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.
I actually started my Friday still in Singapore. Yup, got my flight to Malaysia in the early morning! Landed in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 8.30 and I quickly noticed some guys in either Red Bull or McLaren gears, they were obviously heading to the circuit so we followed them to the shuttle bus to get to the Sepang International Circuit. Here’s the funny bit. The Sepang circuit is just opposite side of the highway from KLIA but it takes bloody 20 minutes to get there. And you still have to switch buses to get to the ones that will bring you from the bus park to the entrance of the circuit itself! Lots of travelling already!
Finally got to the circuit and for Fridays in Sepang, it’s free admission to all and free seating in the main grandstand. My dad and I had tickets for the weekend but since it was free for Friday, my mum joined us to see what it was like for the first time. Now my entire family has since F1 cars live in action at least once haha, mission accomplished. Started the day with even more traveling. This time from the main entrance to the entrance of the main grandstand, stopped at one of the first few sections at the main grandstand to watch the first few minutes of the first practice session for F1 before moving on to the very end of the main grandstand.
Got some views of the seeing the F1 cars from inside their pit garages so that’s always a cool moment to see the drivers getting ready before hitting the track. I knew that after the first few laps, no-one would take to the circuit for at least 10 minutes so that was enough time for me to make my way to the end of the grandstand.
At the very end of the two long grandstand there’s another viewing area called the Tower Grandstand and it’s one of the best places to not just watch the action but also to get pictures of the F1 cars. You can see Turns 5 to 9 and Turn 15 and the two straights from the top level of that grandstand, but you’ll need to walk around to see every bit of it but it sure it worth it!
The next time I’m going to Sepang, that’s my first destination, really good spot to watch these cars. Plus, it being Turn 15, some guys will lock their brakes up there so you might see some tyre smoking action haha! I didn’t want to spend much time there because I didn’t want to keep my folks waiting but I lost track of time haha! I was enjoying the view from there so much I didn’t take notice of the time flying past. If anyone wants to get some pictures of these F1 cars, Turn 15 is the spot for you! This is one of my favourite pictures from there and the best part, it’s not the only one I got from there!
Yes, I got that picture, can you believe that? For the second session and every other session in between, I decided to park myself at the main grandstand. There’s two parts to it, the lower deck and the upper deck. I prefer watching from the top as you can see much more and instead of seeing potentially just one pit-stop practice from the lower deck, you might see at least five teams practicing their pit-stops from the upper deck!
And remember, it’s all free on Friday! Didn’t really get much pictures from there as I was a bit tired from all the travelling but still it was cool to be that close to see the teams doing their thing, pit-stop practices, working on the cars and all that stuff. After that it was back to the hotel to rest and wait for the next day’s action. The travelling back to KL Sentral was a pain! Thank god it got better on the weekends.
As the first session started quite late I waited for a while to get to the circuit. For those wondering what’s the best way from Kuala Lumpur to Sepang, I found an easy and fast way but it’s a three step bit. Step one, take the KLIA express train from the KL Sentral to KLIA. That will probably take about 30-40 minutes. But don’t worry about being bored in that train, they’ve got free WiFi on it! Nice one! Step two, take the airport shuttle bus to Sepang circuit’s bus park. That itself takes 20 minutes in one of those old buses, really uncomfortable haha. Step three, take the circuit shuttle bus from the bus park to the entrance of the circuit, that only takes at least 5 minutes but waiting for people to board might take a while. If you can’t wait, you can actually walk all the way up to the circuit entrance from the bus park itself. Good 10-15 minute exercise right there people!
The first thing I did was to get the new F1 driver numbers flags! Apparently it was on sale for the first time that weekend in Sepang so I just had to get myself one! Well actually I got myself three small flags for my three favourite drivers, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg. These flags have the driver’s name on a small line at the top of the flag, either in white or black and main part of it has the driver’s number and his country’s flag colours. I actually got one of them signed during the driver’s forum a bit later on in the day!
The first bit of action I wanted to see was the Malaysian Super Series for the sole reason of watching my friend Claire Jedrek racing in that series. Never seen her race live before so it was cool to see someone I actually know on track! She started the first race in 7th and had a very strong race to finish 5th out of 50 cars! And it wasn’t an easy ride too, there were so many incidents during that race, one at the first corner, one at the second corner and she escaped one when these two clowns were fighting it out at Turn 1 with about 3 or 4 laps to go I think.
After that race it was down to the mall area to see the driver’s forum. I heard about this during the Australian Grand Prix and it’s cool to see it here too so it looks as if we’ve now got a new addition to the racing weekend’s activities for every circuit. Good on Formula One to bring the drivers closer to the fans. It works with IndyCar and NASCAR, F1 had to give it a try at least! What usually happens is three groups of drivers will show up in different time slots and they’ll be asked some questions by the MC and the fans too. I heard some really interesting questions like “who will win this weekend” or “who’s the most famous person in your phone contact list”.
I managed to get Nico Hülkenberg to sign the flag I got of his! He was signing stuff for everyone else after the session and I was standing probably four rows back and I showed him the flag and he ask the rest to help get it for him so he could sign it for me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what a class act Nico Hülkenberg is. I’ve seen him at least four times now and every time he’s been really good to me and the other fans. I just cannot understand why he’s still not got a top seat in F1. He’s got the talent to make it!
After that it was back to my seats at the K1 Grandstand and I got some really good seats. The view was quite amazing, you’ll get to see most parts of the main straight, Turns 1 and 2 and some bits of Turn 4. And with the DRS zone being at Turn 1, there’s bound to be a lot of overtakes going into Turn 1 and also into Turn 2 so I’ve got the perfect spot to watch some good racing. Check out the view!
The first F1 session on the Saturday was the third and final practice session and I decided to walk around a little bit. I noticed there were no marshalls keeping guard at the entrance to each zone so I sneaked by to see what the view was like on the other parts of the K1 Grandstand and I have to say, I’m glad I bought the tickets I got because that was easily the best view of the rest of the grandstand.
The only other good view was at the other end of the grandstand where you can see Turns 3. You’ll get a different view of Turn 1 too. I spent half of the 3rd practice session watching the action from there and got a few good pictures too before heading back to my seat for the rest of FP3.
Even in the practice session a few drivers were already having some good battles going into Turn 1 so I already knew my seat was worth the money! After that session was something new. The first ever TCR International race. It was cool to see history in the making, being there to see their first ever race. It’s a bit similar to WTCC, a bunch of touring cars from at least five different manufactures racing around the world. They put on a good race for their first ever race so kudos to those guys. They’ll be in Singapore too so this won’t be the only time I’ll see them in action.
The final action on track was the qualifying session for the 2015 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix. Good news, we’ll get to see these guys decide the grid for the race tomorrow. Bad news, the rain clouds were quickly making their way across Sepang.
As some of you know, the race start timing for most of these Asian races had been pushed back a few hours to avoid the mess that happened at the Japanese Grand Prix last year. But if we’re pushing the start time back, why not the qualifying time as well? The race started at 3pm but qualifying started at 5pm. And guess what happens? At around 5.25pm, during the early bits of the second qualifying session, it rained! And when it rains in Sepang, it pours! And I mean a shitload of rain! My grandstand was covered but that didn’t help me that much.
I ran all the way to the back of the grandstand to look for cover and after about 20 minutes, the rain stopped. Still, it was nice to catch up with some of the other fan during the waiting time. I have to say, there are more foreigners than locals at the circuit! Lots of Australians too but then again, Australia isn’t that far from Malaysia and you’ll see a lot of them in Singapore too.
Luckily they got Q3 going again and it was a good session, Sebastian Vettel nearly stole the pole position from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Let’s not forget, Mercedes scored 18 out of 19 pole positions last year so that was a good effort from Vettel in his Ferrari. I’m still getting used to saying Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari together. There were some overtaking action during Q2 and Q3 too.
And you might have seen it but there was an almighty long line of cars at the end of pit-lane before the start of Q2, all of those guys were trying to avoid the rain and because of that, we got a bit of a mini race during that session. I think I saw Hamilton overtake two guys at Turn 1 at one point!
It’s raceday! And I left pretty early in the hopes to get in line for the autograph session. And that failed miserably. There was already a long line of people when I got to the circuit and hour after gates had opened. I didn’t want to try my luck so I decided to see the session and see if I could sneak a few pictures of the drivers. That failed too. I have to say, the autograph session in Sepang was very messy. Very un-organised. One moment you can’t skip the line, the next you could. Make up your bloody minds! And the timing was weird too. At the start it was just Sergio Perez. I felt bad for those who were first in line because instead of getting autographs from four guys, they only got one guys’ autograph.
Then came the Marussia guys and that’s when things got messy. At one point no-one was going up to the stage so they decided on the brilliant idea to let “Marussia fans” to jump the queue and get their autographs from outside the queue. And I can bet you everyone who went up wasn’t a fan of the team but just wanted some free autographs. I could have gotten theirs but I was just to pissed with how everything was going I decided not to waste my time. These guys need to learn from the guys at the Australian Grand Prix, they knew how to put on a good autograph session and I got a lot of driver’s autograph when I was in Albert Park!
Now on to the races and to the brilliant seats I had. All three races were great. The TCR race was alright even though I missed some parts of it to have laugh at the race cafe at the mall area. Fish N Chips as usual haha (they’ve got A&W at the main grandstand, and there’s no A&W in Singapore, buggers!). The MSS race went well too, luckily I didn’t miss the start because of that rather rubbish autograph session. Claire had an even better race, she finished 2nd! Nice one buddy! It was cool to see someone I know up on an F1 podium. And the Singapore flag “flying” high during that particular weekend too, that was cool.
The 2015 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix might just be the best race I’ve seen live. The racing action was just too good. And I think I got a bargain of a deal with the seats I got, it felt as if something would happen every other lap at Turn 1.
And yes, I did see Marcus Ericsson spinning off right in front of me too. And I got to see three cars going side by side by side into Turn 1 not once but twice! And I did get to see Hülkenberg crashing into Kvyat but from my view, it looked more like Kvyat didn’t give him enough room at Turn 2. Lots of overtaking action there so I’d really recommend a seat at the K1 Grandstand in the first few blocks to anyone thinking of going to the Malaysian Grand Prix in the future.
And it was a great race too. It was cool to see Sebastian Vettel take his first win as a Ferrari driver in just his second race with them. Another history making moment happening right in front of my own eyes! Everyone in the crowd was cheering Vettel on and to think this is Malaysia, the dominant Mercedes team is backed by Petronas from Malaysia! Then again like I said earlier, there’s more foreigners than locals here!
It was about bloody time someone gave Mercedes a run for their money. And to think Nico Rosberg made that silly comment about wanting Ferrari to give them a fight, they sure got one in Malaysia and lost! As they say, keep your words soft and sweet if not you might have to eat them later! The racing was just brilliant today and like I said earlier, lots of overtaking down at Turn 1. Here’s a video of some of the great racing I saw.
So it was a great weekend after all, I really enjoyed my time at Sepang this time round. The first time it was alright but it wasn’t that great. This time around, I might have changed my opinion about the circuit and watching the race from there. Heck, I’m already thinking about coming back for another race and telling everyone to give it a look, I wouldn’t have done that the first time I was here! And the tickets in Sepang is a lot cheaper than anything I’ve seen so that helps. I still prefer the Australian and Singaporean grand prix events but now if I can’t make those races, I won’t have to worry about the Malaysian grand prix being the next alternative choice. It’s actually a pretty good choice itself!
Nothing happened on Monday, I was just walking around two mega malls for the most part of the day looking for stuff to buy. I found this one funny book about how Football Manager stole 20 years of this guy’s life, looks like a good read. I’m a FM addict myself haha. And I found three Oasis albums too, Heathen Chemistry, Don’t Believe the Truth and the very rare The Masterplan album. Anything from Oasis is always awesome.
Headed back to the airport and I saw members of four teams walking around at the airport (Ferrari, Williams, Sauber and Red Bull). The funniest thing I saw was the Ferrari guys creating a long queue at Burger King! Never knew those Italians liked Burger King haha! That’s my Malaysian Grand Prix weekend story and one final picture, this is a picture of my hotel room. Easily the best one I’ve seen. Aloft KL might be the hippest hotel I’ve been to haha! I wish this is what my room looks like haha!
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.