On Schumi Dreams, Vettel, Mick, And The (Racing) Ties That Bind.

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I’ve always been a vivid dreamer.

A few days ago, I had a dream about Michael Schumacher. I was outside a sunny race paddock when all of a sudden, there he was, in his signature Ferrari racing overalls and cap, riding his scooter. I remember calling him and asking for a photo with him, a request he happily granted. As I wrapped my arm around his waist while the photo was being taken, I remember thinking, “This is fantastic! But too perfect. I wish this was really happening.”

See, even in my dream I had a semblance of awareness that what I was experiencing at that moment wasn’t real. Even in my dream I “knew” that Schumi couldn’t possibly be a Ferrari driver anymore and that he is currently in no condition to ride a scooter. Even so, in that moment I was happy. So very happy I almost wished that dream wouldn’t end. But of course I had to wake up some time and accept the fact it was all in my subconscious.

After Schumi’s life-altering accident, watching F1 has never been quite the same for me. Of course I still immensely enjoy it, but there is now more than a scintilla of sadness when I watch the races. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, Sebastian Vettel’s move to Ferrari this season has, in a way, helped me to deal with the sadness, although conversely, his presence in the team and his similarities with Michael also become a glaring reminder of just how much I miss Schumi.

The day after the dream, I saw on Twitter that Vettel has become a patron of the ADAC Formula 4, the motorsport series he competed in as a youngster and the same series that Michael’s son Mick will be participating in this season. Quite fitting. While it may be a practical decision on his part, the sentimental fool in me found it quite a sweet gesture from the German. Michael Schumacher used to be the benchmark for Vettel and his fellow racers back then, and now that he has achieved a big part of his F1 dreams, Vettel is now the one who is giving back to the youngsters who want to follow in his and Schumi’s racing footsteps (or should that be tyre marks?).

Vettel himself has admitted that he is missing his mentor Schumacher’s advice when it comes to F1 and beyond. Spare a thought (or two) for young Mick Schumacher who will start a new chapter in his motorsport career finally bearing that surname, but without his father cheering from the sidelines. We can only surmise on how much pressure he is under—if any at all—but sometimes when I look at the Schumacher children I feel an overwhelming sense of protectiveness and I just want to give them both a big hug and tell them to stay strong and that everything will be alright.

I hope that Seb extends his help to Mick in whichever way he can, just like what Michael has so unselfishly done with him throughout the years.

This weekend, Mick formally started his ADAC Formula 4 adventure and promptly registered his 1st win in the series’ 3rd race. Words just weren’t enough to describe the happiness and pride I felt when I saw the words, “P1 M SCHUMACHER” and Mick standing on the top step of the podium while the German anthem played. This is the start of something amazing. I just know it.

To say I’m immeasurably excited for what the future holds for Mick would be an understatement. If we only had live coverage of the F4 races then I’d gladly watch, but for now I can only offer my unequivocal support from this side of the pond.

As for my dream, well, I firmly believe that dreams can be a sign of things to come. He may not be able to become a Ferrari driver once more but in my heart, there is still hope that we will see Schumi happily riding his scooter yet again.

Image via f1-memes.tumblr.com

Image via f1-memes.tumblr.com

An Open Letter to Sebastian Vettel.

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Dear Sebastian,

This is going to sound weird considering that you don’t know me, but I feel like a proud…older sister*.

See, I liked you instantly the moment I laid eyes on you as a Friday Driver for BMW-Sauber in 2006. In all my years as an F1 fan, that has only happened with 2 other drivers: Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, so you should be flattered as you’re in good, nay, excellent company. I cannot quite explain it, but there was something about you that stood out for me. When I found out that you were nicknamed “Baby Schumi” in your native Germany (let it never be said that I don’t do proper research on the drivers I like), I knew my talent-spotting instinct was golden. And when you got fined for speeding in the pitlane in that same season? Instead of rolling my eyes and tut-tutting, I laughed and thought, “This kid is going to become a World Champion.”

And boy, you sure made my 2006 prediction come true.

In massive, trailblazing style, at that. You made the then-relatively obscure, B-team Toro Rosso a fan favorite; You took the proverbial “David” that was Red Bull Racing to the top by beating the F1 “Goliaths” left, right, front and center; You raised the bar ridiculously high for F1 newbies; You took the hype surrounding your name and smashed it into pieces with pure talent; You rewrote F1 and Motorsport History Books over and over again.

But, you are not perfect. You have your flaws. You hated losing and it showed. You didn’t just beat your teammates, you crushed them. You disobeyed your team. You won so much and dominated so much (not in the ways that Max Moseley likes, though) that you “inspired” a band of ill-informed, so-called F1 fans to boo you every time you appeared on the podium. You became a polarizing F1 figure. I mean, when you get compared to Darth Vader, you know you truly have it made as a Hero/Villain hybrid.

And then that hope, that prayer at the back of my mind finally happened: You decided to join Scuderia Ferrari, a.k.a. the F1 team that I still love/support even if it keeps on breaking my heart into smithereens (masochist much). I know it wasn’t a very-well kept secret, but it was one of those things that refused to sink in with me until I saw you wear that famous red racesuit, much like what happened with Kimi Raikkonen.

Speaking of, it is still pretty much blowing my mind right now that you will finally be teammates with Kimi. Could there be any more of a kickass pairing in F1 2015? None. Zilch. Nada. So please, carry on with that unique bromance thing you have with the Kimster. I’m so looking forward to the (unintentionally) hilarious adverts, interviews and shenanigans you two will provide for us fans this year. Oh, and there’s the racing too, I suppose.

I’m trying my best to keep this funny and light-hearted, but you see, every time I look at you in the Red of Ferrari, I am somehow reminded of Michael Schumacher, and it’s making me—for lack of a better term—very emotional.

I want you to know that I am not expecting a Schumacher-type of domination from you. I am not going to expect you to be The New Ferrari Messiah. While I want to say that I will not put undue pressure on you, I know that you are more than capable of handling the harsh and unrealistic expectations of both fans and critics. You live for the pressure. You thrive on pressure. You are not a World Champion four times over for nothing. You have the talent, the heart, the dedication, the determination, the moxie, the ruthlessness, that intangible something that separates the ordinary drivers from the extraordinary ones. You are someone special and you know it.

Never ever be sorry for following your heart. The fight has not even properly started yet but I already want to thank you: Thank you for breaking out of your comfort zone. Thank you for having the balls to try to revive the wheezing Prancing Horse. Thank you for the leap of faith. Danke.

In my heart, I would like to believe that your childhood hero, your ex-ROC teammate and your beloved friend Schumi is already so, so proud of you.

Whatever happens this year and beyond, you are guaranteed my support and respect.

Best of luck and may you and your finger give them all hell!

 

P.S.

See you in Singapore later this year. There’s no way in the world I’ll be missing the Night Race with you and Kimi now representing Ferrari.

 

 

 

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Sebastian Vettel and The Door of Destiny.

 

 
*I may be relatively old but I’m nowhere near the “I could be your mother” type of old.

You Gotta Have Faith.

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To be perfectly honest, this piece wasn’t particularly easy for me to write. However, I felt that I should at least make a decent attempt at it, for the sake of having my convoluted thoughts put on record for whatever purpose it may serve.

It’s been nearly eight months since that fateful day in Switzerland, and apart from some musings on Twitter, I’ve deliberately avoided writing about Michael Schumacher’s accident here on my blog for quite a number of reasons. It was a blow of epic proportions to my heart. I still literally feel physical pain at the mere thought of that accident. I didn’t want to write about him in uncertain terms. Reading tributes and heartfelt get-well messages have been helpful but they were but a temporary salve to my shattered heart that was desperately struggling to fight fear. I swore to myself that I would only open up about it once something positive came up. Amidst the sea of panic and instability, I chose not to read the damning articles prophesizing the worst, and the influx of negativity that came with them. Schumacher fans have subsequently been called ignorant, in denial, naive, and other worse things, but I simply did not care. Wallowing in alarm and speculation won’t do any good. I needed to step back and prioritize.

To quote one of my favourite shows, The X Files: I want to believe. So, why do we choose to believe? Why do I choose to believe? Faith, while it may come as easy as breathing, is also something that is difficult to explain. Faith is laying your heart on the line and trusting that you will become a far stronger person no matter what the outcome may be. Faith, at times, defies logic. Faith is that valuable, intangible something that you hold on to. Where there is love and hope, there is faith. Call it The Secret, positive affirmation, claiming it, or whatever, but as a true-blue, ride-or-die Michael Schumacher fan, I simply refuse to roll over and give up when the going gets tough. As one of his most famous quotes go, “I’ve always believed you should never give up. You should always keep fighting even when there’s only a small chance.” Amen, Schumi. We all have different coping mechanisms in times of trouble. Mine is to meditate and to pray. I talked and begged and badgered God and all the saints that would listen. I want him to get better. I need him to get better. Please. If I could somehow transport all of my positive energy towards him just to make him wake up and recover, I would’ve done so in a blink of an eye. Believe me, I’ve tried. This wasn’t just for my own selfish agenda, I am just one of the millions of fans who want nothing more than to hear something positive about a man who, in his own way, has inspired, influenced, and changed their lives. Finally, it happened. A few days after my birthday, I found out through Twitter that Schumi has come out of his coma and has been discharged from the Grenoble hospital. Call it dramatic or even cheesy, but I couldn’t help but shed tears at that moment. I was too overwhelmed by joy and gratitude, and I thought that it was the best birthday gift that I got this year, full stop. I wish I could put this more eloquently, but that moment was proof that the world is full of miracles, and we need to celebrate them as much as possible. While a part of me is eager to know more about his current state and progress, a bigger part of me is content to let Michael and his family have the privacy that they’ve valued and wanted for so long. If no news implies good news, then so be it. And without an iota of doubt in my heart, I believe that Michael Schumacher—the legendary racer, the son, the brother, the husband, the father, the friend, the man—has already won the fight. Everything else will just be a bonus.

That, is the power of faith.

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Forza Schumi.

Project of the Day: My DIY “Lego” Lotus Kimi Raikkonen (And Some Rather Unexpected Cameos).

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The “Lego” versions of Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes GP Michael Schumacher have been two of the most popular posts on my blog, and this is actually quite a long-overdue project as I’ve received several requests for it a long time ago. So finally, I’m pleased to share with everyone the Lotus GP version of “Lego” Kimi Raikkonen:

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Looks like “Lego” Lotus Kimi doesn’t look too impressed with the Proposed 2014 Car showed to him…

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He doesn’t want to talk about it, though, so he went hiding behind a barrier…

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However, a certain F1 Legend managed to find him and corner him for a chat…”Lego” Mercedes GP Michael Schumacher!

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Before things get three shades of awkward, the “Lego” version of myself–let’s just call her “Lego” Bouncebackabilitrix–entered the scene to ask the 2 F1 Champions for some photos…

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“Lego” Schumi had to go, but luckily, “Lego” Kimi stayed for some small talk…

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Sneaky, sneaky “Lego” Kimi!

But wait, it didn’t end there, as a “ghost” from his past has somehow resurfaced and quizzed “Lego” Lotus Kimi for one last time on his F1 future…

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Silly season has officially gone into overdrive, ladies and gents!

Would you like to see me attempt to do more “Lego” F1 drivers? If so, which ones? Leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter!

*For further details on this crafting project, please check this post on my other blog, Marjitecture.

The Bouncebackable Guide: The A-Z Of Attending The F1 Singapore Night Race.

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So you want to experience the first and only night race in the Formula One Calendar? Congratulations! You’ve made a very wise decision, indeed. However, no F1 fan (whether you are a GP virgin or not) should embark on a journey unprepared. Be not afraid, for help is right here!

While I’m most certainly not an expert, I would still like to share some tips and tricks I’ve accumulated throughout my numerous years (2009-2012, 2015 ) of attending this GP. So be prepared to sacrifice an hour’s worth of your life (or just minutes, if you’re a speed-reader) if you’re serious about maximizing your F1 Night Race experience.

Ready, steady, GO!

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ASK!

Let me veer away from alphabetical order for a bit just to state this very important tip: Do not be afraid to ask questions! If you know of any fellow fans (real-life or virtual) who’ve been there, then drop them a line and let them know that you need their help. F1 fans and Singaporeans (natives and residents alike) are quite helpful, so if you need help with anything, whether GP-related or not, do not hesitate to ask.

Airport

Singapore’s Changi Airport is world-famous for being one of the travelers’ most-preferred airports, and with good reason. It is well-designed, extremely clean, organized, and just 1000 shades of awesome (it has a pool, for goodness’ sake!). It will seriously make you change the way you look at airports. It takes around 30-40 minutes to get to the city from the airport, and transportation choices abound, so there really is virtually no hassle waiting for you once you touch down in Singapore.

Apps

The F1 Night Race has its very own app, specially designed to enhance and improve your GP experience. You can download it for Apple devices HERE and for Android devices HERE .

Personally, I like the app named Singapore Map by Streetdirectory because it not only helps me navigate through the city but it also provides up-to-date information on public transportation and even fare prices. You can download it for Apple devices HERE and for Android devices HERE .

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Baggage

  • Pack light for your trip on-track. Just bring your essentials like your camera, mobile phone, hotel key, wallet, and the like. You’re going to be doing loads of walking so it’s not the best of ideas to bring your shopping bags with you when you enter the circuit.
  • Please make sure to read the tiny brochure included with your race ticket (or take a free circuit map outside the track) and read up in advance on what you can and cannot bring inside the track. Also, there’s a mandatory baggage search before you enter the circuit, so spare the security guys the tedium of going through your life’s belongings and shopping, okay?

Note: I have to admit, I always break this rule because I cannot seem to function without having a capacious handbag with me. However, I always make sure to make a pit stop back to my hotel to drop off all my shopping before I proceed to the track. Trust me, you will function better and enjoy more if you have 2 hands available.

Banners

Fans are allowed to bring banners or flags in support of drivers and teams, but they are not allowed to be tied/mounted on railings.

*Please contact the organizers if you plan to bring huge banners or flags, to make sure they will be allowed inside the track.

Behavior

No one is going to tell you off for making some noise, so go ahead and express your support for your fave driver/s! But, don’t get too over-excited, either. Basically, know when to cheer and know when to jeer (if you’re brave enough!). Also, there will be certain parts of the track that will be extremely crowded, mainly the passageways from one Zone to another and bridgeways/exit points, so always be nice and polite to your fellow F1 fans and mind the queues!

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Clothing

Dress appropriately. It will be hot and humid in the afternoon, and after the sun sets, it can even turn a little chilly, especially in the areas close to the bay. Now is not the time to channel your inner fashionista, especially if you have walkabout tickets. Comfort is key, especially with your choice of footwear, as you will be walking on different materials and terrain and standing for several hours. Wear light and breathable shirts. Bring an extra one, if you sweat a lot. Believe me, once you’re there, you’ll thank me for this.

Commentary

Live commentary will be heard throughout the whole track (via 102FM), so even if you’re not within eyesight of a wide-screen, you’ll still be able to keep up with drivers’ positions and everything relevant that is happening on- and off-track.

*You can now buy headsets that provide commentary inside the track.

Companion/s

To go solo or to bring companions? This can be a bit of a sticky situation. For the 1st 3 years that I’ve attended this GP, I’ve brought companions with me, and while I enjoyed spending time with them, the truth is that they’re not as huge of an F1 fan as I am, so I had to take into consideration their feelings/interests. As a result, I didn’t get to 100% explore and enjoy the circuit offerings. I went alone for 2012 and 2015, and found that I quite enjoyed the experience, because I got to move around freely, quickly and was somehow “forced” to interact with fellow fans—in a good way. So yes, this is quite subjective, depends on you really on how you’d like to experience the GP weekend.

Contests

Want to win goodies or get the chance to meet your favourite drivers in person? Then vigilantly check the drivers’ and teams’ Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as their official websites on news regarding contests and promos. You can also check out the accounts of their major sponsors. Check regularly and join as many as you can! Good luck!

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Drivers’ Autograph Session

Unlike the other GPs, the autograph session for the Singapore GP operates quite differently. Yes, it does occur and is not just a myth, but from my understanding, you have to be a winner in one of their promos in order to attend this super-exclusive event. If you have already purchased tickets, check your email regularly and be on the lookout for the one promoting the contest to win tickets for this event—all you have to do is to do submit your ticket transaction number, cross your fingers and hope with all your heart that you win those much-coveted passes.

Driver-Spotting

So you’ve joined all the contests, but didn’t win any? Don’t fret, not all hope is lost. You can still see your favourite driver/s in person using several ways:

  • Refer to Contests above and then note the times and locations of their PR events. Go to the said locations and try to catch them when they arrive or when they leave.
  • F1 teams usually book the same hotels every year, so use your best sleuthing skills and again, try to catch the drivers when they’re about to leave or enter the hotel. This is a bit tricky, as I’m sure hotel personnel may become strict with fans interrupting/ambushing the drivers.
  • Work out the Gate/s nearest the hotels where the drivers stay, and try to catch them before they enter and exit the track (Hint: Check the circuit map and zoom in on the Gate near the Ritz-Carlton).
  • If your ticket allows it, wait outside the Paddock/VIP entrance in Zone 1 and try to catch the drivers there before they enter or leave. Just make sure to behave and not to be too aggressive so as not to provoke the ire of security.
  • Keep your eyes peeled! I once chanced upon then-Force India test driver Nico Hulkenberg on a taxi queue outside a shopping mall (Yes, he very politely queued up with his companions and weirdly enough, nobody else recognized him but me!). The city isn’t that big so if you know where to look, you’re bound to find members of the F1 circus!

Note: From experience, I’ve found that drivers respond better to fans who are calm and polite, so keep your emotions in check and try not to be too excited when interacting with the drivers. Oh, and don’t forget to thank them after they sign your stuff and pose for photos!

Nico Rosberg at the Puma pop-up store outside Raffles City Mall (2012 Night Race).

Jenson Button at the Tag Heuer store opening at Wisma Atria, along Orchard Road (2012 Night Race).

Hulk signing stuff for fans (2015).

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Drivers’ Track Parade

This occurs at 18:30 on the race day, and one of the good things about the Night Race is that the drivers are given their own vintage car to ride around the track, they’re not just lumped into a single truck, so the fans will get to see each driver more. From experience, if you position yourself in one of the sparsely-populated areas (like some viewing platforms on Zones 2 and 3) during the parade, you can stay really close to the barriers, and if you’re brave enough, you can shout your fave drivers’ name as they pass by to get them to acknowledge you. I’ve done that a couple of times, and it works, honestly!

 

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher during the 2012 Night Race’s Drivers’ Track Parade.

The drivers during the 2015 parade

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Earplugs

You need them. Without question*. Don’t even attempt to be cool or hipster or macho because your eardrums will be mercilessly assaulted by the roar of the engines. I always bring my own pair, but just in case you forget, you can always pick up a pair at convenience stores for a couple of dollars or buy the “Survival Kit” on track, which consists of a pair of earplugs and a plastic poncho. Proceeds go to charity so you’re hitting 2 birds with 1 stone.

(*Now that the V8 era is over and the V6 engines rule, the roar isn’t as fierce as they once were. However, that doesn’t mean that you can forego wearing earplugs. Better safe than sorry!)

Entertainment

There’s no shortage of entertainment options around the circuit park. Go around the F1 Village and you’ll spend hours shopping, amusing yourself, or even getting to meet some like-minded petrol heads.

Check out this guy channeling his inner Ferrari driver (2015).

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Fireworks

Keep your eyes peeled for the firework show at the end of the race. They’re always spectacular and a memorable way to cap off the race and to signal the start of the all-night Sunday partying!

Flights

  • Book early! Diligently monitor the websites of your fave airlines, sign up for e-newsletters or download apps like Skyscanner to get the best deals on flights going to Singapore. The earliest I’ve booked my flights for the GP was during a seat sale on a January, but I know of some fans who’ve booked their flights as early as November of the previous year! So do your research and remember to read the fine print and the terms & conditions of your flight details, just in case you need to make necessary/emergency changes.
  • Based on personal experience, if you’re returning home on the Monday after the GP, do not book a flight earlier than 8 am local time. Leave ample time for you and your companions to enjoy everything the track has to offer before you head back to your hotel and pack everything up. Trust me, it is not fun to be speed-packing with barely an hour’s worth of sleep just to catch a very early flight the next morning!

Food and Beverage

  • Food and drinks are more expensive inside the track. That’s a fact. Bottled water, for example, are priced twice, even thrice as much as those sold in convenience stores, so my advice is to buy your water outside (each person is allowed to bring up to 500mL of bottled water inside the track) if you want to save on cash. As for food, if your ticket allows it, you can head over to the Singapore Flyer and try the different food stalls there. If you’re a Zone 4 ticket holder, exit through Gate 3 or Gate 7/8 and head over to the nearby malls to find more affordable nosh. If you’re not a heavy eater like I am, you can just bring some energy bars and/or granola bars to tide you over.
  • On raceday, there will be some areas where the race marshals will generously give away extra bottled water. Usually, they are the sparsely-populated areas in Zones 2 or 3. I’ve experienced this twice and my advice is, even if you already have some water with you, accept an extra bottle still, because believe me, you will need to rehydrate yourself during and after the race.
  • If you run out of water in a part of the track that’s far away from a beverage stand, please do not hesitate to approach a race marshal and politely ask for some bottled water.

Free Practice Sessions

FP1 is on Friday at 18:00-19:30 local time; FP2 is on later at 21:30-23:00 local time while FP3 is on Saturday at 18:00-19:30 local time. Practice sessions are a great time to move around the track to try to find the best vantage points, and also to practice and improve your photo- and video-taking skills.

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Gates

  • I’m a creature of habit, and to be honest, I’ve only ever used 3 gates in my 4 years of attending this GP: Gates 2, 3 and 7/8. Gate 2, I’ve used to exit the track after “stalking” the drivers, Gate 3 to check out the track early in the afternoon after claiming my tickets (it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Swissotel Stamford), and Gate 7/8 has always been my preferred entry/exit point, mainly because you have to go through several shopping malls to get there after you get off the City Hall train station (multitasking for the win!).
  • Study the circuit map and choose your entry/exit points in advance, to save time and effort.

Note: The organizers sometimes reassign Gate numbers, so do check the updated Circuit Map for reference.

Interior view of Gate 7.


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Greek Theatre

Located in Zone 2. My favorite place to: hang out in/rest my legs/have a bite to eat/update my social media sites/people-watch in-between practice/qualifying sessions. Lots of race marshals like to hang out there to rest, too.

View of the Greek Theatre.

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Hawker’s Centers

Singapore is a foodie paradise, and if you want to experience the rich culinary offerings of the LionCity, then definitely go to one of the numerous hawker’s centers around the city and eat, drink and be merry! A lot of them stay open until the wee hours of the morning, so you’ll have plenty of time to get your cravings satisfied.

Heat and Humidity

Singapore is a tropical country, and you will be subjected to different levels of heat and humidity throughout the race weekend. As previously mentioned under Clothing, dress appropriately, don’t forget to put on your sun cream, and remember to constantly hydrate yourself!

Hotels/Hostels

Hotels and hostels apparently report close to 90+% occupancy rates during the race weekend, so make sure to book your accommodation early, to save on rates as well. Regularly check websites such as booking.com, agoda.com, expedia.com, etc. to get news on room sales and get the best deals. If you have a certain chain of hotel that you’re loyal to, it may be a better idea to book directly through them or their website, as they will be less strict on cancellations or rebookings. Remember that the closer the hotel is to the track, the more expensive their rates will be. However, take note that the city is not that large, so definitely don’t discount the hotels/hostels that may not necessarily be near the track, because with their very efficient transport system, I can guarantee that you won’t spend more than an hour (at worst) to get to the track and back to your hotel. Alternatively, check out the offerings at Airbnb.

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Internet

There’s no free wifi inside the track, so if you’re on a foreign service provider and don’t want to be shocked by overseas roaming charges, then I suggest you buy a prepaid SIM card from a local service provider, whether in the airport,  convenience stores, or mobile phone shops. They’re speedy, reliable, and cheap too.

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Kimi Raikkonen

Finnish driver also known as the Iceman. Known to be one of the most-difficult drivers to track down during the race weekend. If you do manage to find out which hotel he is billeted in (hint: it’s usually the same one every year), then your best chance to see him up close or to get his autograph is to patiently wait outside his hotel and catch him when he goes out of the hotel to go to the track or vice-versa.

Note: He now does a lot of PR Events for Ferrari and their sponsors, so do check their social media accounts to find out how to (possibly) see the Iceman up close.

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Little India

One of the more famous tourist spots in Singapore. It’s also where the country’s only 24-hr shopping mall, Mustafa Centre, is located.

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Map

Ushers inside and outside the track will be handing out maps throughout the race weekend. Get not just one but a couple or more, so you can always refer to it, use it to fan yourself, and even use it as emergency seating when you want to rest your legs.

Merchandise

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to racing-related merchandise not just during the GP weekend but pre- and post- GP weekend as well. Official merchandise shops will be present along Orchard Road as well as in several areas inside the track. There will also be numerous pop-up stores inside and outside other major shopping malls. Prepare yourself, though—official merchandise are most certainly not cheap.

Some of the merchandise stalls inside the circuit park (2012).

One of the GP Merchandise Stores along Orchard Road (2012).

Official Singapore GP Merchandise stall (2015).

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Miscellaneous Travel Tips

  • Do not forget to bring extra three-prong travel adaptors for your electronics.
  • Singapore, like the UK and Japan, drives on the right-hand side. Be careful when you cross the street and look both ways twice!
  • Please use the zebra crossing when you cross the street. I always see a lot of foreigners disregard them and it makes me cringe because it’s not very respectful to a country that works hard to maintain order.
  • Bring a pair of mini-binoculars if you really want to see the F1 cars/drivers up close. I have a set of folding mini-binoculars and it’s always interesting to use them when I watch the cars race as you get an extreme close-up of so many fascinating things.
  • Don’t forget to wear sunscreen! It may be a night race, but no doubt that you’ll be exploring the city during the day as well and if you’re an ‘early bird’ like me,  you’ll be arriving on-track way before the sun sets–so avoid the unsightly tan lines and possible sunburns and remember that you’ll be in the tropics. Better safe than sorry!

 

Musical Acts

Musical acts are usually announced and confirmed 3-4 months before the GP. However, 2 or 3 major acts are also usually revealed during the Early Bird Ticket Sales Phase.

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Orchard Road

Singapore’s famous shopping district. If you’re a shopaholic, then you’d definitely love it. However, even if you’re not a fan of shopping, this place absolutely comes alive during the GP week, so it’s definitely worth checking out because it will be teeming with loads of interesting exhibits and activities!

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Padang Stage

This is where the major musical acts will play on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the race weekend. It’s a bit of a walk from Zone 1, so if you want to get a good place to watch the musical acts, then you’d better be prepared to channel your inner Road Runner!

Some fans who want to get prime locations for the musical concerts actually camp out in Padang early and just watch the race there via the wide screens.

Paddock

Want to satisfy your inner paparazzi? Then head to the area just outside the Paddock Entrance/Exit (if your ticket allows it) and see the who’s who of F1, motorsport and the media pass right before your eyes. Try to stay cool and be friendly to the security, so you won’t get shooed away.

Defending Champ Sebastian Vettel signs for fans outside the Paddock Entrance (2012).

7x WDC Michael Schumacher signs for fans outside the Paddock Entrance (2012).

Nico Rosberg chats with fans (2015).

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Petrol Ed

He’s like The Stig, only he’s Singaporean and yeah, he’s the F1 Night Race’s beloved “mascot”. Try to find him around the circuit and take creative photos with him, and you might stand a chance to win some cool prizes!

 

Photography/ Photographic Equipment

  • Tripods and monopods are not allowed in the grandstands, only in the general walkabout zones.
  • I’m no expert when it comes to taking photos or videos, so it might be a good idea to ask your tech-savvy/photography buff friends for tips in advance on taking photos of high-speed objects such as F1 cars. I can confirm, however, that using my Lumix camera’s “Burst Mode” was extremely helpful whenever I took photos of the F1 cars in action. Oh, and when in doubt, just switch to video mode.

 

Podium Ceremonies

If you’re a Pit Grandstand ticket holder, then you’ll pretty much get a clear view of the post-race podium ceremonies. If you have Premier Walkabout Tickets, then get yourself to the area nearest the start straight several laps before the end of the race, because after the chequered flag is waved and all of the cars have been brought to parc ferme, the marshals will open a gate there and allow the fans to “invade” the track and watch the podium ceremonies up close. It really is worth the trek (and barrier-climbing experience), as the atmosphere there is quite incredible.

The 2012 Podium Finishers.

The 2015 Podium Finishers.

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 Post-Race

Think the action stops at the dance of the chequered flag? Wrong! The party’s just beginning! Do the track walk, search for tyre marbles and/or crash debris, take as many photos as you can, and then head on over to the Fan Village to watch the concerts, ogle the cars at the vintage car display, channel your inner F1 driver by trying out the simulators, or what the heck, even get a motorsport-related tattoo (temporary, of course)! There are absolutely loads to do and check out so just…start walking!

PR Events

They are usually held on the Wednesday or Thursday of the GP week, all after 12 noon local time (see Time zone for explanation). If you want to see the drivers up close then diligently check the schedules for their PR events (see Social Media for helpful links).

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Qualifying Session

This starts at 21:00 local time on the Saturday and lasts an hour. Usually, it takes a while for the stands and viewing platforms to fill up because a lot of people leave the track after the FP3 to head to the nearby malls to have dinner.

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Race Officials

Would you like to try the awesome, possibly life-changing experience of being a race official in the F1 Night Race? Then check this LINK regularly for updates on how to apply!

Restrooms

  • There are a sufficient number of restrooms around the track, but my tip is: go and use one already before the race/qualifying/practice sessions. They can become quite congested and the queues annoyingly long after the sessions, so save yourself the trouble and force yourself to use one in advance.
  • For the picky ones: If you’re in Zone 4, then you can exit through Gate 7/8 and use the restrooms in the nearby shopping malls. If you’re in Zone 1/2, then you can head over to the Singapore Flyer and use the restrooms there.

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Shopping

Singapore is an absolute shopper’s paradise! Just head over to the famous Orchard Road and you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you want more shopping choices, you can go to Bugis or even Sim Lim Square (for all your techie needs). If you want a comprehensive guide to all the shopping places, then grab a “shopping specific” map at the airport or at one of the Visitor’s Centres around the city.

Singapore Flyer

Want to have a different perspective of the race track? Then check out the Singapore Flyer and see the many facets not just of the GP but the city as well! Premier Walkabout, Zone 1 and Zone 2 Ticket Holders get to enjoy unlimited rides* throughout the race weekend, so if you want a temporary airconditioned refuge without spending a penny, then this experience is for you.

*This provision seems to change yearly, so do check with the organizers.

View from the Singapore Flyer.

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Social Media

The Singapore GP is on Facebook and Twitter and has an official app as well. Follow them and be “in the know’ with regards contests, promos and latest developments.

Use the hashtags #F1NightRace and #SingaporeGP to share your thoughts, pics and videos, as well as to find other awesome content and insider info!

@F1NightRace – Singapore GP’s official Twitter account

@visitsingapore– Singapore Tourist Board’s official Twitter account

F1 Teams Twitter Accounts:

@redbullracing –Red Bull

@ScuderiaFerrari -Ferrari

@McLarenF1 –McLaren

@RenaultSportF1 – Renault

@MercedesAMGF1 -Mercedes

@ForceIndiaF1 –Sahara Force India

@tororosso – Toro Rosso

@HaasF1Team –Haas F1

@WilliamsRacing –Williams

@SauberF1Team –Sauber

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Souvenir Programme

They will be sold at several areas around the circuit park, in case you want a little something to remember the GP by. Would also be very useful to have on hand in case you bump into a driver and need something for him to autograph.

Support Races

The Porsche Carrera Cup, the Ferrari Challenge Cup, and the GP2 Series also race in the Marina Bay Track the same weekend as F1, so even if you arrive at the track early, you’ll rarely see an empty/silent track.

Note: The lineup changes yearly.

Survival Kit

What—in my humble opinion—should be in your possession during raceday:

  • Race ticket
  • Circuit map (can also double as a fan)
  • Water
  • Earplugs
  • Mobile phone
  • Digital camera (+ extra battery, memory card)
  • Power bank
  • Sharpie/pen and notebook (just in case you see/encounter someone famous!)
  • Small, folding umbrella (or plastic poncho, in case of rain)
  • Some money and a credit card (although not too much, for the temptation to shop and spend may prove to be too strong to resist!)
  • Passport or a valid ID

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Tickets

  • Race organizers have started a special Super Early Bird promo last year, which enabled fans to purchase tickets for the next night race as early as 2 months after the previous night race. If you’re extremely sure that you can make it, then this is a good deal, otherwise, you can wait until February for their regular Early Bird Ticket Sales phase which lasts until April. Check www.singaporegp.sg for further details.
  • You may also contact your local travel agents for tickets just in case you didn’t get to purchase tickets during the Early Bird Phases. I did that on the 1st year I attended the GP and I got a pretty good rate.
  • Take good care of your tickets and keep them close! You are required to present them to be scanned as you enter and leave the track. Never detach them from their lanyards and it’s actually quite a normal sight to see loads of people wearing their tickets already even while they’re out shopping and dining outside the track. (*Some shops offer discounts to race attendees so be on the lookout.)

Tiger Balm

One of the most famous Singaporean products. It can soothe and take away all the body aches and pains you are bound to experience on a race weekend, so it’s one of my must-buys in Singapore! It’s available at various convenience stores and chemists/pharmacies.

Time zone

Another thing that’s interesting about the Night Race is that although it’s in Asia and on GMT+8, teams and the media maintain the “European Time zone”, and so it is not unusual for them to start the day past noon local time and end the day way past 2 am local time. So yeah, adjust your body clock accordingly if you plan on “keeping up” with them!

Track walks

The circuit remains open to the public until the Wednesday of the GP week, so if you want to do your very own version of the track walk, you may very well do so. Usually, teams do their track walks on a Thursday, when the circuit is already closed to the public, but there are some instances when drivers and some F1 personalities do their track walks early and/or film on the track for some promo bits on a Wednesday, so keep your eyes peeled if you do decide to try your luck!

I think fans with race tickets are allowed to enter the track on Thursday, but might only be allowed on some parts of it.

Transportation

  • The Singapore MRT is the most popular way of getting around the city—and with good reason. It is fast and reliable (most of the time). There’s rarely a place within Singapore that is not within walking distance to a train station, so resist from hailing taxi cabs and use the MRT instead. Warning, though: It can get a little crowded during the GP weekend, so get to the track early. However, they extend the operating hours of the MRT up to 1:10 am during the GP weekend, so you can still party the night away without worrying about the commute home.
  • You may want to purchase the Singapore Tourist Pass, which will entitle you to unlimited train and bus rides. It comes in 1-,2- and 3- day denominations which is an excellent deal. Check out www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg for more details.
  • If you’re a regular Singapore visitor or if you foresee yourself returning to Singapore sometime soon, then you might want to purchase an EZ-Link card instead, as it can also be used to pay for purchases in certain convenience stores, and it is valid within 5 years of first usage and can be topped off /reloaded as needed.
  • Taxi cabs can be a bit expensive, but their drivers are honest and straightforward. Buses are also a good option. There will be massive re-routings throughout the race weekend so expect light to moderate traffic congestion in some parts of the city.

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Umbrellas

It is usually not recommended to bring big umbrellas inside the track, but small, folding umbrellas are allowed just in case the heat gets too much or there’s a sudden drizzle.

Ushers and Usherettes

There will be loads of them scattered in and out of the track during the race weekend, to provide everyone with assistance whenever necessary. Don’t hesitate to approach them whenever you have questions or even if you just need to have a photo taken. They are all friendly and will be happy to help you!

The ushers saying goodbye to the racegoers (2015).

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Viewing Platforms

Right. This might be a bit long. If you are a grandstand ticket holder, then you can skip this part, and if you are a Zone 4 or Premier Walkabout Ticketholder, then this section is for you:

*This section needs a massive update, but most of the info is still valid as of 2015.

Legends:

P1, P2…- Viewing Platforms

V1, V2…- Vantage Points (areas where you can stay as Walkabout Ticket holder, but without a viewing platform)

I’ve only been able to try out the Zone 4 and Premier Walkabout Tickets, and here I will talk about the viewing platforms and vantage points I’ve tested. Please refer to the slightly-modified circuit map below:

*Right-click and open in new tab/window to enlarge photo.

*Note: The modifications I made on the circuit map are for information purposes only.

**For the official and updated Circuit Map, view or download it here.

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P1- This viewing platform near T14 is probably my most-overused one. Generally, it is best to stay in viewing platforms near corners, as cars will need to slow down as they go through, so you’ll not only get a better view of them but you’ll also have a better chance to take proper photos or videos. Interestingly, a lot of “incidents” have also occurred near this corner throughout the years, too, such as: Nick Heidfeld’s BMW crashing there in 2009, Jenson Button getting stranded in the run-off area and Heikki Kovalainen spinning there in 2010, and Sergio Perez hitting the barrier in 2011. This area gets easily crowded, so be sure to save your spots early!

View of T14 (2011).

BMW driver Nick Heidfeld walks past the viewing platform after crashing out of the 2009 Night Race.

Jenson Button’s McLaren gets stranded at the run-off area near T14 in one of the 2011 Night Race’s FPs.

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V1- If you are a Premier Walkabout Ticket holder, you’ll pass by this area on the way to Zones 1 & 2 (from Zone 4). It is not really recommended to stay there for a long time as it is a busy passageway.

View of T20 (2012).

*As of 2015, this area has been covered to prevent pedestrian congestion.

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P2- This viewing platform never really got crowded for the 3 days that I’ve attended last year, which I found curious because it is near Turn 21, which means it is a decent spot to take photos/videos of the cars. I recommend this spot for the Driver’s Track Parade, as you can get close to the barriers, and since there won’t be many people around, you can call out to the drivers and there’s a good chance they’ll acknowledge you.

View 1 of T21 (2012).

View 2 of T21 (2012).

View of the Drivers’ Track Parade from the platforms near T21 (2012).

View of the Drivers’ Parade near T21 (2015).

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V2- I tried the Singapore Flyer during the Free Practice Sessions, and it is quite a different experience to watch the cars go around the circuit while you’re waaay up there. As you exit, you will get to a balcony where you’ll have a view of the T21-T22 straight, and as a bonus you’ll have a view of a widescreen as well. I stayed up there for several laps alone, since it was a practice session and not many people were using the Flyer, but I’m not sure if their personnel would allow people to stay in that balcony for long during the Qualifying Sessions and Race proper, as more people tend to use the Flyer then.

View from the Sg Flyer balcony.

View from the Sg Flyer balcony (2015).

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P3- This viewing platform is between the T21 and T22 straight, just opposite the Singapore Flyer. I stayed there to experience seeing the cars literally zoom past me on a straight, as well as to enjoy the widescreens available for better understanding of what’s happening on-track. It’s quite difficult to take decent photos of the cars in this area, as their speed and acceleration rates are crazy!

View of the T21-T22 straight.

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V3- This is just near T22, and here you can get a pretty good view of the pit entry.

From the viewing area near the pit entry (2015).

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P4- This viewing platform is a good place to be at the end of the race, because you can partly see the podium ceremonies from there. If you can access this area though then might as well join the post-race track invasion for a closer look at the podium!

View of The Pit building (2012).

View from the platform opposite T23 straight (2015).

Other 2015 Additions:

You can see the back of the grid from the viewing area opposite the T23 straight (2015).

You can get a good view of the cars leaving the pitlane in the platform opposite the Start-Finish straight (2015).

From the viewing area just before T15 (2015).

View along the T14 straight (2015).

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There you go. There are loads of viewing platforms I haven’t gotten around to trying yet, so my advice is, use the practice sessions to go around and explore—and share your tips with us afterwards, of course!

Visitor Centre

I’ve always made sure to stop by the Visitor Centre for several reasons: a. They usually give out race-related freebies; b. They have free internet stations which you can use for a maximum of 15 minutes; c. They have a wide array of maps and detailed guides categorized according to your interests (shopping, sightseeing, historical walks, etc.); and d. They offer free use of massage chairs! So make sure to stop by and check out what they have in store!

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Walking

You will be doing a lot of walking. Not just inside the circuit but outside the circuit as well. So be prepared. Don’t fret, though, as Singapore is a very walkable and very safe country.

Weather

As with most tropical countries, Singapore is hot and humid, but you can also expect some rain showers at that time of the year. Every year, weather forecasts predict some rain at some point in the race weekend, but since I do not want to experience the “wet dog look” as a spectator, I always make sure to do my “traditional anti-rain rituals” before I travel to Singapore. And what do you know, it has never failed me yet and there hasn’t been a wet Night Race in the 4 years that I’ve attended!

Widescreens

Several widescreens are available throughout the track, and again, you may refer to your trusty circuit map to locate them.

The widescreen near the T21 straight (2015).

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X

X-Factor

The track hasn’t always delivered some exciting and nail-biting races throughout the years, but believe me when I say that the magic and atmosphere of the night race is way better experienced in person and is not always transmitted on television. The GP weekend has a certain magic that won’t leave you disappointed, I assure you!

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Y

YOLO

A good attitude to adopt while attending this GP.  🙂

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Z

Zen 

Don’t stress yourself out too much—feel the moment and enjoy!

Zones

The track is divided into 4 zones, each with their own food & beverage and entertainment offerings. So study the circuit map carefully and make the most of the zone/s your ticket allows you to go to.

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There you have it. I do hope that my humble, labor-of-love little guide was able to answer some of your questions regarding the Singapore GP. Please feel free to share this to all those who may be interested, and if you have further enquiries, or even additional tips, then please use the comment box below—I’d be happy to help you further improve your Night Race Experience!

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(P.S. A version of this article is also published on F1 Destinations: http://f1destinations.com/a-z-guide-to-singapore-grand-prix/ )

 

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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Project of the Day: How To Make Your Own Michael Schumacher-Inspired Mobile Phone Charm/Bracelet.

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The impending return of Formula One has gotten me into a crafting mood recently, and while I’ve done this project inspired by my favourite “active” driver Kimi Raikkonen some days ago, I’ve decided it won’t be fair if I don’t do one in honor of my all-time favourite (and recently retired) F1 driver Michael Schumacher:

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Schumi Mobile Phone Charm: Front & Rear View.

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Schumi Bracelet/Wristband.

So even if I won’t get to see him race anymore this year (*holds back tears*), at the very least I’ll have a small reminder of his sheer awesomeness with me. Danke, Schumi!