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.
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.
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.
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.
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