A Fan’s View of the 2011 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix

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Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and several of us continue to watch it even though Honda decided to withdraw from the sport at the end of 2008. Our member, MB, from the United Kingdom, got a chance to visit Singapore and watch the Singapore Grand Prix in person. He also took the effort of sharing his pictorial view of the Grand Prix weekend so we all may vicariously live it through him. Click through and check out MB’s view of the Singapore Grand Prix.

So i’m British and never been to a GP before; That can’t be right!  By chance a part work / part visit to see my other half landed on the same time as the Singapore GP. About 4 weeks before, I went on the online and snapped up tickets for us both. It was difficult deciding where to sit, and I looked at all sorts of internet footage to try and decide. In the end I opted for 3 full day passes (Fri / Sat / Sun) in between Turn 1 and Turn 2. This would mean I saw the end of the start / finish straight, the pit exit, and potentially the pile up at the start of the race.

Thursday – F1 star spotting

Just around from my apartment, I heard that there would be a visit by Felipe Massa, at the Shell main building, obviously a sponsors event. I managed to sneak round and get a couple of photos.  He seems like a nice chap, quite shy of the attention though. He answered a few questions and people got to get their photo with him, before he was whisked away.  All of this really got the excitement going for me, to get this close to an F1 driver. I really wanted to see Button and Senna though.

Friday – First Practice

Again, I was loitering around by the hotel where the drivers stay, and Ross Brawn walked past me. I’m sure most of you know, but this guy is considered a total genius in F1. I didn’t bother him, as he looked fairly busy.  He was going straight off to the Paddock for the first practice.

I then went to the top floor of the Swissotel and took some pictures of the track, to try and get the layout in perspective. I’ve been to Singapore many times before, but the track is difficult to picture. Here you can see the Padang / Fullerton Hotel sections.

And here the start finish near the Singapore Flier (big ferris wheel)

Later on I went off to find my seats at the practice. It really sinks in what an amazing place this is. To turn city streets into a race track must take unbelievable effort.  What then struck me was the noise these cars make. They sound really rough sometimes, then they scream. Practice was interesting. Some of the team were practicing their starts, and pit changes, while others like Bruno Senna were just piling on the laps. The first session Hamilton did well, but it was clear Vettel is the man to beat so far.

Saturday – Qualifying:

This got a bit more exciting, and the order was changing all the time. I was excited to see Bruno Senna get through Q1 at the dying seconds, but then he just dropped out of Q2. Button did well to get Q3, and Hamilton didn’t seem to make it out in time to get better than 4th. The 2 Red Bulls at the front are going to be hard to beat. Here are some images of the entertainment village, and one of Shakira at the Padang area. The entertainment was very good.

Sunday – The Race

Today I got to the track nice and early, 5pm to watch the Porsche Asia races. As a GT3 owner, I thought it might be an interesting comparison. It’s amazing to think that these are lightweight 400+ bhp race cars, but the difference in speed over the F1 cars was pretty huge. Some pictures.

After that, there was a bit of a gap until the start of the F1 race, so we went off to the Singapore Flier which is the biggest observation wheel in the world! With GP tickets you got on there for free and it allowed a great view of the track.

So the race got underway which was pretty exciting seeing them all fly down to the first corner where we sat. No pileups which was good from a race point of view. It was really hard to follow, even with a big screen in front of you and live commentary; it’s a bit of a blur! The noise during qualifying was impressive, but 20+ cars coming through at once was really loud!

The race itself was very good and I was cheering Button on most laps. Vettel was just too fast and I think he probably had another gear even if Button got close to him at the end. Hamilton made yet another mistake on an aggressive overtake and that cost him a podium. His talent though was evident in that he finished fifth after dropping lower down due to a drive-through penalty.

As Vettel in the lead crossed the line, fireworks went off illuminating the night sky.

After the race, we got to walk on the track which was quite nice. There were thousands of people picking up any bit of carbon or tyre rubber they could for a souvenir.

As  the night came to an end we went to the Padang area to watch Linkin Park.

Overall, an amazing three days and what was equally impressive as the race and the cars was the way this country can put on a show like this in such an efficient manner. As a spectator, every fine detail seemed to be covered. Underground services, buses, road closures, various spectator area controls, stage areas, food and drink etc. Really impressed and it seems like, while it’s maybe not one of the best races to watch on TV, it certainly is high on the list of tracks to attend and watch in real life! I feel sorry for the guys having to put it all back to normal now.


Images courtesy of MB

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