Introducing the F1 Class of 2014: Through Twitter-Style Poems*.

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(*Expressed in exactly 140 Characters.)

A new F1 season is upon us yet again, and it is time to get to know the new and not-so-new 22 fellas who shall amaze, inspire, irk, annoy, baffle, confound and emotionally-torture us for one whole year through an exercise of brevity otherwise known as the medium of Twitter-style Poetry:

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vettel

Sebastian Vettel

 Seb is a champ, that much is known

He may be flawed, & he damn can own

His job: to race, to fight, to win

Being talented isn’t a sin.

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ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

 RBR’s new guy is called Dan

To the Aussies, he’s the man

His smile can be seen from outer space

But he’s serious as heck in a race

Multi 31?

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hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

 He does all he can

Just let him drive, man

Don’tcha wish your driver’s H.A.M like him?

Who chases a win even if chances are slim?

Peace out.

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rosberg

Nico Rosberg

 The dilemma of Nico

Is to downplay looks that makes fans go loco

From the track to the pitwall

He’s the fairest of them all

Mind the talent!

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raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

 They call him Kimster

Poker-faced Finnish gangster

Cold as fire, hot as ice

Mind his mumblings, they’re quite wise

He knows what he’s doing.

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alonso

Fernando Alonso

 The Samurai of Formula 1

His brand of tactics? 2nd to none

You must always give him space

Or get a taste of his gameface

Psych wars, ahead!

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button

Jenson Button

 This lad’s quite spiffy in the wet

And he’s the Brits’ 2nd bet

On track he employs stealth

Off track he values health

Give him proper grip!

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magnussen

Kevin Magnussen

 This McLaren rookie named Kevin

May be young, but he ain’t messin’

First race, p2, this Dane is great

Will a WDC be in his fate?

Stay tuned.

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grosjean

Romain Grosjean

 1st lap nutcase, Smiley Giraffe

That once made plenty on-track gaffe

He was mellowed by his son

& now he is Lotus’ de facto no.1

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maldonado

Pastor Maldonado

 He may have a reputation

That he brings on-track aggravation

So now this Venezuelan laddie

Has become F1’s fave baddie

What will he do next?

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hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

 Talent & potential? He sure has them

Eye of the Tiger should be his anthem

Hulk is his nickname

Intense racing is his game

Elephant Balls.

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perez

Sergio Perez

 He was on a high then on a low

A bad year doesn’t mean this lad’s slow

New team & new chance for Checo

His partner? Superfast Nico

Game on.

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vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne

 He missed out on an RBR drive

But with STR he’ll continue to strive

Step up JEV & prove your worth

You just might have a racing rebirth

Go!

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kvyat

Daniil Kvyat

 Daniil may look wet between the ears

But he races with no fears

He deftly stole Vettel’s record

Without causing any discord

Doubt-dispeller.

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massa

Felipe Massa

 For years he was Smedley’s guy

A bromance/partnership money can’t buy

New team, new start & new hope

Let’s see if Felipe can cope

Stay cool.

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bottas

Valtteri Bottas

 Cool when needed, nerves of steel

This Finn’s steady behind the wheel

A hashtag? He is so much more

Ready to show what he has in store

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sutil

Adrian Sutil

He’s the odd German out

Who doesn’t hold much clout

The other 3 are going rampant

He doesn’t need to go stagnant

Find the fight, Adrian!

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gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez

 He can rival Nando’s eyebrows

Had mild highs & rather bum lows

Sophomore year for young Esteban

Can he become Sauber’s main man?

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kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi

 Now the Banzai Power is back

Expect to see an all-out attack

Kamui’s sweet but he’s also spicy

His on-track tactics? Borderline dicey

Push!

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ericsson

Marcus Ericsson

 He’s the new Swede on the block

Eager to show he’s fast on the clock

He gets to race a car so green

Can he get points, is he that keen?

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bianchi

Jules Bianchi

 The 3rd Frenchman of the lot

He hasn’t yet shown all that he’s got

Push on, Jules & just drive

You can keep your points dream alive

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chilton

Max Chilton

 This lad Max is a noob no more

Time to show us what he’s got in store

Yes he can finish every race

But a point sure would be ace

Step it up!

P.S. If you want legit profiles, Google is your friend.

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Introducing The F1 Class of 2013…And Their Alter-Egos.

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The wait is finally over. F1 2013 is upon us and the 22 protagonists have been unveiled. I could easily have written a traditional collection of drivers’ profiles but then again, where’s the fun in that? And so I present to you the drivers and their respective alternative selves for your amusement*:

*Warning: A healthy dose of sense of humour and a certain level of pop culture knowledge are needed to fully appreciate this post.

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Sebastian Vettel and the Road Runner

They’re extremely fast, they’re clever and can be quite funny almost effortlessly. So how come they’re still not universally-liked? To the victor belongs not only the spoils but also the backstabbings and criticisms. Yikes. So watch your back, Seb, there are loads of Wile E. Coyotes out there waiting to pounce on you with their anvils! Focus on your racing and leave them all behind to eat your dust! Meep Meep!

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 Mark Webber and Daffy Duck

He’s not the typical protagonist: He’s outspoken, overtly confident, and aggressive when he wants to be. Things not going his way? Well, he’ll cleverly find ways to remedy that with or without the help of others (*cough*his team*cough*). Oh, and when he starts yapping his mouth off, there’s no telling when he’ll stop. Or what he’ll say about who. He can be intriguingly uncensored. And we love our Webbo (and Daffy Duck) for that.

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Fernando Alonso and the Terminator

Never count him out. To underestimate him would be a horrible schoolboy error. Behind the silly and pseudo-artistic Instagram images and hilarious tweets is a mind of a cyborg that is programmed to do one thing and one thing only: WIN. At all costs. Destroy the competition if he must. He’ll be back. After he waxes his eyebrows, of course.

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Felipe Massa and Robin

Oh Felipe Baby, when will you ever become more than just a glorified sidekick? Still, there are moments when he wonderfully channels the Boy Wonder. He’s perfectly fine when left to do his own battles, but when Batman (or team orders) arrives, he has the tendency to allow himself to be slapped around like a bitch. Wham! Bam! Kapow!

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Jenson Button and Dry Toast

Let’s face it, our Jenson is not the most exciting nor controversial of characters, isn’t he? You might even say that’s what makes him such an “ideal” man for McLaren. On the bright side, just put butter, cheese, jelly, marmite, etc. on top and he can actually be considered adaptable, versatile, and dare I say it, indispensable?! They’re also both better with heat, because it gives them “more grip”.

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Sergio Perez and Speedy Gonzales

He almost always has a smile on his face and he seems so tiny you just want to hang him on your car’s rearview mirror. And he tries, he really does. When he’s quick, he’s unstoppable, and when he’s not, well, he’ll just apologise and smile it off. Bless his little woven sombrero for that.

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Kimi Raikkonen and a Polar Bear

Yes, yes, yes, we all know that this Finn is nicknamed “the Iceman”, but hear me out when I say that he has a lot of similarities with this quite-misunderstood creature: Kimi is like a polar bear in the sense that he looks cute and cuddly, has a tendency to “hibernate”, does not give a shit about what the outside world or the other species think about him, likes the cold, likes to fish, but in the blink of an eye, can turn into a deadly, ferocious hunter to get what he wants. Now hand him a fresh salmon, er, magnum and coke, and leave him alone to chill. This bear knows what he’s doing.

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Romain Grosjean and a Giraffe

You wouldn’t think a giraffe can be so dangerous, but countless watchings of National Geographic have proven that a threatened or panicky giraffe can wreck havoc in an ecosystem (bet you’ll want to youtube that). Much like our Romain, you wouldn’t think his ever-smiley Frenchie face has the capacity to hurt a fly, but he certainly earned the “1st lap nutcase” nickname bestowed to him by fellow racer Mark Webber. Here’s hoping he’ll channel a graceful—rather than a clumsy—giraffe this season, not just for his sake but more for the sake of his fellow drivers.

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Nico Rosberg and Britney Spears

Okay, so I couldn’t resist and left Nico’s popular nickname/alter ego unchanged. They’re both pretty faces that attract fans by the droves. Some say they’re overrated but when they turn up their performance level to the max and show flashes of brilliance, you couldn’t help but be awed. When they’re good, they’re spectacular, but when they’re bad, just…cringe and close your eyes. Look beyond the gleaming blond facade, for there’s genuine talent in there somewhere, believe me. Hit me baby, one more time!

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Lewis Hamilton and Dennis the Menace

He’s not as bad as some people make him out to be, our Lewis. Lewis and Dennis the Menace both start out with good intentions but then certain circumstances develop and things end up in a hilarious, horrible, facepalm-worthy mess. At times, it seems like they don’t look for trouble, trouble’s attracted to them like ants to sugar. But hey, like I said, they’re not all that bad—they both maintain a certain level of enthusiasm that many find contagious and endearing.

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Nico Hulkenberg and Cinderella

They’re tall, lithe, blonde and blue-eyed. Oh, and both have…special feet? The German’s slight problem with his Sauber car during the winter test (i.e. he wore racing shoes that were too big and constantly hit the car’s body which caused discomfort throughout the testing session) got so blown-up by the media that his feet are now as much of a talking point as his racing talent. Question is, will he also encounter evil stepsisters along the way and will he find the fairytale drive at Sauber and live happily ever after?

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Esteban Gutierrez and Bert

They both have bushy eyebrows, let’s get that out of the way. But aside from that, like Bert, he has to play the de facto 2nd fiddle to the more popular, not-just-slightly-preferred “Ernie” of his Sauber teammate Hulkenberg, and that is not an easy task. For now, the young Mexican seems to be good friends with the German, but we shall see whether the two can sustain being BFFs until the end of the season.

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Paul DiResta and a Basset Hound

F1’s Mr. Positive (not) certainly isn’t the most magnetic nor charismatic chap, but like the droopy basset hound, still attracts a…certain set of fans. Surely, he doesn’t consciously try to look gloomy most of the time, but someone should still remind him that a smile (and a positive attitude) every once in a while won’t hurt!

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Adrian Sutil and a Porcupine

Like a porcupine, he usually minds his own business, and yet, there’s still that certain element of danger about him.  So yeah, it’s best to stay out of his way and refrain from sparking his ire (looking at you, Lewis), unless you want to get pricked/stabbed (Oh yes, I went there).

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Pastor Maldonado and a Bulldozer

Pop star Rihanna may have had Pastor in mind when she sang the lyrics, “…I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it…” (You can stop sniggering now), because that encapsulates our Pastor quite well. Like a bulldozer, he plows down—whether consciously or subconsciously—everything that gets in his way, and sometimes ends up making a spectacular mess out of it. But hey, at least he doesn’t do anything halfway!

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Valtteri Bottas and R2D2

The Finn that replaced the “spare” Finn in F1 looks to have come from the same School of Word Economy like his fellow Finns, but for now, his personality is still a bit lacking and mechanical, akin to that of the wee robot in Star Wars. Hopefully, he’ll come out of his shell more and prove that he’s far more than just a Twitter hashtag.

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Jean Eric Vergne and a Mime

Jean-Eric seems to be a man of few words. Not in a Kimi Raikkonen-way but in a…more mysterious way, I suppose? Anyway, this Toro Rosso man prefers to go the “action speaks louder than words” route, and so far, it seems to be working in his favour. Although perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for him to express himself more in interviews, oui?

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Daniel Ricciardo and a Jack-In-The-Box

Wind him up, wait, and boom—out he pops! At times, we never really know when this Aussie racer will properly turn up in a race, which can be frustrating considering the potential he has shown in his rookie year. But when he does turn up, he delivers notable performances, which somehow makes the wait a little bit more forgivable.

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Charles Pic and a Mushroom

Sometimes you see him, sometimes you don’t. There’s no denying that Charles Pic has talent, after all, he’s now on his 2nd year in F1 and even got the chance to move to another team. However, like a mushroom, he does have a tendency to become inconspicuous in some (maybe a lot of) races, yet at times, he just seems to pop up from nowhere to join in on the racing mix. Let’s see how he fares this season, perhaps next year I can promote him to being a truffle instead of a mere mushroom.

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Giedo van der Garde and Wine

He’s been in the periphery of F1 for quite a while now, and yet this year is only his rookie year. Like wine, he has been patiently maturing in the barrel for years, waiting for the right moment to be bottled, sold, drunk and evaluated by the public. Will his 2013 performance reviews be sweet and divine or sour and putrid? We shall see.

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Jules Bianchi and Harry Houdini

Just when you thought he’s out of the running for an F1 2013 drive, Jules managed to pull out an impressive comeback so last-minute you’d think it was a work of a magician. And what about that fastest lap in Melbourne that was like only 0.045 seconds off from Vettel’s time? Something tells me this lad may have more stunning “escapes” and tricks up his sleeves this season. Stay tuned.

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Max Chilton and Richie Rich

Poor little rich boy Max will have quite a hard time shaking off the dreaded “pay driver” tag, and the rumours surfacing that his dear daddy might buy his current team Marussia aren’t helping his street cred, either. Should he apologise for having the resources to fulfill his dreams/whims? Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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So there you have it. Some of them may be harsh, but hey, nobody said F1 fans are easy to please. Welcome to yet another year of this circus, one and all!

 

 

Ruthless Rants, Raves and Reflections: The Non-Standard Issue F1 2013 Preview.

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Every year, I make it a point to write an introductory post on the members of the F1 grid, but in a different and unexpected way. This year, I’m having a bit of a trouble completing it (don’t get me wrong, it’s still going to be bouncebackably awesome, I assure you), and I realized that what’s holding me back was the mixed bag of emotions that I’m harboring towards the upcoming season. I need to let it all out and lay my cards on the table before I can move on, and so this shall be the outlet for that.

I’m not an objective F1 fan. Just thought I’d put it out there. If you want a so-called objective, detailed and technical analyses on the new season, then you can move on. At least I’m not like a lot of legitimate journalists who claim objectivity and yet reek of bias like they’re doused with some class C-imitation perfume. Also, I will not make concrete predictions because I’m not a fortune-teller and I prefer to adopt the ‘Que sera, sera’ attitude this season. Will it work? Maybe not, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Now let me get this out of the way: I am incredibly, unequivocally sad that my all-time favorite driver Michael Schumacher will not be racing this season, or…ever. It has been months since he has announced his retirement and yet, I’m still teetering on the ledge of denial. I suppose the finality of his decision will fully sink in on the first GP but for now, I am still wondering on whether I will be 100% emotionally-involved this season.

Before I digress any further, here’s my own brand of an F1 2013 preview:

Red Bull Racing:

Barring their annoying over-protectiveness with their car’s rear parts during winter testing, they still look quite strong and solid, and I reckon they will still be the favorites to win the Constructor’s title–that is, if they manage to avoid any cockfights between their drivers. The so-called “god of aero” Adrian Newey will still be the designer to beat. Sebastian Vettel seems to have matured significantly after winning his 3rd WDC, and if he can carry-over even half of the form he had in 2012 to this year, then his Australian teammate Webber will have a Herculean task of outperforming him. While some fans appreciate the standard “driver equality” PR drivel, we all know that the team’s golden-haired, blue-eyed boy really is Vettel. So better give 200% of what you’ve got, Webber, for this may be your last year with the team and you might as well give your potential future employers a good show.

Scuderia Ferrari:

I sometimes find it painful to write about this team mainly because while I still consider myself a fan, the truth is that I’m not 100% emotionally-involved in supporting them anymore. Having said that, I do like and admire Fernando Alonso’s racing moxie and I believe that he’ll still be Vettel’s biggest rival for the WDC yet again. His teammate Felipe Massa needs to realize how incredibly lucky he is to have kept his job for 2013, and he can start repaying the team by finally getting over his multi-year racing rut, stat. Sadly, Alonso is the clear numero uno and so Massa’s main task is to make sure that he maintains status quo and offer his…full cooperation. The fight for the Constructor’s title against Red Bull may be slightly closer this year, but it is interesting to note that the Scuderia has already enlisted the help of the legendary designer Rory Byrne in designing their 2014 contender. A sign of desperation or an advanced masterstroke? Time will tell.

McLaren:

For the first time in 5 years, they will not be The Lewis Hamilton Team, and for that, my sometimes-irrational dislike towards them has already significantly decreased. Sergio Perez from Sauber was confirmed as the new driver just days after Hamilton’s departure, and not a few eyebrows were raised. Will the Mexican be able to take the pressure of the highly-corporate world of McLaren? Can he fill the shoes of his predecessor? Will he even become a serious Championship contender? I have my doubts, but then again, his teammate Jenson Button is also notorious for needing a “perfect car” to achieve notable results, so in this regard, it will be fascinating to see how the dynamics between these two will play out. Also, will the team back Button more for the Championship by virtue of seniority, or will they solely depend on the results? At least for now their two drivers have already followed each other on Twitter, and that’s like, half the battle, isn’t it?

Mercedes GP:

Lewis Hamilton shockingly left his “racing home” McLaren to take up a staggering offer from Mercedes. The move left a bad taste in the mouths of some fans, especially since it was played out in the media that he was signed behind Michael Schumacher’s back, effectively pushing him out of the team and into permanent retirement. Some Macca fans called him a traitor, while some sadly surmised that he must have had enough of McLaren’s highly rigid rules and regulations. What ever the real story is, Lewis will be watched like a hawk this season, as he tries to prove that his risky move was the correct decision. And let us not forget that he will renew his “rivalry” with ex-GP2 teammate Nico Rosberg, who has been with the German outfit since 2010, and might just be the de facto team leader. This, in addition to the massive personnel restructuring that the team has undergone in the off-season, will make it very engaging to follow Mercedes, as the so-called “Three-Year Project” has come and gone and it is now the crucial sink-or-swim time for them.

Lotus GP:

2012 was a year of clear contrast between their 2 drivers: Romain Grosjean suffered several high-profile crashes and shunts which earned him a race ban and most certainly did not endear him from his fellow drivers, but he also notched podiums and significant points for the team. Then there’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was absent from the grid for 2 years but came back like he was never away—easily scoring points, podiums, a win and finishing every lap barring 1 throughout the whole season. It was almost too good to be true and my fear is that 2013 will see the Finn have some reliability issues with the car, and heaven forbid, a few retirements in the mix. Then again, that’s part and parcel of racing, and we must remember that he’s had his share of those even in his WDC-winning year at Ferrari, so we must not expect a carbon copy of his 2012 season. Raikkonen will definitely be up there in the Championship fight, it’s just a matter of having the car’s cooperation and sorting out his qualifying performances. As for Grosjean, I expect the Frenchman will be a tad “tamer” in his approach to racing, and I believe it will be possible for him to get a few podiums and maybe even his first win. It seems strange but the combination of the poker-faced Finn and ever-smiling Frenchman is working quite well, and I shan’t be surprised if the Enstone outfit does get the coveted-3rd place in the WDC for this year.

Scuderia Toro Rosso:

Strangely, I always seem to forget this team and their drivers whenever I make an F1-related list. It can’t be a good thing when I remember the likes of Marussia and Caterham better than Red Bull’s sister team, no? Perhaps it’s because post-Vettel era, the team has been on a steady plateau in midfield, and while their drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are more than half-decent and have shown traces of brilliance on-track last season, they badly need to step up their games and show that Toro Rosso is more than just a midfield contender. After all, this is a team that is not afraid to switch drivers mid-season—and with the talks that their two drivers are not “friends” anymore, this may turn out to be quite a turning point for the team.

Sauber:

This team that nurtured talents such as Raikkonen, Massa and Heidfeld is one of the very few teams in F1 that is difficult to dislike, but they confounded many by letting both their 2012 drivers go—Sergio Perez was released to go to McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi’s contract was not renewed. However, the signing of the alleged-Ferrari and Red Bull target Nico Hulkenberg from Force India signaled the team’s intent to improve on their 2012 performance, and might just be the most serendipitous move of the year. The German is joined by GP2 alumnus Esteban Gutierrez, a rookie who has the misfortune of squaring off with the on-form Hulkenberg and filling the shoes of his fellow Mexican Perez in the team.

P.S. Based on their numerous pre-season team engagements, the 2 drivers seem to be getting along swimmingly, and we all know that Sauber has a history of concocting unintentionally-hilarious PR stunts/events, so I personally cannot wait to see what they will make these two do over the course of the season.

Williams:

Pastor Maldonado may be scarily-unpredictable on-track, but the fact of the matter is that he gave Williams their first race win in ages last year and for that, he is now the clear leader of the team. I do not expect him to drastically change his driving/racing style, I reckon his win will have given him tons more motivation and let’s admit it, his crazy on-track reputation has got us all keeping our eyes on him during those frantic race starts, yes? Finally, 2012 test driver Valtteri Bottas will get the chance to prove if he really is worth the type and the famous Twitter hashtag as he takes over Bruno Senna’s seat for this year. I actually think his numerous FP stints in 2012 will greatly aid him and he just might become the best-performing rookie of 2013.

Force India:

They made us wait for eons on who will be their 2nd driver that by the time they did it, it became one big anticlimax. Well done. I have nothing against Adrian Sutil, he’s actually a decent and proven driver. If anything, I’m actually sort of pleased that he came back just so we can see how awkward his on- and off-track encounters with ex-friend Lewis Hamilton will be. As for Paul DiResta, well, he’d better find someone or something to light a match under his bum, or risk being outperformed yet again by a teammate. You won’t land your dream McLaren drive by getting whipped, boy. Overall, I have no strong feelings for this team but I do hope they get over the reported financial troubles and get to stay on in F1.

Caterham:

They not only changed the shade of green of their car’s livery, but they dropped both of their experienced 2012 drivers as well. Marussia’s 2012 rookie Charles Pic joined them and 2012 test driver and GP2 veteran Giedo van der Garde was promoted to a race seat. I honestly do not know what to expect from this team this year, as these two relatively-inexperienced drivers have the task of “defending” their team’s WCC 10th spot, which was delivered by their more- experienced drivers last year with practically sweat, tears and blood. I suppose what will be of most interest is how they will fare against their fellow backmarker team Marussia, especially since there is the element of the Giedo van der Garde vs Jules Bianchi rivalry in the mix.

Marussia:

Just when we thought Force India had the biggest pre-season cock up by massively delaying their 2nd driver announcement, Marussia went one step lower by making a last-minute driver switch. Brazilian Luiz Razia was hired and terminated within 23 days without even getting to test their 2013 car, all because of a sponsor of his that failed to hand over a payment. Shortest F1 career ever? Possibly. Ruthless and humiliating? Very. Razia was replaced by the 2012 Force India test driver and Ferrari Academy alumnus Jules Bianchi, which fuelled the rumors even more that Marussia will switch to Ferrari engines come 2014. And then of course there was the issue of them dropping Timo Glock to accommodate the so-called “pay drivers”, which incidentally includes their first confirmed 2013 driver Max Chilton, who did not win the approval of a lot of the hardcore F1 fans who believe that only his father’s money and not his talent got him the coveted seat. Meeoow.

As for the results of winter testing and what we can glean from them, the short of the long is that testing times mean absolutely sod all. So for those getting terribly excited about it, take a seat and help yourselves to a chill pill.

End of rants, raves and reflections.

The good news is that the Australian GP is only a few days away, and while we still won’t have a clear picture on where the teams and drivers stand after the race, it is historically-impossible for Melbourne to give us a dull GP weekend. Albert Park always delivers cracking, heart-in-your-throat, what-the-hell-was-that types of races, bless its cotton racing socks. So take a deep breath, and before you know it, the sheer madness of Formula One 2013 shall be upon us yet again. Ready? Let’s be honest, could we ever really be?

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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!