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Rest In Peace Jules Bianchi (1989 – 2015)

Today (technically yesterday for me) was the day the racing family said it’s last goodbye to someone who should have been a bright star in not just motorsports but in Formula One altogether. We got the news we feared last Friday when Jules Bianchi passed away, nine months after his fatal accident in Suzuka during the 2014 F1 Japanese Grand Prix. A great F1 talent gone far too soon.

I had first heard of Jules in 2009 during his days in F3 Euro, winning that championship and competing against the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Christian Vietoris (now in DTM). I only got to see a few of his races during that year but I could tell he had the talent. It was also during that year he joined the Ferrari youth academy so you knew he really did have the talent if a team like Ferrari signs him up. He spent the next two years in GP2 and even though he didn’t win it, he came 3rd both times so clearly he was a star in the making. And the guys who beat him? Pastor Maldonaldo (F1 winner), Sergio Perez (4-time F1 podium finisher), Romain Grosjean (9-time F1 podium finisher) and Luca Filippi (IndyCar podium finisher). That’s an impressive list of drivers there.

I got to see him in action a bit more in 2012 with Formula Renault 3.5 (since GP2 wasn’t aired in Singapore at that point) and he also had a few test sessions with Force India F1 team. The first time I saw him was at a Force India roadshow on the Friday of the Singapore Grand Prix. I knew a Force India test driver was showing up but I didn’t know who. It was either Conor Daly or Jules Bianchi but both were great so I would have been happy to meet either one. Unfortunately, I showed up a bit late and just missed the line to get a picture with Jules. I do regret missing that chance very much now. And I was pretty damn sure I was one of the only few who actually knew who he was at that time while some just wanted to take a picture with an F1 driver.

He did well with his test deal for Force India and I was quite bummed when I heard Force India went with Adrian Sutil and not Bianchi for the 2013 season, I knew they were making a big mistake. At least Jules did get his chance but it was with the minnows Marussia. Even then, he was the star of the “back of the field” battle, more often than not he would beat his direct competition (his team-mate and the Caterham guys). If anyone could get a point for those back-maker teams, surely it had to be him.

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Jules Bianchi in Singapore 2013. Picture taken by me.

The next time I saw him was during the autograph session during the 2014 F1 Australian Grand Prix. Even though I didn’t get an autograph from him because I was standing at the other side, I could tell he was a good guy. At one point he saw a kid trying to get a picture with him, picked him up to the stage and got him that picture with him. What a nice lad! He was one of the few to stay on for a little while longer to sign more autographs for us fans waiting at the front of the stage, some of the drivers just head off after the actual thing and ignore those of us not in line but at the front of the stage hoping to get their autographs.

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Jules Bianchi in Melbourne 2014. Picture taken by me.

That 2014 year was a great one for him. He did end up scoring his and Marussia’s first ever points (and also the first of the new teams from 2010 to score a point) and of course it had to be in Monaco where just about anything can happen there. This underdog had his big day there and to think his hometown of Nice was close to Monaco, that was a brilliant home race for him. It was an impressive drive to get that Marussia into 9th, and that’s after a penalty was given too!

The next time I saw him was at the 2014 F1 Singapore Grand Prix and I saw him entering the circuit with Kimi Raikkonen and some of the Ferrari crew. With the word that Fernando Alonso was set to leave Ferrari, it got me thinking…is Jules Bianchi the new Ferrari driver for 2015? I sent a picture of it and thought I’d have some fun with it “Bianchi with Ferrari crew, let’s start the rumors”! Little did I know that would be the last time I would see him in the flash.

Of course I’d see him again but this time in his car driving the wheels out of the Marussia as he always did. On Saturday I went up the Singapore Flyer to get some picture from up there and one of the pictures I got was the one I shared at the start of this entry (the feature image) and I have to say it’s one of the best picture I’ve ever taken of an F1 car because it showed how close these guys were on the limit, Jules almost touched the wall at that point. Taking that bit more and then some of what he could, finding for the perfect line. That’s racing. A great driver can find a bit more by testing the limits given to him and Jules was clearly one of those guys. He would finish the race 16th, just behind Marcus Ericsson in the Caterham. That Singapore Grand Prix would be the last time he would finish an F1 race in his short life.

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Jules Bianchi in Singapore 2014. Picture taken by me.

You all know the story of Japan a few weeks after that race. A typhoon was coming and instead of starting the race a bit early to avoid the rain, the race went as scheduled and the rain hit and i caused chaos. Jules was involved in a huge accident, suffering serious brain injuries and remained in a coma for the next 9 months until a few days ago when his fight ended. It’s a real damn shame that his life ended way too early.

Life just isn’t fair sometimes. I always thought he would be, not just the next Ferrari driver, but the next Ferrari F1 world champion. It was clear he had what it took to be a race winner at the the highest level of motorsports. A big loss to the racing family, a future champion gone too soon. My condolences to his family and friends. I know what it’s like to see someone suffer for far too long. Just be happy for him that he is in a better place and he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.

Jules, you were a great guy and a brilliant racer. You will be missed by all in the racing family. Godspeed Jules. May you enjoy your final journey and continue to race on, this time with the greats of our sports. Thanks for the memories of Monaco 2014 and many more.

Rest in peace Jules Bianchi.

RIP Jules

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The time I asked Alonso about the Indy 500 on Twitter…

Something weird just happened yesterday. Or actually the last two days or so. Let’s start the story on good ol’ Twitter.

I happened to see a friend of mine posting a question to two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and I noticed he was going to do a Twitter Q&A bit, #askAlo, so I thought, hey why not? I should ask him something too being a big fan of the guy myself. But what? At that point, I was watching a video from another friend of mine who attended the 2015 IndyCar MAVTV 500 in Fontana (that was a brilliant race), and it hit me!

I had heard from the likes of Will Buxton from NBC asking Alonso and another F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel about possibly giving the Indianapolis 500 a try sometime in the future. Since I’m in Singapore, I can’t see their videos on the NBC Sports thing so I won’t know what was said. So might as well ask the man himself about one day racing at the Indy 500. We already know he wants to try the 24 hours of Le Mans (and he almost did race for Porsche this year), which 1/3 of the triple crown of motoracing (The 24 hours of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500), so what about the Indy 500?

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Now, I didn’t expect him to answer or if he’ll even read it so I just went on with things, not thinking much about it. I mean, he’s probably talked about it with the NBC guys so who knows? Guess what, Alonso did reply back!

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Ok, I don’t know if that counts as a reply as he quoted my tweet. And here’s the funny part, I still don’t know how to do that! So this two time F1 world champion seems to be open to the idea of racing in the Indy 500 sometime in the near future, how about that? As he says, “it’s attractive for any racing driver” and ask anyone else, I’m sure they’ll say the same thing. Things got a bit more weird with that particular sentence later on. I guess we can start to imagine the likes of one of the best racers in the world, Fernando Alonso in an IndyCar around IMS. That would be pretty cool. It would be nice if it did happen in the future!

Now with him replying to me, obviously I’ll get quite a bit of notifications on Twitter. I thought I’d have some fun and share that pic of Facebook just to let everyone know that Alonso might think about giving Indy 500 a try and that this bugger here asked him that question haha! As a friend of mine said, “how did you like your 15 minutes of fame?”. Obviously it wasn’t but hey, still a cool moment when someone you’re a fan of mentions you. Now things get a bit crazy.

I wake up the next day, and the first thing I see on Facebook was a post from IndyCar, talking about Alonso and Vettel possibly giving the Indy 500 a try. I’m thinking to myself “what are the odds that happen to see his tweet to my question on that”. Surely not. Then I get a notification on Facebook, a friend telling me to read that article.

http://www.indycar.com/News/2015/06/6-29-Would-Alonso-or-Vettel-compete-in-Indy-500

Right at the end, I see that quote of Alonso’s and I see my name on it too. Holy crap, my name is on an article on the IndyCar webpage! Ok, it was actually my Twitter username but still, that’s me! And me being a huge fan of IndyCar, I’m going nuts about it! And then I find out ESPN has got an article about it too!

http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/13166610/fernando-alonso-not-ruling-future-indy-500-drive

Already the first sentence caught my eye. “Attractive for any driver”, where have I heard that from? Yup, this also mentioned that answer from Alonso and this time, along with two others. The bit where he spoke about Kimi Raikkonen was bloody good, my favourite bit from his whole Q&A bit. He did own Raikkonen after all and he owned him with that answer too haha.

It’s really weird to see my name on a Motorsports article on ESPN, IndyCar and also apparently a few Dutch sites too. I did say once that being a sports journalist would be a cool thing for someone like me, I’ve always wanted to travel around and watch these races (F1, IndyCar, Formula E, NASCAR or whatever) and maybe write on stuff about it or take photos from these races. I do like taking photos of these race cars, check out my Flickr page for pictures I’ve taken from all the races I’ve been to (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kashwinner/albums). Maybe I should have done that after all and who knows, maybe my name could appear on ESPN and IndyCar a bit more often haha! I can dream right? But hey, we might not have to dream about the likes of Alonso and Vettel in an IndyCar, that might actually happen sometime soon! How awesome would that be!

Enough of me and my 2 seconds of fame and seeing my name of motorsports article, even if it was a cool moment, how would those guys do in a race like the Indy 500? We’ve already see Nico Hulkenberg have a go at the Le Mans 24 hours and not just complete the whole race, he actually won the damn thing and he was the one driving the car to the finish line. Those LMP1 cars are probably more similar to the F1 cars so it wouldn’t be much of a change but the IndyCars, especially the oval configurations, that’s something different and might take these guys a while to get it. I mean, Juan Pablo Montoya did struggle for the first half of last season when he came back to IndyCar, look how he’s doing now. He’s leading the damn championship with a second Indy 500 win to his name!

I actually think Alonso and Vettel could fare quite well in an IndyCar. Let’s not forget the story of good ol’ Nigel Mansell. He won the F1 world championship in 1992 with Williams and brought his talents and his mustache over to America in 1993, joining the then CART series and won the 1993 CART IndyCar championship as well! He could have, and probably should have, won the Indy 500 at his first attempt if not for a bad re-start. Ok, Alonso and Vettel will probably stay in F1 and won’t get much running time on an oval for an IndyCar if they decide to go for it (and if the calendar allows them to do it) but who knows, those two are two of the very best in the world, so I’m sure they’ll cope with it fine after a few runs. Would be nice if either one of them gave it a try next year for the 100th Indianapolis 500.

And to end this bit, here’s one pic from this past March from the Malaysian Grand Prix of the man himself, Fernando Alonso, in his McLaren Honda car. If only that car was any good…

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2015 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix – My Story

Friday

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.

Daniel Ricciardo

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!

Jenson Button

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.

Saturday

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!

F1 Driver Number Flags

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!

Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez

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!

My 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.

Turns 1 and 2

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.

Rain Stops

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!

Hamilton and Grosjean

Sunday

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.

Sergio Pérez

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.

Malaysian Super Series

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.

Ericsson spins!

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!

Vettel Wins

Monday

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!

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Gran Turismo 6: Asia Exclusive 15th Anniversary Edition – What do you get?

I have to say, Gran Turismo 6 is better than I expected it to be. I initially thought it would be similar to Gran Turismo 5. It looks pretty much the same graphics wise. Everything else feels a bit different.

If you’re not into reading and prefer watching a video, here’s my video on youtube on just about the same thing:

It’s a great game so do yourself a favour if you’re into racing games and just get it. I was always going to get it, but this time, I got the 15th anniversary edition. I didn’t buy the special edition for GT5 when it came out, so why not for GT6? It’s $40 extra but it sure is worth it. I’m a bit surprised that it’s on the PlayStation 3 with the PlayStation 4 just released. We might still get GT6 on the PS4, but it may be the same thing.

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One of the reasons why I wanted the collectors’ edition for GT5 was to get the Nissan GT-R diecast model. For the 15th anniversary edition, you’ll get the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 N21 2013 car with the speical GT6 15th anniversary livery in that awesome blue colour with the 15 on it down the middle. That’s my first non-F1 car in a 1:43 scale diecast, maybe that’s the first of a new collection haha.

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If you’re not getting the special edition, you’ll get the game and the B-Spec book (well, that’s what I see so for others it might just be the game). The game is the game so nothing to add there haha. The book is good, really enjoy reading about it. You’ll get these two no matter which one you’re buying.

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One of the pictures I forgot to take was the paper about the things you’d get from the special edition DLC when you type in the redeem codes. You’ll get 20 cars with the 15th anniversary blue livery, one millions credit in you starting balance and a special 15th anniversary livery helmet and racing suit to your collection of helmets and suits. These 20 cars should be the same no matter which part of the world you get these from.

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Alpine – A110 1600S ’72 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Audi – quattro S1 Rally Car ’86 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Audi – R18 TDI ’11 – 15th Anniversary Special

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BMW – Z8 ’01 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Chevrolet – Corvette Coupe (C2) ’63 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Cizeta – V16T ’94 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Ford – Focus ST ’13 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Ford – GT40 Mark I ’66 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Ford – Shelby GT500 ’13 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Honda – HSV-010 GT ’11 – 15th Anniversary Special

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KTM – X-Bow R ’12 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Lancia – Stratos ’73 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Lexus – IS F Racing Concept ’08 – 15th Anniversary SpecialImage

Lotus – Europa S.2 ’68 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Mercedes-Benz – SLS AMG GT3 ’11 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Pagani – Huayra ’13 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Renault Sport – Megane Trophy ’11 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Shelby – Cobra Daytona Coupe ’64 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Toyota – 86 GT ’12 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Volkswagen – Scirocco GT24 ’08 – 15th Anniversary Special

Then there’s the bonus three extra for the Asian edition (some have extras too I think). For the Asian editions, you’ll get another code to download these three cars:

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Chevrolet – Corvette Stingray (C7) ’14 – 15th Anniversary Special

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SRT – Viper GTS ’13 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Telsa Motors – Model S Singnature Performance ’12 – 15th Anniversary Special

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Yes, it’s a 3-D card with the three cars. The code will be on the black sheet of paper behind it. So if you can get this 15th anniversary edition, go get it! It’s worth the extra money in my view. The one thing I like about the game is that the racing isn’t the only fun thing to do, you can take pictures of the car as if you’re taking it from a DSLR camera or something. Racing and taking pictures of cars, two of my favourite things to do!

2013 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix – My story from the racing weekend

Thursday

The racing weekend usually starts on Thursday not because there is something going on with the circuit officially (well there was the Driver Autograph session and the Pit-Lane walk but I didn’t win either tickets, so much for paying back to die-hard fans), but just to look at the circuit and see if I can bump into one of the drivers. In previous years I’ve met the likes of Heikki Kovalainen, Narain Karthikeyan, Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel in either 2011 (for the first two) or 2008 (the next two). This time, I didn’t get to meet a current F1 driver but I did meet a possible future F1 driver in James Calado, who’s been doing well in F1’s feeder series GP2, and is the new Force India test driver. Also saw Daniel Abt but he just walked away.

Also got to meet Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers Yuey Tan and Rodolfo Avila, big thanks to a friend of mine for allowing me to just talk about racing with those guys like we’re just fans of the sport, you don’t always get to do that with professional racers like those two. I didn’t get to walk around the circuit due to the heavy presence of security, but I did get to see the GP2 cars almost up close, they’ve moved to the support paddock opposite Marina Square. Also went to Millenia Walk later on the day to catch a glimpse of Mercedes F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. No luck with getting their autographs.

ImageGP2 car of Daniel Abt up close

Friday

That Friday was possibly one of my longest days, starting from leaving the house at 9am to getting back home at about 12.30am! I didn’t just enjoy the action at the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first two practice of F1 and also GP2 practice and qualifying (also staying back to watch Korea’s Big Bang at the Padang stage for my cousins) but also the UBS Go-Kart Challenge with David Coulthard. I did one post just for the UBS go-kart challenge before this post so check it out.

After the super fun but extremely tiring go-kart race with David Coulthard, which I finished side-by-side with him. We got dropped off at the same place they picked us up, and guess who I saw there? DC himself, he had just finished a appearance for UBS, giving prizes to the winners of the simulator challenge (I didn’t do so well for that one). It was cool that he noticed us and I said to him to enjoy the weekend and he said to me to enjoy my weekend too. After my lunch/dinner at Burger King, it’s off to the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

I started my “adventure” at Gate 6, just opposite the Fullerton Hotel, with a good view of the Turn 13 hairpin, the same place where I stood to watch my first race live back in 2011. I missed the first session which was the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia practice and barely made it to the start of the GP2 practice session, watching the future F1 starts making their way through Turn 13, and this time, getting much better pictures there than I did back in 2011. That day I saw a number of guys making mistakes there, this time, I didn’t see any mistakes. That’s because I wasn’t there when the mistakes happened in the first F1 practice session, I had moved elsewhere.

DSC_0161Really liking this shot of Alex Rossi’s Caterham, all green around!

I made my way down to the Esplanade Straight, just before Turn 14 to see the final bits of the GP2 practice, hearing the cars at full power. For that reason, I stayed there for the first practice session for the F1 guys. I do like that spot as you can really hear the cars working, downshifting going into Turn 14 and even see sparks coming off these cars. I would have moved around if not for my friend letting me know that he was coming along and wanted to meet me. Still, I did get to see the cars (if I could catch them) at their very best down that straight.

After that session, my friend wanted to get his dinner at Macs, which I knew would be packed, so I told him to get it dinner while I enjoy GP2 qualifying, which I missed half the session because of the long line going into Gate 3, which is the popular spot (just off Raffles City mall). I caught the GP2 qualifying action from just after Turn 8 and didn’t realise that the spot I chose was actually not bad, so I stayed on for the start of the second practice session. We moved over to the Bay Grandstand next as my friend wanted to see what view he would get from his ticket. Of course, I had to check out the view too so we swapped tickets for a while and I have to say, even from the second last row of the Bay Grandstand, the view isn’t all that bad!

DSC_0185Daniel Ricciardo driving under the grandstand!

After checking out the view, we made our way to the Padang stage, trying to get a good view to catch K-Pop stars Big Bang. First of all, I’m not big on K-Pop but some people in my family are, so I was trying to get some pics and videos just for them. Those guys aren’t that bad, just their fans there were a bit too crazy, pushing around just to get a better view, I nearly dropped my $1,000 Nikon camera thanks to one idiot. I got so pissed off I just left after 30 minutes, I just couldn’t take getting pushed around for no reason anymore. Plus, I was freaking tired at that point haha!

Saturday

Not an early start for me on Saturday luckily but I still went earlier than usual, I got to Gate 2 just off Millenia Walk by 3pm and didn’t realise the gates only opened at 3pm so I was one of the first few lining up. I didn’t know this was also a good spot to see a number of F1 personnel. I was walking right behind McLaren’s Sam Michael the whole way to the Singapore Flyer and also saw the likes of Stefano Domenicalli of Ferrari and Guillaume Roquelin of Red Bull. That wasn’t all the people I saw.

I moved over to the GP2 support paddock and saw all the cars lined up, but not the drivers. I stood by near the entrance of the support paddock and then saw GP2 drivers one by one, walking out of the support paddock and to their cars. The one person I almost got to ask a pic for was the one guy I was hoping to meet, Alexander Rossi. I was a bit too starstruck to even ask him initially and when I started moving, he was heading off to his car. Damn my luck.

I made my way to a viewing platform just opposite pit-lane, all the way to the right of the pit grandstand, meaning I got a good view of the cars going past at the start. I had hoped to catch the action from Turn 3 but for some reason the viewing platform wasn’t there. I stuck around for a few laps, just seeing the cars fly past before heading off Turn 23, the same place I had decided I would watch the race from for Sunday. On the way I got to see one of my classmates working at the pit granstand so that was a nice surprise. After a short while of watching the action from Turn 23, I moved over to Turn 22, I might as well wait for the action at Turn 23 till Sunday.

The spot I found at Turn 22 wasn’t that good with many catch fences as it was for the photographers but interestingly none of them were there for the GP2 Feature race, giving me some good shots from that angle. For the last few laps, I went over to Turn 21, that’s one of the better spots to take pictures of these cars. It was there that I saw Felipe Nasr lock up, and one lap later, his team-mate Jolyon Palmer overtook him for the win. Good to see James Calado finishing on the podium too, hope he gets a drive in F1 soon.

DSC_0240Lots of close racing going on here

I headed back to Turn 22 for the first part of Practice 3 before heading back to Turn 21. This time, the pro photographers did block my view, making it more tricky for me to get some good pictures but when I had a gap, man were those pictures great! Plus, there’s something about the last two corners at Turn 22 and 23 that always attracts me there, the two quickest (and proper) corners on track, you get to see the cars at their best (and worst for those cars that are rubbish).

DSC_0349Really liked this shot of Paul di Resta going through Turn 22, one of my better shots

After the session, I headed over to the Esplanade Outdoor Theater to catch The Dhol Foundation in action. Those guys are just simply awesome, the were probably the only ones for the off-track entertainment that I wanted to catch (and that includes The Killers and Rihana). How awesome were they with their dhols? They didn’t just play Bhangra songs, they also did Reggae and even Irish Folk! I thought their acoustic set was awesome too. I had to leave before their show ended, hoping I had a good spot for F1 qualifying at my usual spot of Turn 16.

I had a decent spot but the place changed the last time I was there (2011), so I didn’t get as good views as I used to but hey, they still had a superscreen there, so that’s all good for me. I thought I’d have some fun by trying to get close up shots of the driver’s helmets, I sure need more work on my timing and my focus to get them just right. Q3 was an interesting session, Sebastian Vettel did the one lap and never went out for a second run. That nearly backfired with Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg all doing quick laps but Rosberg just missed out, which made the Vettel fan-girls next to me scream like crazy. Jeez, it’s just a pole position.

DSC_0753Seb Vettel and his sparkling helmet on his way to another pole position

Sunday

Last day of the racing weekend and once again, I’m making my way through the circuit from Gate 2, realizing that’s the best place to spot drivers or personnel. I did get to see PCCA driver Earl Bamber but couldn’t get a picture of him. I headed straight for my spot at the viewing platform at Turn 23 and guess what, no-one else was around, giving me enough time to find the right spot. Soon I was joined by a couple of Aussie peeps, and hey, it’s always good to be around these Aussies, they’s always the ones who make the atmosphere more fun. Makes it better for me that I’m also a Mark Webber fan and sporting his shirt. Heck, even an English lady next to me was a Webber fan, we were turning that spot to the Mark Webber fan zone haha! That was until other fans joined in.

The first piece of action was the GP2 sprint race, the one were pit-stops are not needed but strangely enough, there were a lot of pit-stops in that race, the tyres just didn’t go well for some guys. It sucked to see Alex Rossi with wing damage at the start, he was the first to make his way to pit-lane with his broken front wing. I also spotted Stefano Coletti with front wing damage before he made his stop. It was another good race, the mid-grid action was the best with cars closely following each other. Great to see Sam Bird taking the win, his fifth of the season. The guy deserves a shot in F1.

DSC_0120Sam Bird on his way to his 5th GP2 win of this year

Next up was the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race and well, we didn’t get much of a race because of a strange incident. A one car crash on Lap 2 didn’t look big, it caused the safety car but it looked as if they could get the car away quickly but it took them 6 or 7 laps out of the 12 scheduled to get the car to a safe place, the car was badly damaged. There were a lot of good racing there too, and Rodolfo Avila got some overtakes in front of me, thanks man! He and Yuey Tan even raced with each other for a while, both those guys sure were friendly when I met them on Thursday. Bamber won the race ahead of Craig Baird, who had won this race for the last two years.

After that was the F1 driver’s parade and this one was a bit different for me. I hadn’t realised that right opposite me was the spot where the drivers would drop off after the parade and that meant I had a bit of trouble trying to get some of the drivers in my video. I missed Lewis Hamilton in my view as he went off his parade classic car right away, some of the fans were not happy about that haha! Of course, Mark Webber and Jenson Button got some of the louder cheers along with Raikkonen, Vettel and Alonso. And well, being around a bunch of Aussies, there were loud cheers for Daniel Ricciardo too, and he gave us all a thumbs up!

I got a great view of the last two rows on the grid but the only guy I could see was Max Chilton, who walked past opposite us for his little break for the race. Turn 23 turned out to be a good spot, you can tell which cars were great around the last two quick corners and which ones were rubbish. The Marussia cars always looked like it would go off, they were really unstable at times. So it was pretty funny that apart from Chilton’s second lap off moment there, they didn’t go off at the corner. Esteban Gutierrez nearly hit the wall in front of us in his Sauber, I really thought he would head straight for it, but he saved it! Valtteri Bottas also went off but wasn’t as dramatic as Gutierrez’s off moment.

DSC_0906Close call for Gutierrez

After the safety car, the race got more interesting and everytime Mark Webber made an overtake, there were loud cheers going around my area. There were even louder cheers when Paul di Resta crashed with a few laps to go. Not the fans didn’t like him, but it looked like the safety car might come out and cut Vettel’s huge gap and mean Webber would be right in front of Raikkonen for the last podium spot. We kept looking at the marshals, some even shouting at them to put up the “SC” board haha!

It never went up and Vettel had an easy run to the flag. Alonso finished 2nd with Raikkonen taking 3rd, amazing drives by both former champions (Alonso started 7th, Raikkonen started 13th and had back issues), and they’ll be Ferrari team-mates next year! Webber didn’t finish 4th. Heck, he didn’t finish the last lap. I saw smokes count out of his car with one lap to go and he stopped with two thirds of the circuit to go. But hey, he gave us that classic shot when Alonso gave him a lift back to the pits, that rarely happens! I never thought my last picture of Mark Webber would be that of him being on Alonso’s car getting a taxi ride back to the pits.

DSC_0071Webber getting a lift from Alonso after his Red Bull car failed on him on the last lap

After the safety car went through the circuit, mayhem ensued! Fans running to the podium, hoping to catch the podium finishers up close. I did join in when they were playing the Austrian national anthem for Red Bull, I mean that anthem was freaking long. So long that when I got to the track, Raikkonen just got this 3rd place trophy, so I got a good shot of the guys spraying the champagne! Of course, we had the whole controversy of the booing of Seb Vettel on the podium but that only happened the second time Martin Brundle spoke to him. And at the same time, there were a lot of Alonso chants too, need me to tell you who were booing Vettel? No surprises there I guess.

After checking out the pit-lane, seeing the Sky Sports doing their thing just outside the Red Bull garage and seeing the cars at parc ferme, it was time for me to head back home. I got delayed when I saw The Dhol Foundation playing at the Village Stage, so why the heck not? Just stay back a little bit more to watch them playing their awesome dhols, these guys are just mega! 2013 Singapore Grand Prix is done, I can’t wait for the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix to start already. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the sights of another race before it, bring 2014 on!

DSC_0107Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen celebrate their podium finish at the 2013 F1 Singapore Grand Prix

UBS Go-Kart Challenge with David Coulthard – My story of that event

I couldn’t tell you how excited I was when I found out that I was one of the lucky five chose to compete in this event. I mean, we got a chance to race with David Coulthard! Yes, that same guy who drove for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull and have won 13 grand prix in his career! And being a McLaren fan myself, I had always been a DC fan during that era so I got a chance to race one of my favourite drivers in the early days of me watching F1. I’ve done some runs in those fun Go-Karts a couple of times but this was my first time being in a “competitive” racing sessions, those guys treated the whole thing like one. I’ve done some runs in those fun Go-Karts a couple of times but this was my first time being in a “competitive” racing sessions, those guys treated the whole thing like one.

The kind people at UBS picked us up at their offices at Raffles and we made the long trip to Kartright Speedway (which is at Jurong, the very west of Singapore). Kartright was the first “race-track” t o be opened in Singapore in 2010 but this was my first time racing there. The track itself was not bad, best go-kart track I’ve driven at so far. I asked my brother to accompany me to the event and get some pictures for me but the UBS people were lacking some racers to fill the grid of 20, so they asked my brother to join in the fun, that lucky bugger. The first session was the practice session for us contests winners and just before it started, David Coulthard showed up, and of course, I had to meet him right away, it’s DC damn it!

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David Coulthard! Seen him race many times, now I get to see him race real up close

I only realised as we were getting ready for the practice session that most of the people I was up against we were pro-karters themselves or have driven go-karts on a regular basis, with me being the least experienced. I knew I had to do my very best to get into the grand final, my best practice time was just 57 seconds, not good so far. For the qualifying session, I did find some time and got a 53 second lap. All there was left to do was watch the second session and hope I’ve done enough.

I didn’t keep track of my time for most part of that session, just seeing what my brother was doing. He had been doing laps of 62+ seconds for the most time before he did a 57 second lap on his last effort. There were a few guys who did 52s laps and some 53s laps, so I had to wait to know if my time was good enough. I would know if I made it when the published the grid for the “mini-final” and my name wasn’t on it, so I made it. My brother didn’t do so well and finished a lap down but he was suffering with his wrist, just like I was. We didn’t have gloves like most others. Now it was time for the grand final, and I’m happy that I’ve got into that grand final, that’s all I wanted because I knew I wouldn’t be competitive against the others haha!

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Me and the legendary David Coulthard!

I was bound to start 7th and I had the legendary David Coulthard starting next to me. I wished him luck just before we got into our karts and he told me “just have fun out there”. It was a 10 car grid with two guys starting in pit-lane (one was supposed to start on pole but was penalised). DC had a mega start, squeezing his way through the field already and I was trying to pick up the pieces but I couldn’t do much. I tried my best to keep up with the rest but I just couldn’t. Then again, this was my first “race” against people who’ve raced many times before, all I wanted to do was to finish on the lead lap and hopefully not last.

I did get past one guy who was struggling more than myself with a nice outside pass, showing that I can race these guys, too bad I didn’t have the speed. DC had made his way to the front in just two laps but after a while, he drove through pit-lane just to have some fun. The two fastest guys the whole way battled for the lead and finishing 1-2, just not in the order most expected. DC was fighting for 3rd before he slowed down just before the line, allowing everyone to pass him. I didn’t want to beat a legend like him that way so I slowed down too just before the line, trying to make it a dead heat between us but I messed up, David beat me by some 0.2 seconds. I finished 8th in the end but hey, for my first race, I finished side-by-side with David Coulthard, no matter the situation, no-one can ever take that away from me haha! Still wondering if anyone had a good picture of it.

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Ok, so they spelled my name wrongly but that’s ok, my name is just below David Coulthard’s! Now that’s freaking cool.

I was a bit dissapointed with my own race, hoping I could at least fight for a top 5 spot but then again, I never really stood a chance. Oh well, I did get to race with David Coulthard, so that was super cool, and I got to speak to him as if we were good friends. I also got him to sign his book “It Is What It Is” and his 2000 McLaren F1 Minichamp diecast! People have called him the gentleman racer, he sure is a gent! I didn’t win anything but I did get some stuff from UBS and also the cake but that never made it home haha! Big thanks to UBS for setting this up, never had so much fun at an event like this in a long while. How I wish I could do go-kart racing or any kind of racing for a living, now that’s my dream job.

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If only I could do this for real!

Great September so far

I can safely say I’m kinda enjoying this month’s holiday break for me. The way my school works, we study for two months, rest for one, so September is the third “rest” month for me, and so far, the fun one too haha! Not just because the Singapore Grand Prix is just next week, but a few things have been happening too.

This time last week, I was looking forward to seeing WWE legend Booker T in Singapore for the first time ever in a meet and greet session and I got to meet him. This time next week, I won’t just be looking forward to the first days action of the Singapore Grand Prix with Friday Practice but also I’ll be looking forward to meeting F1 legend David Coulthard! Yup, I won some UBS Go-Kart contest to race with him along with 4 others, so I can’t wait for that. The contest theme was about “I love racing”, no surprise that I won right? The picture that won it for me was my 70+ F1 diecast collection. Then again, it does show how much I love racing!

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That’s the picture that won it for me.

Also, this time last year, I wasn’t quite looking forward to returning back to Singapore from my two month stay over in Sacramento, California at my cousin’s place. I had just finished my two year National Service, I had two months of nothing to do, might as well visit my family overseas, better than rotting at home and doing nothing in this hot weather. I do love the weather there, especially at the Bay Area (San Francisco/Berkeley), would love to stay there!

With nothing to do, I’d usually turn to my games and I finally bought White 2 after a year of waiting. The second version feels a lot different than the first version, that much I’ll say. It’s like playing a different version with a few similarities. And yup, I’ve already beaten the champion, easiest league match ever (too much training helps). Also been playing Football Manager 2013 and got Scottish side Queen’s Park from the 3rd division to the 1st division and on course to make it to the Premier Division. Now, what other games can I play before school starts. WWE 2K14 and F1 2013 won’t be coming out soon, so that sucks.

So next week in the Singapore Grand Prix, I can’t wait for it as always. I still have not made up my mind on where I’ll be watching the race from (Sunday’s action I meant). I thought watching the action from Turn 7-8 would be a great spot, too bad my view was blocked by some tall buggers the whole time, should have gotten there earlier. This time, I might decide on Turns 22-23 or Turn 3 (I’ve got walkabout tickets if anyone is wondering). I’ll be walking around the circuit as usual, just enjoying the event. Hopefully I’ll get to meet one of the drivers again, I’ve bumped into one or two in the last few years (nobody last year in Singapore, a number of guys in Melbourne though). Bring on the racing weekend!

IndyCar drivers who have tested F1 cars – Pictures

This is just for fun, pictures of IndyCar drivers who have at some point tested an F1 car sometime during their career:

Marco Andretti – Honda F1 – 2006

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This test was a reward to Marco Andretti for winning the IndyCar Rookie of the Year in 2006. Would be nice if there was still a Honda team around to give these IndyCar drivers an F1 test once in a while again. Marco has previously said that he wouldn’t think about moving to Formula One until he’s won the Indianapolis 500.

Townsend Bell – Jaguar Racing – 2003

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There was a point in time where Townsend Bell was America’s next big F1 hope after having a decent year in F3000 and testing for BAR Honda and Jaguar but nothing came out of it for the San Francisco native.

Sébastien Bourdais – Arrows Grand Prix – 2002

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Like Bell before, Seb Bourdais was once touted as France’s next big Formula One driver and after winning F3000, he tested for the likes of Arrows and Renault. The move to Arrows never happened due to the issues they faced and nothing happened for him with Renault. He would end up getting that F1 chance with Toro Rosso in 2008 after winning four straight ChampCar titles but it didn’t work out for him.

Ryan Briscoe – Toyota F1 – 2004

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Ryan Briscoe was once part of the Toyota F1 young driver’s program having joined them in 2001 and testing for them since 2002 and was promoted as the third and reserve driver in 2004. When Toyota announced that they would supply engines to Jordan Grand Prix, Briscoe was given the opportunity to drive for them but he opted for Ganassi Racing in IndyCar. Eight years on, Briscoe will re-join Ganassi for the 2013 Indianapolis 500.

Mike Conway – Brawn Grand Prix – 2009

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Like Briscoe before, Mike Conway was once part of the Honda young driver program and was promoted as a test driver for Honda Grand Prix in 2007 along with his GP2 program. He was considered for the Super Aguri drive at one point but nothing came of it. He tested for Brawn GP in 2009 after his first year in IndyCar but stayed in America after that.

Scott Dixon – Williams F1 – 2004

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Having won the IndyCar championship the year before, Dixon was given a chance to test the Williams car in 2004 with a possible chance for a drive in 2005. Nothing came up for him likely due to his poor performance from the test session.

Sarah Fisher – McLaren Mercedes – 2002

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During the 2002 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Fisher was given a chance to test the McLaren car in between the friday practice session in what was just a promotional test.

Dario Franchitti – Jaguar Racing – 2000

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Dario Franchitti actually had his first F1 test with McLaren in 1995 thanks to winning the McLaren award and waited another five years for a proper F1 test with Jaguar performing test sessions for Jaguar under his mentor Sir Jackie Stewart but he couldn’t secure a race seat with the team. His cousin Paul di Resta races for Force India F1 these days.

Bryan Herta – Minardi F1 – 2002

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Herta got a chance to test for Minardi and was even considered to replace Alex Yoong for a few races in 2002 but that role went to Anthony Davidson.

JR Hildebrand – Force India F1 – 2009

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After winning the 2009 Indy Lights championship and running a number of races for Team USA in A1GP and was given a chance to test with Force India F1 before moving back to the States.

Tony Kanaan – BAR Honda – 2005

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Tony Kanaan was given a chance to test the BAR Honda car in 2005 as a prize for winning the 2004 IndyCar championship with Honda. There was a small rumor of him moving to F1 but he had a contract with Andretti-Green till 2008 meaning that was never going to happen.

Katherine Legge – Minardi F1 – 2005

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Katherine Legge became the first female to test an F1 car since Fisher in 2002 when she was given a chance to test for Minardi in one of their last few test sessions in F1. After crashing after just two laps, she was given a second day and did alright before moving to the States to race in ChampCar.

Alex Lloyd – McLaren Mercedes – 2004

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The prize for winning the 2003 McLaren Autosport Award was a first F1 test for Alex Lloyd who tested the car with Jamie Green and Lewis Hamilton. He would move on to America with limited chances in Europe.

Will Power – Minardi F1 – 2004

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Will Power and Will Davison were both given a test with Minardi by compatriot Paul Stoddart and both guys did well before moving to A1GP and World Series by Renault. Will (Power that is), would move over to the States with not much chances for him to move up the ladder in Europe.

Graham Rahal – BMW Sauber – 2008

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This wasn’t actually a test session but a demo run in the United States with Graham Rahal getting a rare chance to drive a Formula One car even if it’s just a demo run. Still the only time Rahal has driven an F1 car in his career.

Takuma Sato – Scuderia Toro Rosso – 2008

IndyCarF1Test - Sato2

Many will know that Taku came from F1 to IndyCar and that he raced for the likes of Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri but many may not know is that he actually tested for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2008 in the hopes of finding his way back to F1 after Super Aguri left. Sato didn’t make his way back to the grid but would end up moving to IndyCar.

Tomas Scheckter – Jaguar Racing – 2001

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After a few years in the main European junior series, Scheckter was hired by Jaguar Racing as a test driver for the 2001 season but he was fired for an embarrassing incident even before the year ended. He moved to the States the year later.

Oriol Servia – Prost Grand Prix – 2000

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Servia moved to the States after winning a few F3 championships and won the 1999 Indy Lights championship. He would end up testing for the Prost Grand Prix during 2000-2001 but nothing came out of those tests and stayed in the States ever since.

Paul Tracy – Benetton F1 – 1994

IndyCarF1Test - Tracy

Paul Tracy made a quick impact in IndyCar, winning races in his first full season and finishing 3rd in his first two full season campaigns in IndyCar. He got the chance to test for F1 champions Benetton in 1994 and that was his only test in F1.

EJ Viso – Spyker F1 – 2006

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Brazil, Friday Practice

For a while, it looked as if EJ Viso would be Venezuela’s best hope in Formula One. A race winner in GP in 2006, he was given the chance to test the Spyker F1 car during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Two years later he moved to the States.

Justin Wilson – Jordan F1 – 2001

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Those who follow F1 will remember that Justin Wilson drove for Minardi and Jaguar in 2003 but some may not know that he tested for Jordan F1 back in 2001. He showed his speed there and got his F1 chance but couldn’t stay due to lack of sponsorship money and moved to the States the next year.

2013 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix – My Weekend in Sepang

Friday

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.

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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.

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Saturday

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!

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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.

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Sunday

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.

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KSM’s Top 10 – Formula One Grand Prix races I’d like to visit

It’s the month of March, and for motoracing fans like myself, that can only mean one thing, the start of the new Formula One season is fast approaching. In just under two weeks times, the green light will go out to start the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Too bad I won’t be there to catch the action in Melbourne once again, hopefully I’ll be back soon. But thinking about it, that was one of the most fun I’ve had in a trip. And I’m starting to reach that point where I’m planning my holidays around watching some races, and there are some really good circuits on the F1 calendar I’d love to visit some day. I’m lucky that there is a race in Singapore these days so I can catch the action here and even luckier enough to watch the race in Melbourne (if I end up moving there in the future, even better for me). So how about a Top 10 grand prix I’d like to visit sometime in the future?

10 – Italian Grand Prix (Monza)

I sure as heck am not a fan of Ferrari, but the atmopshere in Monza surely has to be one of the best anywhere around the world, and I wouldn’t mind experiencing it for myself sometime in the future. I do like the Monza circuit, it’s one of the quickest and one of the best around, I don’t mind visiting that circuit just to watch a good race there, and try not to let the Ferrari crowd intimidate me at all!

9 – Indian Grand Prix (Uttar Pradesh)

Of the Grand Prix held in Asia, there’s really only two that I’ve not been to that I really don’t mind travelling to, and India’s Budh International Circuit is one of them. It looks like a nice circuit with some great viewing points, so that’s good for fans. I’ve not been to India for sometime, and I’m sure I’ll be in India sometime in the future (probably for one of my cousin’s wedding or whatever), and who knows, maybe I could try to make the trip to Uttar Pradesh for the race too?

8 – German Grand Prix (Hockenheim/Nurburgring)

Germany, race cars, need I say more? It sucks that there’s isn’t one fixed circuit for the grand prix, I’m not a fan of alternating races at all. But if I were to ever go to Europe, surely the German Grand Prix would be one I would consider watching. I’ve always been a number of German drivers (Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel, Heinz-Harald Frentzen), why not check out their home race too if given the chance?

7 – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)

Sure, many people know I’m not a fan of many things Japanese (also because my brother is a Japan-fanatic, so why not?), and I’ve always said I don’t really want to go to Japan. But for the race in Suzuka, I sure wouldn’t mind it at all. It’s one of the better circuits around too, so why the heck not.

6 – Monaco Grand Prix (Monte-Carlo)

It’s Monaco, why the hell wouldn’t you want to go there? Sure, the racing there is non-existant, but it’s F1’s version of the Indianapolis 500, the history is all there. Plus it’s a street circuit so I’m sure I can enjoy the action a lot better than a racing on a normal race circuit. I’m not sure if Monaco has a ticket like the one in Marina Bay, where you can walk around the circuit, because that is a big win for me (and that’s why Marina Bay and Melbourne will always be my two favourite circuits to visit).

5 – British Grand Prix (Silverstone)

If the British Grand Prix were to be held a week earlier this year (2013), I might have planned a visit to Silverstone. Unfortunately, my school starts again the day after the race, so that’s the reason for me not going there. I’ve always wanted to visit England, and a trip to the home of British motorsports is a must for me, being a fan of many things British in racing too (teams and drivers). Plus I’ve always heard many good things from my friends who have been there.

4 – Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)

That’s probably my next favourite circuit on the F1 calendar after Montreal, and the circuit itself looks stunning, and I’ve seen pictures from my friend’s visit to Spa, and I’m convinced already that I’ve got to visit Spa sometime in the future. There’s just something special about it really. If I was loaded, I’d be making plans to fly to Belgium for the race for sure. There’s always great racing there. And it’s a big circuit too, so if it’s possible to walk around it like the street circuits, that would be awesome.

3 – Grand Prix of America (Hudson County, New Jersey)

It’s been delayed for 2014, but I really wouldn’t mind making the trip there. It looks like a great street circuit and Manhattan is just the other side of the Hudson river, that’s two big wins in my view for visiting that circuit. It being a street circuit, I’m sure the atmosphere will be great. Me being into photography these days, I’ve gotta find a way to get a pic of the cars with Manhattan as a background, now that would be some picture. I’m sure there would be a lot to do at that area as well during the weekend and after the race. Plus I’ve always wanted to visit New York.

2 – United States Grand Prix (Austin, Texas)

Last year was the first race in Austin, and I could tell right away it was a great circuit, some good racing and from what I heard from a friend of mine, the experience there was something special, so I’d like to experience it myself sometime in the future. Plus it’s in Texas. And it’s also got that awesome looking viewing tower, I sure wouldn’t mind watching the action from right up there. I can tell that the circuit has got some really great views around the circuit, and that Turn 1 is something special too.

1 – Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal, Quebec)

Surprised? If you know me quite well, you shouldn’t be. It’s a street circuit, and one of the best ones around too. And it’s my favourite circuit, and I’ve seen pictures from a few people who’ve been to the race, I can tell it sure is worth the money. And there’s always great races in Montreal. The city itself, from what I’ve heard, is one of the best places to visit for a Grand Prix too. There surely has to be a number of great views around the street circuit. If it’s possible to move around the circuit, even better for me. Plus it’s in Canada!

Realistically, I would only consider the first six in the near future, unless I’ve earned a lot of money and can do some travelling in the future. As you can tell from the top three picks, I’m a bit biased to the North American races, I really do like what I’ve seen from Texas and I’ve always wanted to watch race in Montreal, and with New Jersey set to be a back-to-back race with Montreal in the future, even better since they are qute close by. You may notice one race isn’t on that list. There’s a good reason for that, and it’s not because I don’t like the place (I do like it, just don’t like some of the people). Well, in a few weeks time, I’ll be heading off to Sepang to catch the Malaysian Grand Prix for the first time. I doubt that it will be as good as Marina Bay, Melbourne or the Sonoma IndyCar race, but hopefully it will still be a great experience.