Battle of the F1 Boybands: F1 Direction vs. The Stewards’ Wanted.

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Admit it, we’ve all been a victim of LSS (Last Song Syndrome) courtesy of one those pesky boyband songs at one point in our lives (or many points. Wait, is that just me? Moving on).

Whether you’re a fan of them or not, looks like the boyband craze is here to stay, and it has now invaded Formula One! Allow me to introduce you to the hottest rivalry in F1 right now:

They’re boyish and clean-cut, and they drive the girls crazy wondering what their brand of shampoo and conditioner are. Some say they make sure to floss regularly to maintain their pearly-white smiles. They’re sugar and spice and everything nice (until 1 of them swears on the podium…oops). They’re…F1 Direction!

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Bruno SEnna, Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez: Too pretty for their helmets?

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On this corner, on and off the track, they’re naughty as can be, they tweet all sorts of stuff, including telemetry. Some say they believe in the saying, “Banging is racing”.  Stay away from these Hard As Mutharacers…They’re…The Stewards’ Wanted!

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Kamui Kobayashi, Pastor Maldonado, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne: Five badboys with the power to rock you! Blowing your mind so you gotta get into…!

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Hang on, so how can we settle the question on which is the better F1 Boyband? By a Sing-Off, of course! Below are the 2 boybands’ anthems. Go on, then, I know you want to sing along!

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F1 Direction Presents…

What Makes You Beautiful

(A Song For Our Cars)

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You’re insecure

Don’t know what for

You’re turning heads when you exit pit doors

Don’t need decals

To cover up

Being the way that you are

Is enough

Everyone else on the grid could see it

Everyone else but you…

Chorus

Baby you warm up my tyres like nobody else

The way that you shift your gears gets me overwhelmed

But when you activate KERS it ain’t hard to tell

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

If only you saw what I can see

You’ll understand why I want your seat desperately

Right now I’m racing in you

And I can’t believe

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

That’s what makes you beautiful!

So c–come on

You got it wrong

To prove I’m right

I put it in a song

I don’t know why you’re being shy

And turn away when the wet racetrack turns dry-yy

Everyone else on the grid could see it

Everyone else but you…

Baby you warm up my tyres like nobody else

The way that you shift your gears gets me overwhelmed

But when you activate KERS it ain’t hard to tell

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

If only you saw what I can see

You’ll understand why I want your seat desperately

Right now I’m racing in you

And I can’t believe

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

That’s what makes you beautiful!

Nanananananana nanananana…

Baby you warm up my tyres like nobody else

The way that you shift your gears gets me overwhelmed

But when you activate KERS it ain’t hard to tell

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

Baby you warm up my tyres like nobody else

The way that you shift your gears gets me overwhelmed

But when you activate KERS it ain’t hard to tell

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

If only you saw what I can see

You’ll understand why I want your seat desperately

Right now I’m racing in you

And I can’t believe

You don’t kno-oo-oow

You don’t know you’re beautiful

You don’t know you’re beautiful

That’s what makes you beautiful!

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The Stewards’ Wanted strike back with…

Glad You Raced

(A Song For Our Rivals)

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The sun goes down

The lights go out

And all that counts is here and now

My race record will never be the same

I’m glad you raced…

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You want to race with me

Race with me

You hit me like the sky fell on me

Fell on me

And I don’t care about penalties

Penalties

So let’s go somewhere the stewards can’t see

You and me

Turn the lights out now

Now I’ll take you by that turn

Hands firmly on the wheel

Pass me if you can

Can you spend a little time

Time is slipping away

Away from us

So race

Race with me

I can make

Mae you glad you raced

 

The sun goes down

The lights go out

And all that counts is here and now

My race record will never be the same

I’m glad you raced

I’m glad you raced

You want to race with me

Race with me

You hit me like the sky fell on me

Fell on me

And I don’t care about penalties

Penalties

So let’s go somewhere the stewards can’t see

You and me

Turn the lights out now

Now I’ll take you by that turn

Hands firmly on the wheel

Pass me if you can

Can you spend a little time

Time is slipping away

Away from us

So race

Race with me

I can make

Make you glad you raced

The sun goes down

The lights go out

And all that counts is here and now

My race record will never be the same

I’m glad you raced

Oooooohhhhh

I’m glad you raced

Oooooohhhhh

So glad you raced

I’m glad you raced

I’m glad you raced…

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The sun goes down

The lights go out

And all that counts is here and now

My race record will never be the same

I’m glad you raced

I’m glad you raced…

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Have you picked a side yet*?

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*This is what the off-season does to me.

All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait: The 2012 Bouncebackable Trip To The F1 Night Race.

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Madness. Absolute madness. This was my fourth consecutive year of attending the race weekend and yet, I always bring back a renewed sense of wonder and affection with each return. Let me just say though, that this will be long, wordy and descriptive—mostly for my own benefit so I won’t ever forget a moment of what transpired in this extended race weekend. This won’t be objective or technical and for sure this will be tongue-in-cheek, emotional and at times, maybe a tad hyperbolic.

So there, you all have been warned.

Wednesday, 19 September: It’s Like I’ve Never Been Away…

This year, I have decided to fly to Singapore early for the race weekend, mainly because I wanted to try to catch some of the PR events of the drivers and also because I wanted to get some shopping done (yes, I’m still very much female, in that regard). I arrived in Singapore a little before high noon, and decided to catch a powernap first before heading out mid-afternoon for my first meal of the day and to check out the shops and the events. I knew that Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg had a 5pm event at a Puma pop-up store, but I did sort of lose track of time while doing some retail therapy, and before I knew it, it was well past 5pm and I had to channel my inner F1 driver to get to Raffles City quickly. When I got there, the emcee was already thanking the crowd outside for coming, and as I got closer I realized that it was an invite-only event and that Nico was already well ensconced inside. There was a sizable group of fans outside the store but as time went by, a lot of them became impatient and left, so I was able to get just in front of the velvet ropes, opposite the store entrance. From there, I briefly chatted with some hardcore F1 fans who’ve managed to meet Nico previously, and they told me that he’s very nice to fans. They’ve also met loads of other drivers and the consensus is that the most elusive of the bunch are Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher (no big surprise there!)—either they’re both heavily guarded or they just zoom past the fans. We’ve been waiting outside for nearly 2 hours then, and my feet and back were already hurting from standing for so long with a heavy handbag and shopping bags to boot, and I was already considering leaving the venue when all of a sudden, Nico Rosberg came out of the shop and went straight to the area where the fans were waiting. There was a lot of jostling—ironically, it was the male fans who got rowdy and kept screaming “Nicoo!!”—which made the security guys become a bit strict and surrounded him even more. I managed to get some shots of him and before I knew it, he was holding out his hand to reach for my notebook and pen (at that point, I didn’t even realize I was holding them out to him, must be an automatic “fan response”). One security guy started pushing Nico away and I got worried that he won’t be able to sign, so I called out a very polite, “Nico, please sign..?” and thankfully he heard me and reached out again to take my pen and signed my notebook. After that, he managed to sign quite a few more things (and certainly looked like he was willing to sign more) but the security team got impatient and hustled him to the waiting car, ready to take him to his next event at Butter Factory. To be fair though, Nico said, “Sorry, guys!” to those fans he wasn’t able to sign stuff for, before getting into the car and speeding away.

Oops, forgot to reset my zoom function–so here’s Nico UP CLOSE.

First autograph of the trip! Danke, Nico!

Window display advertising Nico’s appearance at the Butter Factory. Shame they spelled his surname wrong, it said: Nico ROSEberg!

That was my first experience of getting that close to a Formula 1 driver, and I honestly couldn’t believe I was able to stay that calm. I even joked to my friends online and through SMS that I finally popped my “stalker cherry”, much to their amusement. The trip certainly started off on a good foot. What better way to celebrate that small victory? Why, with more retail therapy, of course!

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Thursday, 20 September:  Putting the “I” in Multitasking…

I started off Thursday by making a detailed “To Do” list, and on top of that list was to claim my race tickets at the Swissotel Stamford. I knew that there’s a big possibility that F1 personalities and other famous people would be staying at that hotel, given its proximity to one of the track gates, so I spent quite a bit of time people-watching (to no avail) before finally getting my race tickets. I was pleasantly surprised that the organizers have redesigned the ticket packaging, doing away with the box and replacing it with a sleeker, slimmer ziplock pouch for easier carriage, and this year also marked my first purchase of the Premier Walkabout Tickets (I’ve always bought the Zone 4 Walkabout Tickets previously) so I was quite excited to finally have “branded” lanyards and not the ordinary ones. Having quite a bit of time to kill, I then took the train back to Orchard Road to hit the shops. Hard. And the first shop on my agenda? The Official Grand Prix Merchandise store!

At the Swissotel Stamford, Ticket Collection Centre.

Glorious, precious, shiny race tickets!

It was like being a kid let loose in a candy shop. Looking around, everyone had smiles and grins on their faces as they perused the different items on the store. I had to keep my hands wrapped around the strap of my bag several times as I walked around to keep myself from grabbing all the stuff I wanted, but in the end, I decided to purchase a Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari cap (children’s size, it’s less expensive and fits me, anyway!), a Michael Schumacher keyfob, and a Lotus GP Ladies shirt as keepsakes. My wallet was screaming in pain but my heart certainly was happy.

The Grand Prix Store: The apple of my eyes, the bane of my finances.

My racing-related keepsakes for the trip. Not budget-friendly, but they’re most certainly worth it.

By mid-afternoon, I was yearning for some rest and nourishment, but I noticed a bit of a commotion at the opposite side of Orchard Road and suddenly remembered that McLaren driver Jenson Button had an event at the Wisma Atria Tag Heuer store. Even though I’m not really a fan of the British driver, I decided to brave the heat and the crowd and crossed over to check out the event.

Jenson arrived looking dapper in a suit, albeit a few ticks late, and I have to admit that he does look good in person, He seemed very amiable, joked around a lot and thanked the crowd several times for braving the heat to see the event.

Jenson Button donates a signed racing helmet to the Tag Heuer shop.

Button with Tag Heuer’s Big Boss.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, he was taken inside the store for the private party, and I knew that it would take at least an hour for him to come out again, so I didn’t hang around anymore and decided to move along to do some more window-shopping and exploring.

Yet again, I lost track of time and had to hurry to make it to Orchard Central to check out the opening of the Red Bull GP store, which was to be attended by Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The event hasn’t started yet when I got there, but the place was already jam-packed with fans and my only consolation was that I managed to find a semi-decent spot near the “stage” where I was squished against an English version of footballer Juan Mata (Thank you, lucky stars). The crowd went even wilder when the 2 drivers arrived, with Vettel and Webber fans trying to outdo each other with cheers for their fave drivers. Sadly, it was a very brief appearance for the both of them, as Vettel was scheduled to do the Drivers’ Press Conference that day later at 6pm, so they only got to do a few signings and interviews before they were rushed out of the venue.

Mayhem at the Opening of Red Bull Racing World!

Webber talks about the helmet design competition he held for his fans for this GP.

Seb and Mark quickly signs stuff for fans before they were whisked away by security for the “store opening proper”!

I knew Michael Schumacher also had an appearance the same day, but it was a private, invite-only event in a place not very near where I was at the moment, so I decided to forego that and end the day early—after all, getting to see 4 drivers and finishing all my shopping in 2 days wasn’t a bad accomplishment at all.

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Friday, 21 September. No Rest For The Wicked…

Proper rest, preparation and nourishment were crucial for the day, as this was the “official” start of the race weekend on track. For the past 3 years, I’ve always passed on watching FP1s, mainly because I always meet my now Singapore-based dear friend J for dinner after her work to catch up. However, this year, the new mom took a child-care leave and was able to meet me for lunch instead so I can finally meet her adorable new son. As normal with two close friends, we spent nearly 5 hours chatting and eating (mostly chatting), and with a bit of a heavy heart, I had to bid her and cute Baby A farewell to make the trek to the track to catch FP1.

Reporting for duty for FP1!

FP1: Schumi!

FP1: Nico Rosberg.

I arrived at the track early in order to familiarize myself with the new areas that are now available to me, as a Premier Walkabout Ticket holder. You also get unlimited rides at the Singapore Flyer with your ticket, so after four years of delaying this experience, I finally managed to try out the flyer, and I have to say watching the FP1 up there was really quite a whole new perspective! Afterwards, I walked around some more to check out the different viewing platforms and to “plan” my route for Saturday and Sunday, and settled at the Greek Theatre to rest my legs for FP2 and savored the sights and sounds of the handsome beasts on track (the cars are quite alright, too).

View of the track from the Singapore Flyer.

FP1 Views from ground-level and from the Singapore Flyer:

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Saturday, 22 September: When There’s A Will, There’s A Way…

I woke up late, but with an inexplicable feeling of excitement and…purpose. I knew that I had a very full day ahead, but I had no idea just how much the day was out to surprise me. Just before I left, I received an SMS from a fellow KRS member, asking me if I wanted to meet up later in the day at the track, and this only heightened my excitement as I wanted to personally thank her for all her invaluable help towards me on this trip. For once in the trip, I willed the time to move faster, as I spent the afternoon lazily going in and out of nearby shopping centers to escape the heat and window-shop, and finally decided to just head to the track early to avoid the crowds at the train stations and entrance gates.

Reporting for duty for FP3 and QLF!

There was a bit of a “traffic jam” near the area where the pedestrians can cross over to get to the Singapore Flyer, for the reason that it was just moments after the GP2 Sprint Race and security temporarily closed the path to give way to the teams’ logistical transfers and handling of the cars parked along the road. At some point, this guy in a racing suit came around our area, and he looked so happy and was pumping his fist repeatedly. Amusingly, the crowd with me didn’t really took much notice of him, so I decided to call out, “Congratulations!” in a whim as he walked past me, and he replied with a cheerful “Thanks!”. It was only much later when I found out that the guy was Davide Valsecchi–he finished 4th in the race but was crowned GP2 champion that day.

The GP2 cars, post-race.

Qualifying, honestly, went by in a blur. I hopped around different areas to test out viewing and photo-taking opportunities, but as soon as Kimi Raikkonen went out of the running for pole as he clocked in at P12, I pretty much stayed in a viewing platform opposite a widescreen and finished watching Q3 from there.

FP3: Red Bull charges.

FP3: Fernando Alonso.

FP3: Kimi Raikkonen.

Q1: Schumi attacks.

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Post-qualifying, I hurried over to the opposite side of the track, the Padang Stage, to catch one of my favorite bands, Maroon 5, perform. The place was absolutely packed with people, and while they gave a really good (but quick) show, before it was finished, I was already barreling my way towards the Singapore Flyer yet again, half-excited and half-afraid I’d miss the opportunity to see the drivers up close.

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine sings “Won’t Go Home Without You”: Exactly what I felt that night–I won’t go home without seeing the drivers up close!

The ginormous crowd at the Padang Stage.

Hey, Schumi has his own merchandise stand!

And this is where it got really, really interesting.

A from KRS and I casually waited outside the pathway of the Entrance/Exit, and while there were several other fans with us, it wasn’t exactly crowded. Several luxury cars as well as golf buggies came around, and we thought those were probably sent to fetch the drivers. One of the cars backed up and stayed close to the exit. The first driver we spotted leaving was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, and 2 or 3 of fans who managed to escape security went up to him and had flags and things signed. From the zoomed lens of my camera, I saw that Lewis didn’t mind at all and was very nice to them, chatting and agreeing to take photos before getting into the car and going the opposite way, not passing by the path that me and the other fans were waiting in. More cars arrived and at this point, I was getting scared that most of the drivers (if not, the more popular ones like Kimi and Michael), would be leaving the track by tinted cars and not pass by us. Next to leave was Williams’ Bruno Senna, who stopped to sign for some fans but quickly left. Nico Hulkenberg also briefly signed and posed for photos but did not look to be in a cheerful mood (or was that just his “default” expression? He was so much more cheerful when I saw him last year). Lotus GP Team Boss Eric Boullier left on foot but didn’t stop to sign for fans, though he looked to be in a jovial mood as he acknowledged some fans who bade him good night.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton chats with fans.

Williams’ Bruno Senna. I wasn’t able to take a proper photo as I was too busy staring at him!

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, aka Kimi 2.0.

Lotus Renault’s Big Boss, Eric Boullier.

Now, this needs a separate paragraph. Right, just when we started to relax a bit, the crowd erupted into massive cheers and I craned my neck to have a good look at an incoming golf buggy, saw that it was carrying Lotus personnel and then realized that THE Kimi Raikkonen was on it, sitting on the middle bench and hunched over, pretty face resting on his left hand. People started screaming “KIMIII!!!” and as the buggy drove past me, merely inches away, all my photo-taking capabilities flew out the window as I could only stare as time stopped while I got a good look at him. He looked half-grumpy and half-sleepy, but yes, I can now attest to the fact that photos and videos do not do him justice as he looks a zillion times better in person (how is that even possible?!) and his pointy nose and his eyes and his skin are supernaturally magnificent. Oh, and he was wearing his usual, now-famous plaid shorts. To be honest, after that, my weekend was made.

The (blurry) back of Kimi Raikkonen’s golf buggy.Again, I wasn’t able to take a proper photo of him as I could only stare at his Finnish Perfection in person!

However, there was more fun to be had, as Marussia’s Charles Pic exited next, and several minutes later, cheers erupted yet again from some fans at the sight of a guy wearing Ferrari gear, and It turned out to be test driver Marc Gene. I took photos of him and quickly grabbed my Sharpie, but my notebook got lost in my blackhole of a bag, so I just held out my collapsible cloth fan for him to sign and he did so (his was the biggest sig in there, funnily enough). Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was next, and while I originally wanted to just take a photo of him, we somehow got face-to-face with each other, and he was looking at me expectantly so I held out my fan yet again and he signed it (what was I going to do, say, “Oh no, I don’t want your autograph, thank you. Go on.”? Haha.) Romain Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi sauntered out next, and I decided to catch my breath for a bit and take a few steps back from the crowd, thinking that it might be several minutes before another significant driver/personality-sighting.

Marussia’s Charles Pic.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Marc Gene.

Gene’s signature.

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne. More than happy to sign for autographs.

Vergne’s signature.

Lotus GP’s Romain Grosjean.

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I was wrong.

There was this rather audible collective gasp, and at first I thought it was just one of the team bosses exiting. But then I heard someone scream, “MICHAEL!!!” and I literally froze in place as I said to A, “Who’s that? Michael, as in Michael SCHUMACHER?!”

I stood on tiptoes and caught sight of a guy wearing an orange t-shirt, with that unmistakable prominent chin, starting to sign stuff for fans several meters away. I could not believe my eyes—Schumi was exiting the track on foot. Mingling with us mortals. I rushed to the side to take some photos but a security guy restrained me from getting too close, so I patiently waited until he reached my area and prayed to all entities that would listen that he won’t suddenly rush off and walk away. Before I knew it, he was signing the magazine of the guy besides me, and as he turned to me, I willed myself to be calm/keep a straight face/not scream “I love you, Schumi!!” or other inappropriate things to his face. So here’s how our exchange went:

Me: *holds out my fan and sharpie* “Michael, please?”

Schumi: *takes pen* “Sure.”

*looks at me, must have seen the star-struck look on my face, smiles and holds the edge of the fan because my hand was shaking before signing it*

Me: *dying inside, but stays calm and composed*

Schumi: *returns pen*

Me: *smiles* “Thank you very much, Michael. Good luck.”

Schumi: *smiles back* “No problem at all. Bye.” *waves and walks away*

Me: *feels the earth start spinning on its axis again*

THE Michael Schumacher is approaching! What do I do?!

I’m just a girl…standing in front of a Living Legend…asking him to sign my fan. 😀

Schumi’s signature!

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Did that just really happen?! Yes, it did, and I’m very surprised I did not faint right then and there and/or did a silly and ridiculously embarrassing celebratory dance worthy of becoming a viral video. Forgive me for stretching this out, but see, I’ve been a Schumacher supporter for 19 years now, and while I’ve dreamed of seeing him up close many, many times, that unexpected encounter will forever be embedded in my memory. Also, I half-expected him to be aloof and not-so-accommodating to fans, he could have just walked past us all and I would have forgiven him—after all, he is the F1 icon Michael Schumacher—he doesn’t have to please fans or prove anything to us anymore, but he was completely nice and down-to-earth and…normal, that it was difficult not to be awestruck by his presence. So I guess he just disproved what they say about not meeting your heroes, because sometimes, they will surprise you in ways that will renew your faith in humanity.

So there. After that Twilight Zone moment, #Bottas, Paul DiResta, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen left in quick succession. Funny story about Heikki, though: As I held out my fan and Sharpie to him, this overzealous guy besides me grabbed my pen because Heikki was trying to sign his magazine but the pen wasn’t working. Heikki looked at me and must have seen the annoyed look on my face, because he laughed and signed my fan first, signed the guy’s mag and then returned my pen. The guy apologized to me after and thanked me for the pen, so all’s well that ends well. Next up was another fan favorite of a driver, defending champion Sebastian Vettel. I rushed to the front of the line to get an autograph for fear that he’ll only sign a few and leave immediately, but he was very patient and signed nearly everybody’s things. By the time I got back to the end of the path way, I got to say, “Bye Seb, Good luck!” to him and he acknowledged with a smile. Really good guy, and he has that certain “X Factor” quality that endears him to you in person, too.

#BOTTAS!!

Force India’s Paul DiResta. Why the long face? :p

Red Bull’s Mark Webber and his jaw and cleft chin.

Nice guy Heikki.

Kovalainen’s signature.

Defending champ and crowd favourite Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s signature.

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Team owner Peter Sauber looked to be in a hurry to leave and might have said something about not having the time to sign stuff, but after the fans collectively groaned, “Awwwww!”, he mocked-exasperatingly said, “Oh, alright!!” and stopped for autographs. Timo Glock wasn’t very smiley or cheerful but was nevertheless very accommodating to fans. Sauber’s Sergio Perez proved to be quite popular too, and I have to say that he has every right to smile all the time as his teeth really do look blindingly-white and near-perfect up close. I’m jealous, actually.

Sauber’s Big Cheese, Peter Sauber.

Marussia’s Timo Glock.

Glock’s signature.

Sergio “Mr. Perfect Teeth” Perez.

Perez’s signature.

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Last, but certainly not the least, was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. There were a lot of Ferrari fans in the group and so he spent quite a bit of time signing stuff. I originally wanted to speak to him in Spanish, but by the time he got to me, I could only manage a meek, “Fernando, please?” (I suppose that is my “signature line” to the drivers now?) and he replied with an accented “Suuure!” and signed my fan, smiling.

Fernando Alonso! Hola, que tal, hombre? :p

Alonso’s signature.

It was nearly 3.00am by that time, and I decided to follow A out of the track to finally head back to the hotel. My whole body, from the tips of my toes to the roots of my hair was screaming in agony out of sheer exhaustion, but it was nothing a little Tiger Balm and Paracetamol couldn’t take care of. Besides, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything in the world. I honestly could have skipped, hopped, and crawled my way back to the hotel after that.

Mission Impossible? Accomplished.

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Sunday, 23 September: Keep Calm And Race On.

Raceday. Truth be told, after the night/early morning I had, my expectations for the race were well and truly in check, as I didn’t want to push my luck with the racing gods for asking for too much. My body by then had returned to “European time” and I woke to find out I’ve missed both the morning Mass and lunch. Never mind, I quickly got ready, headed over to a nearby church to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving (and yes, a prayer for my fave drivers and for good weather later), and then went to Orchard Road to meet up with the brother of my friend for some late lunch. Time whizzed by and I decided to forego any more last-minute shopping and went straight to the track to try to catch the support races.

Raceday! Yes, that’s my “Kimi-eating-IceCream” shirt from Unlap.

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Of course, one of the things I look forward to during the raceday is the Driver’s Parade, but I have to say that I was a little less obsessive and a bit more relaxed this year after seeing most of them up close just several hours before:

Hamilton and Maldonado.

Button and Vettel.

Alonso and DiResta.

Webber and Grosjean.

Rosberg and Schumacher.

Raikkonen and Raikkonen 2.0…I mean, Hulkenberg.

Massa and Perez.

Vergne and Kobayashi.

Ricciardo and Kovalainen.

Petrov, Senna and Glock. Bruno’s car “broke down” during the parade and he had to hitch a ride with Vitaly!

Pic, Karthikeyan and Dela Rosa.

Now, I won’t even attempt to gloss this over—the race wasn’t the most exciting or thrilling one, and it only ever started to get interesting after race leader Lewis Hamilton retired, HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan’s incident and of course, the Schumacher-Vergne collision. During the first SC period, I was in Zone 3 moving around the different viewing platforms when I heard huge gasps from the commentators, and as soon as I heard the word “Schumacher”, I quickly ran over to the nearest widescreen and watched in horror the replays of his surprising crash, collecting Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne in the process. I held my breath as I watched the two drivers get out of their cars and walk towards each other (Ooh, will there be a fistfight?) but as soon as Schumi put his hand around Vergne, and the Frenchman did the same thing, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, although loads of people in my area were very audibly disappointed, as they wanted to see Vergne having a go at Schumi! Interesting to note as well that the incident happened near Turn 14, which used to be my favourite spot to watch for the past 3 years. I was tempted to make a run for it to see if I can catch sight of Schumi or the stranded cars, but calculated in my head that the area was too far away from where I was and I won’t beat the Marshals’ efficiency in clearing it out.

Here’s a video of the first lap:

And a clip from the Safety Car Period:

With Schumacher’s DNF, I focused nearly all of my attention on Raikkonen—the Singapore street circuit has not been very kind to him in the past and he has yet to score points there—and so I cheered and willed him on to push and get that car to the chequered flag. While the first half of the race seemed to drag on, the last part seemed to have gone by in a blur, (despite the extended SC period making it literally a race against time and not the number of laps) and before I knew it, the chequered flag was waved and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was crowned the winner, followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. I thanked the racing gods for letting Kimi finish 6th and score good points, and although Schumi retired, at least he was safe and unscathed from the crash. The final results belied the vanilla-quality of the race and certainly made the WDC fight more exciting, as it looks to be a possible 3 to 4-horse race to the finish this year.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel wins the 2012 Singapore GP!

As fireworks erupted in the Singapore skyline, I felt myself getting a bit emotional, as they were, in a way, a signal of the end of that memorable trip. I trekked to the viewing platform nearest the area where I can just about see the podium, but after a few minutes, I saw spectators spilling onto the track—the track invasion has begun! But wait, how do I get in there?!

I quickly ran over to where people were exiting, but to my dismay, the security people did not open the metal barriers, and so everyone had to climb through them to get onto the track. I crossed my fingers, sent a silent prayer to protect me from injuries, threw my heavy handbag to the other side and proceeded to climb through 3 barriers and a 6-foot hill, and ta-daa! I barely had time to marvel at my newfound athleticism—I guess when you have adrenaline pumping through your system, you can truly do some anecdote-worthy things. What’s important was that I was able to get into the track and watch the podium ceremonies up close!

The podium finishers!

Champagne shower time!

The “much-awaited” podium interview with BBC pundit Eddie Jordan was barely audible in our area because loads of the spectators were too busy laughing and making fun of what he was wearing, but just the same, it was an unbelievable experience to be one of those people on track watching the podium finishers celebrate up close—something that I’ve only seen in the telly for the past 19 years!

Eddie Jordan and his “absolutely dire” (quoting the Englishman next to me) shirt.

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I walked around and checked out the different garages (behind the barrier, of course) for a bit before the marshals shooed the crowd away and closed that section of the track. I began the long walk back to Zone 4, soaking in the sights and sounds of all the happy spectators taking photographs and whatever track “souvenirs” they could get their hands on. I watched a bit of Katy Perry’s concert and perused the many activities and offerings in the F1 Village before deciding to finally call it a night.

The cars at Parc Ferme.

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As I slowly made my way to the Gate 7 Exit, I stood on the steps, turned around and blew a huge farewell kiss to the track. I do intend to return of course, but if ever this was my last trip to this track for some time, then I have absolutely no reason to complain, as it was well worth every body ache, sweat, effort, and penny.  The things I do for love of racing.

Farewell, Singapore race track! Until we meet again!

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The following day, everything will have gone and things will have gone back to normal, and yet, amazingly, I will never be the same.

 

 

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P.S.

I’ve always included some friendly, personally-tested tips on attending the Singaporean GP at the end of my trip reviews, but this year, I have decided to make a more comprehensive guide on attending the GP, so there will be a separate article on it posted soon. Thank you for reading!

Introducing The F1 Class of 2012…Through Limericks.

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There once was a sport called F1,
Whose drivers are on par with no one.
They earn loads of dosh,
And live lives so posh,
Is that where all good men have gone?
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Formula One Drivers are used to having hundreds, even thousands, of words written about them, whether positive or negative, in the form of articles, essays, or commentaries. However, I believe one of the best ways to honor someone or something you love is through poetry. Below are some limericks to describe the 24 esteemed drivers who shall be competing for the 2012 F1 World Drivers’ Championship. Some are facts, some have tad of fiction, and some are just downright silly. Who’s the fairest (or should that be ‘the most badass’) of them all?

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Sebastian “The Finger” Vettel.

The Sebastian Vettel Limerick:

There once was a racer named Vettel,
Whose mad skills can raise on-track hell.
He likes waving his finger,
‘Cos it gives him that swagger,
Why not? His titles have now proved his mettle.

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Mark “Motormouth” Webber.

The Mark Webber Limerick:

There once was a racer named Webber,
Two ain’t his favourite number.
When he opens his gob,
He can sound like a nob,
Don’t hate, he just feels like chopped liver.

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Jenson “Vanilla” Button.

There once was a racer named Jens,
Who sees F1 through rose-coloured lens.
Some daresay he is boring,
Unless his car is a-roaring,
Either way, fans and critics are on the fence.

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Lewis “I’m Cool” Hamilton.

The Lewis Hamilton Limerick:

There once was a racer named Ham,
Who has been through many a-racing jam.
His fashion shoots may be frightening,
But on-track, he’s like lightning,
His mojo storage is deep like a dam.

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Fernando “The Eyebrows” Alonso.

The Fernando Alonso Limerick:

There once was a racer named Nando,
His rivals never made him preocupado.
He dislikes the word “fail”,
He’ll move mountains to prevail,
For sure, he is one hombre determinado.

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Felipe "Baby" Massa.

The Felipe Massa Limerick:

There once was a racer called Flip,
Whose form is now suffering a dip.
He used to be the team’s fave,
But now his job he has to save,
The Scuderia’s close to giving him the snip.

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Nico “Pretty Boy” Rosberg.

The Nico Rosberg Limerick:

There once was a racer named Rosberg,
Whose good looks is just the tip of the iceberg.
They may laugh and call him “Britney”,
But this golden lad’s ain’t a ninny,
Dontcha know he’s the heir of Keke Rosberg?!

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Michael “The Chin” Schumacher.

There once was a racer named Michael,
Who’s always involved with some on-track battle.
He cried “That’s just a nick!”
Still, they called him a prick,
And went to the stewards to tattle.

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Kimi “Oops” Raikkonen.

The Kimi Raikkonen Limerick:

There once was a racer called Kimster,
Iceburn-ing the press? He’s the master.
This champ has proven his worth,
Is this return a racing rebirth?
Oops! watch out for his moves so gangster.

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Romain “Croissant” Grosjean.

The Romain Grosjean Limerick:

There once was a racer called Romain,
Who fondly gets called “croissant”,
He is paired with The Iceman,
But he shall fight like a Frenchman,
To underestimate him? Thats an affront.

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Paul “Long Face” DiResta .

The Paul DiResta Limerick:

There once was a racer named Paul,
Who drives very close to the wall.
He’s had many a-shunt,
But he’s still worth a punt,
And so with the punches he’ll roll.

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Nico “Kimi 2.0” Hulkenberg.

The Nico Hulkenberg Limerick:

There once was a racer named Nico,
Whose pole in Brazil made us go loco.
Some say he looks a bit like Kimi,
That is why he’s so dreamy,
Now if only he can race like a wacko.

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Jean-Eric “Frenchman no. 2” Vergne.

The Jean-Eric Vergne Limerick:

There once was a racer named Vergne,
The ways of F1 he wanted to learn.
He may be a noob driver,
But his swag shall not waver,
His critics, he hopes to iceburn.

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Daniel “That Other Aussie” Ricciardo.

The Daniel Ricciardo Limerick:

There once was a racer named Dan,
Who’s a really big Toro Rosso fan.
Now his patience paid off,
Jaime and Seb got sent off,
For the seat, is he really the right man?

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Kamui “Samurai” Kobayashi.

The Kamui Kobayashi Limerick:

There once was a racer named Kobayashi,
Who’s sometimes too quick for his chassis.
When he races full speed,
He’s like a noble steed,
A cult fave who is never ever flashy.

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Sergio “Mr. Smiley” Perez.

The Sergio Perez Limerick:

There once was a racer called Checo,
Who had a massive shunt in Monaco.
He survived it still smiling,
For racing is his calling,
His fans love this lad muy simpatico.

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Heikki “That Other Finn” Kovalainen.

The Heikki Kovalainen Limerick:

There once was a racer called Heikki,
Who bumped his head on a shunt in Turkey.
It’s been years since his last win,
But he stays cool, ‘cos he’s a Finn,
He works hard so his fans’ hearts won’t go achy-breaky.

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Vitaly “Cyborg” Petrov.

The Vitaly Petrov Limerick:

There once was a racer called Vitaly,
Scary self-contained, almost an anomaly.
He edged out the Trulli train,
Much to some fans’ disdain,
Is he worth the team’s gamble? Totally!

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Pastor “Last Lap Menace” Maldonado.

The Pastor Maldonado Limerick:

There once was a racer called Pastor,
He once had Rubens as a teammate and mentor.
But the Brazilian got the boot,
Cos Pastor’s backers have more loot,
And now he became Rubens’ tormentor.

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Bruno “The Nephew” Senna.

The Bruno Senna Limerick:

There once was a racer named Senna,
Who thought, “To just be my uncle’s nephew? I don’t wanna!”
And now with Williams he is back,
For another F1 attack,
Stay tuned–will his suerte be buena?

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Timo “German no. 4” Glock.

The Timo Glock Limerick:

There once was a racer named Glock,
Who is one of the F1 German flock.
His potential’s still unused,
The fans remain bemused,
His time in F1 is crooning tick and tock.

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Charles “Frenchman no. 3” Pic.

The Charles Pic Limerick:

There once was a racer named Pic,
Who fancied himself a bit quick.
But he’s a rookie in this joint,
Will he even score a point?
Let’s see if his sleeve has a good trick.

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Pedro “Grandpa” Dela Rosa.

The Pedro Dela Rosa Limerick:

There once was a racer named Pedro,
Who once had skills and speed so raw.
Now he’s back for yet another shot,
Against a quicker, younger lot,
Will he still have cojones to show?

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Narain “I Just Won’t Go Away” Karthikeyan.

The Narain Karthikeyan Limerick:

There once was a racer named Narain,
Who sometimes get confused with Bahrain.
He may be old and a slowpoke,
And for some, a recurring joke,
Just how will he cope with this new terrain?

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Welcome to F1 2012!

Return To Turn 14: The 2011 Bouncebackable F1 Singapore GP Trip*.

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*a.k.a I Went To The Singapore GP And All I Got Was A Chance Encounter And A Smile From A German Racer.

It took me a while to arrange my thoughts with a semblance of coherence, as it is a strange law of the universe that one cannot write effectively when they’re still intoxicated with joy. Now that the sobriety of real life is back, allow me to share my experience yet again.

For the third year running, I made the short trek to Singapore to fulfill what I now call my “Yearly Pilgrimage” in the name of Pure, Racing Madness.

This is what transpired during my trip*:

(*P.S. Brevity is clearly not my strong suit, so be prepared for a lengthy post filled with photos & videos—you have been warned!)

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Thursday: It’s hard to chill when you’re feelin’ the thrill.

I traveled to Singapore one day ahead of my usual schedule, hoping to catch more time to soak in the atmosphere, and also so I can play the “tour guide” to a couple of friends who were first-time travelers to the country.

Unfortunately, I was a day too late for the various PR events several drivers attended, but still, as I dragged my friend along to one of my favourite spots in the country, Orchard Road, the atmosphere was positively electric and it’s quite obvious that F1 Fever has hit the nation. And hard.

he McLaren simulator at the Hugo Boss-McLaren exhibit inside Ion Orchard.

More F1 simulators along Orchard Rd.

One of the Official F1 Merchandise stores along Orchard Rd. A.k.a the apple of my eye and bane of my wallet.

The Force India exhibit car.

Freak-out moment when I found out that Nico H. (a.k.a. Kimi 2.0) will be making an appearance on this store–on the day I made plans to be really far away from this area. Pfft.

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Friday, I’m In Love.

My precious 3-day Walkabout Tickets!

It seems it’s now a tradition of mine to somehow miss FP1, but for good reason. I sacrificed the first practice session this year to have dinner with one of my very best friends J, who was my F1 buddy last year, but had to pass this year because she and her gracious new-husband A is expecting a baby.

After a sumptuous dinner of modern-meets-traditional Chinese cuisine, I temporarily bid farewell to my friends to make the trek alone to the track for FP2. I’ve to admit that I was a bit distracted before, and during dinner, as the sounds of the F1 engines were truly hard to ignore as they serve as the background music to practically the whole city as we partake our nosh. Have I gotten used or immune to hearing that glorious roar yet? Of course not. For me, it’s like a secret language that welcomes me back to the place– somehow, Singapore at night is just never the same to me without my eardrums being caressed by the symphony of F1 engines.

Reporting for duty for FP2!

Jenson Button of McLaren gets stuck in the runoff area near Turn 14!

Free Practice 2 was business as usual. One massive change that I’ve noticed from last year was that Red Bull fans have increased their numbers exponentially and are now as plentiful and loud as the Ferrari and McLaren fans.

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Saturday, Crazy Saturday.

To maximize the trip, my friends and I decided to take the short trek (by short, I mean a 4-hour bus ride 1-way) to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, to soak in the sights, smells and sounds of Singapore’s closest neighbor.

he first sight that greeted me as I alighted the cab in KLCC.

I shall not get into the minute details anymore, let me just say that our brief stay there was nothing short of action-packed, and our misadventures were too many (some were quite embarrassing) to count. By the time we were finally on our way back to Singapore, I’d already missed FP3 and was dangerously close to not making Qualifying as well. My head was positively spinning as I stared at the numbers at the bus’ digital clock, willing time to move slowly in the hopes that I can still make the all-important Qualifying Sessions.

Suffice to say, I was beyond counting minutes by the time the bus rolled into the drop-off point, as I was counting seconds by then. We all jumped into a cab and I basically instructed the driver to drive as fast as he can so I can make it to the track in time for Qualifying. The semi-confused cab driver even attempted to give me a heart attack by saying that Quali is over, but I recovered quickly enough to rebut that it was the FP3 he must be talking about, and there’s no way in the world I could have miscalculated the time enough to miss Quali. To our collective amusement, our cab driver proceeded to regale us with his exploits of driving around Singapore in a Suzuki Swift at staggering speeds without getting caught by authorities. Of course I proceeded to stoke his ego by telling him he can still be Singapore’s first F1 driver if he wants to, and I’d completely cheer for him if he ever decides to switch/upgrade careers in the future. Anything to get me to the track on time. That seemed to work as Mr. Cabbie channeled his inner Michael Schumacher/Sebastian Vettel/Kimi Raikkonen and put the pedal to the metal. After dropping us off to the nearest area where cabs are allowed to go, I still had to channel Road Runner and activate my inner KERS as I barreled through several shopping malls before I got to the Mother Ship, a.k.a Gate 7. Was a few minutes late for Q1 but who cares, I was there amidst the excited crowd, albeit mildly traumatized, hungry, short of breath, with semi-scratched legs (I had to go through shrubbery to get closer to the barrier). Oh, the things I do for racing.

made it to the QLF Sessions just in the nick of time!

Here are a couple of clips from the madness that was Q3:

Vettel unsurprisingly got pole, the McLarens were hot on his heels, Webber completed the RBR sandwich, the 2 Ferraris and the 2 Mercedes cars lined up after them while the rest are ready to pounce on their every mistake. What will happen in the big race tomorrow? Will Seb be crowned as the youngest double-WDC in the Lion City?

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Every Sunday I Love You More And More.

THAT Chance Encounter.

Hectic was the word of the day once Sunday rolled around. We went to hear mass to give thanks for our collective safety and intact sanity, had a quick lunch and then went off to finish some last-minute shopping (hey, we’re women, don’t judge us!) before we decided that we have far too many carrier bags and we need to go back to the hotel to dump them before we can go to the track. We unanimously agreed to take a taxi instead of the usual commuter trains since we were in a hurry, so we and our shopping bags hobbled towards the taxi queue in luxurious Ion Orchard. There were a couple of people ahead of us and while my friends chatted amongst themselves, I tuned out and made mental plans on the fastest way to get to the track and where to position ourselves. Suddenly, I noticed this tall, blonde man join the queue with a couple of women. He looked very familiar but since my mind was somewhere else, I didn’t immediately realize who he was. What transpired went something like this, in a nutshell:

Me: * absently looks at the guy, trying to place where I saw him or who he looks like while making plans in my head*

Blonde Guy: *Notices me staring at him, smiles at me then looks away*

Me: *Suddenly hit by a lightning of a realization that the blonde guy is Force India Reserve Driver Nico Hulkenberg*

Nico Hulkenberg: *looks at me again, sees that my eyes are wide as flying saucers, smiles, then turns around and slowly takes a seat and hides behind the guy in front of him in the queue*

Me: *pulls 1 of my friends towards me and furiously whispers my discovery*

Taxi Queue Attendant: *shouts “Next!” and guides my friends and still a shell-shocked me inside the cab*

So there. That’s the sitcom-like, yet true story of how I almost met Nico Hulkenberg and semi-freaked him out. Just for the record, he looks similar to Kimi Raikkonen but he looks leaner and somehow “smilier” up close. Until next time, Nico. I promise to recognize you faster and not freak you out (so much).

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No Rest For The Wicked.

And so after a few minutes of ranting and raving about that encounter in the hotel, my friend N (who happens to be a Formula One first-timer! Every year I somehow manage to convert 1 friend of mine into becoming an F1 fan. Call me if you need PR help, Mr. Ecclestone!) and I hauled our butts off to the track, but not before making a quick (pit) stop to the Swissotel to claim my friend’s ticket. I gawked at a couple of FIA officials we passed by outside the hotel but decided not to disturb them anymore as they were clearly enjoying a private cigarette break before heading to the track. My drill sargent-like obsession with punctuality prevailed amidst all the detours, and we got to the track just a few minutes late of my original estimate. Much to my delight, my “beloved spot” for the past 3 years near Turn 14 was still available and we watched it like hawks as we sat down to rest our tired legs and to enjoy the tail-end of the support race Porsche Carrera Cup.

The latter parts of the support race Porsche Carrera Cup.

As half-past six drew closer, we positioned ourselves as close to the barrier as possible, to have maximum viewing capacity of the track. The much-anticipated Drivers’ Parade started shortly thereafter, and fans screamed and cheered their lungs out (especially me) as their fave drivers made their way around the track, each with their own special classic car. This is one of the reasons I love the Singaporean GP, the parade is longer and the fans can see the drivers better because they’re not just lumped in one truck!

The Safety Car signals the start of the much-awaited Driver’s Parade!

Fernando Alonso of Scuderia Ferrari. Why so glum, hombre?

A visibly more cheerful Felipe Massa of Ferrari.

Jerome D’Ambrosio of Marussia Virgin. He was looking at our side because he heard the loud cheer of the 2 Belgian guys next to my friend and I.

Heikki Kovalainen of Lotus, channeling Pinoy jeepney drivers with his white towel draped across his shoulders (Teehee).

ALL HAIL SCHUMI!! (Yes, I did yell “I love you, Schumi!!” as he passed by, just like a proper fangirl should.)

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes GP looks quite amused as he passed by groups of screaming girls.

Bruno Senna of Lotus Renault waves at an overexcited Brazilian fan near us.

Sergio Perez of Sauber chillin’ like ice cream fillin’.

Red Bull’s no.2…er…Mark Webber.

THE Man of the Year and the driver that got the loudest cheers: Sebastian Vettel (and his famous plaid shorts) of Red Bull!

The view from our left side as the sun sets and the floodlights are lit!

Before we can fully recover from seeing our fave drivers up close, the warm-up lap started, and as the cars lined up in the starting straight, I can feel the thickness of the tension and anticipation in our area, as we all seemingly held our breaths, along with our respective photographic equipment, to await the illumination of the 5 red lights to signal the start of the 4th F1 Singaporean GP!

Pole-sitter Vettel immediately stamped his authority by taking an early lead, leaving the McLarens, Ferraris and Mercedes’ to play catch-up. The German’s Red Bull was hardly disturbed even as the cars behind him seemingly played a mash-up of musical chairs/chess and got locked in a battle of wits and tactics for positions.

The real shocker of the night was Michael Schumacher’s retirement, which was the result of an incident with Sauber’s Sergio Perez. It took a couple of minutes before I confirmed this and although I was obviously dismayed, I had to brush it off and just focus on enjoying the remaining laps. After all, we’re talking about Schumi here, if he’s gonna go down, he’s gonna go down fighting—and that’s exactly what he did.

The race was not short of nail-biting incidents—Timo Glock spun and hit the barriers, Massa and Hamilton’s constant on-track duels, Alonso and Webber’s cat-and-mouse routines, and even Vettel nearly getting clipped by Kovalainen in the pit lane. Unfortunately, my “jinxing powers” did not work this year as Turn 14 was undisturbed by any major racing incidents.

Things really started to heat up once the Safety Car Period began and teams regrouped and revised their respective tactics:

An HRT clipping the barriers:

Here’s a clip of Jarno Trulli getting a ride back to the pits after his retirement:

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Surprisingly, former Singaporean GP race winners Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who both started the race strongly, became hugely inconspicuous as the race wore on. And by inconspicuous, I mean ultimately coming up short in challenging for a win.

Golden boy Vettel romped his way to the Chequered Flag, with McLaren’s Jenson Button and teammate Mark Webber behind him. 17 more cars survived the challenge and crossed the finish line. Button’s 2nd place finish meant that Vettel still needed 1 measly point in the next round to confirm his 2011 WDC title, but that technicality hardly mattered as Red Bull and even rival fans applauded the German heartily as he did his Salute Lap to the crowd.

As the dust settled and the marshalls opened the track for the crowd, there’s really only one thing left to do: PARTY!

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Remnants I nicked from a barrier that got clipped.

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So there you go, eight months of planning, anticipation and excitement, all compressed into four absolutely grandtastic action-packed days.

There’s no tidy ultimate conclusion for all this–In racing, you take both the good and the bad. You don’t dwell on the negatives nor over-exalt the positives, what matters most is the experience as a whole. This is why I find it so difficult to turn down the chance to watch the race in person–it reminds me to fully appreciate and soak in those fleeting episodes in life when you are simply in the moment.

May you too, give in to the wonderful temptation. It’s well worth it, believe me.

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Here are my Customary “Helpful Hints” for a more enjoyable Singaporean GP Experience:

  • If you can afford to, travel to Singapore ahead and arrive on the Tuesday or Wednesday of the race weekend. The F1 circus usually arrives on a Tuesday, so you might just bump into some of them on the airport. The meet-and-greets and sponsor events are usually held on Wednesday, just around various points at Orchard Road, so there’s a good chance you can get up-close to your fave driver! (I will certainly heed this advice and arrive on a Wednesday next year!)
  • If you want to do your very own “track walk”, the track is open to the public until the Wednesday of the race weekend (Again, a chance to bump into F1 personalities!).
  • Upon getting to Singapore, you might want to purchase the Singapore Tourist Pass (www.singaporetouristpass.com for more info), a card that works for all train and almost all bus lines in the country. You can get a 1-, 2- or 3-day pass which will give you unlimited access to public transportation around the city. Screw taking expensive cab rides, in Singapore, taking public transportation is where it’s at!
  • If you want to know which other important spots to visit in between F1 schedules, head on over to the Singapore Visitors Centre and consult their ever-friendly staff. (Bonus: You can also get free leg and foot massages there after shopping at Orchard Road!)
  • For smartphone users, you might want to download the Singapore Street Directory App. It has a cool feature that not only gives you directions but also gives you extremely detailed transportation options, down to the exact fare prices! (Check out http://www.streetdirectory.com to try it out.)
  • Every year, various weather forecasts predict some rain during the race weekend, and yet every year, my ardent prayers have somehow fended them off (or at least, that’s what I choose to believe). Even so, bring a disposable poncho or your own raincoat/mac when you go the track, as well as your own set of earplugs as well. If you’re too lazy to bring some, you can always buy the “Survival Kit” on-site for the price of 2.00 Sgd. I’m a cheapo though, so I always bring my own.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear! I cannot stress this enough, as you will be walking a LOT amidst heat and humidity, and this is not the time to channel your inner supermodel or fashionista. If, like me, you have a preference for getting the Walkabout Zone tickets, then expect to stand for a couple of hours, at the least, so you better damn make sure that your feet are in comfortable gear to support you.
  • Speaking of heat and humidity, each spectator is allowed to bring in 500ml of bottled water inside the track, so if you want to save some dollars it’s better to buy from the various convenience stores outside the track as the beverage prices inside the track are a bit more expensive.
  • Always have your ticket/s with you, as loads of stores around Singapore offer discounts and freebies if you are part of the F1 crowd.
  • Pack light. I don’t always heed this advice because I almost always shop before heading to the track, but if you don’t want the hassle of having several bags inspected at the entrance, just bring the absolute essentials. Also, read the tiny brochure that comes with your ticket/s and review the list of what you can and cannot bring inside the track.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no free Wi-Fi zone inside the track (at least where Zone 4 is), so if you want to be able to update your status on various social networking sites, make sure that your mobile phone/tablet is able to connect to the web through your local service provider. You can also buy prepaid Singaporean SIM cards in convenience stores and shops and just register for their data service promotions while you’re there.
  • Speaking of gadgets, make sure to fully recharge your mobile phones and digital cameras, or better yet, bring extra batteries, just in case! It’s also good to bring extra memory cards as well so you won’t have to worry about running out of disk space for your precious racing photos and videos.
  • Explore the whole track if you can! This year, there was a complimentary tattoo booth, the usual classic car exhibit, race simulator challenge booth, and various photo stations where you can channel your inner F1 driver.
  • After the race on Sunday, the track is opened for the whole audience to enjoy. Go ahead and kiss the ground where your fave driver raced on! (If that’s your thing, that is.)
  • Make some noise! You’re not in a library, so don’t be afraid to cheer, whoop and scream for your favorite drivers and teams!
  • Above all, let loose and have fun!

Introducing the Class of 2010 F1 Drivers…The Stig-style!

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The Class of 2010: Could Any one of them be…The Stig?

Some say they are weird men-robots hybrid, while others say their farts are the reason carbon dioxide levels are rising on earth. Their houses are wallpapered with money and they take champagne showers to keep their skin glowing. All we know is, they’re called…

FORMULA ONE DRIVERS.

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Some say he was cloned using a hair from Schumi’s razor, and that he got a sense of humour after he fell on his head as a baby. His music of choice during racedays is Lou Bega’s Mambo no. 5 and Mark Webber keeps a voodoo doll of him hidden in his trouser pocket. All we know is, he’s called…

SEBASTIAN VETTEL.


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Some say he came out of his mother’s womb dancing the Macarena, and that he’s so quick he went from being a newborn to a full-grown man in exactly 7-tenths of a second. His eyebrows require their own personal assistants and he’s known to like riding chickens…er, chicanes. All we know is, he’s called…

FERNANDO ALONSO.

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Some say his jaw can cut through diamond and carbon-fiber, while others say he races kangaroos and dingos before his breakfast of shrimp in the barbie. He makes his fellow drivers look like Lilliputians and his motor mouth is far more powerful than his car’s V8 engine. All we know is, he’s called…

MARK WEBBER.

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Some say he’s the Second Coming of Sliced Bread, while others say he sleeps hugging his  Superlicence. His gap-toothed smile is his secret weapon, he trims his sideburns to the shape of Spa-Francorchamps, and is known to randomly sing “Don’t cha wish your driver was cool like me,  Don’t cha wish your driver was fun like me, don’t cha?” when Ferrari bigshots walk past him. All we know is, he’s called…

LEWIS HAMILTON.

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Some say he’s as cute as his namesake, while others say pundits fall asleep on cue at the sight of him. Vibrations are his number one enemy, Contracts wilt as he drives past and rumour has it that the flavor Vanilla and Toast bread got insulted when they heard they were being compared to his personality. All we know is, he’s called…

JENSON BUTTON.

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Some say his first words out of his mother’s womb were “For sure!” and he learned to samba way before he can walk. His skull is now certified Barrichello car-proof and only his nanny Rob Smedley can stop him from crying and throwing his toys out of the pram in moments of distress. All we know is, he’s called…

FELIPE MASSA.


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Some say he’s probably the best female driver in the history of Formula One, while others say fields of daisies start blooming and fluffy white bunnies hop in glee as he drives past. His hair is the color of glistening sunshine and smells like strawberries and champagne. All we know is, he’s called…

NICO ROSBERG.

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Some say the Holy Grail resides inside his chin, while others say he’s so good in driving in the wet because he started learning to drive while he’s still inside his mother’s womb fighting the placenta. He keeps a mini-trampoline in his back pocket so he can practice his victory jumps anywhere and he can make Lady Gaga weep with his fashion sense. All we know is, he’s called…

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER.

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Some say he has the most aerodynamic nose in Formula One, and we don’t mean the one in his car. He’s the only driver who can rival Kimi Raikkonen in a “Best Poker Face” Competition and when he turns sideways, he gets mistaken for a cardboard cut-out of himself. All we know is, he’s called…

ROBERT KUBICA.

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Some say he grew up with a pet Sabertooth, while others say he puts vodka in everything, including his car’s fuel tank. He’s the only driver that has his country’s Prime Minister on his mobile phone’s speed dial, and no, he doesn’t give a damn who Fernando Alonso is. All we know is, he’s called…

VITALY PETROV.

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Some say he’s Kimi Raikkonen’s brother from a German mother, and that he started celebrating Oktoberfest as soon as he came out of the womb. He doesn’t turn green when he’s angry but water particles dissolve as he drives past on a fully-dry setup. There are rumours that his real product name is Kimbot v2.0, but the lab still refuses to confirm or deny it. All we know is, he’s called…

NICO HULKENBERG.

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Some say he has developed a phobia of the number 2, while others say that’s easily cured by getting him drunk and handing him a karaoke microphone. His forehead is sloped like Eau Rouge and the newest clause in his contract states that he cannot ever be teammates with drivers named Michael or Jenson anymore. All we know is, he’s called…

RUBENS BARRICHELLO.

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Some say he keeps a mini turntable inside his car and when summoned by the FIA post-Belgian GP, he gave them all a mix CD of Penalisation Rocks in Belgium. He’s the King of Random and Puzzling Thoughts and when asked in the latest GPDA meeting on how to improve the F1 cars, he reportedly answered, “Put wi-fi enabled laptops inside so we can tweet while we race!” All we know is, he’s called…

JAIME ALGUERSUARI.

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Some say he’s the poor man’s Vettel, while others say he’s the rich man’s Bourdais. Overtaking him is illegal in 12 countries and he can drive through sand dunes and snow faster than you can say “abracadabra!” All we know is, he’s called…

SEBASTIEN BUEMI.


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Some say he was a locomotive driver in his past life and his favourite childhood book is The Little Engine That Could. When he enters a room, Adrian Sutil covers his ears and Karun Chandhok covers his head. All we know is, he’s called…

JARNO TRULLI.

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Some say he came from the same factory as Kimi Raikkonen, except he was shipped off to the Surplus Outlet for having processor defects, while others say he’s the personification of Star Wars’ C3PO. He’s so cool he can put off an engine fire by simply staring at it, and no, he won’t look at you if you call him “Hokey-Kokey”. All we know is, he’s called…

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN.

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Some say he’s the Elton John of Formula One, that’s because he plays the piano. Why, what were you thinking? He gets teary-eyed when he sees Kimi Raikkonen and his catty claws come out when he sees Jarno Trulli. And just to be clear, his run isn’t girlish, it’s…refined. All we know is, he’s called…

ADRIAN SUTIL.

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Some say his hairline recedes with every early race retirement, while others say his forehead makes him more streamlined and aerodynamic. He mixes track dust with his coffee for breakfast
and Michael Schumacher frantically wears his helmet when he enters a room. All we know is, he’s called…

VITANTONIO LIUZZI.

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Some say he beat Vettel by a nose in the “Most Smiley German Competition” in the paddock, while others say he still has nightmares of being randomly attacked by overzealous Brazilians. Lewis Hamilton gave him the biggest Christmas card back in 2008 and there’s more to him than puns about his name and clocks. All we know is, he’s called…

TIMO GLOCK.

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Some say he’s the odd Brazilian out, while others say he once beat Bruno Senna AND Felipe Massa…in thumb wrestling. Crossing the Finish Line is no challenge for him, and he keeps proposing a Reversed Starting Grid anonymously. All we know is, he’s called…

LUCAS DI GRASSI.

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Some say he’s the last heir of the Samurai, while others say pure Sake runs in his veins. He was rumoured to have  overtaken the speed of light once and Takuma Sato trembles in his very presence. All we know is, he’s called…

KAMUI KOBAYASHI.

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Some say he secretly found the fountain of youth underneath the McLaren HQ in Woking, while others say he has a long-standing bet with Bernie Ecclestone on who can stay in F1 the longest. He’s the not the best secret-keeper in the world and he’s the only Spaniard with the middle name “Official Test Driver”. All we know is, he’s called…

PEDRO DELA ROSA.

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Some say the solution to World Hunger and Poverty is hidden in the depths of his brown man-bag, while others say his racing mojo comes from his ever-present beard. Winning a race is overrated for him and he’d much rather challenge for 2nd or 3rd. He puts Justin Timberlake to shame with his dancing skills and he’s not ashamed to discuss his teams’ “wanking” to the entire world. All we know is, he’s called…

NICK HEIDFELD.

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Some say the whole of Brazil faints at the mere flutter of his eyelashes, while others say he was uttering the sound of a V8 engine before he could even say his first words. He’s not a dog’s best friend but his luscious curls are the envy of the paddock. All we know is, he’s called…

BRUNO SENNA.

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Some say he should be a stand-up comedian instead of a racing driver, while others say, why not do both? His eyebrows require their own postal code and his head has been certified Trulli Train-proof. All we know is, he’s called…

KARUN CHANDHOK.

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Some say he’s the King of Parking in Racing, too bad he does it during racedays and in the middle of the track. The Safety Car and Crane drivers are his best mates and we still don’t know what the heck he was thinking with the pink helmet he once wore. All we know is, he’s called…

SAKON YAMAMOTO.

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Some say he’s been with so many F1 teams throughout the years that he can both open his own temping agency called “Temp F1” and sell F1 merchandise on EBay. All we know is, he’s called…

CHRISTIAN KLIEN.