How can one describe the 3-days…well one word “exhilarating”! It was such an amazing experience, having never been before, my expectations were very high, and I must admit, it didn’t fall short at all. In fact it exceeded my expectations.
The preceding views around the Marina Bay F1 Circuit and surrounding area when I first arrived, to the view up on the 56th floor viewers platform of Marina Bay Sands over-looking the then lit-circuit, to a walkabout on the actual circuit last Wednesday (21st) when the roads were finally closed to traffic as the town readied itself for the big day. What an amazing buzz around the place. I know not everyone living around the City would have liked the disruption, but the majority would enjoy the moment once a year that this town pretty much shuts-down the main road-ways for this great sporting event.
Friday, 23rd September:
I am so glad that I took the day-off on Friday (23rd September), we walked around the area from Bugis and City Hall, to enjoy the sights and atmosphere around the surrounding districts. we became a ‘tourist’ for the day, it was quite good fun.
We made our way to Gate 4 near to City Hall. We went through the security – I think it was trying to prevent people bringing in food and drinks etc (and ‘other’ stuff). I guess their aim was to encourage people to buy their supplies from the FIA accredited F&B Vendors and Stalls within the secure site. Although we were early for the F1GP Practice Friday, our intention was to take advantage of a smaller number of spectators around to enjoy the areas, navigate our way around the Circuit and the vantage points for photos. It was a nice set-up and looked very calm at that time (won’t be like this on race-day!)
At around 15:30 the JK Racing Asia Series Practice started, as we were based at Turn 11 and 12, we tried our photo skills, as well as tested how good our ear-plugs were. These motor-cars were loud, but bearable. We can only expect it to get a lot louder as the F1 beasts flow around the circuit
We then walked around the circuit to Turn 19, to watch the Porsche Carrera Practice run. We had to peep over the barriers / covers, as this area was a walkway and they were trying to prevent people stopping here.
It was then a break from racing for an hour and a half, so we decided to grab a drink and relax for a moment. We had to take the weight off our feet, as it was a long-day already, and we still had a way to go! We stopped at the Tiger Beer “Bartainer” located just behind Turn 23. They were served by some very delightful ‘Tiger Girls’, something which we will return to later Nice outfits is all I will say for now – haha!
We then finished our pint, and went for a stroll in the area behind the Grandstand, shame we couldn’t actually go into the stands – but it was a nice atmosphere here. We then went around The Village Stage area and headed for a discrete but nice area just by Turn 1 – where we could see the F1 cars come out of the pits or manoeuvre Turn-1 from the Pit Straight. We found that it was quite difficult to get the ‘perfect’ shot but the views from here was quite enjoyable.
After the F1 Practice Session, we decided to go up on the Singapore Flyer (the London Eye-equivalent) to see the whole circuit from above. It was an enjoyable ‘flight’ and it was an incredible view from up in the skies. The focus was on the Grandstand (pit-straight), but we could also see the Esplanade and Bay areas, with the amazing Singapore skyline backdrop. We saw the JK Racing Asia Series Qualifying start below us, as we ended our flight up in the Flyer.
We then headed-off for a bite to eat, and as we wanted to stay around for the F1 Second Practice session, we stayed around the Flyer area, and had an enjoyable meal at Popeye’s, which was in the area beneath the Flyer. We saw a few of the Red Bull crew grab a bite too, so it must be a break for them too – ha!
As we headed to our next vantage spot (or attempt to find one!), we walked along the (now-closed) Raffles Avenue just behind the Grandstand area and beneath the Flyer, and saw the JK Racing Asia Series motorcars finish up and go back to their garage areas (which was slightly away from the main circuit/grandstand area). Nice!
We then finished off and went off to find a new photo-spot, including taking a photo of one of the main power-generators that seemed to be keeping the Circuit lit with the floodlights!). We also took the opportunity to visit the Padang area where Charice was finishing her set. She had a great voice, as she sand away a Michael Jackson Medley of Hits – fantastico!!
We found a great spot to see the F1GP Second Practice session, from the Esplanade Bridge and then towards T14.
In fact, it was a fantastic spot, as we witnessed Button’s McLaren’s over-shoot and stall at T14. I managed to grab a video movie of this too – brilliant moment to capture!
We took some photos as the F1 cars went across the tail end of Esplanade Bridge towards T14, and then some photos as the cars left the Bay Grandstand area towards T19.
That’s Friday over, onto Saturday and Sunday
Saturday, 24th September:
Well Friday Practice went pretty well, and we took some ‘amateurish’ attempts of still and panning photos. I didn’t realise panning photos was soooo difficult Practice makes perfect, as they say!
We went around Bras Basah for another morning of being a Tourist again, visiting the Sri Krishnan Temple and the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Chinese Temple in Bras Basah, as well as the surrounding areas.
We continued our tour, walking around City Hall again and then viewing some very nice Ferrari’s on display street-side just outside the Raffles City Shopping Centre complex! Fantastico indeedy!
As we walked around the area behind the Grandstand area again, we noticed that the Porsche Carrera’s were being prepped for their First Race. Nice to view the final preparations, you can feel the excitement (and tension) in the air as the crews worked away!
We then decided to move towards the Paddock in the Zone-1 area and noticed that quite a few people were waiting at the Paddock Entrance. So we decided to join them, noting that we must be in for a chance to view the drivers and teams as they enter the Paddock for the F1GP practice and qualifying sessions. We then saw a flurry of activity for a 30 minute window as various Team Principles, supporting members and most importantly a few drivers made their way into the Paddock and past us. A couple of noticeable few declined to sign any Autographers or allow photos – that’s Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber – party poopers! During the midst of this, we did hear an almighty bang and crunch of metal, as one of the JK Racing Series cars must have crashed into the wall nearby. It was lifted by a crane to our right, so we took the advantage of taking photos too What an expensive heap of metal!
We continued our trek around the Grandstand to find the small free-standing area we noticed on the map that was by Turn-3, we were hoping that it wasn’t that popular, so we could test our photo opportunities. And we weren’t wrong, some people had ventured here, but it seemed only a privileged few (good for us) knew about it! We then watched the Porsche Carrera First Race from here, and we managed to take some really good photos between us. Here they are:
When the race finished, we then headed off for a quick drink, and noticed the bars in the Village Stage area around behind Turns 1-3. The bar was hosted by some very interesting ladies from the bar, they were dressed in an all-white dress, which … ergh … was definitely bringing in the punters – well, one does have to drink at these events somehow. The bar operated as follows; you buy a bunch of tickets S$5 for each ticket, and 3 tickets for a pint of beer (yes that means S$15 a pint!) and then you go to the bar to exchange the vouchers for the pint. The servers would actually do the leg-work for you, so they ask which drink you want and you pay them for the vouchers, they then go to the bar and collect the drink for you! Nice! I guess the vouchers just to stop the bartenders to deal with the money bit of the transaction, so to hopefully make the whole process faster and more efficient. It seemed to work once you worked out the process (it was a bit confusing to start with!). We actually decided to give Shakira a miss, as she had changed her timing from 23:15 to 20:45, but as this was in the Padang Stage at the other side of the Circuit, we knew we were not make it, or not take full advantage of the amazing singer. Shame! Well it was a choice of relaxing with a Beer or Shakira – hmmm…sorry Shakira! Haha!
We then went back to Turn-3′s free-standing area to watch the F1GP Third Practice session – taking advantage of our ‘photo practice’ opportunities. It seemed to work, as we improved our panning no ends
For the F1GP Qualifying, we decided to go back to the Esplanade area and see whether we could take some shots from here. There was quite a few people around here, and with the speed of the cars along this long-stretch of the circuit, we didn’t seemed to succeed in getting any ‘good’ race photos, so we just snapped away on the area instead
We gave Shaggy a miss though, but think we should have gone to the Padang Stage and see hear him sing those huge ’90′s choons…but instead we headed back to City Hall MRT and went home after this, as we knew Sunday was race-day!
Sunday, 25th September:
Well the day has arrived – F1GP race day. And I must admit I was quietly very excited From what I had experienced over the past 2 days, it was going to be a fantastic experience indeed.
We continued our venture around the areas surrounding the F1 Circuit, and this time we centred around Bugis again, but taking a slightly different route around the area. We took a break at the Parkview Square courtyard, very peaceful and actually quite ‘cool’, as we watched the world fly by. I also got a glimpse of a poster in the Esplanade of Katherine Jenkins – a gorgeous Mezzo-Soprano – that plays in my home town of Haywards Heath every year, but for the past 3 years I’ve missed her for various reasons I should try to see here when she is in Singapore…ha!
As we waited, we heard the JK Racing Asia Series Second Race commence in the backdrop (we could definitely hear it!), so we decided to venture back into the Secure area of the Circuit for the final photo opportunities of this particular Racing series. We decided to visit the area around the Last Turn, and actually it was quite a good spot, as the cars veer around the large corner to the Start-Finish straight.
After the Race finished, we then decided to grab a beer at our favourite little spot – the Tiger Beer, and most importantly take advantage of the Tiger Girls to serve us. A very pleasurable experience indeed.
We then went back to the Final Turn (based around Turns 22 and 23) and watched as the Race Marshals/Stewards took the opportunity in the lull of the racing to take a ‘team photo’ So we took some of them too! Ha!
We then watched the Driver’s Track Parade – although my photo skills let me down this time around – grrr! But I manage to catch a few of the drivers in a non-blurry photo. I was trying to get Hamilton, Button, Schumacher and the Red-Bull boys (Vettel/Webber). Hey-ho! Hope my photo skills hold-out for the main race itself! Fingers crossed.
We went back for our lunch at the food court underneath the Singapore Flyer, and it was actually quite pleasurable – and very relaxing. Amazingly this particular food court wasn’t that busy, even though the price was the same as normal – maybe people didn’t notice it was here.
We went back to our favourite spot at the last Turn, and took enjoyed and took photos of the Starting Grid parade lap and the Pit-Girls. Oh and I stumbled upon a group photo of them from Google Image Search too
The Race itself was very enjoyable, although very loud, although we didn’t realise witness any incidents on the last turn. We could but hope, but still an enjoyable experience as the cars were flying around the circuit. There was no sign of Rain this year, and Vettel took an unassailable lead and dominated the whole race. Button was catching up during the last series of laps, but it was clear that Vettel was going to drive hard to lead to the finish. Good attempt Button in any case!
There was a series of fire-works that shot up as Vettel crossed the finishing line to win the Singapore F1GP 2011 race, and we then raced to see where the Podium would be, and took a few distant photos just as Button and Webber took their 2nd and 3rd trophies accordingly.
We noticed that a number of people were walking on the Start-Finish straight, so we manage to find the gap in the fence, and took to the Circuit. I guess this was also a Crowd-Control strategy, but it worked great, as we walked past the Grandstand and took some amazing photos of the Pit-Lane where the Mechanics and Engineer’s were packing away their garages. The drivers and team leads were no doubt at a slightly different area – to relax and unwind following another successful F1GP race.
We continued then and took some further photos of some of the GP motorcars as they awaited inspection. Wow! You could almost touch them!
The amount of rubber on the circuit was very intriguing, and you could easily see the racing line which was clear from the rubber. The rubber was actually stuck to the tarmac, placed where they flew off the race tyres and melted to the circuit – we managed to take some as a souvenir, nice! Ha!
We stayed on the circuit and walked around the Bay until we eventually reached Turn 14. We left the circuit here and made our way to end our amazing experienced. Wow! What a weekend and what an great experience!
Thank you to the Singapore Grand Prix organisation for completing another successful race! Here’s to the next one…You never know I might be back for that – ha!