F1 2012 Malaysian GP

Sepang Circuit Main Entrance

This year I attended the full 3 days event of the F1 2012 Malaysian GP. For two nights I slept in the car and camped in the R&R of the North-South highway. It had all the necessities that I need, food, shower and sanitation 24/7.

Friday’s practices were opened to the public but the public pit-lane walk held after the practice sessions was only for ticket holders. It was nice to be at the grandstand watching the happenings opposite at all the garages. The sound of an F1 car engine at the grandstand was obviously much louder than that heard at the hillstands. Although there were other events on Saturday morning, I just attended the practice 3 and qualifying sessions which were held in the afternoon as I decided to have a rest in the morning.

Caterham F1 Team

Drivers’ autograph signing session was held on Sunday at 11.30 am. I was a little dismayed. The cars that brought the drivers stopped close to the tables, many fans that were far away including me could not get full view of many of the drivers. The cars then parked in the open area, further blocking the view. After the autograph signing session the drivers then had a short walk to the cars, so many fans on the outer perimeter missed to see them. I hope the event organiser will consider this and sort this out next time.

Waiting for the drivers

Nothing to see, move along

Sebastian Vettel waving to fans

Sebastian Vettel, as was in last year, handed out postcards to fans at the perimeter fence but this time he did more, he signed it too…lucky fans. Then another driver surprised me. I saw this driver took photograph of himself and the fans at the tables with a cellphone. I thought it was a request from a fan but then I was wrong. As the car that he was in was pulling out, it suddenly stopped. Out came Fernando Alonso and went straight to a Ferrari fan just an arm length next to me. He then said something about taking photograph which sent me into frantic mode, adjusting my camera setting to capture the event with the camera held up high above since there was someone next to me. Unfortunately the images I managed to capture were frantic too except for one. He then rushed out to the outer perimeter and did the same to the fans there. Obviously the fans were very pleased. What Vettel and Alonso did was good for them. At least it detracted their mind, albeit a short while, from the stress or whatever problems they might be having with their cars. It also paints a good image for their teams and sponsors, a very positive image.

Sebastian signing before giving it away

Fernando Alonso setting the cellphone camera

Can't believe her luck

Obviously they were very delighted

Fans are the most important aspect in F1. Without the fans, there will be no sponsors and without the fans and sponsors, F1 is just another club race. Some travel long distances, stand in queue or close to the perimeter fence for more than an hour just to see their idols and other drivers up close. The drivers just need to look around, smile and wave, that’s all but what Vettel and Alonso did was better. F1 needs to take note on this.

For this year’s race, I was at the C3 hillstand and it was my first wet race. I did not mind being wet but the camera and the lens must stay dry. Though it was cloudy since Friday, there was no rain at the track until just after the race had started. When the race was stopped for safety reason, a few of the fans did left the circuit. I only left the hillstand for the comfort of the car where I had a thermos full of hot coffee. I rejoined the crowd when the race had restarted.

C3 Hillstand view and the weather

Click here for more pictures.

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F1 2010 Malaysian GP

Sepang International Circuit, C3 Hillstand View

This had been my first attendance to watch a F1 GP race live in person. Many times before I wanted to attend but I don’t really have a strong enough urge to give it a full commitment. There was a pulling factor though this time, and that pulling factor was Lotus Racing.

I bought an uncovered hillstand ticket for RM100. The ticket allowed me to attend for two days, Saturday qualifying and Sunday race, but I could only attend the Sunday race. The race was scheduled at 4.00 pm in late afternoon and there were other programmed events for the fans which began at 11.00 am. Obviously some were for VIPs and the privileged. They got to walk around the pit lane. Grand stand ticket holders got to see the happenings on the grid before the race, one of which was the drivers’ track parade. Hillstand? Well, we had the palm trees.

Mark Webber waving to fans

There was an autograph session by the F1 drivers from 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm at the circuit Welcome Centre. Drivers attended the session in a group of eight (4 teams). One group after another. Each group had about just 20 minutes with the fans. So many people so little time, only those who were early and managed to get near the tables were the lucky few. I managed to stand next to a line that cordoned an area where the cars ferrying the drivers parked and got a few clear unblocked snaps.

Once the session over, I went straight to the hillstand. There was an aerial display put up by the RMAF pilots in their Mig-29s. I had always admire Russian aircrafts, they are awesome in aerial manoeuvres. I remember seeing a Sukhoi performing a cobra manoeuvre many years ago at an aerospace exhibition in Singapore.

Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus T127

As usual in every F1 race, there was a warming-up lap around the circuit prior to the race start. The engines sounded kind of rough and sputtered on braking after the long straight for the sharp corner. But that was just a warming-up, the real screeching and screaming sounds was during race time, which, after more than an hour of bombardment to my eardrums, did cause me a tad bit of discomfort. Both of the Lotus cars had somehow managed to rough it out with the Virgins, touching one another in the early part of the race. Anyway both Lotus cars completed the race albeit Heikki Kovalainen was ten laps down after being in the pit with hydraulic problem. Only Jarno Trulli got a classified finished at 17th behind the other new teams, still not so bad for the Lotus team. The race was a breakthrough for Hispania Racing. Both of their drivers, Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna drove to the chequered flag finishing 15th and 16th respectively, theirs and the team first finished since the start of the 2010 season. Same goes to Lucas Di Grassi of Virgin Racing who finished 14th for the team first complete race. Timo Glock, the other Virgin driver, had a DNF. Overall there were 7 DNFs which include Michael Schumacher for having a wheel nut problem. The full race result is here:

http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2010/826/

More photographs on my flickr account here. Not so good panning though except for one or two.