Sunday, September 27, 2009
FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
(Ferrari F1 mock up during road show in down town)
Formula 1 GP Singapore just ended and I am feeling tired, my body and mind is winding down from all that adrenaline that was coursing through my veins all evening. The action was fantastic, those who have only seen the race on TV like I have for a long time, really need to get to a race and watch it live. The sound, the speed, the atmosphere, the fun, nothing comes close to being there. This time I found myself at the Pit Grand Stand, opposite the pit lane and garages, meters away from the starting grid!
(Brazilian Samba dancers at F1)
The race was won by Lewis Hamilton followed by Timo Glock and Alonso and that’s common knowledge by now. I won’t dwell into the results part of it but will only say that there was plenty of drama. 14 out of 20 cars finished and there were some racing incidents including one where Force India driver hit Nick Heidfeld and both went out of the race, also a bit of excitement when Mark Webber’s brakes locked up and he went out of the track backwards and back crashed into a crash barrier, ending his race.
(F1 cars at the starting grid above and below)
Other than the thrills and spills, it was beautiful to watch Lewis Hamilton drive with clinical precision. He finished first, went past us punching his fists in the air, jumped out of the car at the end of his victory lap to take a kiss on his helmet, given lovingly by his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger (lead singer of the Pussy Cat Dolls)! What drama and what a finish.
(Travis rocking the audience, one more Travis video at end of this article)
Formula 1 GP Singapore is the only night race venue in the World. The event is not just the race itself but many other side attractions that are a week long, culminating in the race itself. The entire week is packed with F1 themed events and it is called "F1 Rocks" and involves live performances from World famous artists at various venues in Singapore. Some of the familiar performers were Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Black Eyed Peas, Backstreet Boys, Travis, ZZ Top and Chaka Khan (oldies would know these last two for sure) and even Brazilian Samba dancers who lent a Brazilian Carnival festive mood to the event as the video above shows! Race day saw Travis, the band from Scotland, perform an hour before the race and I have a video of this in this blog below. They had all of us singing and dancing, belting out well known numbers.
(me on practice day at F1)
I have to blog a few things about the organization of this whole thing. Singapore is famous for efficiency and that was in full show during this entire event. There were free shuttle buses that connected some MRT stations and the entire exercise was seamless. No stress, no worries about getting to the race venue or out of it at the end of the race. There were huge crowds but very well managed, no one was pushed or shoved or crammed into buses like they do in cattle class. It was all so seamless. For that, and that reason alone, one should make a trip out here. There was easy wheel chair/disabled access areas, food and drink concessionaires, first aid stations, first class security and so on.
(Singapore Flyer-World's biggest Observation Wheel-bigger than London Eye, seen from Race seating)
When you enter the venue, on a donation of S$2 (Two Singapore Dollars) to a charitable organization, one was given a "survival kit" consisting of ear plugs and a plastic rain coat in case it rained. Without ear plugs, you'd be deaf by the end of the race. Singapore Grand Prix night race is run on a regular street circuit. Even with traffic diversions and restrictions there was no chaos and no stress. I just cannot compare this to most places in Asia or elsewhere. So, for this, I must say “Singapore Rocks!”
(Start of the Singapore Grand Prix Race notice the speed and sound-people without ear plus trying their best to plug with their fingers!)
The race itself is the crème de la crème of course. That’s what we all really look forward to in the end. There are three days of exposure to the Formula 1 cars, one practice day, one day for race qualifying. For those who are not clued into the race, qualifying is the day when drivers put their cars through the best timing possible and the car/driver with the fastest lap times during qualifying, heads up as “Pole position” on the starting line up (Starting grid). And the third day is the Race day. I went for the practice sessions, skipped qualifying to party with friends from India who had flown in to watch the race and made it to the actual race today, 27th September 2009. For those who missed this year in Singapore, I’d suggest a trip out next year if possible. It's simply worth a trip, to see Singapore, enjoy the events and the race, a hard to beat combination.
(Lewis Hamilton on the Podium excuse my poor video)
Bonus Travis Video at the pre race event: