain during the racing weekend. For some weird reason, the only time it has rained was two Fridays and it was well before any of the F1 practice sessions started. The weather really didn’t help that day. It was raining, then it stopped, then it rained again, then it stopped again, it went on and on. Especially around 10 minutes before the race started, the rain came down again. It wasn’t fun hiding under the grandstand to avoid the rain and still get hit by it! Oh and a piece of advice here, always bring a poncho! I forgot to bring mine and I had to buy one (just for $2) because they didn’t allow umbrellas to be used in the grandstands. I should have known better from my experiences in Suzuka and Melbourne.
So the rain actually rejuvenated the fans around my area, we were all psyched and ready to see the start of the race. We all kinda knew we were about to witness history, the first ever wet race at night in F1. And these guys have never raced around the track in the wet session too so it was a step into the unknown for everyone involved.
And then the start happened. So if you didn’t see, how did you not? Vettel started on pole, Verstappen 2nd and Raikkonen 3rd. Kimi gets a better start then the front two, Seb gets a slower start, tries to cut off Max and this caused Kimi to hit Max and then his own team-mate! The Ferrari guys took each other out! HAHAHAHAHAHA! I’ve never had a good laught at a race like that. People who know me knows how much I hate Ferrari so this felt like my birthday, the greatest gift of them all seeing those two cars out in the first lap!
It was weird seeing the cars race while shivering in my poncho. This was actually my first wet race! I’ve seen wet practice or qualifying sessions in Melbourne, Suzuka and Sepang but never the race itself. Of course I had a tall bloke sitting in front of me in a grandstand as per usual but this time he didn’t really block my view that much when trying to take a picture of the F1 cars in actions.
In the end it was Lewis Hamilton picking up an unlikely win in Singapore. I wasn’t expecting to see a Mercedes car on the podium this weekend since Singapore is their weakest track so to see both of them on the podium was something else. Good ol’ Daniel Ricciardo was on the podium for the fourth year in a row but still not the win. One day Dan will get it and I hope I’ll be near the podium to see it happen. Special shout out to Carlos Sainz, Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne, all 3 of them got their best career finishes in that race with 4th, 6th and 7th respectively.
So it was another good weekend at the Marina Bay street circuit. I already know which tickets I’m aiming to get for next year’s race. Yes, there will be a next year after the news broke that Singapore has re-signed the race for another 4 more years among all the other breaking news to come out last weekend (McLaren switching to Renault power, Toro Rosso switching to Honda power and Carlos Sainz moving to Renault as part of the whole deal). Always good to have my fix of racing in for the year and hey, it won’t be the last, I’ll be at Sepang for the final Malaysian Grand Prix. I hope it doesn’t rain there too.
So big news coming out of Indianapolis…or Texas…or Bahrain, wherever it may have been from but two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso is skipping the Monaco Grand Prix to race the 101st Indianapolis 500! Oh wow talk about huge news, this is massive news for IndyCar, the Indy 500, us Indy fans and well motorsports fans in general I suppose.
And the first thing to pop out of my mind when I heard about this….”Did Fernando remember my question to him all these years?”. Yeah so I did ask him about racing at the Indy 500 a few years ago and he actually replied back on Twitter which then became a big story on IndyCar, ESPN and whatever it may be. Check it out here -> https://kashwinner.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/the-time-i-asked-alonso-about-the-indy-500-on-twitter/
It’s really happening! I mean I don’t blame him, clearly McLaren’s latest F1 challenger is a step down and he’s starting to lose patience so why not try something new? After all, he’s only skipping the Monaco Grand Prix, possibly the worst race of the lot because there is ZERO racing on it (never been a fan of Monaco in all honesty). And he’s going into the BIGGEST race of the entire year where overtakes are aplenty and well anyone can win it. So a good deal there from Mr Alonso. I would have done the same thing in a heartbeat.
I’m really excited about the prospect of seeing Fernando Alonso in an IndyCar for the first time, in a super-speedway for the first time and on the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway….not for the first time but for him the first time driving in the opposite direction to when F1 last visited Indianapolis.
And he’s got a decent chance of taking his second step to complete the Triple Crown (Monaco GP, Indy 500 and 24 hours of Le Mans). He is racing for Andretti Autosport who have gone well in Indy for the past few years. Let’s not forget, they won the big race last year with a rookie driver coming in from F1 (Alexander Rossi) and Kurt Busch did alright in his attempt with them so clearly Alonso, if all goes well, has a chance to do well there.
Alonso should do alright. He’s in the right team with maybe the best guys to learn from (Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Sato and Rossi), two guys who have jumped from F1 to IndyCar and all four guys have at one point or another found themselves in a position to win it. 🙂
I thought last year’s 100th Indy 500 was the biggest one ever and now with this news, this might be even bigger! I can’t wait for this month of May to see how Alonso does in an IndyCar. It really is happening! 😀
The 2017 Formula One season is starting today over in Melbourne, Australia! Nothing beats watching F1 cars in action (well, maybe apart from watching IndyCars too) and I can’t wait to see how the new regulations will shake up the order, if it even does that which so far looks as if it won’t. Hopefully we will get some good racing at least. And as always, I’ll say this, I wish I was in Melbourne right now. Been there twice, enjoyed it both times. Hopefully going there for a third time soon.
So those of you who aren’t familiar to the F1 or new to racing, here’s a little guide on who’s driving for which team. Well, the full-time drivers that is.
#44 Lewis Hamilton (England)
Fastest Laps: 31
Finishing Rate: 87.77%
#77 Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
Fastest Laps: 1
Finishing Rate: 92.21%
Red Bull TAG Heuer
#3 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
Fastest Laps: 8
Finishing Rate: 90.83%
#33 Max Verstappen (Netherlands)
Fastest Laps: 1
Finishing Rate: 82.5%
#5 Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Fastest Laps: 28
Finishing Rate: 85.96%
#7 Kimi Räikkönen (Finland)
Fastest Laps: 43
Finishing Rate: 78.57%
Force India Mercedes
#11 Sergio Perez (Mexico)
Fastest Laps: 3
Finishing Rate: 88.56%
#31 Esteban Ocon (France)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 100%
#18 Lance Stroll (Canada)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 0%
#19 Felipe Massa (Brazil)
Fastest Laps: 15
Finishing Rate: 85.6%
#2 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 100%
#14 Fernando Alonso (Spain)
Fastest Laps: 22
Finishing Rate: 83.52%
Toro Rosso Ferrari
#26 Daniil Kvyat (Russia)
Fastest Laps: 1
Finishing Rate: 78.94%
#55 Carlos Sainz (Spain)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 72.5%
#8 Romain Grosjean (France)
Fastest Laps: 1
Finishing Rate: 72.55%
#20 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 87.5%
#27 Nico Hülkenberg (Germany)
Fastest Laps: 2
Finishing Rate: 84.34%
#30 Jolyon Palmer (England)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 75%
#9 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden)
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 76.79%
#94 Pascal Wehrlein
Fastest Laps: 0
Finishing Rate: 76.19%
The big story of the season I guess will be the fight at the top. It looks like it won’t be a one-team race like we’ve seen for the past few years. Ferrari have definitely caught up with Mercedes and for once we might get that world champion vs world champion fight in Hamilton vs Vettel. That’d be a great fight to follow for the neutrals, me included as I’m not a fan of either man these days (one because of how he’s been acting lately, the other because he joined THE enemy).
The other thing I’m looking forward to seeing is how well Bottas does in a top car for once. He’s now got the golden opportunity in the best car on the grid, but can he keep up with Hamilton? We know he’s got the talent, now it’s his time to prove it.Surely he’ll get his first win this season and when he does, that fight will become even closer.
I will say I like the look of the cars. Longer rear wings, bigger rear tyres….back to the older times eh? I’m not bothered by the shark fins at all. Also we got some really good looking liveries on track. The Toro Rosso car is still my favourite but the new pink car for Force India sure comes a close second and the third favourite….an ORANGE McLaren! Yes, they’re back to the traditional orange colours. I do like the slightly updated Sauber look too. Can’t wait for the race in Melbourne to start in almost an hour’s time!