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2017 Formula One Malaysia Grand Prix – The Final One for Sepang

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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2017 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix – The first ever wet F1 race at night

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

Alonso to race at Indy 500! It’s really happening!

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/

 

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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! 😀

Formula One 2017 Season: Starts Today!

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.

 

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Mercedes

#44 Lewis Hamilton (England)
Age: 32
Races: 188
Wins: 53
Podiums: 104
Poles: 61
Fastest Laps: 31
Points: 2,247
Finishing Rate: 87.77%

#77 Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
Age: 27
Races: 77
Wins: 0
Podiums: 9
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 411
Finishing Rate: 92.21%

 

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Red Bull TAG Heuer

#3 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
Age: 27
Races: 109
Wins: 4
Podiums: 18
Poles: 1
Fastest Laps: 8
Points: 616
Finishing Rate: 90.83%

#33 Max Verstappen (Netherlands)
Age: 19
Races: 40
Wins: 1
Podiums: 7
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 253
Finishing Rate: 82.5%

 

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Ferrari

#5 Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Age: 29
Races: 178
Wins: 42
Podiums: 85
Poles: 46
Fastest Laps: 28
Points: 2,108
Finishing Rate: 85.96%

#7 Kimi Räikkönen (Finland)
Age: 37
Races: 252
Wins: 20
Podiums: 84
Poles: 16
Fastest Laps: 43
Points: 1,360
Finishing Rate: 78.57%

 

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Force India Mercedes

#11 Sergio Perez (Mexico)
Age: 27
Races: 114
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 3
Points: 367
Finishing Rate: 88.56%

#31 Esteban Ocon (France)
Age: 20
Races: 9
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Finishing Rate: 100%

 

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Williams Mercedes

#18 Lance Stroll (Canada)
Age: 18
Races: 0
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Finishing Rate: 0%

#19 Felipe Massa (Brazil)
Age: 35
Races: 250
Wins: 11
Podiums: 41
Poles: 16
Fastest Laps: 15
Points: 1,124
Finishing Rate: 85.6%

 

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McLaren Honda

#2 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium)
Age: 24
Races: 1
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 1
Finishing Rate: 100%

#14 Fernando Alonso (Spain)
Age: 35
Races: 273
Wins: 32
Podiums: 0
Poles: 22
Fastest Laps: 22
Points: 1,832
Finishing Rate: 83.52%

 

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Toro Rosso Ferrari

#26 Daniil Kvyat (Russia)
Age: 22
Races: 57
Wins: 0
Podiums: 2
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 128
Finishing Rate: 78.94%

#55 Carlos Sainz (Spain)
Age: 22
Races: 40
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 64
Finishing Rate: 72.5%

 

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Haas Ferrrari

#8 Romain Grosjean (France)
Age: 30
Races: 102
Wins: 0
Podiums: 10
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 316
Finishing Rate: 72.55%

#20 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)
Age: 24
Races: 40
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 62
Finishing Rate: 87.5%

 

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Renault

#27 Nico Hülkenberg (Germany)
Age: 29
Races: 115
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 362
Finishing Rate: 84.34%

#30 Jolyon Palmer (England)
Age: 26
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 1
Finishing Rate: 75%

 

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Sauber Ferrari

#9 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden)
Age: 26
Races: 56
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 9
Finishing Rate: 76.79%

#94 Pascal Wehrlein
Age: 22
Races: 21
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 1
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!

IndyCar 2017 Season: Starts Today!

The 2017 IndyCar season is starting today over in St Petersburg, Florida! Those of you who don’t know, IndyCar is probably my favourite racing series anywhere in the world, followed closely by F1 and the Australian Supercars. Can’t wait to see how the 2017 season goes, but like any IndyCar racing season lately, it’ll sure to be a great one! 🙂

 

So those of you who aren’t familiar to the series or are new to it, here’s a little guide on who’s driving for which team. Well, the full-time drivers that is.

 

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AJ Foyt Enterprises – Chevy

#4 Conor Daly (Indiana, USA)

Age: 25

Races: 22

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 72.73%

 

#14 Carlos Munoz (Bogota, Columbia)

Age: 25

Races: 53

Wins: 1

Podiums: 7

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 83.02%

 

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Andretti Autosport – Honda

#26 Takuma Sato (Tokyo, Japan)

Age: 40

Races: 118

Wins: 1

Podiums: 5

Poles: 5

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 63.03%

 

#27 Marco Andretti (Pennsylvania, USA)

Age: 30

Races: 183

Wins: 2

Podiums: 20

Poles: 4

Fastest Laps: 6

Finishing Rate: 79.23%

 

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Florida, USA)

Age: 36

Races: 159

Wins: 14

Podiums: 32

Poles: 5

Fastest Laps: 7

Finishing Rate: 80.50%

 

#98 Alexander Rossi (California, USA)

Age: 25

Races: 16

Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 93.75%

 

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Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda

#8 Max Chilton (Surrey, UK)

Age: 25

Races: 16

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 81.25%

 

#9 Scott Dixon (Auckland, New Zealeand)

Age: 36

Races: 232

Wins: 39

Podiums: 87

Poles: 27

Fastest Laps: 28

Finishing Rate: 85.78%

 

#10 Tony Kanaan (Salvador, Brazil)

Age: 42

Races: 234

Wins: 16

Podiums: 70

Poles: 11

Fastest Laps: 21

Finishing Rate: 84.19%

 

#83 Charlie Kimball (California, USA)

Age: 32

Races: 101

Wins: 1

Podiums: 6

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 83.17%

 

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Dale Coyne Racing – Honda

#18 Sebastien Bourdais (Le Mans, France)

Age: 38

Races: 90

Wins: 4

Podiums: 8

Poles: 2

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 77.78%

 

#19 Ed Jones (Dubai, UAE)

Age: 22

Races: 0

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 0%

 

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Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevy

#20 Spencer Pigot (California, USA)

Age: 23

Races: 10

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 90%

 

#21 JR Hildebrand (California, USA)

Age: 29

Races: 46

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 78.26%

 

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Rahal-Letterman-Laningan Racing – Honda

#15 Graham Rahal (Ohio, USA)

Age: 28

Races: 147

Wins: 4

Podiums: 19

Poles: 2

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 82.31%

 

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Honda

#5 James Hinchcliffe (Ontario, Canada)

Age: 30

Races: 89

Wins: 4

Podiums: 11

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 83.15%

 

#7 Mikhail Aleshin (Moscow, Russia)

Age: 29

Races: 34

Wins: 0

Podiums: 2

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 76.47%

 

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Team Penske – Chevy

#1 Simon Pagenaud (Poitiers, France)

Age: 32

Races: 87

Wins: 9

Podiums: 20

Poles: 9

Fastest Laps: 4

Finishing Rate: 91.95%

 

#2 Josef Newgarden (Tennessee, USA)

Age: 26

Races: 83

Wins: 3

Podiums: 10

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 8

Finishing Rate: 74.7%

 

#3 Helio Castroneves (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil)

Age: 41

Races: 248

Wins: 23

Podiums: 80

Poles: 44

Fastest Laps: 18

Finishing Rate: 89.11%

 

#12 Will Power (Queensland, Australia)

Age: 36

Races: 141

Wins: 27

Podiums: 49

Poles: 38

Fastest Laps: 18

Finishing Rate: 86.52%

 

I guess the big story of the season will be Josef Newgarden now being in a top team. Can he do as well as he did with a smaller team for the last few years for a bigger team now (or more like the biggest team). I’ll point out to his team-mate Pagenaud. He too shone for a smaller team in Schmidt Motorsports before moving to Penske. What happened? He struggled in the first year but became champion in the second year. So maybe we might see the same thing for Newgarden. He’s still a young guy so he’s got time on his side.

 

Ganassi moving back to Honda is the other big news and maybe this might help not just Ganassi themselves to stop the Penske steam-roller but also help Honda take the fight to Chevrolet. And so far in the first weekend, it does look like they may have an answer to them. Should be a good season to see how they fare against each other.

 

Kinda interested to see how Sato does for a big team in IndyCar for once, now with Andretti. I do like the new look AJ Foyt Enterprises, with Chevy engines and two quick youngsters to help them hopefully move up the field. I hope Hildebrand does well in his return to a full-time ride in IndyCar, I still think he’s got what it takes.

 

Bourdais could be one to watch out for this season. He’s brought along his old champ-car winning crew together at his return to DCR. I really hope for a big season for 2016 Indy 500 winner Rossi, the guy has the talent to get the job done. So go Alex and of course of Hinch because he’s awesome!

Go-karting adventure on my 27th birthday

So 27 eh? That age number is getting bigger and bigger by the year but I do like the number 27. It’s the combination of my two favourite numbers 2 and 7. So while others usually plan for a big birthday party for their 16th or 21st or 30th, that’s not for me. I don’t really like parties. But I did want to do something big for my 27th birthday.

 

So why not go-karting? Racing is one of my favourite things ever. Obviously I’ll never get to do racing professionally, I don’t have the money for it and I’m sure my parents won’t let me go for it too. So why not go for the next best thing, fun karts? So plan for go-karting was set but then I hear the go-kart track at Bukit Timah, the Karting Arena, was closed for renovations, I had to make a change of plans.

 

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So at the last minute, I thought to myself, I’ve not been to the Kranji go-kart track yet, why the hell not? Then came the next problem. Since New Year’s was on a Sunday, Jan 2nd was a holiday for being the monday after a pulbic holiday (or maybe it was a holiday for being my birthday haha). The track would open either 9am (PH) or 3pm (Monday). Of course I had my answer as I was heading to the track at around 11am so I did my usual thing, more late change of plans, head down to Orchard for a while.

 

I did make my way back to KF1 circuit around 3.30pm, this time with my uncle joining me because even though it’d be fun by myself, I had to share this fun with someone else. And just my luck, it started to rain when we got there. It wouldn’t be my first time racing in the wet though. This would be my 5th visit to a karting track, having tried go karts in Sunway Lagoon and Genting Highlands both in Kuala Lumpur, Kartright Speedway at the other end of Singapore aka Jurong and an indoor circuit somewhere away from downtown Melbourne.

 

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Time to get those tickets. Of course I had to go for Novice (30kph karts) and not Advanced (50kph karts) since I don’t have my driver’s license. At least now I have motivation to get it, so I can drive the faster karts. Those 30kph karts didn’t feel that quick but it still was quick around the circuit. $38 for just 10 minutes doesn’t sound like much but I’ll take it. And since the track was wet due to the rain, that made hings more interesting for everyone. More chances for mistakes eh?

 

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We had to wait a while until it was our turn. Woohoo I’m finally going racing again! But I noticed right away something wasn’t quite right with my kart. I was easily getting overtaken by the rest. But what really pissed me off was this little kid who kept blocking me. He knew I was behind him and let’s just say he was driving a little recklessly. I almost hit the back of his kart a few times but thanks to my supreme racing skills  missed him all four or five times.

 

I finally got past that little bugger thanks to another slower kart holding him up. I was just getting comfortable with the kart and guess what? Time is up! Our 10 minute session was over, I only had 5 laps in and I wasn’t really satisfied. I was only 7th quick out of 12 karters. My uncle was almost the quickest but someone just beat him to the top spot. I had fun but something in me wasn’t quite satisfied with that. So we went for another round.

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But of course we had to wait a while again for the Advanced karts and the one guy with the one race kart who got 15 minutes on track action all to himself. The weather wasn’t helping either. The rain got heavier then it got ligther and on and on and on. Not that I wouldn’t have a go on those fun karts in the wet again. Why not?

 

This time I had a much better kart while poor ol’ uncle got a crap one. I overtook him right away and that was the last I saw of anyone for the next 10 minutes, I had a clear track for my 6 laps this time. And I made full use of it. I noticed my times was getting better and better and on lap 5 I got my best lap to go P1. And that’s how it ended! I’m the fastest! Ok out of only 6 karters this time but still, my name is on top of a timesheet! Now that’s a first for me.

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One thing that did suck was that me and my uncle never really got to compete properly. I had the crap kart first then he had it later on. My best lap in my second session was about 0.3 seconds off his best time but the rain was a bit heavier in the second session so who knows! Yes I’m making excuses, that’s what racers do.
So that was a fun little trip up to Kranji. That was easily the most fun birthday I’ve had in a long while. I didn’t really do much before and after that. Watched some wrestling, played some Pokemon Moon and opening up some Pokemon cards too. I’ve still got a good $140 left to spend on my birthday gifts, $40 of which I thought I would use for this but someone paid it for me (thank you uncle). No big fancy meals for me, I don’t need that. I just need a good time and do the things I like and I’ll be happy. That’s the way it should be right?

 

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It sure was worth it. I was tired (didn’t get much sleep), I was wet (rained heavily on track), I had dirt all over me (track again), I was hurting a bit thanks to that first go kart but that was all worth it to have two runs on a go-kart. 🙂

 

To those of you who did, thank you for the well wishes! I did enjoy my 27th birthday. Now back to reality, school and exams in 4 months time. Wish me luck for that, I’ll need it badly! And of course today being my 27th birthday, I had to get myself a new Manchester United jersey with my name on it and also the #27:

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I got myself something really expensive too and if you’re a wrestling fan who plays the PS4/X-boxWhateveritscallednow, you should get the special NXT edition of WWE wK17 game. Some nice stuff in there along with the game.

I also got myself a pokemon TCG EX box because well, I’ve not bought one of those before yet. Wanted to see if there was anything good in it. Of course I got the Gengar EX box because Gengar is one of my favourites and because the Charizard one wasn’t there. Turned out to be a good choice, I got a full art Mega Steelix and a secret rare Mega Gengar! Yes my first ever secret rare card and how ironic it came from a Gengar box.

I’ve still got $30 to spend on. What else can I get…

2015 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka, Easily the Best!

I had been planning to visit my brother who is now studying in Japan and of course, the timing of it was just perfect for me to kill two birds with one stone. I get to visit my brother and at the same time I finally get to visit the amazing Suzuka Circuit. Of course, Suzuka is no where close to Tokyo so I got to visit a few more parts of Japan for my first visit to the country. I spent the first few days just exploring Tokyo and what makes that city great. Really colourful place and easy to get around thanks to the trains. I got to ride on the bullet train too (the Shinkansen), after all it’s the fastest way from Tokyo to Nagoya, the biggest city closest to Suzuka. And I have to say, I quite liked Nagoya too, really interesting place especially the place I was staying at.

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Friday

After my usual McDonald’s pancakes breakfast (they’re really good there), it’s off to Suzuka. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to get there using their subways. I even had it written on my phone in case I forgot:

Sake to Nagoya -> Higashiyama Line

Nagoya to Kawarada -> Kansai Main Line

Kawarada to Suzuka Circuit Inou -> Isle Railway Line

All sorted, reached the Nagoya station and I find out there’s an express train from there going straight to Suzuka Circuit. Guess I didn’t need to do all my researching after all. And of all the places, I bumped into my friend Mark from New Zealand standing in the train. What are the odds of meeting someone at a place like that? It took about an hour to get to the circuit and we’re not done there. Turns out there’s another 20 minutes walk from the station to the circuit itself. Good exercise eh? And guess what? Suzuka has a lot of elevation so you don’t need a mountain for a good exercise, just go to the Suzuka Circuit, that place will give you a good workout already and we’re not even talking about the drivers and their cars.

We made it in time for the first practice session at 10am and yes, it was drizzling. But I found out that for Fridays, seating is free ANYWHERE (except the main grandstand of course). So now the big question, where do I watch the action from? I decided to start the day off at the C Grandstand, which gives a good view of the first two corners and the run up to the S curves and the first two bits of it. Not a bad place to watch these cars go around but just one problem…there weren’t many cars going around because of the rain. Still, at least there was one car going around the circuit most of the time so I can’t complain. And yup, I sat in the rain taking pictures of these guys. I mean that’s what the locals have been used to doing, so I might as well do it too.

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But as there wasn’t much going on, I thought I’d walk around and check out the rest of the stands around the S curves. I really liked the view from the D1, D2 and E2 grandstands, mainly D2 as the cars were close by. And the best part about Suzuka I noticed right away, there is a lot of good spots to watch the action. And for those of us who like to take photos of these racing cars, there weren’t many catch fences in the way too, so that’s double the bonus to enjoy a day out at Suzuka watching these F1 cars.

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As we had time to kill after the first practice session, I decided to check out the F1 Village area to see what’s happening at the main stage and just to see what’s up. Lots of stuff to get, especially McLaren Honda, I don’t need to say why. There were a number of cars on show, 5 classic cars that would have demo runs during the weekend, one of them being the MP4-6 that won the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix with the same guy who won it driving the car, Gerhard Berger. The last two McLaren F1 cars were also on show. We showed up at the right time too as Fernando Alonso showed up to speak to the fans for a bit.

I didn’t walk around much for the second practice session. I started out at the Q1 Grandstand, sitting at the very last row just so I can get the best view possible and it sure was. You could see Turns 1, 2, 5, 7, 16, 17 and 18. One of the best spots around Suzuka for sure. You’ll never know where to look with the cars going by either side of the circuit which I didn’t mind, beats having just a two second view of the car like what I had at the Bay Grandstand most of the time in Singapore the week before.

I stuck around at that seat for about an hour, taking a lot of pictures too and for once a lot of good ones as well. And it was the place to be to see drivers making mistakes. Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo all ran off at the chicane. I spent the last 30 minutes hiding in those entrance tents for the R and S Grandstands because it started to rain again and I wanted to see what the view was like there, which is alright but not as good as Q.

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I had to get some stuff while I was there so I got myself the two versions of the 2015 McLaren Honda F1 diecast cars. Time to walk back and me being a silly newbie, I followed the crowd exiting out of the amusement park (and with Suzuka F1 tickets, you would get unlimited rides there for a few days, which I never got to use). Turns out that was the wrong exit and I got to the station 40 minutes later. If you’re wondering, the easiest way to get in and out of the circuit is the gate near the first corner.

Saturday

I took it a bit easy for Saturday and went to the circuit a bit later than I would…turns out it was a bit late, we showed up just as the third practice session started. Because I don’t speak Japanese, I assumed a few parts of the circuit had a free viewing areas but it turned out to be a photographer area. And I’m not talking about the professional guys but people like you and me. Now I like Suzuka even more! They’ve got a few areas around the circuit for those with the photographer pass. And from what I see, they’ve got some good views too. I do wonder if people like myself who aren’t from Japan are allowed to get it. Would be nice if a few other circuits have a photographer area too, I do enjoy taking photos of these F1 cars too together with just watching them zooming past me.

So we wasted 30 minutes walking around but it wasn’t a total waste. While walking around Turn 7, I noticed a small little area with a number of flowers on it. Turns out it was the tribute area for the late Jules Bianchi who tragically had his fatal accident at that corner in last year’s race. I did my own little moment of silence to remember Jules, he was a great driver. Taken far too early, he would have been a future world champion, he was that talented.

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I ended up watching the last half of FP3 at Turn 6, which wasn’t a bad place to see those cars. That and also there was a staircase nearby so why the heck not, just watch there. And there was a superscreen close by and I wanted to see how everyone was doing timewise. Thankfully this time the weather was perfect so I didn’t need to use my raincoast or my umbrella, which I forgot to bring the day before because I thought we were not allowed to bring it here. I mean they said no umbrellas allowed on the website so did I miss something?

For qualifying we watched it at our seats at I Grandstand which gave a great view of the Hairpin Curve (Turn 11), or as I like to call it, the Kobabashi curve because Kamui Kobayashi just loved to overtake and bash people at that spot and he made it work 9 out of 10 times, Turn 10 and the back straight before 130R (Turn 15). On the way there, I stopped at 130R to check out the classic cars on their demo runs and yeah, that 130R sure is a special corner. And the best part? It was a free viewing zone so that was a wasted chance for me to see those cars go flat out at 130R for FP3. Oh well, another time I guess?

The seats we had turned out to be a really good one. We saw a number of guys locking their brakes up before or during their qualifying runs. But I got my money’s worth later on when Max Verstappen stopped his Toro Rosso car right in front of us, giving me tons of great pictures so thank you Max for that (I got a picture with him too in Singapore the week before, nice guy). And to think I told my brother that Verstappen will give us a show with his overtakes there, well he did but a different kind of show.

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And then came Qualifying 3. Those of you who saw that session knew what happened. THAT crash. Daniil Kvyat had that massive shunt at Turn 10, he lost control of his car and he hit the barriers quite hard, flipping his car too. And guess where I was? Yup, right opposite where he hit the barriers. I noticed right away a few sparks were coming out before he crashed so I thought something broke. And then the big crash.

That was easily the biggest accident I’ve seen with my own eyes and I’m so glad for Daniil that he got out of his car unaided too! The whole left side of that car was gone, I’ve never seen a race car that badly smashed up before and to think Daniil escaped without any injury is quite amazing, it just shows how safe these cars really are. It’s still a dangerous sport as we know with Bianchi’s and Justin Wilson’s accident recently.

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The crash meant no-one could improve their lap-times and pole position went to….Nico Rosberg? Yup! The king of pole position this year had finally been beaten by his team-mate. And I did see Lewis Hamilton making that mistake at Turn 11 which did end up costing him that pole position. Bottas qualified 3rd for Williams so some hopes for them to challenge for the podium spot over the Ferrari guys. Now back to Nagoya and as if the 20 minute walk back from the gate to the station wasn’t bad enough, it turns out it was another 20 minutes from my seat just to get to the gate! More exercise then.

This video has 21,000+ views already? What the heck…

Sunday

It’s race day! The 27th time Suzuka was hosting the Japanese Grand Prix and it’s the 27th of September. Did I mention 27 is my number? Nico Hulkenberg drives the 27 car and I’m a huge fans of his so more 27 there. I missed the support series so that was a shame but with the long travelling, I was ok with that. We got to see David Coulthard at the fan stage speaking to the fans and me being a fan, I had to stop for a while to hear him. Oh did I mention, I raced with good ol’ DC once? He personifies the term gentleman, you’ll never meet anyone friendlier than him (maybe with the exception of Hulkenberg and Ricciardo).

We got in time to see the F1 driver’s parade and thank god they did the parade with those classic cars individually and not the whole “everyone together in one shitbox” that the European races usually do and now Malaysia and Singapore were doing it too. At least Japan is doing it right. I saw the parade opposite from my seat just after Turn 9 and it turns out that was another good spot to watch the action. Because you don’t just get to see the cars go one way but both ways. Yes I’m talking about that section where the track crosses each other. If I do get to go to Suzuka again, I’ll surely catch a session from that area.

Almost time for the race and I have to say, it was nice to see a race where the majority are locals. The same cannot be said about Malaysia and Singapore where I’d say it’s about 50/50. Even in Melbourne, there were a number of foreigners but at Suzuka, not that many. So in a sea of Japanese people, the people seating next to me were from Toronto, Ontario, Canada! What are the odds? A bunch of Canadian people there and me who loves Canada. So yeah we spoke about Canada for a bit. As yes, Montreal is the #1 on my wishlist of races I’ve never been to that I really want to go.

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Speaking of the fans, many of you may have seen from the TV about the crazy stuff the people will bring and I can tell, these Japanese fans are really creative when it comes to these stuff. I saw so many hats with cars on it, the famous DRS hat that actually works, a bunch of Samurais in Ferrari colours and even a guy wearing Kimi Raikkonen’s overalls and the helmet too! These guys are really funny. Same for the marshals. They actually put on a show during the track inspection and gave the SC a good scare. They know how to put on a good show don’t they? And did I mention how polite the Japanese people are? That was a nice change for once. Not many people are polite from where I’m from.

The area at the I Grandstand was a good spot to see some close racing, but not as many overtakes as I expected. Most of them came from Daniel Ricciardo who had a puncture early on, so damn that. Good spot to take pictures of more than one cars and also for just one car as the view was quite clear. I think it was the closest I was to the cars of any of the areas I’ve watched F1 cars at any of the four circuits I’ve been to. If you’re thinking about going to Suzuka, that’s one place I can strongly suggest watching the action from.

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Lewis Hamilton won the race and it was a quick race, about 90 minutes and no safety cars which was alright with me. I had a bullet train to catch so I was more than happy with a quick race. I thought it was a good one, I got to see some good racing from where I was. Before Suzuka, I’ve always said Sonoma was the best circuit I’ve been to because it was a good circuit to drive on and also a good circuit to watch with so many great spots around the circuit. I can easily say now, Suzuka is the best circuit I’ve been to.

Many consider it the best circuit in F1 and from a fan’s point of view, I can say the same. So many great spots to watch the cars around here and well, the track is brilliant. And from wherever you are, most of the time, you’ll get a great view of these cars and at least more than one view of it. I can’t wait to get back there, really enjoyed my time there. Quite fitting that my 10th Formula One race live was at this legendary circuit. Really liked it there, I don’t know if I can say if that was the most fun I had at an F1 event but it might have been.

Races like the ones in Suzuka and Albert Park are the ones I enjoy the most, it’s just all about racing here. No concert or whatever like in Singapore, as cool as it maybe to see some superstars from that area but I am and will always be a motorsports fan. My main reason for going to these races are to see those drivers are cars in action, nothing else. Nothing beats that for me. This won’t be my last visit to Suzuka, that is for certain.

2015 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix – Not a fan of Grandstand Seats

Wednesday

Usually the racing weekend starts on Friday and on some occasions, Thursday for this one, my racing fix started on Wednesday when I heard that Max Verstappen and Jenson Button would both be making appearances, both competing in friendly simulator races with some lucky fans. Unfortunately, the JB one was a private event. I did try my luck by being at the Conrad Hotel, and I saw JB twice walking around the 2nd floor but he never did show up on the first floor so I left for Verstappen’s event in Kallang.

The kid actually showed up driving a Twizy into the Kallang Wave mall! That was pretty funny, especially since he’s not even of legal driving age here in Singapore. He helped to launch a new Renault Clio and finished 3rd in that race and then there was a meet and greet session with him, so that was nice of them to make it happen. I did get to meet him, get his autograph and get a picture with him. Quiet guy but sure was friendly. He’ll be a mega star in the years to come, just wait and see.

Thursday

I was lucky enough to win not one but two pair of passes to the pit-lane experience thing. One was though my tickets, the other from Singapore GP’s website running a separate contest. During that day I also got a gift bag from Singapore Airlines for posting stuff about the grand prix using their hastag so that was nice of them.

But before the pit-lane walk, Daniel Ricciardo was showing up at Paragon and me being a big fan of the guy, I had to be there. Big thanks to my friend Claire for letting me know about it. I got to ask Daniel a question, which was about UFC of all things, and a question he said “wow that’s a good one, never heard that one before”. I asked him if he was allowed one fight, who would it be? His answer? Initially it was whoever he disliked the most before deciding on Conor McGregor just for the laughs. I’d really like to see those two just laugh at each other though, both funny guys in their own sports. I got a Red Bull 2015 team shirt free for that, and it usually cost $120! I got my picture with Daniel too so finally, it happened.

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Oh by the way, Singapore security guards are the worst. I was being pushed around by some guy behind me for some reason and instead of helping me out, this stupid bastard of a security punched me in the stomach not once but twice! What was that for? I wasn’t the one doing the pushing you idiot. First of all, those idiotic people who were pushing, don’t blame me for being at the front of the line, how about showing up early to get your picture and not push people around you useless fuck. And that security guard, the next time I see your stupid bald head, I’ll fucking punch you in the stomach for no reason. Let’s see how you like it, you no good piece of shit. Not the first time I’ve see the Singapore security guards at these big events being the worst bunch of idiots I’ve ever seen. Can we get proper guards here?

The pit-lane walk was cool as always. We actually got to see the likes of Grosjean, Maldonado, Stevens, Rossi, Ericsson and Nasr all walking out on track. I might have been the only one who actually recognised Alex Rossi so I called him out, me being a fan of his and all that, and he waved back. I do feel a bit bad because he was trying to study the track since it was his debut F1 race after all, sorry about that Alex!

It wasn’t my first time in the pit-lane walk but watching these guys practice their pit-stop just never gets old. The sound of the drills and the timing of these guys to get the tyres out and in, it’s just amazing that we get to see them do it for a while. And yes, I got to tape some of it during the walk. The cars looked great up close as the always do and it was cool to see a few different stuff like the new Sauber nose, Lotus’ new sponsors and of course, Rossi’s Manor with the 53 car in tribute to Herbie.

Friday

The first day of action at the Marina Bay and I decided to have some fun being the autograph hunter along with my friend who made his way from Melbourne to be here for the first time. I helped him get a picture with Ricciardo and he helped me get a picture with….Ted Kravitz haha! To be fair, most of the guys, I saw, I already have a picture with them.

I do wonder though, is it a Ferrari thing to refuse autographs or photographs from fans? Not only did Vettel, Raikkonen and former driver Alonso did that, even their new boss Maurizio Arrivabene stopped signing stuff after 2 people asked him. Geez, not so friendly are they? Yet so many people love them, I just don’t get it. At least you can count on guys like Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Rosberg and Grosjean of those who are more well known to give you a photo or an autograph. The only guys I didn’t see were Hamilton, Button and Massa, the same three I didn’t see at all last year the two times I was waiting at the entrance. Once again, I might have been the only person to ask Alex Rossi for an autograph. He’ll be more recognized sooner rather than later.

I missed the first three support series practices so it was straight to the first F1 practice and I went to a part of the circuit I’ve not been to before, Turn 3. Turns out it was a brilliant place to watch these cars and get some pictures. You get to see the cars either entering Turn 1, then 2 and around 3 and continue off or out of the pits and into Turn 2. I liked that area so much I spent the entire free practice 1 session just at that Turn 3 area.

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Next up was the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia qualifying session and I watched that from my seat at the Pit Grandstand for that day. I bought the three-day combination to see how the grandstand seats were like for once and already I didn’t like it. The view was ok but trying to get pictures of these cars, that wasn’t ok. After that I went to see Singaporean pop group The Sam Willows at the Village Stage. I’ve heard a lot about them and having seen and heard them in action, those guys and gals are really good. Made a fan out of me that day.

Back to the F1 action and I had always planned to watch the final 30 minutes at the Pit Grandstand. That turned into the final 10 minutes because I found a few better places elsewhere on parts of the track I’ve been to before such as Turns 21, which is always a good spot for photos, Turns 22 and 23, with a number of different viewing angles for all of them, and most of them all good. The view from the pit grandstand wasn’t that great if I’m honest. At least in Sepang, you could see the teams working on the cars. You can’t see anything here. The only reason to get a seat there would be for Sunday for the grid, the race start and the podium, that’s it. Apart from that, I wouldn’t watch the race from there. I mean, I’ve already been through that in Albert Park last year but the atmosphere more than made up for my poor view there.

Saturday

My ticket for the day was the Padang Grandstand so I was limited to just Zone 4. For the first action of the day, I saw the PCCA race 1 from my seat. This seat was a bit better than the Pit Grandstand and the Bay Grandstand (which I got for Sunday) so if I had to take a grandstand seat, I’d rather get it here and for one reason, for which I’ll mention later. The PCCA race was good as it usually was but the result was a bit frustrating for me. Oh well, shit happens for the guys I was cheering on.

For free practice 3, I decided to see what Turn 11/12 was like. My Aussie friend told me he had a good view from there from FP2 so why not check it out for myself and turns out he was right, it was a pretty good spot. The viewing platform had switch to the other side of the turn due to the changes made and to me, it didn’t just make the racing better, it made the viewing of the racing even better. Especially the view from Turn 12, you got to see the cars head on, turn into Turn 11, some of them even sliding out of that corner, drive straight at your view and then head to Turn 12 and the left side of Anderson Bridge, another change for this season. I spent 30 minutes watching from Turn 12 and the rest at Turn 11 to see how it was like from that angle. I might have found a new favourite spot at that Turn 12 viewing area for photos.

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There was a 2 hour break between sessions and nothing was happening so I decided to look around the F1 village, see what’s on show, especially the Singapore Airlines booth and just see what’s on offer. I went back to Padang Stage for the qualifying session and the best part about watching the action there, especially from where I was at, you could see the sparks coming out of the cars! I always liked it as it looks like pictures and videos I’ve seen from the older eras of F1. The cars look great already under the lights, the sparks just add to the spectacle for me.

It was probably the best qualifying session of the year, since none of the Mercedes were up for the challenge to get pole position. It was pretty nice to see Ferrari and Red Bull fight it out for the top spot for once. I was bit bummed that Daniel just missed getting the pole but oh well, still a front-row spot for him. Sebastian Vettel was his usual self in Singapore, just kicking ass. After that was the Maroon 5 concert. I’ve seen them once so I didn’t stick around for that much this time. Way too many people there, took me 10 minutes just to get out of there.

Sunday

Race-day Sunday for the most part of the day, I was at my seat at the Bay Grandstand and I didn’t like the view one bit there. I thought I’d get to see more of the car going under by picking my seat at the Dark Green section, turns out it was still not enough. I couldn’t see much of the PCCA cars, the TCR Series cars or the F1 cars through those corners so that’s my mistake for picking that spot. I even walked to Turn 7 thinking, maybe I’ll just watch the race from there but as I was carrying two bags, not the option for that day. I will probably watch the race from Turn 7 next year, the view there is pretty good especially since that’s the main overtaking spot on the circuit.

I did at least get to see some off track action in both TCR and PCCA races, guys went off at Turn 18 which is always a tricky spot on track, I’ve been caught out there myself a few times on my games. I saw the F1 driver parade at Turn 7 and it was really disappointing to see them on the European style parade track mover altogether and not in separate historic cars, I always preferred that. The race was alright. It got better after the first safety car period. I’m still trying to figure out why the guy walked on track to cause the second safety car. I did get to see that crazy good overtaking move by Verstappen on Maldonado at Turn 18 happen right in front of me.

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Sebastian Vettel dominated the race as usual but hey, Daniel Ricciardo finished 2nd so I’m good with that. I didn’t stick around for the Bon Jovi gig. First of all, I’m here because it’s the Singapore Grand Prix so yeah, here for the racing and secondly I had a flight to catch. It was another good racing weekend in Singapore around the streets of Marina Bay. One thing this Singapore GP weekend did teach me…I’ll never get a grandstand seat here again. It’s not worth the price. I’ll stick to my brilliant walkabout tickets. I enjoyed my weekend…apart from sitting at those grandstands.

Now I need to head back to sleep. I’ve got a long day ahead of me. Oh yeah, I’m in Nagoya, Japan as we speak. Not too far away from a certain Suzuka Circuit. I wonder what’s going on there this weekend…

Rest In Peace Justin Wilson (1978 – 2015)

When I was writing my little tribute to the late Jules Bianchi after he had passed away from his injuries sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix a little over six weeks ago, I told myself that I hope it’s the last time in a long while that I would have this sick feeling in my stomach of realizing that a great racing driver and a great person has left. Unfortunately, motorsports has and will always be a dangerous sport and another great driver and a great person has been taken away from us. And it’s another guy who I think very highly of and that of course is the late Justin Wilson. Just saying that feels weird for me.

I’m still in shock as to what’s happened. For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of IndyCar racing and have followed the series since 2005 very closely. I don’t think I’ve missed one race since that day, be it on the TV, a live stream on the internet or delayed on YouTube. I was watching the Pocono race on Monday morning because I couldn’t stay up enough late Sunday night for the race live. It was a pretty good race, one of the better oval races I’ve seen. 6 or 7 cars wide racing? It was brilliant. Then came 21 laps to go when race leader Sage Karam crashed. Parts of his car was flying and his nosecone hit Justin Wilson’s helmet and he went straight into the crash barriers. At this point, I had no idea that he was in a coma but I knew something wasn’t right as he wasn’t moving at all. And then the news came a day later that Justin Wilson had passed away. Life just isn’t fair sometimes. He was just a brilliant driver who finally had a drive with one of the top teams, albeit a part-time deal, in IndyCar and then this happens. I feel horrible for his family and friends, I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now, especially his two young daughters. I can only hope for the best for them at this difficult time.

I first heard of Justin when he won the F3000 championship that year (which is now GP2), beating the likes of Mark Webber and Sebastien Bourdais to the championship. Those two happen to be two of the very best around so it shows the quality JW had. It was always tough for him to fit in those cars being a very tall guy but he finally had his chance in Formula One with Minardi in 2003 and then moving to Jaguar for the second part of the year, scoring one point in Indianapolis. He never really had a proper shot to prove himself in Formula One.

He did do just that in ChampCars and more so in IndyCar. In the first year of the unification, he got a win at Detriot for Newman-Haas Racing. But the team ran into trouble financially so he joined the underdog minnows, Dale Coyne Racing. That’s when he proved how bloody good he was. He gave that little team their first ever win in 25 years at Watkins Glen. After a stint with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, he came back and got them another win in Texas. And on an oval too.

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2012. Picture taken by me.

I was really pissed when I heard Justin didn’t have a full-time drive in IndyCar for this season. I remember asking, why isn’t someone as talented as him and Ryan Briscoe not have full-time drivers in a top motorsports series? Sadly it’s all about the money now and guys with the talent can’t just rely on that which is very very wrong. At least both of them got a part-time racing deal and have proven themselves once again why talent > money. And just before that Pocono race, Justin scored a 2nd place finish at the last race in Mid-Ohio! For a part-time driver, that is quite brilliant. He was even leading that Pocono race right off the start and for bits of it. Andretti had been doing better ever since he showed up with two wins for Ryan Hunter-Reay. I was really hoping this would give him a full-time ride with Andretti but sadly that won’t happen.

I’ve had the privilege to watch Justin race twice, both times at Sonoma in 2012 and 2014. And once again he was his impressive self, finishing inside the top 11 for the little team Dale Coyne Racing. In between those races in 2013, he actually finished on the podium in 2nd place in Sonoma. It was just exactly a year ago on this date (24 august US timing) that I last saw Justin Wilson in action at Sonoma. He stopped on track at the end of the race and gave me one of my best pictures I’ve taken of any racing car. He had also walked past me before the start of the race, which was the closest I’ve got to meeting an IndyCar driver at any point. But as he was in the zone, I did not want to disturb him. Even if I had done so, I knew he’d be ok with a quick picture, that’s the kind of guy he was. And to think that exactly one year later, he would succumb to his injuries from Pocono. Life is too short sometimes and very unfair. It always seems as if the best people are taken way too soon. I said that about Dan Wheldon and Jules Bianchi and the same can be said for Justin Wilson.

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2014. Picture taken by me.

I will always have the biggest of respects for these racing drivers. They are true heroes, risking their lives to achieve success in motorsports be it to win a race or just to finish it. No-one can match these guys and gals in my view. These guys accept the danger and get on with their racing jobs, I will always have respect for every and any racing driver for that, be it someone who I’m a fan or even if it’s someone I don’t really like, I have nothing but respect for all of them. Especially the guys who drive in IndyCars, which some may say is the most dangerous of the lot because of the speeds they do especially on the ovals. These guys are true heroes to me. So to lose another one is quite hard to accept.

JW is easily one of the best drivers I’ve seen in an IndyCar. It’s a shame that he never got the opportunity in a full-time top team ride he fully deserved. If he had one, I am sure he would have been an IndyCar champion. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how he was a great person and having seen him in the flesh in Sonoma and how friendly he was to his crew and the people around him, I can attest to that. Justin, you were a great driver and an ever better person. Thanks for the memories, especially that win in Watkins Glen in 2009, Texas in 2012 and much more from your time in IndyCar and Formula One. Godspeed JW, you will be missed.

Rest in peace Justin Wilson.

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Singapore Airlines Light Up The Night Carnival – My story

It’s less than a month away but yes, the 2015 F1 Singapore Grand Prix is coming soon and me being a racing fanatic, I cannot wait for that weekend in late September. And thanks to Singapore Airlines, the title sponsors for the Singapore Grand Prix, we got a bit of a taste of the racing fever. Well not me since I always have it but for everyone else to get themselves ready and get into the racing festival mood.

This event was done in a way to promote the upcoming race but also it was a great way to get everyone into the racing spirit. There was a lot of stuff to see and do these past two days (22nd and 23rd August 2015). Of course I had to check it out! Me personally, it looks to me that Singapore Airlines has done a lot to get hte fans involved since taking over the sponsor title from Singtel and I couldn’t be any happier that they’re the ones doing this. They are probably one of, if not the, most well known Singaporean brands around anyways!

Day 1 – Saturday

The first thing I tried to do was get in on the action with the go-karts but then I remembered I was wearing my slippers and not a shoe. To drive these go-karts, your feet had to be fully covered. Shows you how little go-karting I’ve done to forget that bit of information I probably should have known. So what’s the next best thing? Try out the racing simulator then.

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It’s not my first time trying a racing simulator for F1 2015 game this month. Funan mall has two simulators for anyone to try going on, one of which is the same as this one at the F1 Pit Building, the other was even more expensive but obviously that meant it was better. Still, the Logitech G29 Driving Force is pretty good itself and I just found out it’s about $600. I might need to start saving then. We only had one lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit on the simulator and it had to be done in 3 minutes. I did at least get to finish my lap, 1m51s was the time. Not the best but it was my first and only go with that simulator so it’s not so bad I guess.

There’s also an area to try your hand at being a pit member and changing an F1 tyre. For whatever reason, I didn’t try that one out on both days, just happened to skip my mind. There was also a paper plane challenge but I can never make a good one so that’s not for me. There was also an SIA louge area of sorts next to the racing simulator and on display was a model of the Airbus A380 and also seats from that plane, Economy Class, Business Class and First Class. I never got to sit on the first class seat, I mean everyone wants to try it right? I don’t have the money to fly around in first class seat myself.

There were a number of supercars on show and there was one that caught my eye and it was the first one I saw. I have seen pictures of that particular car before but never live in living colour. And it was right there in front of me making it’s way back to the garage to be on display for all to see. It’s the Koenigsegg Agera 5. It’s not just a supercar, it’s a hypercar! And guess how much it costs?

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$5.3 million smackers! Yes, 5.3 million dollars. I can only dream of what 5.3 million dollars is like. I could do a lot with that kind of money and I wouldn’t even consider buying that car even if I had the money. I would if I had 10 million though. It was also the only one of it’s kind in Singapore. To the lady who owns it….can you let me have a test drive sometime in the future? 😛

There was also a whole host of supercars ranging from Ferraris, McLarens, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Audis and Maseratis. It was probably the most expensive parking lot Singapore had ever seen, and the best looking one for sure as well! And yes, I had more McLaren pictures than I do for Ferrari, I just couldn’t help myself! I did snap one pretty cool picture of a number of cars at the front of the pack. It might be one of my best pictures I’ve ever taken:

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Five different manufactures represented at the front too. McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Maserati from left to right. The cars were in a formation to spell out “SIA”, the front pack making up the “S” formation. The only people who probably had a view of the SIA formation are the one who were on the Singapore Flyer at the time or the tall buildings around the area.

There was also a few stunt cars not just on display but putting a really good stunt show, from close calls of a J parking to synchronized donuts and also the best trick I’ve seen, the car going around while the drivers were out of it! No-one was driving that damn car! I’ve not seen that one done before so kudos to those guys for that. A few TCR cars were on display as well as they’ll be making their debut at the Singapore Grand Prix this year. I’ve already seen two great races from them in Sepand (the first two races ever in this new TCR series) and I hope their races will be great in Singapore too.

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The second floor of the F1 pit building was open with more activies as well. I had never been on the second floor so that was nice to see what the paddock club suites looked like….well not quite as it was empty for now but still, the view from there was pretty good. No wonder people pay good money for those tickets, I’d love to watch the action from there too. Here’s what the view is like:

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The main reason for me going to the 2nd floor was to see the wax figures of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, which was borrowed from the Madam Tussad museum in Sentosa. I’ve always wanted to go to one of those museums just to see what it’s like. Also on display next to them was the F1 2014 Singapore Grand Prix winner’s trophy. Of course I had to get a picture of that. And a picture with the SIA girls. Combine them both and it’s a better pic. So good, I took another one the next day, this time with two SIA girls. Let’s be honest, they are the prettiest air stewardess of them all. No other airlines can match them…not that I’ve seen one yet.

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Day 2 – Sunday

I had planned to go just on the Saturday but I was back on Sunday for one main reason, have a go at driving the go-karts from the KF1 guys. They’ve got a brilliant new kart circuit in Kranji that was designed by Herman Tilke. Yes, that same guy who designed the Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul circuits to name a few. I’ll pay them a visit one of these days. Luckily for me I was one of the first to show up so I didn’t have to wait 40 minutes like most people did the day before.

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You had to pay $5 to have a 10 minute session on track and since it was for charity, I’m all good with that. It took me a while to know what I could do and not do with the car and just as I thought I’d figured out the track, the session was finished just like that. Only four laps for me. Only did one overtake too. I ended that session 4th quickest, 2.6 seconds off the pace with my best time of 57.930s. I was just one tenths away from being 3rd quickest. I wasn’t that statisfied with my lap….so I went back in line for another go!

This time I did have to wait for a bit to run on track. Helmets on back to the track for me. This time I didn’t wait to get some action, I was overtaking guys right from the off. I was full throttle all the way apart from the final corner, which I only figured out that you didn’t really need to use the brakes there as well on my final lap. This time I did get held up from a few slower drivers which probably cost me a chance to get a really good lap. I even accidentally spun one guy around. He was holding me up but I didn’t mean to hit him. Honest mistake my friend!

I ended that session 3rd quickest, this time I was only 0.7s away from the top spot. I improved my time by 3 seconds, my fastest time was 54.887s. It was fun racing those go-kart. I mean, it’s always fun racing go-karts. I wish I could do it more often. It was pretty cool to race on an actual F1 circuit, albeit just on the front straight. My silly little dream did come true. The best part of the two sessions was that my two go-karts had my two favourite numbers on it, #2 and #7. I couldn’t have asked for any better. Big thanks to Singapore Airlines, KF1 Karting and Singapore Grand Prix for putting on this event. Hopefully there’ll be another next year. Bring on the F1 2015 Singapore Grand Prix!

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