An Open Letter to Nico Rosberg.

Standard

(I’ve been procrastinating writing this. But then of course everything changed in a blink of an eye last December 2, so it got fast-tracked. Here goes nothing…)

Dear Nico,

Let me begin by saying that you are not one of my absolute favorites in Formula One. I’m just keeping it real.

But allow me to explain myself, if I may:

I liked you well enough when you burst into the F1 scene in 2006, but by that time my heart was already starting to invest in a certain “Baby Schumi” named Sebastian Vettel, and for some reason, I found you too polished, too privileged, too…slick for my liking. I prefer drivers with an “edge” to them, and you looked straight out of the perfect, pretty, prep school boys’ catalog.

You had the blessing and the curse of being a son of a Formula One World Champion. Will you ever live up to his name or are you all hype? I expected you to do well in F1, to cause a stir just enough and get a few wins here and there; but I didn’t really peg you to be The Next Best Thing. It’s weird because I knew from your racing CV that you’re talented; I just never saw enough spark and hunger in you back then.

Or maybe I should have looked at you more closely.

You spent years as one of the midfield racers, occasionally showing moments of brilliance but never really bothering the top dogs. Vettel and Hamilton easily shoved you aside to grab and share the spotlight that was supposed to be yours. You had podiums and fastest laps, and made exciting moves every now and then, but it wasn’t until you moved to Mercedes to partner the returning Michael Schumacher when I started to really “see” you. I fully expected Schumi to trounce you, but surprisingly, you came out ahead of the matchup, even giving Mercedes their first win of their “new” era. It’s not an easy task to regularly beat a driver of Schumacher’s caliber, but instead of being annoyed, I found myself getting fascinated by your progress. Who is this Rosberg I’m seeing that I was all but oblivious to during his Williams years?

As fate would have it, you were the first ever F1 driver I met in person. You exceeded my expectations, by the way. I was just curious to see you at first but I ended up staying at the event to try to get an autograph. You were nice, and kind, and sweet to us waiting fans. And yes, I have to admit that I was shocked at how good-looking you are in the flesh. But mostly, what I remember is how you treated us fans and how you made us feel. You even apologized to all the other fans who didn’t get to have your signature because you quickly got whisked away by security to your car. Not necessary, but appreciated, nevertheless. All the other fans who’ve met you only have good words to say about you, and that speaks volumes. No wonder your fans are extremely loyal and overprotective of you. I met you again in 2015 and you were as nice and pleasant as ever, you even joked and laughed with me about my bracelet that you mistook for something else. That is why from that 2012 moment on, you jumped from relative obscurity to become my “favorite non-favorite”. Does that even make sense? What the heck, you’re smart, I know you’ll get what I mean.

I am not a Hamilton fan, so when he moved to Mercedes to take over the seat Schumi vacated, I had hoped you’ll continue your good form and show him who’s the boss at Silver Arrows. But fate had other ideas, and although Mercedes skyrocketed to ruthless dominance, Lewis got the better of you. I went, “Where is the Nico that turned me around? Why is he getting sucked into the drama and the mindgames?” I vividly remember getting confused by all the frustration I feel on your behalf.

2014 and 2015 were awful. I wanted you to win the Championship so badly even I surprised myself. That electrical issue during Singapore 2014? I internally wilted. That infamous gust of wind in Austin 2015? I chanelled my inner Tyra Banks and yelled, “I was rooting for you! How dare you?!” at my TV. Do your critics have a point when they say you lack the psychological strength to become F1 Champion? I refused to believe it, despite your snafus and the injustices you suffered. I knew you had it in you. Somewhere in that blonde, polished mien, I knew there’s grit and hardiness that’s waiting to be unleashed.

And you turned it all around. Quietly. Masterfully. I believed yet I still greatly underestimated your bouncebackability and you proved me wrong. Tenacity? Check. Patience? Check. Consistency? Check. Grace under pressure? Check.

You fought back and never gave up on yourself. Amidst a barrage of criticism and blatant bias from fans and media, you revealed what you’re truly made of. When practically most expected you to wither and choke, you stepped up and delivered. The moment you crossed that finish line in Abu Dhabi was the moment you slayed all doubts and slaughtered your own demons in one fell swoop.

I was so proud of you then. So ridiculously proud of you.

And then of course you dropped that certain retirement bombshell–5 days after you won your 1st F1 title. What. The. Heck?!

I was suffering an almighty migraine that night and I remember looking at my mobile phone screen, staring at the words, “Nico Rosberg announces his retirement” and willing them to go away or be some kind of a twisted joke. But alas, it was the cold, hard truth. A myriad of questions from my brain demanded immediate answers: Is he ill? Was this predetermined? Who knew about this? But the biggest question was, “WHY?”

To be honest, I was half-astonished and half-annoyed. The annoyance stemmed from my selfish part: Who would challenge Lewis now? Why didn’t you want the honor and privilege of defending your title? Why did you not give your fans a chance to bid you a proper goodbye?!

Finally, your official statement was released, and although it was expectedly eloquent and heartfelt, it lacked the answers the selfish part of me needed. However, I was truly touched by your words and I legitimately wanted to shed tears by the end of it.

You’re truly something else, Mr. Nico Erik Rosberg. Just when I think I have you all figured out, you come out with ways to surprise me further.

How can I fault you when you say that you are retiring to prioritize your family? How can I stay mad at someone who listened to what their heart is saying and followed the path they wanted, and not just what others expected? There is immense bravery in realizing that at times, quitting is necessary in order to truly win.

What a way to distinguish yourself from other F1 Champions. Chapeau.

I still can’t wrap my head around it, but one day, I will wake up and accept that you won’t be in F1 starting next season. And that for the first time in 23 years, F1 won’t have a defending Champion on the grid. It sucks to lose one of the good guys, but that’s the reality me and millions of other fans just have to deal with.

On behalf of my 2006 Self, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize to you, Nico. I’m so sorry. I was wrong. So wrong to judge you and to stereotype you back then.

You had one hell of a rollercoaster ride in F1. You chased your ultimate dream to the edge of madness and succeeded. In a circus-like world where the narratives were almost always not to your advantage, you took control of your own storyline. Nobody can take away what you have achieved. Ever.

You may not be one of my absolute favorites, but know that you are one of the F1 personalities I truly admire and respect. You’ve made me a fan. I AM a fan. I will truly miss you in F1.

Any chance you can do a World Tour any time soon so your fans can give you a proper farewell, by the way? Please consider. You are always welcome to visit the Philippines.

Now go on and enjoy life outside of Formula One. Cherish your amazing parents and your incredible wife and daughter. Spend time with your wonderful friends. There’s still so much ahead for you and I can’t wait to find out what you have up your sleeves in the future. 

You are a fighter, a gentleman, and a class act. You are and always will be a worthy Champion, not just in racing, but in Life.

Danke, Nico.

.

.

.

What A Champion: The mic drop that shook the F1 World.

Advertisements

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

Standard

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!

    .

    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 .

    .

    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!

    .

    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!

     .

    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).

    .

    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

    .

     E

    Earplugs

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

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

    Entertainment

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

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

     .

    F

    Fireworks

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

    Flights

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

    Food and Beverage

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

    Free Practice Sessions

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

     .

    G

    Gates

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

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

    Interior view of Gate 7.


       .

      Greek Theatre

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

      View of the Greek Theatre.

      .

      H

      Hawker’s Centers

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

      Heat and Humidity

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

      Hotels/Hostels

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

      .

       I

      Internet

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

      .

      K

      Kimi Raikkonen

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

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

       .

      L

      Little India

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

       .

      M

      Map

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

      Merchandise

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

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

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

      Official Singapore GP Merchandise stall (2015).

      .

      Miscellaneous Travel Tips

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

       

      Musical Acts

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

      .

      O

      Orchard Road

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

       .

      P

      Padang Stage

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

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

      Paddock

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

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

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

      Nico Rosberg chats with fans (2015).

      .

      Petrol Ed

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

       

      Photography/ Photographic Equipment

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

       

      Podium Ceremonies

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

      The 2012 Podium Finishers.

      The 2015 Podium Finishers.

      .

       Post-Race

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

      PR Events

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

       .

      Q

      Qualifying Session

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

       .

      R

      Race Officials

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

      Restrooms

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

       .

      S

      Shopping

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

      Singapore Flyer

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

      View from the Singapore Flyer.

      .

      Social Media

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

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

      @F1NightRace – Singapore GP’s official Twitter account

      @visitsingapore– Singapore Tourist Board’s official Twitter account

      F1 Teams Twitter Accounts:

      @redbullracing –Red Bull

      @ScuderiaFerrari -Ferrari

      @McLarenF1 –McLaren

      @RenaultSportF1 – Renault

      @MercedesAMGF1 -Mercedes

      @ForceIndiaF1 –Sahara Force India

      @tororossospy – Toro Rosso

      @HaasF1Team –Haas F1

      @WilliamsRacing –Williams

      @SauberF1Team –Sauber

      .

      Souvenir Programme

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

      Support Races

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

      Note: The lineup changes yearly.

      Survival Kit

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

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

       .

       T

      Tickets

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

      Tiger Balm

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

      Time zone

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

      Track walks

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

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

      Transportation

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

      .

      U

      Umbrellas

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

      Ushers and Usherettes

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

      The ushers saying goodbye to the racegoers (2015).

      .

      V

      Viewing Platforms

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

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

      Legends:

      P1, P2…- Viewing Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

      .

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

      View of T14 (2011).

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

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

      .

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

      View of T20 (2012).

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

      .

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

      View 1 of T21 (2012).

      View 2 of T21 (2012).

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

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

      .

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

      View from the Sg Flyer balcony.

      View from the Sg Flyer balcony (2015).

      .

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

      View of the T21-T22 straight.

      .

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

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

      .

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

      View of The Pit building (2012).

      View from the platform opposite T23 straight (2015).

      Other 2015 Additions:

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

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

      From the viewing area just before T15 (2015).

      View along the T14 straight (2015).

      .

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

      Visitor Centre

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

       .

      W

      Walking

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

      Weather

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

      Widescreens

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

      The widescreen near the T21 straight (2015).

      .

      X

      X-Factor

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

      .

      Y

      YOLO

      A good attitude to adopt while attending this GP.  🙂

       .

      Z

      Zen 

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

      Zones

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

      .

      .

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

      .

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