Tag Archive | Motorsports

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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101st Indianapolis 500 Preview

Just one more day to go until the 101st Indianapolis 500. Yes the biggest day in racing is coming. The Monaco Grand Prix, the Coca Cola 600 for nascar and the biggest race of the whole year, the Indianapolis 500. Of course I’m more interested in Indy over the other two. Monaco doesn’t have much racing and I don’t really need to say about nascar races lately (especially the timing is not good for me) and Indy for the last five years have always had great races.

 

Here’s how everyone is starting and a bit of fun stats if anyone is interested.

 

101st Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid

 

P1 – Scott Dixon – Chip Ganassi Racing – New Zealand

indycar-indy-500-2017-scott-dixon-chip-ganassi-racing-honda

Starts: 14 (2003-2016)
Wins: 1 (’08)
Podiums: 3 (’07, ’08, ’12)
Top 5 Finishes: 6
Top 10 Finishes: 10
Poles: 3 (’08, ’15, ’17)
Fastest Laps: 1 (’06)
Laps Led: 434
Finishing Rate: 78.57%

Best Result: 1st – 2008

  • Four-time IndyCar Champion (2003, 2008, 2013, 2015)
  • 92nd Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 39 wins in IndyCar
  • 2006 and 2015 24 Hours of Daytona Winner
  • 2000 IndyLights Champion

 

P2 – Ed Carpenter – Ed Carpenter Racing – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-ed-carpenter-ed-carpenter-racing-chevrolet

Starts: 13 (2004-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 1
Top 10 Finishes: 3
Poles: 2 (’13, ’14)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 69
Finishing Rate: 61.54%

Best Result: 5th – 2008

  • 3 wins in IndyCar
  • 2003 Freedom 100 Winner

 

P3 – Alexander Rossi – Andretti Autosport – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-alexander-rossi-herta-andretti-autosport-honda

Starts: 1 (2016)
Wins: 1 (’16)
Podiums: 1 (’16)
Top 5 Finishes: 1
Top 10 Finishes: 1
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (’16)
Laps Led: 14
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 1st – 2016

  • 100th Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2016 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 2008 Formula BMW World Final Champion
  • 5 races in Formula One with Manor in 2015

 

P4 – Takuma Sato – Andretti Autosport – Japan

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Starts: 7 (2010-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 31
Finishing Rate: 57.14%

Best Result: 13th – 2013 and 2015

  • Podium finisher in the 2004 United States GP at Indianapolis
  • 1 win in IndyCar
  • 2001 Macau GP Winner
  • 2001 British F3 Champion

 

P5 – Fernando Alonso – Andretti Autosport – Spain

indycar-indy-500-2017-fernando-alonso-andretti-autosport-honda

Starts: 0
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 0

Best Result: – (2017 Rookie)

  • 2005 and 2006 Formula One World Champion
  • 2006 and 2007 Monaco GP winner
  • 32 wins in F1
  • 2017 Indianapolis 500 Fastest Rookie Qualifier
  • 1999 Euro Open by Nissan Champion

 

P6 – JR Hildebrand – Ed Carpenter Racing – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-j-r-hildebrand-ed-carpenter-racing-chevrolet

Starts: 6 (2011-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (’11)
Top 5 Finishes: 1
Top 10 Finishes: 4
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 11
Finishing Rate: 83.33%

Best Result: 2nd – 2011

  • 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 2009 IndyLights Champion

 

P7 – Tony Kanaan – Chip Ganassi Racing – Brazil

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Starts: 15 (2002-2016)
Wins: 1 (’13)
Podiums: 4 (’03, ’04, ’12, ’13)
Top 5 Finishes: 7
Top 10 Finishes: 8
Poles: 1 (’05)
Fastest Laps: 3 (’03, ’05, ’07)
Laps Led: 305
Finishing Rate: 73.33%

Best Result: 1st – 2013

  • 2004 IndyCar Champion
  • 97th Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2015 24 Hours of Daytona Winner
  • 16 wins in IndyCar
  • 1997 IndyLights Champion

 

P8 – Marco Andretti – Andretti Autosport – United States of America

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Starts: 11 (2006-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 4 (’06, ’08, ’10, ’14)
Top 5 Finishes: 5
Top 10 Finishes: 7
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 2 (’08, ’12)
Laps Led: 141
Finishing Rate: 72.72%

Best Result: 2nd – 2006

  • 2006 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 2 wins in IndyCar

 

P9 – Will Power – Team Penske – Australia

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Starts: 9 (2008-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (’15)
Top 5 Finishes: 2
Top 10 Finishes: 5
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (’10)
Laps Led: 74
Finishing Rate: 88.89%

Best Result: 2nd – 2015

  • 2014 IndyCar Champion
  • 28 wins in IndyCar

 

P10 – Ryan Hunter-Reay – Andretti Autosport – United States of America

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Starts: 9 (2008-2016)
Wins: 1 (’14)
Podiums: 2 (’13, ’14)
Top 5 Finishes: 2
Top 10 Finishes: 3
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 134
Finishing Rate: 66.67%

Best Result: 1st – 2014

  • 98th Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2012 IndyCar Champion
  • 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 14 race wins in IndyCar

 

P11 – Ed Jones – Dale Coyne Racing – United Arab Emirates

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Starts: 0
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 0

Best Result: – (2017 Rookie)

  • 2016 IndyLights Champion
  • 2013 European F3 Open Champion

 

P12 – Oriol Servia – Rahal Letterman Racing – Spain

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Starts: 8 (2008-2009, 2011-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 1
Top 10 Finishes: 2
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 75%

Best Result: 4th – 2012

  • 1 win in ChampCar
  • 1999 IndyLights Champion

 

P13 – Mikhail Aleshin – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Russia

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Starts: 2 (2014, 2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 1
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 21st – 2014

  • 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion
  • 1 pole position in IndyCar

 

P14 – Graham Rahal – Rahal Letterman Racing – United States of America

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Starts: 9 (2008-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (’11)
Top 5 Finishes: 2
Top 10 Finishes: 2
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 6
Finishing Rate: 55.56%

Best Result: 3rd – 2011

  • 4 wins in IndyCar
  • 2011 24 Hours of Daytona Winner

 

P15 – Max Chilton – Chip Ganassi Racing – United Kingdom

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Starts: 1 (2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 15th – 2016

  • 35 starts in Formula One

 

P16 – Charlie Kimball – Chip Ganassi Racing – United States of America

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Starts: 6 (2011-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (’15)
Top 5 Finishes: 2
Top 10 Finishes: 4
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (’15)
Laps Led: 13
Finishing Rate: 83.33% (How ironic for car #83)

Best Result: 3rd – 2015

  • 1 win in IndyCar
  • 2013 24 Hour of Daytona Winner

 

P17 – James Hinchcliffe – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Canada

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Starts: 5 (2011-2014, 2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 2
Poles: 1 (’16)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 53
Finishing Rate: 60%

Best Result: 6th – 2012

  • 5 race wins in IndyCar
  • 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter

 

P18 – Juan Pablo Montoya – Team Penske – Colombia

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Starts: 4 (2000, 2014-2016)
Wins: 2 (’00, ’15)
Podiums: 2
Top 5 Finishes: 3
Top 10 Finishes: 3
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (’14)
Laps Led: 192
Finishing Rate: 75%

Best Result: 1st – 2000 and 2015

  • 84th and 99th Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2000 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 2007, 2008 and 2013 24 Hours of Daytona Winner
  • 5 race wins in IndyCar
  • 2003 Monaco Grand Prix Winner
  • 7 race wins in Formula One
  • 2 race wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup
  • 1999 ChampCar Champion
  • 1998 International F3000 Champion
  • 2017 Race of Champions Winner

 

P19 – Helio Castroneves – Team Penske – Brazil

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Starts: 16 (2001-16)
Wins: 3 (’01, ’02, ’09)
Podiums: 6 (’01, ’02, ’03, ’07, ’09, ’14)
Top 5 Finishes: 7
Top 10 Finishes: 13
Poles: 4 (’03, ’07, ’09, ’10)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 296
Finishing Rate: 93.75%

Best Result: 1st – 2001, 2002 and 2009

  • 85th, 86th and 93rd Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2001 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 23 wins in IndyCar

 

P20 – Jay Howard – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – United Kingdom

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Starts: 1 (2011)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 0%

Best Result: 30th in 2011

  • 2006 IndyLights Champion

 

P21 – Sage Karam – Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – United States of America

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Starts: 3 (2014-16)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 1
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 2
Finishing Rate: 33.33%

Best Result: 9th – 2014

  • 2013 IndyLights Champion
  • 2010 US F2000 National Champion

 

P22 – Josef Newgarden – Team Penske – United States of America

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Starts: 5 (2012-16)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (’16)
Top 5 Finishes: 1
Top 10 Finishes: 2
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 14
Finishing Rate: 60%

Best Result: 3rd – 2016

  • 4 wins in IndyCar
  • 2011 Freedom 100 Winner
  • 2011 IndyLights Champion

 

P23 – Simon Pagenaud – Team Penske – France

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Starts: 5 (2012-16)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 2
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 35
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 8th – 2013

  • 2016 IndyCar Champion
  • 10 wins in IndyCar
  • 2010 American Le Mans LMP1 Champion
  • 2006 ChampCar Atlantic Champion

 

P24 – Carlos Munoz – AJ Foyt Enterprises – Colombia

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Starts: 4 (2013-16)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 2 (’13, ’16)
Top 5 Finishes: 3
Top 10 Finishes: 3
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 25
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 2nd – 2013 and 2016

  • 2013 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 1 race win in IndyCar

 

P25 – Gabby Chaves – Harding Racing – Colombia

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Starts: 2 (2015-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led:
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 16th – 2015

  • 2015 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
  • 2014 Freedom 100 Winner
  • 2014 IndyLights Champion
  • 2009 Formula BMW Americas Champion

 

P26 – Conor Daly – AJ Foyt Enterprises – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-conor-daly-a-j-foyt-enterprises-chevrolet.jpg

Starts: 3 (2013, 2015-16)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led:
Finishing Rate: 66.67%

Best Result: 22nd – 2013

  • 2012-13 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Champion
  • 2010 Star Mazda Champion

 

P27 – Jack Harvey – Michael Shank Racing – United Kingdom

indycar-indy-500-2017-jack-harvey-andretti-autosport-honda

Starts: 0
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 0

Best Result: – (2017 Rookie)

  • 2015 Freedom 100 Winner
  • 2012 British F3 Champion

 

P28 – Pippa Mann – Dale Coyne Racing – United Kingdom

indycar-indy-500-2017-pippa-mann-dale-coyne-racing-honda.jpg

Starts: 5 (2011, 2013-2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led:
Finishing Rate: 80%

Best Result: 18th – 2016

  • 1 race win in IndyLights

 

P29 – Spencer Pigot – Juncos Racing – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-spencer-pigot-juncos-racing-chevrolet.jpg

Starts: 1 (2016)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: 100%

Best Result: 25th – 2016

  • 2015 IndyLights Champion
  • 2014 Pro Mazda Champion

 

P30 – Buddy Lazier – Lazier Partners Racing – United States of America

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Starts: 19 (1991-92, 1995-2008, 2013-14, 2016)
Wins: 1 (1996)
Podiums: 3 (’96, ’98, ’00)
Top 5 Finishes: 5
Top 10 Finishes: 6
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (’00)
Laps Led: 70
Finishing Rate: 52.63%

Best Result: 1st – 1996

  • 80th Indianapolis 500 Winner
  • 2000 IndyCar Champion

 

P31 – Sebastian Saavedra – Juncos Racing – Colombia

indycar-indy-500-2017-sebastian-saavedra-juncos-racing-chevrolet.jpg

Starts: 5 (2010, 2012-15)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led:
Finishing Rate: 20%

Best Result: 15th – 2014

  • 1 pole position in IndyCar

 

P32 – Zach Veach – AJ Foyt Enterprises – United States of America

indycar-indy-500-2017-zach-veach-a-j-foyt-enterprises-chevrolet.jpg

Starts: 0
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Finishing Rate: –

Best Result: – (2017 Rookie)

  • 6 wins in IndyLights

 

P33 – James Davison – Dale Coyne Racing – Australia

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Starts: 2 (2014-15)
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Top 5 Finishes: 0
Top 10 Finishes: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led:
Finishing Rate: 50%

Best Result: 16th – 2014

  • 2 wins in IndyLights

 

I have to say Scott Dixon is the heavy favourite going into this race. It’s bad enough for everyone he’s always gone well around here (400+ laps led here in all of his starts), he will start on pole position and expect him to add to his laps led count and stay near the front the whole way. I do expect Rossi to give him a challenge, he’s been impressive yet again and he has a real possibility of making it two Indy 500 wins in two starts.

 

Alonso does have a chance to score a big result. The last guy to jump from another series into the Indy 500 was Kurt Busch and he did well with Andretti too, finishing 6th so if I was Alonso, my aim apart from winning would be to get at least a top 5 finish. Do look out for his Andretti team-mates Hunter-Reay, Andretti and Sato, they should be fast…if their reliability holds on.

 

It’s a huge surprise to see only one Team Penske car in the top 10, usually there’s three or all of them up there. They won’t be at the back for long, I am very sure of it. Especially with the caliber of talent they have in all five cars, don’t be surprised to see one of them up there challenging for the win. It should be a good race as it has been for the last 5 years. I can’t wait for the biggest race in all of motorsports. Bring on the 101st Indianapolis 500! Start your engines!

Formula One 2017 Season: Starts Today!

The 2017 Formula One season is starting today over in Melbourne, Australia! Nothing beats watching F1 cars in action (well, maybe apart from watching IndyCars too) and I can’t wait to see how the new regulations will shake up the order, if it even does that which so far looks as if it won’t. Hopefully we will get some good racing at least. And as always, I’ll say this, I wish I was in Melbourne right now. Been there twice, enjoyed it both times. Hopefully going there for a third time soon.

 

So those of you who aren’t familiar to the F1 or new to racing, here’s a little guide on who’s driving for which team. Well, the full-time drivers that is.

 

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Mercedes

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

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

 

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Red Bull TAG Heuer

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

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

 

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Ferrari

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

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

 

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Force India Mercedes

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

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

 

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Williams Mercedes

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

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

 

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McLaren Honda

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

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

 

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Toro Rosso Ferrari

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

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

 

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Haas Ferrrari

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

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

 

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Renault

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

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

 

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Sauber Ferrari

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

#94 Pascal Wehrlein
Age: 22
Races: 21
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 1
Finishing Rate: 76.19%

 

The big story of the season I guess will be the fight at the top. It looks like it won’t be a one-team race like we’ve seen for the past few years. Ferrari have definitely caught up with Mercedes and for once we might get that world champion vs world champion fight in Hamilton vs Vettel. That’d be a great fight to follow for the neutrals, me included as I’m not a fan of either man these days (one because of how he’s been acting lately, the other because he joined THE enemy).

 

The other thing I’m looking forward to seeing is how well Bottas does in a top car for once. He’s now got the golden opportunity in the best car on the grid, but can he keep up with Hamilton? We know he’s got the talent, now it’s his time to prove it.Surely he’ll get his first win this season and when he does, that fight will become even closer.

 

I will say I like the look of the cars. Longer rear wings, bigger rear tyres….back to the older times eh? I’m not bothered by the shark fins at all. Also we got some really good looking liveries on track. The Toro Rosso car is still my favourite but the new pink car for Force India sure comes a close second and the third favourite….an ORANGE McLaren! Yes, they’re back to the traditional orange colours. I do like the slightly updated Sauber look too. Can’t wait for the race in Melbourne to start in almost an hour’s time!

IndyCar 2017 Season: Starts Today!

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

 

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

 

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AJ Foyt Enterprises – Chevy

#4 Conor Daly (Indiana, USA)

Age: 25

Races: 22

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 72.73%

 

#14 Carlos Munoz (Bogota, Columbia)

Age: 25

Races: 53

Wins: 1

Podiums: 7

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 83.02%

 

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Andretti Autosport – Honda

#26 Takuma Sato (Tokyo, Japan)

Age: 40

Races: 118

Wins: 1

Podiums: 5

Poles: 5

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 63.03%

 

#27 Marco Andretti (Pennsylvania, USA)

Age: 30

Races: 183

Wins: 2

Podiums: 20

Poles: 4

Fastest Laps: 6

Finishing Rate: 79.23%

 

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Florida, USA)

Age: 36

Races: 159

Wins: 14

Podiums: 32

Poles: 5

Fastest Laps: 7

Finishing Rate: 80.50%

 

#98 Alexander Rossi (California, USA)

Age: 25

Races: 16

Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 93.75%

 

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Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda

#8 Max Chilton (Surrey, UK)

Age: 25

Races: 16

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 81.25%

 

#9 Scott Dixon (Auckland, New Zealeand)

Age: 36

Races: 232

Wins: 39

Podiums: 87

Poles: 27

Fastest Laps: 28

Finishing Rate: 85.78%

 

#10 Tony Kanaan (Salvador, Brazil)

Age: 42

Races: 234

Wins: 16

Podiums: 70

Poles: 11

Fastest Laps: 21

Finishing Rate: 84.19%

 

#83 Charlie Kimball (California, USA)

Age: 32

Races: 101

Wins: 1

Podiums: 6

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 83.17%

 

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Dale Coyne Racing – Honda

#18 Sebastien Bourdais (Le Mans, France)

Age: 38

Races: 90

Wins: 4

Podiums: 8

Poles: 2

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 77.78%

 

#19 Ed Jones (Dubai, UAE)

Age: 22

Races: 0

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 0%

 

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Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevy

#20 Spencer Pigot (California, USA)

Age: 23

Races: 10

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 90%

 

#21 JR Hildebrand (California, USA)

Age: 29

Races: 46

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 78.26%

 

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Rahal-Letterman-Laningan Racing – Honda

#15 Graham Rahal (Ohio, USA)

Age: 28

Races: 147

Wins: 4

Podiums: 19

Poles: 2

Fastest Laps: 1

Finishing Rate: 82.31%

 

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Honda

#5 James Hinchcliffe (Ontario, Canada)

Age: 30

Races: 89

Wins: 4

Podiums: 11

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 2

Finishing Rate: 83.15%

 

#7 Mikhail Aleshin (Moscow, Russia)

Age: 29

Races: 34

Wins: 0

Podiums: 2

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 0

Finishing Rate: 76.47%

 

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Team Penske – Chevy

#1 Simon Pagenaud (Poitiers, France)

Age: 32

Races: 87

Wins: 9

Podiums: 20

Poles: 9

Fastest Laps: 4

Finishing Rate: 91.95%

 

#2 Josef Newgarden (Tennessee, USA)

Age: 26

Races: 83

Wins: 3

Podiums: 10

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 8

Finishing Rate: 74.7%

 

#3 Helio Castroneves (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil)

Age: 41

Races: 248

Wins: 23

Podiums: 80

Poles: 44

Fastest Laps: 18

Finishing Rate: 89.11%

 

#12 Will Power (Queensland, Australia)

Age: 36

Races: 141

Wins: 27

Podiums: 49

Poles: 38

Fastest Laps: 18

Finishing Rate: 86.52%

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Go-karting adventure on my 27th birthday

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday

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

Sake to Nagoya -> Higashiyama Line

Nagoya to Kawarada -> Kansai Main Line

Kawarada to Suzuka Circuit Inou -> Isle Railway Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest In Peace Justin Wilson (1978 – 2015)

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

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

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

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

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2012. Picture taken by me.

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

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

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2014. Picture taken by me.

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

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

Rest in peace Justin Wilson.

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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!

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