Tag Archive | F1

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.

 

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!

2015 done, now for 2016

2015 is over and it’s time for a new year. Don’t worry, there won’t be any “new year, new me” nonsense here. I’m still going to do the same damn thing as per usual. Back in the 2000s, most would have been looking forward to 2012 or 2015 mostly. For some weird reason I was always looking forward to 2016. Well I do like random numbers.

2015 was alright. For the most part I was studying, and not doing so well but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Just need to study even harder this time around. And when I’m not studying, I got to do some fun things and also got on two short trips (one of them being a new country to visit for me). Went to Malaysia for a few days in March mainly to see the F1 Malaysian Grand Prix and in September to Japan for the first time to visit my brother who now lives there and also to watch the F1 Japanese Grand Prix. Yup, got to see three Formula One races this year, so 2015 was pretty good. First time watching back to back F1 races in two weeks too, that was cool.

Alonso vs Kvyat vs Verstappen

Not just Formula One, I got to see four football matches too. Everton vs Stoke City and Singapore XI vs Arsenal for the Barclays Asia Trophy 2015 and then in four days, Singapore vs Japan in a 2018 World Cup Qualifying match and four days later a Liverpool Legends vs Manchester United legends.

All four at the National Stadium so I’m getting used to seeing that place. Not so used to seeing the Indoor Stadium but I did get to go back in there for the WWE Live event in July, my third time watching a live wrestling show and always it was fun. And for once I was sitting near the front row (second row actually), had to pay $400+ but it was worth watching those guys up close for once. Not just sporting events, I also got to see a comedy show and a concert for the first time too. Yup, been spending a bit too much money on these events, haven’t I?

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All worth it though. Good fun seeing the incredibly funny Russell Peters live. He was so good most of his material that night came on the spot and from just interacting with the crowd. It was pretty cool to see Johnny Marr live in concert too, that guy is easily of the best guitarist ever. Was awesome hearing a few of my favourite songs live for once. It was nice to see some of my family from USA and Canada visiting us here so I had a reason to visit a few places in Singapore I’ve not been to before.

Universal Studios being the main one and now I’ve been there twice, loved it both times. Best bits are the Transformers ride, the Mummy ride and of course the dual roller coasters. Also got to stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel for once, fancy place for sure. The view at the viewing deck at the top of the hotel, or as I call it the boat, is quite awesome. One of the best views in all of Singapore.

Observation Deck of MBS Hotel

It was also nice to catch up with a few of my old friends from primary school days, it’s been too long since I’ve seen some of them and I don’t really have that many friends so it was cool to see each other again. I’ve had my fun this year.

Now to 2016 and well for the first five months I’ll be doing nothing but just studying and hopefully to better this time around. One of the main reasons I’m looking forward to 2016? Well this year one of the biggest races in the world, the Indianapolis 500, will have it’s 100th race. I’ve been following IndyCars since 2005 and after seeing the first Indy 500, I thought that was one of the best events I’ve seen. F1’s Monaco GP is another of the big races but there’s little to no racing in it. Lots of racing in the Indy 500. It became my favourite race after the 2006 race with that famous finish between Sam Hornish and Marco Andretti.

After watching that race, I told myself that in 10 years time, I’ll hopefully be able to attend the Indianapolis 500 race live in person, it being the 100th race that is the one to be at! The 16-year old me always wondered how the 26-year old would turn out 10 years on. “Would I be working by then?”, “How well would I have done in school and if I’m finished with it?”, “Would I be married by then? (HAHA that’s not gonna happen anytime soon)”. Or the biggest one, “Would I still be in Singapore by then?”. Yup, I’m still there. My brother now lives in Tokyo, one of my cousins is studying in London soon and another two moved to Canada many years ago and I am still here. And to think I was the one who had the idea of studying overseas first.

Well fast forward to 2016 and I’m 26 now (turned 26 today in fact) I’m still studying and then won’t be done in maybe 2 or 3 years time. Can’t say I’m doing well in Uni life right now but the fact that I’m in “University” still blows my mind. Who would have thought I would make it there? Not the 16 year old me that’s for sure.

I mean I didn’t really have much to look forward to back then with ITE looming and poly being the likest highest I could reach if I even got there. I’m glad that I made it but so far I’ve just been struggling with school. Nothing in life ever comes easy right? I of all people should know that by now.

There’s still time to change that, I hope. Now to do my best for the exams in May and who knows, maybe I can still make that trip over to Indianapolis in late May. That would be a dream come true. I don’t know what’s in store for 2016 but hopefully it’ll be a good year. All the best to all of you in 2016 and make it a good one!

P.S. To those of you who did, thank you for the birthday wishes. Really appreciate it!

2016 New Year

Happy new year! Have a great year ahead!

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 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

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!

 photo 20150327_221450_zps4esdgpsw.jpg

My 2014 a repeat of my 2012?

This year is starting to feel more and more like it did in 2012. Back then, I started the year in the Army, finally had my freedom, went to Australia in March and California in August/September and in October, started my new school program. For this year, I’ve just finished my Diploma program, enjoying my “freedom” for a little while before going through a preparatory program of sorts for the Degree program (still Accounting, hopefully less theory work and more numbers work) and then start that school in September and in between July till then, I might make a visit to good ol’ North America.

And if it all works out nicely, I might attend the same three motoracing events as I did in 2012, the Australian Grand Prix, the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and the Singapore Grand Prix, three very good events as three very different circuits but all usually giving great shows. If that’s not all, I’m trying to attend another event but this is something I’ve not seen before, hopefully I’ll get to watch a live wrestling show for once. LA usually hosts WWE’s 2nd biggest show SummerSlam and it would be kind cool to check it out live for myself for once. And it’s LA, maybe I should make another visit to Disneyland, truly the happiest place on earth. Or Universal Studios. Fun fact, I’ve never actually been to Singapore’s Universal Studios yet!

There’ll be some fun times coming up for this year I hope but also I have to work hard, my next school will be really tough and this time I can’t joke around any more so for those of you who know that I’m playing certain games online, don’t be surprised to see me take a break from them. I just hope I can get into that next school and do my best. I’ll still be in Singapore and not study overseas as I’ve always hoped to do just to see what it’s like (I like to travel and see other places but unlike most people here, I’d rather go to North America and Australia than the rest of Asia). There may be a chance for me to do some studying over in London with this program (it’s done by Uni of London) so who knows?

And this is also the year I’ll be back to wearing green but just for a week, thankfully my reservist is a week after my pre-degree course. Not sure what to expect but I can survive 5 days there. And hopefully I’ll be on that plane flying high a few days after it, just like I did in 2012 when I left for California two days after my two years of National Service was completed. I have no idea what the future holds but we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully this year will be just as fun as it was two years ago and then work like crazy for the next two years and do something with my life after it.

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