“Freefall”

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It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about Football. And while this isn’t exactly about Football, a huge part of its raison d’être is because of this seemingly innocuous tweet:

Andres Iniesta–Spain and Barcelona player–is one of my all-time favorite footballers, and when someone of his caliber gives us a glimpse of the workings of his genius mind, then you’d better pay attention.

Please read the above article in full. It is worth it, I promise you.

I never expected to be so affected by its content; I thought I would just get to learn something new from a great footballer,  but I was in tears before I was halfway through the article.

Iniesta has managed to succinctly express what a lot of people are suffering from; what I often feel, in fact.

“Not depression exactly, not illness either, not really, but an unease,”
“It was like nothing was right.”

He needed help; he talks about being “on edge”, “vulnerable”, “victim of something that terrified me”.

Iniesta says he had felt as if he was in “freefall”.

The moment I saw that word was the moment I started to cry.

Have you ever had that moment when an epiphany hits you like a ton of bricks? That was one for me. A single word that encapsulated how I feel.

Freefall. We all experience that internally at some point in our lives. We exist, we function, we feel, we socialize, but nothing ever feels right. We question others, we question ourselves, we question our worth, and before we know it, it has become a perverse game we reluctantly, but regularly play.

“I know what’s it like, Andres. I know what it’s like.” My mind concurred as I continued to read the article.

Some would choose to easily dismiss these revelations and focus on the fact that he’s a world-famous footballer with enormous wealth and a myriad of honors. Boo-fricking-hoo. But he is human, just like the rest of us, and no amount of money or trophies can be a panacea for a broken or hurting psyche.

Imagine if Iniesta hadn’t done something about his struggle. The World Cup 2010 Final and the whole history of Football would have been extremely different. But he did overcome the darkness, and now that he has spoken up about it, perhaps many more others will be inspired to win their battles, too.

I never thought I could admire Iniesta more, but somehow, I have a newfound respect for him.

There are good days and bad days, but every day teaches me something. I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care and self-love.

If you, in any way, have been affected by this: Talk to family. Talk to friends. Consult a professional, if need be. Find an outlet. Do things that make you happy. Prioritize yourself: The people who love you the most want you to love yourself. Take it one day at a time. Life can be terrible and difficult but it is also wonderful and extraordinary. You are going to be all right. Breathe.

Gravity is not so bad. It’s better to hit the bottom and feel the full impact rather than be in a constant, endless state of freefall.

Only you can save yourself. You lead life; it does not lead you.

Go and have your Iniesta World Cup Moment. I am rooting for you.

100 Unusual/Hilarious/Random/Awesome Things That Happened To Me During An F1 Race Weekend

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​If you’re not new to this blog then perhaps you already know that the 5 F1 GPs I’ve attended weren’t necessarily smooth sailing and were almost always action-packed.

Since I like long lists, I would like to share with you some of my most memorable moments during an F1 weekend. Some I have written about, while the others are yet to be expounded.

In no particular order:

1. (Nearly) meeting Nico Hulkenberg while in a taxi queue outside a mall.
2. Having one shoe fall off while running towards the podium post-race. (Yes, my friends all say I should wear running shoes when I watch GPs from now on.)
3. Seeing a Rob Smedley doppelganger and wondering why more fellow fans are not seeing that eerie resemblance.
4. Standing next to a Yoann Gourcuff/Fernando Torres lookalike and not getting the chance to surreptitiously photograph him.
5. Nico Rosberg bending down to take a closer look at the bracelet I was wearing.
6. Getting stared down by Maurizio Arrivabene.
7. Befriending a fellow fan while waiting outside the paddock entrance for Sebastian Vettel and then realizing after we’ve said goodbye that we didn’t even get to exchange names.
8. Getting squished next to a British Juan Mata lookalike during a Red Bull Racing event.
9. Finally meeting Michael Schumacher in the flesh after 15 years of dreaming about it. (Read about it here: http://wp.me/p10DmM-zz )

Schumi! ❤

10. Crying tears of joy/exhaustion underneath the podium after witnessing my very 1st Ferrari double podium. 

Post-Podium Ceremonies selfie!

11. Getting photobombed by a bunch of rowdy Irish & Australian teenage boys.
12. Meeting fellow fans in the flesh after years of Twitter interaction!
13.  Receiving strange/confused looks from sales assistants whenever I asked, “Do you have an Alguersuari cap?”
14. Having a mini-argument with a sales assistant who didn’t think Kimi Raikkonen has what it takes to win that year’s F1 Night Race.
15. Convincing a staff member to unveil at least the nose of the Ferrari display car so me and my friend can take a photo with it.
16. Trackwalking post-race holding a ziploc bag, collecting tire marbles along the way.
17. Nick Heidfeld passing me by as he made his way back to the pits after an on-track shunt. 

Hallo, Nick!

18. Taking home a piece of the foam barrier that Sergio Perez hit on-track.
19. Being overwhelmed by seeing Michael Schumacher for the 1st time in person (sans his racing gear) during the Drivers’ Parade that I took a photo of a trash bin instead of him.
20. Standing next to a group of friends who jeered both Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher and doing my best not to punch them all.
21. Inadvertently yelling “Jaime Alguersuari!” so loudly during the Drivers’ Parade that he looked my way and waved.
22. Being so sleepy and exhausted that I started yelling “Sebastian Vettel! Where are you? Please come out!” towards the Paddock Entrance (It was already past 4am & I only had 1 hr of sleep that entire day, okay?!).
23. Praying earnestly not to get injured as I mounted multiple barriers and ran up several slopes just to make the podium ceremonies.
24. Finding out our house got completely flooded due to a major typhoon barely 24hrs before attending my very 1st F1 race.
25. Wearing a headband decorated with lots of tiny Lego mini-tires.
26. Buying expensive caps that I didn’t really need but I absolutely wanted. 

Ogling the overpriced merchandise that I still could not help but buy…

27. Sneaking surreptitious looks at the KangarooTV (remember them?) of my fellow fans.
28. Foregoing eating for nearly 12 hours because the queues are too long/I didn’t have much of an appetite/I’d rather go around the track.
29. Having a hulk of a guy, who was bald and wearing a sleeveless top, borrow my fan and then ask me, “How are you not sweating in this weather?! I am dying here!” (It’s true, I was cool as a cucumber in the heat and humidity while he was as red as a tomato and sweating like a whore in church.)
30. Speaking of fans, while waiting to cross in a pedestrian footbridge, another Western guy stood beside me and made almost-inappropriate sounds of pleasure when he caught some of the air I was producing with my fan.
31. Having a fellow fan snatch my Sharpie pen in excitement while waiting for Heikki Kovalainen to sign stuff because his own pen didn’t work. Heikki saw the look of annoyance on my face and signed my stuff first. Ha. The fan apologized to me after so it’s all good.
32. Having a fellow fan graciously lend me his pen when it was my turn to have my stuff signed by Max Verstappen, because I dropped my pen inside my blackhole of a bag before taking a photo of him.
33. Nico Hulkenberg telling me, “Good luck!” after he signed my notebook. I’m pretty sure I made a “Huh?” face but he just smiled and moved on.
34. Standing outside a pop-up store for nearly 2 hours just to see Nico Rosberg up close for the 1st time.
35. Sneakily placing my mobile phone in between a cameraman’s legs just to be able to take a photo of Jenson Button for a friend.
36. Considered gatecrashing an F1-related event but changing my mind at the last minute to go shopping instead.
37. Getting lost on my way out of the track because I was too busy posting my Vettel autograph on Instagram.

I waited nearly 5 hours for this!

38. Bumping into an elderly track personnel while trying to find the track exit at past 4 am & getting told, “You’re still here, Miss?! Go home & get some sleep, lah!”
39. Having to explain to a semi-flirting taxi driver what makes F1 such a great sport at past 4 in the morning. Completely sober.
40. Having a whole conversation with our taxi driver about the 2008 F1 Night Race on our way to the airport while my friends rolled their eyes at the back.
41. Being too lazy to chase after Felipe Massa and then asking a fellow fan “Was he with Rob Smedley?” after.
42. Going to a McLaren-related exhibit inside a mall just to check out the Kimi Raikkonen bits. 

Spot the misspelled word there…

43. My friends freaking out on my behalf when they saw a huge Michael Schumacher billboard outside the Petronas Towers. “You have to take a photo with that!” I’ve trained my friends well.

Where Schumi goes, I go…

44. Nearly not being on time for a Qualifying Session due to a delay at the border, so I had to tell the taxi driver, “Please channel your inner F1 driver, I cannot be late!” We got to the track on time.
45. Dishing out the “You’re kidding me, right?” face everytime a sales assistant asks, “Are you getting this for your boyfriend?” when I’m browsing F1 merchandise.
46. Being given tons of free Singapore GP goodies by a staff member of the Singapore’s Visitor Centre when she found out it was my first GP ever.
47. Being too starstruck/awestruck to even properly take a photo of Kimi Raikkonen as he whizzed past us fans in his golf cart.
48. Starting conversations with fellow fans with, “So, who do you support?”
49. From crying my eyes out of sadness the night before to experiencing internal bliss the next day during my very first GP.
50. Getting invited by a fellow fan to “watch Fernando Alonso sunbathe in his hotel”. Yeah, I gave that a pass.
51. Being given free bottled water by generous track marshals.
52. Getting the stink-eye from Hamilton fans when my friend and I let out a whoop when he retired.
53. Having a fellow fan start a convo with me by opening with, “You’re a Kimi fan, right? You look like a Kimi fan” even though I wasn’t wearing anything Kimi-related. He’s a Kobayashi fan, by the way.
54. Getting the “You came all the way from the Philippines?!” response from fellow fans when I tell them where I’m from. Seriously guys, it’s not that far from Singapore.
55. Using all my charms to convince a bus conductor not to leave me and my friends in Johor Bahru (I had to attend a Qualifying Session in Sg that night) by distracting him and appealing to his Ferrari-supporting side.
56. Seeing someone I know through Twitter in person but getting too shy to approach them and say hello.
57. Receiving a dazzling smile from Sebastian Vettel after I wished him “Good luck!”
58. Yelling “Hello, Kimi!” everytime Kimi enters the pits mere meters away from me.
59. Nearly falling asleep while taking a shower after getting back to home base at nearly 5 am.
60. A fellow fan asking me, “Who is he? He’s a driver, right?” when Felipe Nasr exited the Paddock area and started signing for the fans.
61. Being all superstitious and wearing at least 1 red item per day for Ferrari’s sake (hey it worked for the 2015 F1 Night Race!).
62. Watching a Free Practice Session from a height of 165 meters for free, thanks to the Singapore Flyer.

The Singapore Flyer

63. Getting amused laughs from security personnel at the Gates during bag check whenever they see how huge my bag is and how it’s usually filled with shopping bags.
64. Falling in love with a promo umbrella emblazoned with the faces of past F1 Champions. 

I want that umbrella!!

65. Sending a text blast to selected friends (and most probably waking them up) at like 2 in the morning saying I’ve met Michael Schumacher. In all caps. I regret nothing.
66. My Spanish basically getting reduced to “por favor” and “gracias” when I met the Spanish-speaking drivers.
67. Seeing 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve blanked by fans.
68. Seeing Grumpy Fernando Alonso refuse to sign/take pics for fans and telling them a resounding, “NO!”
69. Seeing Kimi Raikkonen’s trainer Mark Arnall get a warm reception from fans, even getting autograph/selfie requests!
70. Randomly getting stopped by a fellow fan to ask why there was a Safety Car on track at that moment (Due to the Hulk-Massa shunt, F1 Night Race 2015).
71. Receiving a text from a friend that went something like, “Hey I’ve just heard that someone invaded the track mid-race. That’s not you, right?!” And yes, it was NOT me. (F1 Night Race 2015)
72. Running through nearly 1/3 of the track (back & forth at that) just to be able to make the podium ceremonies.
73. Watching Maroon 5’s concert post-Qualifying Session behind a couple who made out for 80% of the duration. Ick.
74. Randomly getting complimented by a fellow fan on the lipstick I was wearing during raceday (MAC Ruby Woo).
75. Immediately storing the Sharpie pen that was touched and handled by 3 World Champions (Schumacher, Vettel & Alonso) inside a ziploc bag and never touching it with bare hands again.
76. Resisting the urge to pee for 4 hours for fear of missing any on-track action.
77. Being told “You know a lot about F1 for a woman” by a taxi driver. (SIGH.)
78. Riding on the same elevator with fellow F1 fans who could not disguise their friskiness and looked just about to get it on.
79. Forgetting to remove my earplugs post-race which resulted to me talking really loudly to my friend and a few fellow fans for nearly half an hour.
80. Forgetting to bring my earplugs during raceday, buying a pair on-track but not using them anyway (this is during the V6 era already; and don’t follow my example, kids!).
81. Having a GP weekend survival kit that consists of: Paracetamol, band-aids, Tiger Balm and Salonpas strips.
82. Surreptitiously doing yoga-like stretches in between sessions (sometimes in the middle of a race) to prevent my legs from cramping and to relieve my poor back.
83. Unabashedly brandishing my foldable binoculars to get a better look at the cars (and to people-watch better).
84. Getting sad at seeing the discounted Kimi Raikkonen caps during his F1 sabbatical (circa 2010), but knowing in my heart he’ll return to F1 once again. I kinda wish I bought a couple of those now! 

I guess they thought Kimi wouldn’t be coming back…

85. Having this weird fascination with kerbs and touching/stroking at least one of them post-race.
86. Having the same fascination with tire marks on the walls and touching/stroking at least one of them post-race.
87. Nearly (deliberately) stepping on the foot of a motormouth fan behind me when he very loudly proclaimed that they should just skip interviewing Kimi Raikkonen because he is so dull (among other things) during the 2015 F1 Night Podium Ceremonies.
88. Shivering (in a good way) every time I hear the sound of an F1 car accelerating.
89. Overhearing a fellow fan tell his girlfriend, “Get Fernando to sign this, will you?” Girlfriend: “Why me?” Guy: “You’re a girl, he’ll pay more attention to you!”
90. Marvelling at how…vertically-challenged most drivers are.
91. Realizing though that most, if not all of them are much better-looking in person.
92. Overtaking slow-walking fans with F1 engine sounds playing inside my head.
93. Learning that when in doubt, go ask a track marshal/policeman directly.
94. Drinking more water in 3 days than I do in a whole month.
95. Regretting not being able to make and bring a witty banner.
96. Discovering a good spot for the Drivers’ Parade where they’re close enough to hear you when you yell their names.
97. Foregoing watching the musical acts in favor of waiting for the drivers & personnel.
98. Finding out that (most) F1 fans are really very nice and good fun.
99. Bending down the start-finish line and leaving a red kiss mark on it post-race.

Leaving my (kiss)mark on the track!

100. That strange mixture of happiness and sadness that envelops me as I leave the track post-race which leads to an iron resolve of, “I WILL BE BACK, NO MATTER WHAT!”

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I’m sure I have missed many more anecdotes, but anyway, perhaps they’ll make it to a part 2 of this post.

Meanwhile, I’m already planning my next GP weekend because I cannot wait to see what other adventures/misadventures await me.

(What are your own unforgettable F1 GP mini-anecdotes? Tell me in the comments section!)

Michael Schumacher: Meeting The Man and What He Means To Me.

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You have no idea how exasperating it is when I talk to someone about Formula One (sometimes at length) and they reduce the whole conversation to, “So you have a crush on Michael Schumacher?”

The short of the long answer is: NO, I do not have, and never had, a crush on Michael Schumacher. And I mean that in the best, most respectful way possible.

But in order to better explain my point, let me retrace my F1 history.

I began liking F1 as a prepubescent tomboy, when boys were still gross and I only wore skirts because they were a part of my Catholic school uniform.

I chanced upon his name on a scale model of his Benetton F1 car. I was a full-fledged Benetton kid/snob, and so I immediately fell in love with the colorful car. And then I saw the name by the side.

Michael Schumacher. That sounds like a badass name, my preteen self thought. And surely someone who has a name as badass as that and who gets to race an equally badass car, should be legit badass in real life, right?

And so my F1 story progressed. I scoured the newspapers, went to the library to peruse the magazines, watched the international sports news for snippets, until I finally managed to watch the races on tv. My memory is hazy on when I put a face to his name, but by that time, what he looked like mattered little to me; I’ve already claimed him as my Racing Spirit Animal.

Years went by and I fell even more in love with the sport. It was my awesome little secret, growing up in a basketball-crazy nation. I officially defected from the Enstone team the moment Schumi moved to Ferrari, a little bit sad to leave Benetton but secretly delighted that his new main color would be my favorite–Red.

Even during his “barren years”, I was never really worried; I knew in my heart that he’s destined for more championships and that he would end up as the greatest racing driver ever.

It never really occurred to me that it’s possible for me to meet him. During the time when budget airlines were still scarce and I was restrained by the duties of finishing my schooling, attending an F1 race was nothing but a pipe dream.

However, everything changed when my mother met Michael Schumacher. Yes, my own mother actually met Schumi a decade ahead of me.

Fate has a quirky sense of humor, at times.

It was during a work trip that coincided with the Malaysian GP. Everything was spur-of-the-moment and a bit of a blur. She didn’t get to have a photo with him but she did get to shake his hand and chat with him a bit. My mother had nothing but good words about him. Most notably, she said he’s really humble and you wouldn’t think you’d be talking to a sporting superstar by the way he put her at ease. “He’s very kind”, she’d repeat over and over again.

I knew he wasn’t the cold, ruthless, heartless, arrogant bastard/machine that the media proclaimed him to be, I thought with a mixture of relief and smugness. I chose my Racing Spirit Animal correctly! Ever since then, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I stand a chance to meet him, too. Imagine my disappointment when he announced his retirement from F1 in 2006. My dream was shattered into tiny pieces.

Three years later, as I sat alone in the office, I found out that he’s returning to Formula 1, this time as a driver for Mercedes GP. I’m not ashamed to say I let out a whoop and danced like a lunatic. The dream is alive again!

I finally watched Michael Schumacher race an F1 car in person when I attended my 2nd GP: The 2010 F1 Night Race in Singapore. I remember standing there on the viewing platform by Turn 14 as he drove past, my mouth unabashedly open and my eyes might as well have had cartoon hearts on it. To say it was a joy to see him race again would be an understatement. I felt like I was on some sort of pilgrimage, paying respects to my racing god.

However, It wasn’t until the 2012 F1 Night Race when finally, FINALLY, the dream of meeting him came to fruition. With the help of a fellow F1 (and Kimi) fan, we waited patiently outside the Paddock Entrance/Exit to try to catch the drivers after Qualifying. To be honest, I didn’t really expect to meet Schumi that night (or day, as it was already past midnight in Singapore then); I mean, why would he choose to exit the paddock by feet when he could easily leave via a chaffeured Mercedes car? Also, I was exhausted, hungry, sleepless–I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. Numerous drivers came and went and I even managed a few autographs. There was a lull for several minutes so I stepped back from the throng of fans to drink some water and hopefully catch a breeze, but then there was this gasp from another fan that my ears miraculously picked up.

I was still rooted to my spot when I saw my fellow fans stir. I couldn’t understand why there was a sudden…reverential silence outside the paddock. “Who’s that?” I asked out loud. My friend had no idea and moved towards the crowd. All of a sudden, someone went, “Michael!” which sent my brain into overdrive.

“Holy shit! Michael? It’s Michael Schumacher?! No. NO WAY!!” my brain screamed.

I surged forward and true enough, there he was, just starting to sign for the small(ish) group of fans gathered behind the barrier. Hilarious but most of them had this “Oh my word, it really IS Michael Schumacher” look on their faces, and I bet that not all of them are even fans of his. I wish I had taken a pic of that moment but at that point, I was so awestruck that my motor skills were close to zilch. I managed to take a pic of him, and then proceeded to internally freak out just as he was slowly inching towards my side of the barrier:

There he is! It really is him!

“Shit. What do I do? What do I say to him?”
“Stay calm, FFS. Whatever you do, don’t scream ‘I LOVE YOU, SCHUMI!’ and scare him off.”
“You can do this. Just breathe. Be polite and look him in the eyes, okay?!”

Schumi is getting closer!

A picture of me taking a picture of Schumi. As you can see, I’m already having trouble controlling my camera’s zoom function out of nerves. Ha!

At last, he was right in front of me. The Man Who Was Responsible For My Formula 1 Love Affair. The world may as well have stopped spinning. I meekly held out the orange collapsible fan I had the other F1 drivers sign to him. “Michael, please?”

“Sure!” He replied cheerfully.
He held a part of the fan while signing, and paused in the middle of it to look at me, probably because my hand was shaking out of nerves and multitudinal feelings. He gave me such a reassuring smile and I will never forget how kind his eyes were. I wish I could have talked to him and told him how important this moment was to me, but I was so overwhelmed that I could only manage a, “Thank you, Michael. Good luck!” along with an “I’m trying my best not to spontaneously combust right in front of you” smile.

Schumi looked me in the eyes once again, smiled and replied, “No problem at all. Bye!” gave me a farewell wave, and moved on to a group of Japanese girls who immediately encircled him.

I finally got my Schumi autograph!

I couldn’t believe that just really happened. I just had a legit face-to-face interaction with him. And breathe.

I vaguely remember sending out a text blast to my friends screaming in all caps that I’ve met Schumi. I bet they weren’t amused to receive an SMS at such an ungodly hour but hey ho, no regrets.

In all seriousness, the thing about Michael Schumacher is that he really had that aura of being “somebody” without being arrogant or too self-aware about it. He was kind, he was patient, he had time for everyone who was there, he was polite, he was grounded. “He wore his greatness with grace” was how I described him to my friends and anyone who would care to listen to me tell the tale of how I met him.

Before, I wished I’d have done more: I wish I talked to him, asked him stuff, begged him not to retire yet, shook his hand, took photos with him, asked for a hug, gave him a gift or a letter, the list goes on. But then, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t devalue the moment by dwelling on regrets. That moment was how it should be and that is precisely the beauty of it.

Not every racing fan got the opportunity to meet him and I shall forever hold that memory and experience dear in my heart.

We all know by now what happened to him after he left F1 again, this time for good. There is not a single day where I wish and pray for his wellness and recovery, as I’m sure thousands of his other supporters also do.

He’s a man who shared his passion with thousands of others and became an inspiration to so much more. Mine is one of those lives he had changed and affected in some way; I will always defend him and wish him well, no matter what.

It was a pleasure and an honor to have been in his presence and whoever said never to meet your heroes is absolutely wrong because they’ve obviously never met Michael Schumacher.

While there is still a fighting chance, I will never give up. We will never give up.

Keep Fighting, Michael.

An Open Letter to Max Verstappen.

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Dear Max,

You are such a…show-off, you know that?!

Just kidding. Or am I?

Here you are, at 18 years old, just casually leading a lap and eventually winning the F1 Spanish Grand Prix, while during the same age, I was still in architecture school, trying to figure out whether to be a modernist or traditionalist and bemoaning the fact that I have so much math to learn.

Life is not fair. Or something like that.

Just what makes you so darn special, anyway? Is it because you seem to have the unwavering cool of Kimi Raikkonen, the in-your-face moxie of Sebastian Vettel, the dogged determination of Fernando Alonso and the overall racing aplomb of Michael Schumacher, all wrapped up in your 18-year old body?

Those are just figures of speech, though. We all know that you’re a Verstappen through and through.

Strange but I never really paid that much attention to your father Jos when he was still racing in F1. And to be honest, I knew very little about you too prior to your arrival in F1. But, what an arrival it was. Your 17-year old self promptly split the F1 circus and fans into two camps: The “He’s far too young” conservative camp and the “Let him have a go!” excitable camp. I was firmly in the latter one, by the way, as I am of the belief that if one is good enough, then he/she is old enough. Or maybe I just like the possibility of another maverick/trailblazer in F1 a lot.

You didn’t just talk the talk, you walked the walk. You didn’t quite have a fairytale first season but you more than proved on track that you deserve to be racing against the top drivers in the world, regardless of your age.

And in last week’s Spanish GP, all the stars aligned for your benefit.

However, let’s back up a little bit. Prior to that race, you sparked debates left, right and center yet again because of your “sudden” promotion to Red Bull, which effectively demoted another young driver (and podium finisher at that), Russia’s Daniil Kvyat. Again, people questioned your “readiness” for a drive at such a top team (“He’ll be decimated by Ricciardo!”/”He needs to mature further!”) and complained at how shabbily Kvyat was treated to advance your career. Even I was mildly shocked at this mid-season team switch, but chose to reserve judgment until at least after your first race with Red Bull.

And what a first race weekend with Red Bull that was.

Outqualifying both Ferraris on your first try? How very dare you. When most people expected you to get passed during the start of the race, you held your bottle even as the highly-fancied Mercedes drivers took each other out during the first lap. Your composure belied your age, and with each passing lap that you led, it was clear that a star was being born right before our eyes.

Just to keep it real, I wanted Kimi Raikkonen to win the race ahead of you, but the way you defended your position and kept your cool made me go, “Damn, son!” Who on earth would begrudge you with that win?!

Youngest ever driver in F1? Check.
Youngest driver ever to lead a lap? Check.
First Dutch driver to win a Grand Prix? Check.
Youngest ever Grand Prix winner? Check.
Respect, man. My hat is well and truly doffed.

Why does that win (and the broken records) matter so much, anyway? Perhaps because amidst disarray, rapid decline of viewership and interest, and a glaring one-team domination the past few years, you’ve managed to bring a spark of magic into the sport yet again. And who doesn’t love a bit of magic during trying times?

You made people sit up and take notice of Formula One yet again. News outlets heralded the fact that a teenager made racing demigods look ordinary and fallible that race. Kids worldwide would have went, “Hey, if Max can do that, then so can I!”

Has it all sunk in yet? Don’t worry, it eventually will.

So just be yourself, Max. Now that you have that massive monkey off your back, you can focus on what you do best: racing. Keep proving your critics wrong and smashing as many records as you can, and most importantly, have a ton of fun while doing so.

I can’t wait to see what else you have up your young, Dutch sleeve.

So go on and be a show-off all you want. Own it. I expect nothing else.

Regards,
Bouncebackabilitrix

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P.S. Please don’t get all big-headed from now on, okay? I am still looking forward to the day when Mick Schumacher kicks your arse on track.😉

Detachment and Stalled Dreams.

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Confession: I’ve only been able to watch the first few F1 and MotoGP races this year through race repeats.

I found this a bit alarming, considering that for the most part of my F1- and MotoGP-loving years, I have been able to find a way to prioritize watching the races live above all else. This year though, Real Life somehow managed to wrangle itself into my priority list and usurp the importance of viewing the races live.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still updated on what is going on in the motorsport world: Nico Rosberg leading the F1 Championship? Good for him, I hope he wins it if it can’t be the Ferrari drivers. Jorge Lorenzo finally announcing his move to Ducati? Ballsy move, to say the least. The races have been interesting and there’s been plenty to discuss and dissect, so far. Twitter (@bouncebckbltrx) has been pretty much my choice of social media platform lately due to its bite-size convenience and almost-instantaneous interaction with others. Yeah, that’s my long-winded way of saying that I’ve been lazy to blog lately.

Also, this inexplicable ennui/melancholy can perhaps be partly explained by the fact that I have no sporting-related trip to plan/look forward to so far this year.

See, I really want to return to the F1 Night Race this year, but there’s this scheduling conflict I’m not sure I can resolve. Next on the wishlist is the F1 Malaysian GP and the Malaysian MotoGP, but as of this writing, I’m not sure if I can afford one, let alone both. Oh and then there’s that niggling desire to go watch a Formula E race, too.

There are so many things I want to do, so many places I want to see, and so many dreams I want to fulfill, that sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in them. Why do I keep holding on to my motorsport fantasy list? It’s not like they’re impossible. Let’s just say that I like hurdling challenges.

It’s highly frustrating to be in this strange sort of limbo but this is part and parcel of being an “adult”. A few years ago, I might have chosen to go broke and booked all three, but now the “wisdom of old age” is telling me to exercise restraint. And lo and behold, I am actually doing just that.

Writing about this is strangely therapeutic. I sometimes wonder how on earth I still have an online audience but I suppose there are those who can relate to my unusual thoughts, well that or they’re just entertained by my rants and raves. Either way, it’s cool.

So what is the point of all this?

Things change so much, but at the same time, plenty of things remain the same. I should strive to keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, it matters little whether or not I watch the races live or whether I can go to GPs this year. My love for F1 and MotoGP will for the large part remain the same, and anything else related to them that I can make come true through some good old-fashioned work and hustle will just be a wonderful bonus. They will always be in my life, just in ways that I cannot always control and predict.

But yes, I still want a Ferrari driver to win the F1 Championship and Dani Pedrosa to win the MotoGP Championship.

See, I can be selfless too.

Just putting it out there, Universe.

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I know just how you feel, Seb.

Tales Of F1mania*: Picking A Bet/Picking A Fight.

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*In which I shall share snippets of (hilarious/sad/weird/random) stories garnered from my years of being a Formula 1 fan.


It was my first-ever F1 Grand Prix–I travelled to Singapore with a friend to attend the 2009 F1 Night Race and we were in Orchard Road, browsing in one of the Official Merchandise stalls.

I picked a Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen cap and a Red Bull Sebastian Vettel cap. While I was paying for them, I decided to make small talk with the sales guy:

“Who do you think will win this race?” I asked casually.

“Jenson Button. Or maybe Rubens Barrichello. Yeah, I’m gonna go with Barrichello.” The sales guy with a thick German accent confidently replied.

“Really? Well, I’m gonna go for Kimi Raikkonen.” I countered with pride.

“Kimi Raikkonen?! Oh, come on. You really think a Ferrari stands a chance in this race?!” (Maybe) German guy laughingly replied.

The other Caucasian males manning the booth with him were all smiling politely, but I could tell they totally agreed with Maybe German Guy. I looked to my friend for support, but being a non-F1 fan, he just shrugged at me, as if to say, “I’m not getting dragged into this.”

“Anything is possible with Kimi.” I haughtily declared as I snatched my bag of caps from him.

“Uh-huh.” Clearly, the conversation was over.

In the end, neither of us were correct, as Lewis Hamilton of McLaren won the 2009 F1 Night Race.

But, who’s bet is still in Formula One now, huh?

I like having the last word.

Marquez, Motives, and This MotoGP Mess.

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I missed watching the 2015 Malaysian GP live because it was shown on the HD Sports channel I didn’t have. After the race, I went online to check the schedule for the repeat, and asked on Twitter whether I should remain unspoiled or not. Quite a lot responded that I should check the results, given that there’s been “an incident”, so I did, and to say I was gobsmacked at Kickgate would be an understatement.

I only got to see the incident through short video clips and gifs, and by that time, social media had already exploded with the Team Rossi vs Team Marquez war.

It’s tough because while I like and respect Valentino Rossi, I’m undeniably a bigger fan of Marc Marquez. Actually, I’m a ride or die Dani Pedrosa fan so I’m irrationally annoyed that this piece of drama vastly overshadowed his dominant win at Sepang.

There must be hundreds (maybe even thousands) of articles already out that have analyzed and over-analyzed the situation, so after watching the race repeat in full, I’m just going to put my thoughts here:

*I don’t believe that Marquez was (is?) deliberately helping Lorenzo to win the title:
Rossi made it clear to the media that Marquez wants Lorenzo to win the title during that fateful Thursday press conference. But why? Because they’re both Spaniards? If Jorge wins the title then he’ll have 1 more Championship than Marc, so shouldn’t he be preventing him from bettering his haul instead? Marc has never hidden the fact that he is a Rossi fan (even went so far as to put on record that he prefers Rossi to win the title), and with his 9 titles, Marc and Jorge still has a long way of even equalling Rossi. Is Marc really that petty to let past grudges (Argentina, Assen) dictate his on-track behavior and anger his childhood hero? Rossi’s “theories” made little to no sense, even childish for a man of his age and stature.

*It seems that the past is not the past between Rossi and Marquez…
Again, Rossi threw it out in the open that Marquez has apparently held their past on-track tussles against him and now that he’s out of the Championship fight, he might as well actively meddle in it. Let’s say that Marc may have been making it difficult for Rossi on-track and messing with his mind–what’s wrong with that? As far as I’ve seen, all of Marc’s moves on-track were legal and within the rules, and why shouldn’t he have some “fun” even if he’s not a Championship contender anymore?

*Lorenzo missed a golden chance to come off as the “bigger man” amidst all of this:
Had he only chose to say the 2 magic words–“No comment”–Jorge could have saved himself all the abuse and criticisms he got from rival fans and media alike. I don’t completely blame him for speaking out, though; that incident must have been akin to the straw breaking the camel’s back in terms of everything he endured while in the shadow (and being the teammate) of a “motorcycling god”. I felt bad though at the booing he got on the podium in Sepang, a man who worked hard for that 2nd place, whose only crime is having the audacity to challenge Rossi in the Championship. Nobody deserves that rubbish.

*Thank heavens for Dani the Diplomat:
Amidst all the ugliness, one rider’s class emerged, the one who actually won the Malaysian GP dominantly, at that. Pedrosa’s summary of the incident, the repercussions and impact on the whole sport was composed, dignified and insightful, to say the least. Coming from someone who entered the MotoGP Premier Class and immediately stirred up controversy (2006), it’s good to see how far he’d come in terms of maturity. In fact, Dani 2015 deserves a whole entire article devoted to him altogether. Stay tuned.

*Rossi has now appealed his penalty, so we might only get a “provisional Champion” in Valencia:
What a big damper on what could have been a Mega Race Weekend. It is incredibly frustrating to see someone who has built up the sport damage it in such a short amount of time. No World Championship should be won through the aid of lawyers.

*”Tainted title”? Nah.
Many fans are saying that no matter who wins the title, it’s already been tainted by this controversy. I personally do not think so, as for me, both Rossi and Lorenzo deserve to be this year’s Champion. Sure, Rossi had an infamous “moment of madness”, but
if he manages to mount a supreme comeback in Valencia, then that’s that. Providing the penalty is retained and he starts at the back of the grid, though. Same goes for Lorenzo, who consistently fought to catch up with Rossi and be his strongest rival this season. If he keeps enough composure to qualify well and outrace Rossi and the rest of the field in Valencia, then he is the rightful Champion. Tainted is a state of mind, and either way, do you think Rossi or Lorenzo cares what we think after either of them wins it?

The sad thing though is that nobody completely wins and emerges unscathed from all of this. Well, maybe Dani, but then again he is not a Championship contender this year so what he gained couldn’t really be entered in the record books. What will probably be remembered by most when the 2015 season is mentioned is the ugly side of racing, which is vastly unfair to all the beautiful and positive on-track moments we’ve seen.

Don’t get me wrong, I will still watch the season-ending race in Valencia, and I’d still keep my eye out on the new developments (provided they come from reliable sources). However, a big part of me is already done with all the drama of this season, and I just cannot wait for the 2016 MotoGP season, hopefully with Dani Pedrosa winning the Championship in the end.

Because in spite of all that happened, I still believe nice guys can finish Champions.

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