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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 18 September: Just DO It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Friday Ticket

Finally inside the track!

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

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

Fri F1 Merch Stall

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A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

Wayfinding made easier.

Wayfinding made easier.

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

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

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

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

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

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

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

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

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

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

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

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

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

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Seb!

Hello, Seb!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claire Williams.

Claire Williams.

SigCWilliams

Susie Wolff

Susie Wolff

SigSWolff

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

Brundle

Brundle

SigMBrundle

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

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

SigDCoulthard

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

SigEJordan

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

Paddock Wolff

SigTWolff

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

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

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

Paddock Chandhok

SigKChandhok

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

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

Paddock Guti

SigEGuti

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

Paddock Boullier

SigEBoullier

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

Paddock Allen

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

Paddock Arnall

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

Paddock Grosjean

SigRGro

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

Paddock Arrivabene

SigMArrivabene

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

Paddock Britta

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

Paddock Horner

SigCHorner

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

Paddock Stevens

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

Paddock Hamilton

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

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

Paddock Maldonado

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

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

Paddock Verstappen

SigMVerstappen

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

Paddock Bottas

SigVBottas

Bottas signed my notebook upside down. Haha.

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

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

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

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

SigCSainz

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

Paddock Hulkenberg

SigNHulk

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

Paddock Rosberg1

Paddock Rosberg2

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

SigNRosberg

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

Paddock Ericsson

SigMEricsson

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

Paddock Nasr

SigFNasr

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

Paddock Perez

SigSPerez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sat Gate 8

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

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

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

Umbrella 2

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

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

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

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

Chilling before QLF.

Chilling before QLF.

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

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

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

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

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

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

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

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

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

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

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

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

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

Raceday!

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

However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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

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

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

Ready for Raceday!

Ready for Raceday!

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

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

The drivers are coming!!

The drivers are coming!!

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

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

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

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

DParade 5

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

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

Sneaky peek down pitlane

A sneaky peek down the pitlane.

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

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

Leaving Pitlane 2

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

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

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

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

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

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

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

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

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

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

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

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very rare selfie.

A very rare selfie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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P.S:

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

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

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

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

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

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Introducing The F1 Class of 2015: Game Of Thrones-style.

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After I started watching the HBO Masterpiece Game of Thrones, I now categorize people into two sections:

1. People who love Game of Thrones and; 2. People who have no idea yet how much they’re going to love Game of Thrones.

The show, adapted from George R.R. Martin’s series of books titled A Song Of Ice And Fire, contains drama, sex, wars, power plays, politicking, violence, and hedonism, among others. What’s not to love? Also, doesn’t it sound a lot like the world of Formula One that we love (and hate)?

And so this season, I have decided to imagine F1 in terms of the GoT World. Shall we get to know the main characters who shall contest the Iron Throne…er, the 2015 WDC?

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LH

House Hamilton

Led by: Lord Lewis Hamilton

Liege to the Realm of Mercedes

House words:

“Only God Can Judge Me.”

He is the current ruler who the rest will do their best to dethrone. His swagger is immeasurable. His temper flares, unpredictable. And he’s too #Blessed to care what other people think of him. Stay pressed.

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NR

House Rosberg

Led by: Lord Nico Rosberg

Liege to the Realm of Mercedes

House words:

“The Pretty Remembers.”

Beneath that blonde gleam is steel. Valyrian steel. Don’t provoke him and make him channel his inner Lannister, this heir to the 1986 F1 WDC is both beauty and brains and he knows how to play this game pretty damn well.

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DR

House Ricciardo

Led by: Lord Daniel Ricciardo

Liege to the Realm of Red Bull Racing

House words:

“We Do Not Frown.”

This Aussie’s biggest, and possibly most baffling weapon in his armory, is none other than his ability to maintain a smile upon his face. Do not be fooled by it and be lulled into thinking he is a racing pushover, for you just might wake up his alter ego, the honey badger.

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DK

House Kvyat

Led by: Lord Daniil Kvyat

Liege to the Realm of Red Bull Racing

House words:

“A Russian Always Pays His Debts.”

He may be young, but you would not want to mess with this one. His teenage looks belie the ice (vodka?) in his veins, and while it is easy to dismiss him as one of those entitled, backed-by-wealth racers, he has already shown flashes of brilliance that neither money, nor political influence, can acquire.

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SV

House Vettel

Led by: Lord Sebastian Vettel

Liege to the Realm of Ferrari

House words:

“The Finger Is Coming.”

Having been dethroned after ruling this racing kingdom for four straight years, Sebastian has switched allegiances and is now ready to take back what was once his. Can he channel his inner Targaryen and restore House Vettel’s prestige? Watch out for the Finger, it may have been down, but it’s certainly not out.

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KR

House Raikkonen

Led by: Lord Kimi Raikkonen

Liege to the Realm of Ferrari

House words:

“Racing. Fishing. Screwing.”

Way before his now infamous quote, “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.” the verbose (not) Finn has already made it known what his life priorities are (actually, that’s what he said Finns pretty much do). And who can blame him? Sounds like a life truly worth living. Carry on being you, Kimi.

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FA

House Alonso

Led by: Lord Fernando Alonso

Liege to the Realm of McLaren-Honda

House words:

“Scheming Strong.”

There is no one more savvy on the grid when it comes to politics and psych wars than our beloved Fernando. He makes hardcore politicians and champion chess players look like amateurs compared to his tireless tactics. Could he be F1’s very own Peter Baelish, aka Littlefinger? Think you can stay one step ahead of him? He’s already plotting your downfall as you read this. So good luck. And better leave him space.

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JB

House Button

Led by: Lord Jenson Button

Liege to the Realm of McLaren-Honda

House words:

“Get A Grip.”

Our Jenson is like a Tyrell—rich (in racing talent), popular and attractive but seemingly lacking in ruthlessness that is necessary to claim the throne in not-so-perfect conditions (i.e, not having the ideal/dominant car). His time may be running out soon so he’ll want to up the ante, lessen the groans and grind it out each race. And with a teammate like Fernando, it’s more than necessary for him to watch his back!

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Williams F1 Driver Studio Images. January 2015. Felipe Massa. Photo: Williams F1 (Copyright Free FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) ref: Digital Image WILLIAMS JAN1240 Edit House Massa

Led by: Lord Felipe Massa

Liege to the Realm of Williams Racing

House words:

“Uncrowned. Unbent. Unbroken. For Sure.”

He was World Champion for a few precious seconds in 2008, until…he wasn’t. Still, despite a change in teams, this peppy Brazilian has not given up on that crown and is still actively contributing to the number of “For sures” in every article/press release.

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VB

House Bottas

Led by: Lord Valtteri Bottas

Liege to the Realm of Williams Racing

House words:

“See Me Soar.”

Because he is the new Flying Finn. Get it?! Besides, we should know by now that Finns would rather show than tell.

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NH

House Hulkenberg

Led by: Lord Nico Hulkenberg

Liege to the Realm of Sahara Force India

House words:

“As Tall As Talent.”

He stands out in the paddock for more than just his height, and yet he is still waiting for that Eureka Moment (i.e, a top team to sign him up) to arrive. Nico is like a Lord in the Vale: Well-regarded, yet often overlooked and vastly underestimated.

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SP

House Perez

Led by: Lord Sergio Perez

Liege to the Realm of Sahara Force India

House words:

“I Don’t Know Nothing.”

People are quick to criticize Sergio when he makes on-track mistakes, but they forget that he was a podium finisher twice in his young F1 career now and has proven he can dice with the best of them.

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MV

House Verstappen

Led by: Lord Max Verstappen

Liege to the Realm of Scuderia Toro Rosso

House words:

“The Seed Is Strong.”

Father Jos may not have set the world of F1 alight, but the son has already set the record for being the youngest-ever F1 driver in history at the age of 17. Max has been touted by pundits and insiders alike to be the 2015 Rookie to watch out for. Premature hype? Watch Lord Max prove his critics wrong.

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CS

House Sainz

Led by: Lord Carlos Sainz Jr.

Liege to the Realm of Scuderia Toro Rosso

House words:

“Fire In (Spanish) Blood.”

He is not the offspring of the Carlos Sainz for nothing. And he has already shown that he is not scared of going wheel-to-wheel with veterans and newbies alike. Could this hombre be out to dethrone Fernando Alonso as the Great Spanish Hope? I smell a n F1 Kingslayer in training…

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PM

House Maldonado

Led by: Lord Pastor Maldonado

Liege to the Realm of Lotus

House words:

“Ours Is The Notoriety.”

You know you’ve made it into F1 Infamy when you have your very own website dedicated to your on-track snafus: http://www.haspastormaldonadocrashedtoday.com

Nevertheless, let us not forget that this is the last driver to have won a race that is not from Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes or McLaren. There is clearly talent there, but hey, good on Pastor for owning his notoriety so well that it’s only a matter of time before critics can’t use it against him anymore.

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RG

House Grosjean

Led by: Lord Romain Grosjean

Liege to the Realm of Lotus

House words:

“Mistakes Are Wind.”

Who are you calling “1st Lap Nutcase”? Romain has surprisingly shed this infamous nickname this past couple of seasons and has emerged a calmer, more…subdued racer. But to be honest, more than a few fans are missing the ballsy Romain of old. Lets’ hope he finds that precocious balance between calm and ballsy this year and regains a valuable place in the pecking order.

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ME

House Ericsson

Led by: Lord Marcus Ericsson

Liege to the Realm of Sauber

House words:

“Stealth Is Wealth.”

Hands up if you still remember what Ericsson achieved last season and what team he drove for. Anyone? Well, what is important is that he is still on the grid, waiting for that one chance where he can do something spectacular that will make the racing world remember his name once again.

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FN

House Nasr

Led by: Lord Felipe Nasr

Liege to the Realm of Sauber

House words:

“It Is Known (I Am My Own Felipe).”

It is not easy to enter F1 when the name Felipe is automatically connected to Massa, but this seasoned young racer is already debunking the “there can only be one” memes out there with his early results. Can he sustain this good fortune and win the Battle of Felipes this season? Stay tuned.

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WS

 

House Stevens

Led by: Lord Will Stevens

Liege to the Realm of Manor GP

House words:

“Now My Race Has Begun.”

After a lot of…roadblocks and difficulties, Stevens has finally made his proper F1 debut, and already had a race finish under his belt! Now the question is, until when can he extend his stay and can he do the impossible and fill the boots of Jules Bianchi?

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RM

House Merhi

Led by: Lord Roberto Merhi

Liege to the Realm of Manor GP

House words:

“A Start Is A Start.”

His future in F1 is as unknown as Jon Snow’s parentage, but perhaps Merhi can take comfort in the adage, “Enjoy the present, for it is a gift.” Take it one race at a time, and let’s see where that leads…

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Which House will win the F1 Game Of Thrones 2015?

All I know is that: All Men Must…Race.

 

 

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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    A

    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).

    .

    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!

    *Unfortunately, the classic cars were absent during 2015 and they put all the drivers in 1 truck. I hope the classic cars make a return soon!

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

    The drivers during the 2015 parade

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     E

    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).

     .

    F

    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.

     .

    G

    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.


       .

      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.

      .

      H

      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.

      .

       I

      Internet

      There’s no free wi-fi 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.

      .

      K

      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 see the Iceman up close.

       .

      L

      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.

       .

      M

      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).

      .

      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.

      .

      O

      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!

       .

      P

      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).

      .

      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.

      .

       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).

       .

      Q

      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.

       .

      R

      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.

       .

      S

      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.

      View from the Singapore Flyer.

      .

      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

      @tororossospy – Toro Rosso

      @HaasF1Team –Haas F1

      @WilliamsRacing –Williams

      @SauberF1Team –Sauber

      .

      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

       .

       T

      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.

      .

      U

      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).

      .

      V

      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.

      .

      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.

      .

      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.

      .

      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).

      .

      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).

      .

      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.

      .

      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).

      .

      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).

      .

      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!

       .

      W

      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).

      .

      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!

      .

      Y

      YOLO

      A good attitude to adopt while attending this GP.  🙂

       .

      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.

      .

      .

      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!

      .

      .
      (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.

      Standard

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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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      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!