100 Unusual/Hilarious/Random/Awesome Things That Happened To Me During An F1 Race Weekend

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​If you’re not new to this blog then perhaps you already know that the 5 F1 GPs I’ve attended weren’t necessarily smooth sailing and were almost always action-packed.

Since I like long lists, I would like to share with you some of my most memorable moments during an F1 weekend. Some I have written about, while the others are yet to be expounded.

In no particular order:

1. (Nearly) meeting Nico Hulkenberg while in a taxi queue outside a mall.
2. Having one shoe fall off while running towards the podium post-race. (Yes, my friends all say I should wear running shoes when I watch GPs from now on.)
3. Seeing a Rob Smedley doppelganger and wondering why more fellow fans are not seeing that eerie resemblance.
4. Standing next to a Yoann Gourcuff/Fernando Torres lookalike and not getting the chance to surreptitiously photograph him.
5. Nico Rosberg bending down to take a closer look at the bracelet I was wearing.
6. Getting stared down by Maurizio Arrivabene.
7. Befriending a fellow fan while waiting outside the paddock entrance for Sebastian Vettel and then realizing after we’ve said goodbye that we didn’t even get to exchange names.
8. Getting squished next to a British Juan Mata lookalike during a Red Bull Racing event.
9. Finally meeting Michael Schumacher in the flesh after 15 years of dreaming about it. (Read about it here: http://wp.me/p10DmM-zz )

Schumi! ❤

10. Crying tears of joy/exhaustion underneath the podium after witnessing my very 1st Ferrari double podium. 

Post-Podium Ceremonies selfie!

11. Getting photobombed by a bunch of rowdy Irish & Australian teenage boys.
12. Meeting fellow fans in the flesh after years of Twitter interaction!
13.  Receiving strange/confused looks from sales assistants whenever I asked, “Do you have an Alguersuari cap?”
14. Having a mini-argument with a sales assistant who didn’t think Kimi Raikkonen has what it takes to win that year’s F1 Night Race.
15. Convincing a staff member to unveil at least the nose of the Ferrari display car so me and my friend can take a photo with it.
16. Trackwalking post-race holding a ziploc bag, collecting tire marbles along the way.
17. Nick Heidfeld passing me by as he made his way back to the pits after an on-track shunt. 

Hallo, Nick!

18. Taking home a piece of the foam barrier that Sergio Perez hit on-track.
19. Being overwhelmed by seeing Michael Schumacher for the 1st time in person (sans his racing gear) during the Drivers’ Parade that I took a photo of a trash bin instead of him.
20. Standing next to a group of friends who jeered both Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher and doing my best not to punch them all.
21. Inadvertently yelling “Jaime Alguersuari!” so loudly during the Drivers’ Parade that he looked my way and waved.
22. Being so sleepy and exhausted that I started yelling “Sebastian Vettel! Where are you? Please come out!” towards the Paddock Entrance (It was already past 4am & I only had 1 hr of sleep that entire day, okay?!).
23. Praying earnestly not to get injured as I mounted multiple barriers and ran up several slopes just to make the podium ceremonies.
24. Finding out our house got completely flooded due to a major typhoon barely 24hrs before attending my very 1st F1 race.
25. Wearing a headband decorated with lots of tiny Lego mini-tires.
26. Buying expensive caps that I didn’t really need but I absolutely wanted. 

Ogling the overpriced merchandise that I still could not help but buy…

27. Sneaking surreptitious looks at the KangarooTV (remember them?) of my fellow fans.
28. Foregoing eating for nearly 12 hours because the queues are too long/I didn’t have much of an appetite/I’d rather go around the track.
29. Having a hulk of a guy, who was bald and wearing a sleeveless top, borrow my fan and then ask me, “How are you not sweating in this weather?! I am dying here!” (It’s true, I was cool as a cucumber in the heat and humidity while he was as red as a tomato and sweating like a whore in church.)
30. Speaking of fans, while waiting to cross in a pedestrian footbridge, another Western guy stood beside me and made almost-inappropriate sounds of pleasure when he caught some of the air I was producing with my fan.
31. Having a fellow fan snatch my Sharpie pen in excitement while waiting for Heikki Kovalainen to sign stuff because his own pen didn’t work. Heikki saw the look of annoyance on my face and signed my stuff first. Ha. The fan apologized to me after so it’s all good.
32. Having a fellow fan graciously lend me his pen when it was my turn to have my stuff signed by Max Verstappen, because I dropped my pen inside my blackhole of a bag before taking a photo of him.
33. Nico Hulkenberg telling me, “Good luck!” after he signed my notebook. I’m pretty sure I made a “Huh?” face but he just smiled and moved on.
34. Standing outside a pop-up store for nearly 2 hours just to see Nico Rosberg up close for the 1st time.
35. Sneakily placing my mobile phone in between a cameraman’s legs just to be able to take a photo of Jenson Button for a friend.
36. Considered gatecrashing an F1-related event but changing my mind at the last minute to go shopping instead.
37. Getting lost on my way out of the track because I was too busy posting my Vettel autograph on Instagram.

I waited nearly 5 hours for this!

38. Bumping into an elderly track personnel while trying to find the track exit at past 4 am & getting told, “You’re still here, Miss?! Go home & get some sleep, lah!”
39. Having to explain to a semi-flirting taxi driver what makes F1 such a great sport at past 4 in the morning. Completely sober.
40. Having a whole conversation with our taxi driver about the 2008 F1 Night Race on our way to the airport while my friends rolled their eyes at the back.
41. Being too lazy to chase after Felipe Massa and then asking a fellow fan “Was he with Rob Smedley?” after.
42. Going to a McLaren-related exhibit inside a mall just to check out the Kimi Raikkonen bits. 

Spot the misspelled word there…

43. My friends freaking out on my behalf when they saw a huge Michael Schumacher billboard outside the Petronas Towers. “You have to take a photo with that!” I’ve trained my friends well.

Where Schumi goes, I go…

44. Nearly not being on time for a Qualifying Session due to a delay at the border, so I had to tell the taxi driver, “Please channel your inner F1 driver, I cannot be late!” We got to the track on time.
45. Dishing out the “You’re kidding me, right?” face everytime a sales assistant asks, “Are you getting this for your boyfriend?” when I’m browsing F1 merchandise.
46. Being given tons of free Singapore GP goodies by a staff member of the Singapore’s Visitor Centre when she found out it was my first GP ever.
47. Being too starstruck/awestruck to even properly take a photo of Kimi Raikkonen as he whizzed past us fans in his golf cart.
48. Starting conversations with fellow fans with, “So, who do you support?”
49. From crying my eyes out of sadness the night before to experiencing internal bliss the next day during my very first GP.
50. Getting invited by a fellow fan to “watch Fernando Alonso sunbathe in his hotel”. Yeah, I gave that a pass.
51. Being given free bottled water by generous track marshals.
52. Getting the stink-eye from Hamilton fans when my friend and I let out a whoop when he retired.
53. Having a fellow fan start a convo with me by opening with, “You’re a Kimi fan, right? You look like a Kimi fan” even though I wasn’t wearing anything Kimi-related. He’s a Kobayashi fan, by the way.
54. Getting the “You came all the way from the Philippines?!” response from fellow fans when I tell them where I’m from. Seriously guys, it’s not that far from Singapore.
55. Using all my charms to convince a bus conductor not to leave me and my friends in Johor Bahru (I had to attend a Qualifying Session in Sg that night) by distracting him and appealing to his Ferrari-supporting side.
56. Seeing someone I know through Twitter in person but getting too shy to approach them and say hello.
57. Receiving a dazzling smile from Sebastian Vettel after I wished him “Good luck!”
58. Yelling “Hello, Kimi!” everytime Kimi enters the pits mere meters away from me.
59. Nearly falling asleep while taking a shower after getting back to home base at nearly 5 am.
60. A fellow fan asking me, “Who is he? He’s a driver, right?” when Felipe Nasr exited the Paddock area and started signing for the fans.
61. Being all superstitious and wearing at least 1 red item per day for Ferrari’s sake (hey it worked for the 2015 F1 Night Race!).
62. Watching a Free Practice Session from a height of 165 meters for free, thanks to the Singapore Flyer.

The Singapore Flyer

63. Getting amused laughs from security personnel at the Gates during bag check whenever they see how huge my bag is and how it’s usually filled with shopping bags.
64. Falling in love with a promo umbrella emblazoned with the faces of past F1 Champions. 

I want that umbrella!!

65. Sending a text blast to selected friends (and most probably waking them up) at like 2 in the morning saying I’ve met Michael Schumacher. In all caps. I regret nothing.
66. My Spanish basically getting reduced to “por favor” and “gracias” when I met the Spanish-speaking drivers.
67. Seeing 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve blanked by fans.
68. Seeing Grumpy Fernando Alonso refuse to sign/take pics for fans and telling them a resounding, “NO!”
69. Seeing Kimi Raikkonen’s trainer Mark Arnall get a warm reception from fans, even getting autograph/selfie requests!
70. Randomly getting stopped by a fellow fan to ask why there was a Safety Car on track at that moment (Due to the Hulk-Massa shunt, F1 Night Race 2015).
71. Receiving a text from a friend that went something like, “Hey I’ve just heard that someone invaded the track mid-race. That’s not you, right?!” And yes, it was NOT me. (F1 Night Race 2015)
72. Running through nearly 1/3 of the track (back & forth at that) just to be able to make the podium ceremonies.
73. Watching Maroon 5’s concert post-Qualifying Session behind a couple who made out for 80% of the duration. Ick.
74. Randomly getting complimented by a fellow fan on the lipstick I was wearing during raceday (MAC Ruby Woo).
75. Immediately storing the Sharpie pen that was touched and handled by 3 World Champions (Schumacher, Vettel & Alonso) inside a ziploc bag and never touching it with bare hands again.
76. Resisting the urge to pee for 4 hours for fear of missing any on-track action.
77. Being told “You know a lot about F1 for a woman” by a taxi driver. (SIGH.)
78. Riding on the same elevator with fellow F1 fans who could not disguise their friskiness and looked just about to get it on.
79. Forgetting to remove my earplugs post-race which resulted to me talking really loudly to my friend and a few fellow fans for nearly half an hour.
80. Forgetting to bring my earplugs during raceday, buying a pair on-track but not using them anyway (this is during the V6 era already; and don’t follow my example, kids!).
81. Having a GP weekend survival kit that consists of: Paracetamol, band-aids, Tiger Balm and Salonpas strips.
82. Surreptitiously doing yoga-like stretches in between sessions (sometimes in the middle of a race) to prevent my legs from cramping and to relieve my poor back.
83. Unabashedly brandishing my foldable binoculars to get a better look at the cars (and to people-watch better).
84. Getting sad at seeing the discounted Kimi Raikkonen caps during his F1 sabbatical (circa 2010), but knowing in my heart he’ll return to F1 once again. I kinda wish I bought a couple of those now! 

I guess they thought Kimi wouldn’t be coming back…

85. Having this weird fascination with kerbs and touching/stroking at least one of them post-race.
86. Having the same fascination with tire marks on the walls and touching/stroking at least one of them post-race.
87. Nearly (deliberately) stepping on the foot of a motormouth fan behind me when he very loudly proclaimed that they should just skip interviewing Kimi Raikkonen because he is so dull (among other things) during the 2015 F1 Night Podium Ceremonies.
88. Shivering (in a good way) every time I hear the sound of an F1 car accelerating.
89. Overhearing a fellow fan tell his girlfriend, “Get Fernando to sign this, will you?” Girlfriend: “Why me?” Guy: “You’re a girl, he’ll pay more attention to you!”
90. Marvelling at how…vertically-challenged most drivers are.
91. Realizing though that most, if not all of them are much better-looking in person.
92. Overtaking slow-walking fans with F1 engine sounds playing inside my head.
93. Learning that when in doubt, go ask a track marshal/policeman directly.
94. Drinking more water in 3 days than I do in a whole month.
95. Regretting not being able to make and bring a witty banner.
96. Discovering a good spot for the Drivers’ Parade where they’re close enough to hear you when you yell their names.
97. Foregoing watching the musical acts in favor of waiting for the drivers & personnel.
98. Finding out that (most) F1 fans are really very nice and good fun.
99. Bending down the start-finish line and leaving a red kiss mark on it post-race.

Leaving my (kiss)mark on the track!

100. That strange mixture of happiness and sadness that envelops me as I leave the track post-race which leads to an iron resolve of, “I WILL BE BACK, NO MATTER WHAT!”

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I’m sure I have missed many more anecdotes, but anyway, perhaps they’ll make it to a part 2 of this post.

Meanwhile, I’m already planning my next GP weekend because I cannot wait to see what other adventures/misadventures await me.

(What are your own unforgettable F1 GP mini-anecdotes? Tell me in the comments section!)

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Michael Schumacher: Meeting The Man and What He Means To Me.

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You have no idea how exasperating it is when I talk to someone about Formula One (sometimes at length, with mostly me talking) and they reduce the whole conversation to, “So you have a crush on Michael Schumacher?”

The short of the long answer is: NO, I do not have, and never had, a “crush” on Michael Schumacher. And I mean that in the best, most respectful way possible.

But in order to better explain my point, let me retrace my F1 history.

I began liking F1 as a prepubescent tomboy, when boys were still gross/annoying and I only wore skirts because they were part of my Catholic school uniform.

I chanced upon his name on a scaled model of his Benetton F1 car. I was a full-fledged Benetton kid/snob, so I immediately fell in love with that colorful car. And then I saw the name by the side.

Michael Schumacher. That sounds like a badass name, my preteen self thought. Surely someone who has a name as badass as that and who also gets to race an equally badass car, should be legit badass in real life, right?

And so my F1 story progressed. I scoured the newspapers, went to the library to peruse the magazines, watched the international sports news for snippets, until I finally managed to watch the races on TV. My memory is hazy on when I put a face to his name, but by that time, what he looked like mattered little to me; I’ve already claimed him as my Racing Spirit Animal.

Years went by and I fell even more in love with the sport. It was my awesome little secret, growing up in a basketball-crazy nation. I officially defected from the Enstone team the moment Schumi moved to Ferrari, a little bit sad to leave Benetton but secretly delighted that his new main color is my favorite: Red.

Even during his “barren years”, I was never really worried; I knew in my heart that he’s destined for more championships and that he would end up as the greatest racing driver ever.

It never really occurred to me that it’s possible for me to meet him. During the time when budget airlines were still scarce and I was restrained by the duties of finishing my schooling, attending an F1 race was nothing but a silly pipe dream.

However, everything changed when my mother met Michael Schumacher. Yes, my own mother actually met Schumi a decade ahead of me.

Fate has a quirky sense of humor, at times.

It was during a work trip that coincided with the Malaysian GP. Everything was spur-of-the-moment and a bit of a blur. She didn’t get to have a photo with him but she did get to shake his hand and chat with him a bit. My mother had nothing but good words about him. Most notably, she said he’s really humble and you wouldn’t think you’d be talking to a sporting superstar by the way he put her at ease. “He’s very kind”, she’d repeat over and over again.

I knew he wasn’t the cold, ruthless, heartless, arrogant bastard/machine that the media proclaimed him to be, I thought with a mixture of relief and smugness. I chose my Racing Spirit Animal correctly! Ever since then, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I stand a chance to meet him, too. Imagine my disappointment when he announced his retirement from F1 in 2006. My dream was shattered into tiny pieces.

Three years later, as I sat alone in the office, I found out that he’s returning to Formula 1, this time as a driver for Mercedes GP. I’m not ashamed to say I let out a whoop and danced like a lunatic. The dream is alive again!

I finally watched Michael Schumacher race an F1 car in person when I attended my 2nd GP: The 2010 F1 Night Race in Singapore. I remember standing there on the viewing platform by Turn 14 as he drove past, my mouth unabashedly open and my eyes might as well have had cartoon hearts on it. To say it was a joy to see him race again would be an understatement. I felt like I was on some sort of pilgrimage, paying respects to my racing god.

However, It wasn’t until the 2012 F1 Night Race when finally, FINALLY, the dream of meeting him came to fruition. With the help of a fellow F1 (and Kimi) fan, we waited patiently outside the Paddock Entrance/Exit to try to catch the drivers after Qualifying. To be honest, I didn’t really expect to meet Schumi that night (or day, as it was already past midnight in Singapore then); I mean, why would he choose to exit the paddock by feet when he could easily leave via a chaffeured Mercedes car? Also, I was exhausted, hungry, sleepless–I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. Numerous drivers came and went and I even managed a few autographs. There was a lull for several minutes so I stepped back from the throng of fans to drink some water and hopefully catch a breeze, but then there was this gasp from another fan that my ears miraculously picked up.

I was still rooted to my spot when I saw my fellow fans stir. I couldn’t understand why there was a sudden…reverential silence outside the paddock. “Who’s that?” I asked out loud. My friend had no idea and moved towards the crowd. All of a sudden, someone went, “Michael!” which sent my brain into overdrive.

“Holy shit! Michael? THE Michael Schumacher?! No. What? Seriously? NO WAY!!” my brain screamed.

I surged forward and true enough, there he was, just starting to sign for the small(ish) group of fans gathered behind the barrier. Hilarious but most of them had this “Oh my gosh, it really IS Michael Schumacher” look on their faces, and I bet that not all of them are even fans of his. I wish I had taken a pic of that moment but at that point, I was so awestruck that my motor skills were close to zilch. I managed to take a pic of him, and then proceeded to internally freak out just as he was slowly inching towards my side of the barrier:

There he is! It really is him!

“Shit. What do I do? What do I say to him?”
“Stay calm, FFS. Whatever you do, don’t scream ‘I LOVE YOU, SCHUMI!’ and scare him off.”
“You can do this. Just breathe. Be polite and look him in the eyes, okay?!”

Schumi is getting closer!

A picture of me taking a picture of Schumi. As you can see, I’m already having trouble controlling my camera’s zoom function out of nerves. Ha!

At last, he was right in front of me. The Man Who Was Responsible For My Formula 1 Love Affair. The world may as well have stopped spinning. The concept of time disappeared.

I meekly held out the orange collapsible fan I had the other F1 drivers sign to him. “Michael, please?”, I managed to say in a prim voice that sounded alien to my ears.

“Sure!” He replied cheerfully.
He held a part of the fan while signing, and paused in the middle of it to look at me, probably because my hand was shaking out of nerves and multitudinal feelings. He gave me such a reassuring, “It’s okay, don’t be nervous”-smile and I will never forget the kindness in his eyes. I wish I could have talked to him and told him how important this moment was to me, but I was so overwhelmed that I could only manage a, “Thank you, Michael. Good luck!” along with an “I’m trying my best not to spontaneously combust right in front of you, please forgive my lack of eloquence” smile.

Schumi looked me in the eyes once again, smiled and replied, “No problem at all. Bye!” gave me a farewell wave, and moved on to a group of Japanese girls who immediately and happily encircled him.

I finally got my Schumi autograph!

I couldn’t believe that just really happened. I just had a legit face-to-face interaction with him. And breathe.

I vaguely remember sending out a text blast to my friends screaming in all caps that I’ve met Schumi. I bet they weren’t amused to receive a text at such an ungodly hour but hey ho, no regrets.

In all seriousness, the thing about Michael Schumacher is that he really had that aura of being “somebody” without being arrogant or too self-aware about it. He was kind, he was patient, he had time for everyone who was there, he was polite, he was grounded. “He wore his greatness with grace” was how I described him to my friends and anyone who would care to listen to me tell the tale of how I met him.

Before, I wished I’d have done more: I wish I talked to him, asked him stuff, begged him not to retire yet, shook his hand, took photos with him, asked for a hug, gave him a gift or a letter, the list goes on and on. But then, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t devalue the moment by dwelling on regrets. That moment was how it should have been and that is the beauty and uniqueness of it.

Not every racing fan got the opportunity to meet him and I shall forever hold that memory and experience dear in my heart.

We all know by now what happened to him after he left F1 again, this time for good. There is not a single day where I wish and pray for his wellness and recovery, as I’m sure thousands (maybe even millions) of his other supporters also do.

He’s a man who shared his passion with thousands of others and became an inspiration to so much more. Mine is one of those lives he had changed and affected in some way; I will always defend him and wish him well, no matter what.

It was a pleasure and an honor to have been in his presence and whoever said never to meet your heroes is absolutely wrong because they’ve obviously never met Michael Schumacher. 

He’s more than a racer. He’s a kind, charitable man, a great friend to many and a once-in-a-lifetime type of person.

While there is still a fighting chance, I will never give up. We will never give up.

Keep Fighting, Michael.

Tales Of F1mania*: Picking A Bet/Picking A Fight.

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*In which I shall share snippets of (hilarious/sad/weird/random) stories garnered from my years of being a Formula 1 fan.


It was my first-ever F1 Grand Prix–I travelled to Singapore with a friend to attend the 2009 F1 Night Race and we were in Orchard Road, browsing in one of the Official Merchandise stalls.

I picked a Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen cap and a Red Bull Sebastian Vettel cap. While I was paying for them, I decided to make small talk with the sales guy:

“Who do you think will win this race?” I asked casually.

“Jenson Button. Or maybe Rubens Barrichello. Yeah, I’m gonna go with Barrichello.” The sales guy with a thick German accent confidently replied.

“Really? Well, I’m gonna go for Kimi Raikkonen.” I countered with pride.

“Kimi Raikkonen?! Oh, come on. You really think a Ferrari stands a chance in this race?!” (Maybe) German guy laughingly replied.

The other Caucasian males manning the booth with him were all smiling politely, but I could tell they totally agreed with Maybe German Guy. I looked to my friend for support, but being a non-F1 fan, he just shrugged at me, as if to say, “I’m not getting dragged into this.”

“Anything is possible with Kimi.” I haughtily declared as I snatched my bag of caps from him.

“Uh-huh.” Clearly, the conversation was over.

In the end, neither of us were correct, as Lewis Hamilton of McLaren won the 2009 F1 Night Race.

But, whose bet is still in Formula One now, huh?

I like having the last word.

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!

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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    B

    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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    C

    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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    D

    Drivers’ Autograph Session

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

    Driver-Spotting

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

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

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

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

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

    Hulk signing stuff for fans (2015).

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    Drivers’ Track Parade

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

    *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).

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    Fireworks

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

    Flights

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

    Food and Beverage

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

    Free Practice Sessions

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

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    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.


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      Greek Theatre

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

      View of the Greek Theatre.

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      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.

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      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.

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      Kimi Raikkonen

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

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

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      Little India

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

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      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).

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      Miscellaneous Travel Tips

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

       

      Musical Acts

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

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      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!

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      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).

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      Petrol Ed

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

       

      Photography/ Photographic Equipment

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

       

      Podium Ceremonies

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

      The 2012 Podium Finishers.

      The 2015 Podium Finishers.

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       Post-Race

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

      PR Events

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

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      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.

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      Race Officials

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

      Restrooms

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

       .

      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

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       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!

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

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

      Standard

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

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

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

      This is what transpired during my trip*:

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

      .

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

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

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

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

      More F1 simulators along Orchard Rd.

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

      The Force India exhibit car.

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

      .

      .

      Friday, I’m In Love.

      My precious 3-day Walkabout Tickets!

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

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

      Reporting for duty for FP2!

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

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

      .

      .

      Saturday, Crazy Saturday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      .

      .

      Every Sunday I Love You More And More.

      THAT Chance Encounter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      .

      No Rest For The Wicked.

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

      The latter parts of the support race Porsche Carrera Cup.

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

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

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

      A visibly more cheerful Felipe Massa of Ferrari.

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

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

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

       

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

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

       

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

      Red Bull’s no.2…er…Mark Webber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      An HRT clipping the barriers:

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

      .

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

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

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

      .

      Remnants I nicked from a barrier that got clipped.

      .

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

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

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

      ——————————————————————————————–

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

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

      An Open Letter to Michael Schumacher.

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      Oh, to be able to decipher the machinations of your master racing mind...

      .

      Dear Schumi,

      You’re unbelievable, you know that?

      You return in a blaze of hype and controversy–and yet after nearly two years into your return, your best-ever finish was a 4th place in the Canadian GP, and even though loads of journalists and racing fans have been saying that your comeback was a dud and that you should permanently hang up your racing boots, you still somehow make me hope. And yes, I’m still here, cheering for you.

      Man, you’re really something else.

      I will try to keep this brief, considering that you’re German and no-nonsense and all that, but please understand the fact that you’ve been away from F1 for 3 whole years, so I really need to get some things out of my system:

      I’ve been your fan since you were still racing for Benetton, way back in 1994. Way back when we still didn’t have cable TV so I can only watch F1 races through intermittent repeats or through meager highlights from the news. I’ve followed you when you switched to Ferrari and resurrected a Mega Racing Empire that has yet to be equaled nor surpassed. I’ve defended you when you had your “tricky” moments on-track and when your Machiavellian actions got the better of you. I was gobsmacked and flabbergasted when you chose to leave Ferrari and F1 altogether at the end of the 2006 season. I gasped and clutched my pearls when rumours circulated of a possible Ferrari return (and a grandtastic pairing with Kimi Raikkonen) when Felipe Massa got injured in 2009, and hung my head in disappointment when the deal eventually fell through. I rejoiced and did a happy jig in the office when I found out of your real F1 return via Mercedes GP in the winter of 2009. I felt 10 years old again when I finally saw you in the flesh last year in Singapore, and had to remind myself not to squeal like a rabid fangirl and to keep my mouth shut every time you zoom past in your shiny silver car and distinctive orange lid. I got teary-eyed and sentimental when you celebrated 20 years of your F1 debut in Spa-Francorchamps, did not ever mind that you started dead last at 24th but cheered you on with every fiber of my being until you finished in a way-decent 5th place. I never became less of a fan, all throughout. I grew up a Schumi supporter, and I’m still a Schumi supporter. That’s a badge you wear proudly, no matter what.

      Thank you, by the way. Not just for the wonderful memories of 2 WDCs with Benetton and 5 more with Ferrari. More important, thank you for keeping your word and (hopefully) honoring your contract with Mercedes GP until the end of 2012. Thank you for the assurance that you will keep trying, because in your words, “It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the challenge. It’s about the fight”. Spoken like the true icon of the sport that you are.

      Danke, Schumi.

      So, if you hear a woman cheering like mad everywhere you go in Singapore, that will be me. I apologize if this was not brief, but then again, brevity has never been a strong trait of mine.

      And yes, I will wait. Patiently. I’m not sure when and where it will happen, but you will have that podium finish and another race win. And even if you don’t, what matters to me is that you tried, and you never gave up.

      I got your back, Schumi. That’s a promise.

      Sincerely,

      Marj (a.k.a. bouncebackabilitrix)

      All hail Der Schumi!

      Don't mind them, Schumi. Haters gonna hate.