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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Go Big Or Go Home*: The 2015 F1 Night Race Trip Diary.

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(*50 Shades of Red was the alternate title for this post, but I realized that not everyone will be able to appreciate the humor in that, so…)

The year 2012 was the last time I attended the F1 Night Race in Singapore, so to say I was excited to be back would be a major understatement.

Actually, I have Kimi Raikkonen to blame/thank for all of this. Why? See, I initially thought 2015 would be Kimi’s last year in Formula One, what with all the “not-so-good luck” and uncertainties surrounding him. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t go see him race live in Ferrari colors again, and so I bit the bullet and booked the flights and race tickets (as well as convinced 2 of my non-F1 supporter childhood friends to come with me to Singapore) as early as February 2015.

Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that this is a lengthy post. I like to include most—if not all—of the inane details because it just wouldn’t be me if this was in any way abridged. If you’re new, a warm welcome and prepare yourself for quite a ride (pun very much intended):

Friday, 18 September: Just DO It!

Unlike my previous GP trips, I had to delay my arrival in Singapore this year because September 17 is my Mom’s birthday, and it goes without saying that I had to be present at the family celebrations (Daughter of the Year right here!). As a result, I had to miss a lot of the PR events attended by the drivers, most notably Kimi Raikkonen’s UPS Event outside Raffles City Mall that Thursday, but it wasn’t such a big deal for me because…I had a plan.

I was brimming with too much excitement to even attempt to get some sleep, and I’ve always been an insomniac anyway, so after having breakfast at midnight at home, I went straight to the airport and was checked-in at 03:00 for my 05:40 flight. The most curious thing that happened during my flight was that my expensive, precision timepiece suddenly stopped working just as the plane took off. I stared at it incredulously, shook and prodded it, to no avail. I’ve worn that wristwatch for all of the GPs I’ve attended and this was the first time it failed me! And why am I telling you this? The brand of the watch is actually a major sponsor of a huge F1 team, one that is currently struggling. Oh, the irony. Moral of the story: Bring an extra wristwatch if you’re a stickler for time like me.

I arrived at Singapore around 09:00, breezed through passport control, collected my luggage and paused to exchange currencies and to buy a local SIM card for my internet needs. I was supposed to contact my Airbnb host through Viber upon my arrival, but for some reason, the internet just wouldn’t work on my mobile phone! I tried to send an SMS through my other mobile phone but my international roaming service (which I activated the day before) was not working, either. Man, the effects of Mercury Retrograde were already pummeling me. I spent nearly an hour and a half trying to get the internet to work with the assistance of the foreign exchange shop personnel, and by the time it finally worked I was so exhausted I just wanted to pass out (and maybe eat).

All those tech glitches were forgotten by the time I stepped out of the airport and took a taxi. It finally hit me that I was back in Singapore for the race weekend! I checked into our awesome Airbnb flat (I’m so happy my friends and I decided to try Airbnb for this trip. Seriously guys, check it out and save loads), unpacked a bit and decided to take a catnap (at that point, I’ve been awake for 24 hours straight). An hour later, I woke up and decided to head to Orchard Road to have a bite to eat and for a bit of shopping.

Curiously, there wasn’t much of a racing-related atmosphere when I got to Orchard Road. I was so used to seeing loads of F1-related shops and activities strewn along the area during the previous years so I was a bit disappointed at their absence this year. Perhaps they were moved to a different part of the city? I had little time to contemplate and immediately deployed Shopping Mode instead.

However, I got a bit carried away (I blame Sephora and the Kinokuniya bookstore!) and before I knew it, it was already 5pm and I haven’t claimed my race tickets yet, let alone eaten properly! I considered bringing along my shopping bags with me to the track but ultimately decided against it because they were too heavy, so I had to make a quick pit stop to our flat before I can get my race tickets. Argh. Free Practice 1 starts at 6pm and I’m still in an Orchard Road bus stop at 5:15pm. The clock is ticking!

When I finally got to Swissotel Stamford, the race ticket collection center, I had another reality check: The queue for ticket collection was massive! Apparently, other race fans had too much of the TGIF spirit in them and waited until the last minute to collect their tickets, too. I could only sigh in resignation as I fell in line and waited for my turn. My only consolation was that without my wristwatch, I couldn’t tell how much of FP1 I was already missing. Oh, and I saw a Rob Smedley doppelganger. Silver linings and all…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

At last, I got my race tickets! I then barreled outside and hurried my way towards Gate 3, but not without a mini pause outside to thank the racing gods for bringing me here safely after a 2-year hiatus. I am back, baby!

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Friday Ticket

Finally inside the track!

Unfortunately, as soon as I stepped inside the track, I heard the Practice Session got red-flagged due to an incident. Not even that could dampen my spirits as I immediately headed to the merchandise stalls, got myself Vettel and Raikkonen Ferrari caps, busied myself taking in the sights and sounds all around me and perused the circuit map, trying to formulate my plan of attack for FP2.

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

Fri F1 Merch Stall

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A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

Wayfinding made easier.

Wayfinding made easier.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

My friend HM, who arrived in Singapore around 18:00, was supposed to meet me for dinner at Raffles City, but she got a bit lost on the way to our Airbnb flat so we had to cancel our dinner plans. I have not had anything except water and a couple of crackers at that point, and the queues at the food stalls I passed were quite long, so I just decided to make the trek to Zones 2 and 1 early so I can check out the views before FP2 started.

One of my favorite “chill spots” inside the track is the area around the Singapore Flyer, and that’s where I ended up just before FP2, resting my tired legs and eating a small cup of gelato as my first “meal” of the day. Reasonably energized, as soon as FP2 started, I was ready to go.

Once I heard the sound of the V6 engine in person, I have to admit that it gave me goosebumps. Of course, it doesn’t have a patch on the roar of the V8 engines, but if you’re a legitimate racing fan, then certain engine sounds will always get to you. I found it half-amusing and half-disappointing that I really didn’t need to wear earplugs anymore while watching FP2 (don’t imitate Aunt Marj kids, her eardrums have been hardened by time already), but hey, that issue has already been flogged to death so I’ll let it go.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

I hopped around different viewing spots and finally got around to reaching the viewing platforms just in front of the pit exit. What is incredibly cool about that area is that it allows the fans to see the cars really close as they zoom down the straight, and with the cars emanating sparks at that area, the spectacle just gets better! I almost felt like I was going to get hit on the face with sparks at certain points—luckily, it didn’t happen but if I had to take one for the team, then so be it!

Also, I finally got to see the drivers do practice starts—which was strangely mesmerizing. I had to constantly remind myself to keep my mouth closed lest I look like a crazed fan while ogling the cars just mere meters in front of me.

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Seb!

Hello, Seb!

When FP2 ended, I again decided to get something to eat, but the food stalls I passed just didn’t pique my interest, so I decided to go back to the Singapore Flyer area and just get food from there. Imagine my shock and trepidation when I reached that area and found that all the food stalls were already closed! Worse, I checked my water bottle and saw that I was down to my last 3 inches of water. And I’m still planning to stay inside the track for at least a couple of hours. No bueno.

Dejectedly, I slumped down on one of the benches in the deserted food court and carefully rationed my water to avoid dehydration. I considered going to the Zone 4 Padang Stage to catch Pharell’s concert and get some nourishment there, but my internal battery was already running low so I decided to stay put and recharge. When midnight hit, I finally stood up and went to the area outside the Paddock Entrance, saying a silent prayer to the racing gods to make the wait for the drivers quick and painless.

Surprisingly, there were only a small number of fans gathered outside the Paddock Entrance, most of them Japanese fans. I settled in a spot just behind a white plastic barrier, chatted a bit with an Australian girl (who’s a Ricciardo fan) and tried to talk to a couple of Japanese Toro Rosso fangirls but we just ended up smiling at each other a lot due to the language barrier.

So without further ado, here’s the rundown of who I saw/met during my Friday Paddock Vigil:

(Sidebar: I know that selfies are the new autographs for this generation, but I’m old school and I hate taking selfies so I stuck with a good old notebook and a Sharpie pen for autographs.)

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

First notable person out was 1997 WDC and now Formula E driver Jacques Villeneuve. Amusingly, he was “blanked” by the fans and was allowed to walk away freely. To be fair though, he was busy talking on his mobile phone and barely looked at us.

Claire Williams and Susie Wolff: Super nice ladies who took the time to sign everything and took selfies with whoever requested for it. Gamely chatted with the fans, too. And yes, they are both very pretty in person.

Claire Williams.

Claire Williams.

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Susie Wolff

Susie Wolff

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Martin Brundle, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan: The three came out together and even though Jordan and Coulthard didn’t look to be in the mood to interact with fans, they got into it anyway when Brundle stopped to take selfies and sign autographs. Brundle was the nicest and most interactive.

Brundle

Brundle

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I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

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Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

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Toto Wolff: The ladies shrieked like schoolgirls when they saw him, I kid you not. It was hilarious, but totally understandable, because Toto does look quite dashing in person. He accommodated everyone’s request, and after he signed for me and said “You’re welcome” to my “Thank you”, I had to fight giggles because I so badly wanted to ask him, “Can you please say ‘I’ll be back’?”

Paddock Wolff

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Will Buxton: For someone I haven’t seen before in person, I immediately recognized this, er…very polarizing (at least for F1 fans on Twitter) journalist. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t wearing colorful trousers. He chatted with a group of Japanese fans about gifts and snacks and moon cakes that they apparently give him on a regular basis.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Karun Chandhok: Didn’t say much, signed and took selfies with whoever requested for them.

Paddock Chandhok

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Just when I decided to take the tiniest sips of water, out came Kimi Matias Raikkonen. In the wheel of his usual golf cart. Naturally all the fans screamed, “KIMIIIIII!!!!” as he zoomed out. I didn’t even get to take a photo of him as I suddenly froze and just stared at his face (yeah, still gorgeous). Actually, I vaguely remember yelling “HI, KIMI!” to him as he passed by. He did raise his hand, waved and (Kimi-)smiled at us before his very speedy exit. Sigh. Always leaving us wanting more. Damn you, Kimi.

Esteban Gutierrez: He looks younger in person. Quite smiley. Chatted with fans a bit longer, considering that most of us gathered there were clear Ferrari fans. We spoke in Spanish, mainly “Por favor/Gracias” (Me) and “De nada.” (Him).

Paddock Guti

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Eric Boullier: Initially reluctant to approach the fans but got convinced by all the “Eric!! Please?” requests that he heard. Left quickly.

Paddock Boullier

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James Allen: The Australian guy next to me mistook him for another journalist Tom Clarkson, but before I got the chance to correct him he was already in our area and was taking selfies with the Aussie guys. He even chatted with them about Ferrari engines and F1 gossip. I wanted to tell him, “Hey, you once followed me on Twitter!”

Paddock Allen

Mark Arnall: Kimi Raikkonen’s long-time personal trainer and friend, for those who don’t know him. I can’t recall if he was with Kimi in the golf cart earlier and he just came back to the paddock again or whether that was a completely different guy with Kimi in the cart. Anyway, he was super nice to the Ferrari fans and promised to pass on all the good luck wishes of the fans to the Iceman himself.

Paddock Arnall

Romain Grosjean: I saw him last time in 2012 but didn’t get the chance to get his autograph. This year, he wasn’t in a hurry and seemed to be in a better mood, signing everything and completing all selfie requests.

Paddock Grosjean

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Maurizio Arrivabene: Part Two of ladies (And yes, even gentlemen) shrieking unabashedly when they saw him. He cuts a distinguished (don’t-mess-with-This-Boss) air in person. He looks quite scary and intimidating but signed everything and took selfies with everyone. When it came my turn, I held my notebook out to him, he took my pen, stared at me (Why?! What did I do?! –my paranoid side was screaming in my head), slowly took my notebook from my hands, laid it on top of the barrier, signed it, stared at me again, and returned my things. For a few moments there, I seriously thought he was going to scold me/yell at me for some unknown reason. It was a miracle I managed a “Thank you.” He stared at me again and said, “Welcome” before walking away. I only realized I was holding my breath the entire time when he has gone. That man sure knows how to make his presence felt!

Paddock Arrivabene

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Britta Roeske: A group of Ferrari fans called out to her for autographs and photos, but it’s clear Sebastian Vettel’s PR maven has her feet firmly on the ground as she shyly replied, “But I’m not a celebrity! Sebastian will sign everything, don’t worry!” before saying goodbye to all.

Paddock Britta

Christian Horner: Wasn’t very chatty, bordering on formal, even. Still, he signed everything and gamely took selfies. I had to bite my tongue and not go, “Please say hi to Ginger Spice for me. Girl Power!!”

Paddock Horner

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Will Stevens: Took a few selfies, signed some stuff and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Stevens

Lewis Hamilton: He was going to take a car out of the paddock. Some fans spotted him exiting so they all ran towards him and surrounded him. He finished signing and taking selfies before getting into his ride (a Mercedes, of course).

Paddock Hamilton

There’s Lewis in the middle, surrounded by fans.

Pastor Maldonado: Seemed in good spirits. Took a few selfies, signed a few things and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Maldonado

Fernando Alonso: Surprisingly interacted with zero fans. Fans went berserk when they saw him exiting briskly on foot, but as soon as he heard the commotion, he took out his mobile phone, “made a call” and went, “No, no, NO!” at fans who hounded him in hopes of getting selfies and autographs. Disappointing.

Max Verstappen: He looks even younger in person. When I was getting his autograph, I had to fight the urge to giggle because I cannot believe I’m getting the signature of this 17-year old kid who’s not even a boyband member but is a bona fide racing driver. Not very smiley.

Paddock Verstappen

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Valtteri Bottas: Didn’t say much initially but signed everyone’s things and took selfies patiently. Funny thing: Australian Guy Number 1 asked Bottas whether he thinks his friend (Australian Guy Number 2, who was standing beside him) looks like him. Bottas stared at the friend, smiled and said, “A little bit.” They could be brothers, really, except that Aussie Guy No.2 happens to be a foot taller than Bottas.

Paddock Bottas

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Bottas signed my notebook upside down. Haha.

Felipe Massa: Exited the paddock on foot and headed straight to a car waiting for him. He stopped though when the fans ran towards him and gamely signed and posed for photos. I asked a fellow fan when she came back, “Is Rob Smedley with him?!” Alas, he wasn’t.

Carlos Sainz: Interacted with the fans well. The object of affection of the Japanese girls beside me (with their Toro Rosso and Sainz banners) so he spent most of his time with them.

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

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Nico Hulkenberg: There was a bit of a lull after Sainz, so when Hulkenberg came out, you can just imagine how much the ladies shrieked again. I can’t blame them though, even my sleepy self was awakened at the sight of him because he looks so darn good in person. He was in high spirits, and it took quite a while for him to get to our area because nearly everyone ahead took multiple selfies/photos with him. By the time he reached me, he was still bantering with some of the fans, and when I thanked him, he wiggled his eyebrows at me and went, “Good luck!!” Um. Wait, what? Before I could reply, other Japanese fans had dragged him away for photos, so I was left wondering, “What the hell was that good luck all about?!”

Paddock Hulkenberg

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Nico Rosberg: The award for “best interaction with fans” goes to this driver, hands down. He not only signed all the stuff and took multiple selfies and photos, he also gave hugs to whichever fan requested for them and took his time to converse with fans. When he was signing for me, I noticed he kept looking at my right wrist (where I wear several bracelets), and even bent down to have a closer look at it after I took my pen back. He finally asked me, “Is that the one?” and thankfully, my brain quickly pieced together things and realized that he was asking whether I was one of the lucky fans he gave a Thomas Sabo bracelet to the day before in an event (he was apparently referring to my pink crystal bracelet). I replied, “Oh no, it’s not.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s not. Sorry.” After that, he stayed for a while to chat with two massive Rosberg fans beside me who were practically melting with sheer joy.

Paddock Rosberg1

Paddock Rosberg2

Nico pausing to chat with a couple of his superfans. Wait, does that mean I’m in the background of the pic his assistant/companion took right there?!

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Marcus Ericsson: Not too chatty, but nice to the fans. Gave me a smile when I wished him good luck. He should smile more often.

Paddock Ericsson

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Felipe Nasr: He looked a bit tired but brightened up at the warm reception of fans. Took his time signing and taking photos.

Paddock Nasr

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Sergio Perez: Mr. Perfect Teeth in the flesh again. He’s still as smiley and warm to the fans as ever.

Paddock Perez

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Sidebar: Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi were also both stunners in person. Yeah, I said it. Perhaps we ladies should hold score cards from 1-10 and rate the drivers as they exit. Just kidding! Also, I’m still amazed at how…vertically-challenged most people in F1 are. I’m of average height myself, and for the longest time, I had this perception that most of them are taller than they actually are (barring some exceptions like Hulk, DC, Arrivabene). Anyway, this isn’t a diss, just an observation, much like TV makes people look older because they all look so much younger in person.

And so 03:00 has come and gone and a certain Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari was still MIA. At that point, I was operating on only an hour’s worth of sleep and the last “meal” I had (a cup of gelato) was more than 6 hours ago. Have I mentioned that my water supply’s nearly gone? Some fans have given up and left, and I seriously contemplated following suit. But I’m not a quitter, and I reminded myself that my main objective for that day was meeting Vettel again, so I just have to suck it up and deal with the wait. I sat on the ground, stretched my legs, checked Twitter for a bit, people-watched to pass the time. Still no Seb. I looked up, stared at the Flyer, imagined the refreshing shower, bed and unlimited drinking water waiting for me back at homebase. The Australian guys were already lying down on the makeshift platform next to me, and I had to hand it to them because while my body clock was on the same time zone as Singapore, theirs were on +3hrs, so technically it was already past 06:00 for them! I stood up and decided to make small talk with a Chinese girl next to me, who took the place of the Japanese Toro Rosso girls who already left. She asked me who I was still waiting for and when I said Vettel, she brightened up and said we’re on the same boat. We chatted a bit about Kimi and Ferrari, and I made her laugh by joking that I’m willing to sleep in the area just to wait for Vettel and by occasionally (half-jokingly) yelling, “Seb!!! Where are you?!!!” in the direction of the paddock exit. Still no Seb. “We can do this!”, I assured my new comrade. “Stay with me, okay?”

Timecheck: 04:00. Finally, after what seemed like several eternities in purgatory, we heard a commotion at the front of the queue, and I asked the much taller (and now fully awake and vertical) Australian guys, “Who is it? Is it Seb?!” and one of them replied, “Yes, Seb’s one of them!” Turns out Sebastian Vettel came out with the two Red Bull drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Danill Kvyat.

I didn’t even get to take proper photos of Ricciardo and Kvyat, as I was focused on monitoring Vettel’s movements. He signed things and took selfies wih a lot of the fans at the front of the queue, and I thought, surely Seb will finish the whole queue, right?

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

But then, as Seb got to the middle part, he suddenly walked faster and went, “Bye, guys!” Oh, hell no. You are not leaving without signing for me! Luckily, the leftover fans spilled over the barrier and swarmed Seb, blocking his way, so he stayed and patiently signed the things handed to him. I don’t even clearly remember hopping over the barrier, but I do remember suddenly standing in front of him, asking him to sign my race ticket (forget the notebook, he gets the honor of signing my ticket!). I thanked him, got an, “Okay” and moved away to give the other fans access to him. That commotion allowed the Red Bull drivers to make their quick exits, but some lucky fans still got their signatures and selfies through sheer persistence.

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

With Vettel finally completing my wishlist, my adrenaline level promptly came crashing down, and it was high time for me to finally leave the track. I bade a quick farewell to my Chinese friend (I never got to ask her name, silly me!), asked a security personnel to direct me to the nearest exit, and off I went.

After a couple of idiotic attempts at navigating my way out (Note: Do not Instagram while doing so), and several minutes of frantic arm-waving to taxis, I was at last on the way back to homebase. Amusingly, my driver kept me awake by chatting to me about F1 (or rather, his lack of knowledge of it), and even threw some pick-up lines at me (Who even attempts to flirt at past 4 am?). Before I alighted, I urged him to give F1 a try and to pray for a Vettel or Raikkonen Ferrari win on Sunday. One more prayer couldn’t hurt, right?

(During the taxi ride, I suddenly realized that Jenson Button hasn’t come out yet by the time most of us fans left. I originally wanted to get a couple of his signatures as 2 of my friends have crushes on him, but really, I’ve already pushed my body to its limit for the day, so…sorry, girls! Maybe next time!)

I got back at our Airbnb flat at around 4:40am, immeasurably exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, but still smiling at the sheer madness of my day. I stripped out of my sticky clothes, showered, downed a bottle of water and properly passed out in bed at 6:00am. Until tomorrow/later, F1 circus.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

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Saturday, 19 September: Taking It Easy(ish).

With the “Paddock Vigil” officially crossed out of my To Do List, I promised myself I’d take it easy for Saturday. My friend and I woke up late, left the flat at mid-afternoon and went to Orchard Road for a super late lunch and a bit of shopping (I finally got a new wristwatch. Yay!). At half past 5, I bade her farewell and went to the track, not wanting to be late for FP3 this time around. The former Gate 7 that I so often used in the past had been turned into Gate 8, and that was the entrance I used for the day. I loitered around Zone 4 for a bit, saying “hello” to my beloved Turn 14, before deciding to make the early trek towards Zones 2 and 1 in preparation for Qualifying. I made a pit stop at Zone 3 and watched the latter part of FP3 via a super clear widescreen. The Ferraris looked strong and the Mercedes cars looked off-pace. Say what? I was almost scared to hope but what have I got to lose? Anyway, post-FP3, I snooped around the Simulator Challenge (the queue was massive so I didn’t get to try it), had my photo taken at the mini podium, and ogled the promo personnel dressed in fancy F1-related garb. I was so coveting their F1 WDC Umbrellas like you wouldn’t believe!

Sat Gate 8

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Umbrella 2

Dear Singapore GP, please produce this umbrella as part of your official merchandise next year because I am SO buying one!

During the lull in between FP3 and Qualifying, I found myself taking refuge in the Greek Theatre near the Singapore Flyer yet again, with a cup of gelato as my “dinner”. I considered getting into the Singapore Flyer, but it wasn’t free of charge to racegoers anymore, and without any cars at the track, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride as much. That break also turned into a “Meet your Twitter friends portion” of the night, as I finally got to meet Peiyi (@fanpeiyi), a Singaporean native, massive RBR fan and a Race Marshal that weekend, as well as Vicky (@F1_Obsessive) and Dom (@domcovkid), a British couple who’s also first-time Night Race attendees. Follow them on Twitter, they’re awesome!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

Chilling before QLF.

Chilling before QLF.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

I spent Q1 chatting with the couple and watching the action from the viewing platform in front of the T21 straight. After Q1, I bade them goodbye so I can further check out the other available viewing platforms in Zones 2 and 1 that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Surprisingly, the Ferraris remained dominant, and near the dying minutes of Q3 I chose to stay in a Zone 1 viewing platform near a widescreen to get a better view of just how the Top 10 will line up. As soon as all the lap times were locked in and it was announced that the top 3 were Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, I let out a huge “Yesss!!!!”, along with numerous other Ferrari fans in my area who also shouted, “Forza Ferrari!!” in celebration of that much-coveted pole (and 3rd place). I watched the post-Qualifying press conference and then suddenly remembered, I have a Maroon 5 concert to watch!

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Funnily enough, the last time I saw Maroon 5 live was when they performed at the Padang Stage at the 2012 Night Race, so there was a bit of a déjà vu element to it. As usual, the lads rocked it and I sang along to most of the songs they performed—who cares if I was by myself?! Near the end of the concert, I received a text message from another friend of mine HK, that she already arrived in Singapore and that she and our other friend HM would meet me in Mustafa Centre post-concert. Never one to turn down an opportunity to shop, I headed straight to the only 24hr shopping centre in Singapore and had a grand time telling my friends about my adventures so far, and shopping, of course.

We ended up going home at around 4:00 am. So much for taking it easy for the day!

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Sunday, 20 September: I Don’t Want This Day To End!

Raceday!

For the first time ever, I had serious, legitimate pre-race nerves. Forget butterflies, I felt like I had rats in my stomach when my thoughts turned to the race. Why? Well, this was the first time that I fully felt emotionally-invested in the race result, with the Ferrari 1-3 in Qualifying the night before. With the previous Night Races I’ve attended, I’ve seen a couple of Ferrari podiums, but let’s be real, I’m not a massive fan of Fernando Alonso so they didn’t really fully hit me in the heart. My desire to see Vettel and Raikkonen in the podium for this race was so intense that it almost hurt.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My friends and I went to meet our childhood friend J, her husband A and our godsons for some late lunch in Somerset. For a couple of hours, I shoved raceday to the back of my mind and just enjoyed the good food and company. However, as 5pm approached, the nerves kicked in real hard. I bade goodbye to my friends and went to the track early to scout for a good spot for the Drivers’ Parade.

Actually, who was I kidding? I knew in my heart that I would return to the same spot I stayed in last 2012, that certain viewing platform just opposite T21. To my delight, I found it sparsely-populated, as usual. Sadly, I read on Twitter that unlike the previous years, the drivers would not be riding individual vintage cars and they would all be lumped in one truck, making the parade shorter than usual. Oh, boo. During the wait, I considered making an impromptu sign to show to the drivers, something along the lines of “Wave If You’re Gonna Win”, or “Wave To Me, Damnit!” Unfortunately, I only have my collapsible fan with me and I wasn’t sure whether the drivers would even get to read it, so I scrapped that idea. Remind me to bring a proper (witty) banner next time, please.

Fast-forward to the parade and as the drivers made their way towards my area, most of them were facing the other way, and as my throat wasn’t up to screeching “Kimiiii!! Seb!!”, I stared at the back of Sebastian’s head and willed him to “Look at me!!”, and amazingly he did!

Ready for Raceday!

Ready for Raceday!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The drivers are coming!!

The drivers are coming!!

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

DParade 5

Look at Vettel (and Nasr, but I only “mentally compelled” Seb to do so) totally looking at my camera! And was that Kimi looking at Seb while Seb was looking at me?!

Now, a new dilemma: Where to watch the Race Start? I moved around different viewing platforms in Zone 1 prior to the warm-up lap, but I didn’t really get the view I wanted, so I opted to return to the viewing platforms in Zone 2 near the Flyer so I can check out a widescreen as well.

Sneaky peek down pitlane

A sneaky peek down the pitlane.

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

Leaving Pitlane 2

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

For the first several laps, I moved around the different viewing platforms in Zones 1 and 2, and I was staying near a widescreen yet again when the collision between Massa and Hulkenberg happened. Now I like Hulkenberg as a driver, so I couldn’t help but yell “Nooooo!!!” when I saw him hit the tyre barrier and retire after that tussle.

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

After that Safety Card period ended and Vettel kept the lead, I thought the race would be pretty straightforward. But, plot twist! WDC leader and defending Champion Lewis Hamilton decided to retire his Mercedes after battling with car issues for most of the race. I internally whooped (for the sake of the WDC fight guys, chill) but didn’t want to be rude to his fans who audibly groaned in the viewing platform I was staying, so I kept my poker face and just willed the Ferrari boys to stay strong until the finish.

However, there was another plot twist to the race, and no, it wasn’t from any of the racing cars: There was a track invader! Most of us in the viewing platform literally went, “WTF?!” as soon as we heard the commentators announce it, and my stomach lurched with nerves again as the Safety Car came out for the second time and diminished Vettel’s lead from Ricciardo. I swore to myself that I would hunt down whoever invaded the track and smack him silly if his stupidity in any way lost Ferrari the win/podium places! Luckily, Vettel was able to make a clean getaway from Ricciardo post-SC period, and Kimi was also able to keep a safe distance and hold 3rd.

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

A few laps before the end of the race, I loitered near Turn 22-23, trying to figure out where the security personnel would open up the barriers to allow the fans to enter the track after the race (that was the same area they opened up when I last went in 2012). I called the attention of a marshal passing by and asked him, and he told me that the barrier to be opened would be somewhere along the viewing platforms near the Pit Exit. I started walking/running towards that area, but still couldn’t find a clue where the barrier would be. I paused outside one of the Pit Grandstands and asked an Usher the same question I asked the marshal earlier, and he told me another thing and that the barrier to be opened would be the one near Turn 23, where I originally was! At that point, there were only 3 more laps to go in the race, so he urged me to hurry and run, which I did. On my way back, I saw a couple clad in Ferrari gear running towards the same direction as me, and when we reached the area near Turn 22, I asked the girl whether they knew where the barriers would open and she said that they were hoping it would be the area we were in. With 1 more lap to go, I was highly doubtful we were in the right area, as there were little to no activity there and there wasn’t much of a buildup of fans either, so finally, I approached a policeman and asked him. Surprise, surprise, he corroborated the answer of the marshal! Moral of the story: Listen to the officials (no offense to the Ushers but the officials are more privy to those kinds of info)! By that time, the checquered flag was already waved but I had no time to process the results yet, as I literally ran as fast as my feet would take me to that darn area. When I finally reached it, there was already a thick buildup of fans awaiting the opening of the barriers, and I literally looked like I stood under a showerhead with all of my clothes on, panting like a wet, overexcited puppy. It was at that point that the race results finally sunk in, and the combination of sheer emotions, extreme physical exhaustion, hunger and dehydration descended upon me like a wall of bricks. I felt tears pricking on my eyelids, but before I could properly emote, security finally opened up the barrier. Time to invade the track for the podium ceremonies and RUN again!

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I ran to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I RAN to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

There wasn’t a part of my body that wasn’t screaming in pain, and I seriously felt close to fainting. Still, I willed myself to carry on: You cannot miss this podium! You can die later! GO GO GO! I ran-walked-ran and made my way to the podium. When I got there just in time to hear the German-Italian anthems, the gravity of everything crashed on me and despite myself, tears freely streamed down my face. Now I’m not usually such an emotional sap, but you have to understand that this was the first time I’ve seen a Ferrari driver stand on the top step of the F1 podium in person, and even though it wasn’t Kimi Raikkonen, I’m very happy that it was Baby Schumi himself, Sebastian Vettel. Add a Kimi Raikkonen podium finish to that, and I’m in Cloud Nine. Also, I couldn’t help but remember Michael Schumacher when I heard the German-Italian anthem combination, and how I wished he’s still part of the F1 circus so I could see just how proud of Vettel he is.

I must have looked such an emotional wreck because a guy besides me asked, “Are you okay, Miss?” in such a worried tone that I had to immediately assure him, “I’m okay, thanks. Sorry, I’m just SO happy!” He could only nod, fully understanding what I meant (I hope!). Thanks for the concern, man.

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

I barely heard the podium interview (conducted by the ever-polarising Eddie Jordan), as I was too focused on staring at the drivers and taking in everything. Before I knew it, the podium ceremonies were over, but I was still compelled to do one more thing: I zigzagged my way through my fellow racing fans until I found the Start-Finish Line, went down on my knees and kissed it.

Let it never be said that I don’t know how to give thanks in style.

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

A very rare selfie.

A very rare selfie.

I then slowly made my way back to Zone 4, picking up tire marbles along the way, and started reflecting on just how…poignantly astounding the race weekend has been. I’ve learned that I’m physically stronger than I give myself credit for; I’ve learned that if you don’t ask, you don’t get; I’ve learned that you may encounter glitches and roadblocks along the way but things will always work out in the end, and most important, I’ve learned that when the odds are stacked against you, that’s when you must have more than a little faith.

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

I paused outside Gate 3 before exiting and thought, “Thank you, Singapore. Thank you, racing gods.”

Because really, there is no other way for me to feel about this trip other than Grateful.

And would I do this all over again? Most definitely! I may look all serious and straight-laced, but when it comes to my passions, I go absolutely all out. Go big or go home. That’s what love (of F1) can do.

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P.S:

1. I wore at least one red article of clothing per day, not only because my favourite color is red but also as a sign of support for the Scuderia Ferrari drivers. Looked like the ritual worked!

2. With all the amount of walking/running/climbing stairs that I did, perhaps I really should invest in a good pair of running shoes to wear to future GPs.

3. Yeah, my photo-taking skills still leave a lot to be desired. I’m not comfortable using my mobile phone camera for high-speed objects, so I think it’s time I upgrade my digital camera.

4. I will update my A-Z Guide to Attending the Singapore GP soon. Stay tuned!

5. If you’re interested in attending this GP next year, then feel free to leave a message here or contact me on Twitter. Looking forward to hearing from you!