25 September 2009
I have always been a fan of the Formula One Racing. I can still remember during my high school and college days, my dad and I would often save selected Sundays to watch an F1 Race live on television. During those days, as far as I can remember, the races rotated mainly on the rivalry between Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen.
The first Singapore Grand Prix to be part of the Formula One Championship happened in 2008, it was well received by fans around the world, as it was the only race to be held at night. The venue for this event was the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Sadly, I was not able to join the inaugural race last year.
Moving forward to the event this year, at first I did not have any interest at all in watching the race live as it was a bit costly to get good tickets. However, I said to myself, why not just experience watching even just the Friday night practice session with a walkabout ticket?
I got our tickets just some days ago at around four in the morning while I was on my way to the apartment from work. The driver of the Mercedes taxi and I were having small chats about the upcoming race and I briefly mentioned that I wanted to watch the event on Friday but I did not have the tickets yet. He offered me two single day walkabout tickets for 100 SGD (retails at 38 SGD per piece but as of that time, it was already sold out), I didn’t accept it at first and offered a much lower price. My haggling didn’t do wonder here as I only managed to shave 5% off his offer. Nonetheless, I got my ticket and decided to call an early weekend in order to watch the event.
The 2009 version of this event promised to be even bigger from the first one with huge foreign acts such as Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, and among others taking part in the inaugural F1 Rocks concert taking place on September 24 to 26 at the Fort Canning Park. Inside the venue, there are several performances as well by notable names such as The Backstreet Boys, Chaka Khan and the Philippine’s very own Rivermaya Band.
Mr Whattaworld started very early for this event; I was already inside the Marina Bay Street Circuit at around 4:30 PM, very early considering the 1st round of practice starts at 6:00 PM. At this time, they were holding a practice session as well for the Aston Martin Asia Cup. I just stayed for a few minutes within the racetrack and after that I roamed around and take a look at the various stalls inside the venue.
There were various activities awaiting patrons inside; for those that are interested in purchasing F1 memorabilia, there are various booths all over the place selling original goods. I myself got a Felipe Massa Puma Ferrari T-Shirt. A bit pricey at 70 SGD but I liked the design and the color.
The various sponsors such as LG and SingTel had their very own booth inside. All of them had different tactics to lure the possible customers inside their booth. Singapore Tourism Board had its own booth their as well, a good move since there were a huge number of tourists coming in just for the night race who might be needing some assistance.
Food were also available inside (albeit a very inflated price); a whole variety of cuisine can be ordered within with a portion of the street very near the Padang Field converted into an open air hawker like eatery.
The two-practice session started on schedule and lasted 90 minutes each; we were very lucky enough to get good spot wherein we were really very close to the racetrack. The only drawback though was we were standing the whole time. It started out dull at first with cars appearing one at a time. Good thing though that after a while, it became more interesting with several cars popping in successively. The sound of the car engine and gearbox was both very loud and very different. A friend of mine said that the joy of watching the race in more on being able to hear the deafening sound and from this experience, I could say that he was partially true.
Although we got an excellent view of cars passing by, there was no way we could know what was happening from the other side of the racetrack apart from the two race announcers talking on the PA system. The roars of the car engine though always overpower their live narration. This was the reason why we were not aware that Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber crashed out of the practice session.
I tried to get some photos of the cars passing; unfortunately my camera has no match for the speed of drivers.
Overall, it was an evening well spent. I went back to the apartment partially deaf from the engine noise but was very satisfied. Finally, I was able to watch a Formula One Grand Prix Session live, such a truly marvelous experience. I am looking forward to the 2010 version in which I hope to get some grandstand tickets by then.