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Old 9th September 2016, 17:05   #1
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Default Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

Dedicated to every Formula1 fan

"Once something is a passion, the motivation is there" - Michael Schumacher


PROLOGUE

I started watching Formula 1 when I was 12 years old and ever since, I have always wanted to watch a race LIVE. 14 years later, after much thought, research and planning, this dream has become a reality. I am attending the 2016 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX held on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

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Image source: singaporegp.sg




Many people asked me why I didn't attend the Grand Prix held in India during its tenure or go for some other Grand Prix closer to India like China, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi or Bahrain. I'm sure most of you have the same doubt. Well, to be honest, these tracks and races that I have seen did not excite me as much as the Singapore GP races I have seen. Don't get me wrong, each track is unique in its own way and each Grand Prix has a lot to offer on and off the track. I'm sure quite a few of you would have attended the Indian GP and had a wonderful experience. Something about the whole concept of racing under the night sky and cars gleaming under the artificial lights got my heart hooked to the Singapore GP.
So it was decided: First GP = Singapore GP.

Earlier in March, the tickets for the race went on Sale. I bought mine in April and availed the early bird discount. I chose the 3-Day Pit Combination Package , that way, I get to experience different parts of the circuit on different days.

Friday: Padang Grandstand [ZONE4]
Saturday: Bay Grandstand [ZONE 3,4]
Sunday: Pit Grandstand [ZONE 1,2,3,4]

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Image source: singaporegp.sg




Booking the tickets online was pretty simple and straightforward. After selecting what type of tickets, you will be asked to select a block in the grandstand. Unfortunately, you cannot choose a specific seat, it will be given to you automatically once the block has been selected. Later I found out this can be done via their Helpline number. Anyway, booked, paid and done. I was allotted a random seat in the selected block. Received the confirmation e-mail instantly. The wait begins.

In May, SCOOT commenced operations in India hurling several offers and discounts to gain market presence in India. This meant budget flights offered at a discount. Booked my Flight tickets in May for a very reasonable price. Much lower than what was offered by other Airlines.

For my Visa, I got it done through a travel agent. Very simple process and took only 3 days for me to get my Visa and passport back from the consulate. Special thanks to BHPian NPV for addressing my visa queries and giving me advice regarding the process on the Singapore Visa thread. Applied for my visa 2 weeks before my travel date. Received a 5-week visa.

After months of waiting, I got a call from FedEx. My tickets have arrived

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First Impressions: WOW. Great looking set of tickets. Each card is made of hard plastic and each ticket comes with a lanyard (should have been glow in the dark ones, would look cool during the post race concerts). Very nice indeed. Each color denotes the ZONE access. On the reverse side, you will find the seat details. It comes with a terms and conditions guide in a waterproof zip bag.

If you are a music buff and like concerts, you are in luck. All race tickets give you access to attend the concerts held on the respective day. This year's main lineup includes:

Friday: Kylie Minogue
Saturday: Bastille and Queen + Adam Lambert
Sunday: Halsey and imagine Dragons

Other Performers: KC and The Sunshine Band, Pentatonix and Dynamo

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Image source: singaporegp.sg




Now coming to F1; I'm an ardent fan of McLaren Honda. Yes, I supported them throughout 2015, one of their most dismal years. I am a huge Jenson Button fan as well. He has been and will continue to be a role model for many people. Loved watching him race for BAR Honda during his early years and his mega drive during the 2011 Canadian GP is my all-time favorite.

JB's announcement in Monza was well foreseen but hit me hard when it came from the horse's mouth :( . Very interesting approach by McLaren with their 'Three Driver Strategy' for the next two years. Stoffel looks very promising and Alonso is a two-time world champion. The McLaren driver line-up looks strong for next year, but it will not be the same without JB!

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Image Source: mclaren.com




He insists it's not a retirement (My mind says it's his last season, heart says otherwise). Nevertheless, I am getting the opportunity to see him race LIVE!

Bring on Singapore!!

Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 02:04.
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Old 20th September 2016, 13:01   #2
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

DAY 0

Wednesday, September 14th. The day I fly out. I couldn't sleep the night before since I was bubbling with excitement. I woke up, went to work and it seemed like the longest work day ever. Eagerly waiting for quitting time. 6:00 P.M, I logged off, ran to the parking lot and drove home.

Bags are packed, I am ready to go!!

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I reached the airport early and it was a good thing I did. There was a massive queue outside the airport. Many flights were scheduled to depart at that time. After a long excruciating queue for flight check-in and emigration, I went to the lounge and had dinner.

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I boarded the flight which was on time. After takeoff, I tried to get some sleep, but as always, sleeping on flights has never been successful for me. This was no different. I managed to sleep for less than an hour on this 4-hour long flight.

8:00 A.M, Thursday, September 15th Singapore local time, the flight arrived at Changi International Airport. 30 minutes before ETA. Brilliant, well done Scoot! .

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Immigration was a breeze. Took just 5 minutes. The immigration officer on seeing my travel dates smiled and asked if I am here for F1. I responded with a 1,000-watt smile. He stamped my passport and I proceeded to collect my baggage, which took only 5 minutes.

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Normally, I would take the Singapore Metro, known as the MRT, to commute. But I decided to take a Taxi to my friend's place in Ang Mo Kio. Reason being, I wanted to see the city. Getting a taxi was simple and quick. The cab driver was very friendly and took me to my destination without any issues.

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An hour after I reached my friend's apartment, I stepped out. My friend had to go to work. He had a spare MRT card which he gave me. Went to the Ang Mo Kio MRT station, topped up the card. I purchased a local SIM card from a '7-Eleven' store nearby. Starhub Happy SIM card for S$15, with 100GB 3G data for 5 days!! PERFECT!!

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So there were no scheduled Race events for Thursday, which meant I had the entire day to do anything. I wasn't interested in going to the usual 'touristy' places like Sentosa, Jurong and Universal Studios since I have seen these places before. I decided to go visit the track and see what's happening there.

I arrived at City Hall MRT. At the exits, I could see signboards indicating the directions to the nearest Grand Prix gate. Nice!

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I walked towards the gate with little hopes of getting in, because I assumed the circuit will be closed. But no, it was open for all! I was able to walk into the circuit venue without any restrictions. This was when I got my first glimpse of the track. There was a lot of work still being done. Workers were everywhere working on the barriers, lighting, fencing, painting the sponsor logos on the track etc. Most of the track was cordoned off. I met a European couple who were talking to one of the security staff, asking him to let them on the track. Surprisingly, the security readily agreed. I ran behind them saying "I'm with them"

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So there I was, walking on the track. The feeling was something else. I have seen teams do track walks around the whole circuit before the race, never thought I would be doing one myself! Few corners later, there were some cranes blocking the track and security advised us to move out. Didnít get to walk the entire track, but hey, a mini track walk over no track walk any day!

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After moving out of the track, I was on the Marina Bay side, on the Helix Bridge which connects to the Marina Bay Sands. I have been here before but the view never ceases to amaze me. Had to stop for some photographs! It was around 1:00 PM and the sun was beating down hard. This didn't dampen my spirits.

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Took a walk down the Helix Bridge which ends at the Marina Bay Sands mall and the ArtScience Museum. Went into the mall for the Air Conditioning (It was 34 degrees with 80% humidity, I really needed it!!). The Hugo Boss store in the mall had the Mercedes AMG GT on display along with a Lewis Hamilton mannequin.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 22:15. Reason: Spell and grammar check
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Old 20th September 2016, 18:13   #3
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

Lunch time and I was standing in the most expensive part of the city. Having a meal here will definitely burn a hole in my pocket. Time I left this neighborhood. Took the MRT to a mall near Sun Tech city. Had lunch there and I was ready to head out again. Stepping out of the mall, I realized I am in the vicinity of all the fancy hotels near the track. Possible locations for the team and driver spotting! I checked twitter and the Formula 1 twitterati informed me that McLaren are put up at the Conrad Centennial. Google Maps said itís a 400m walk. Not too far from where I was standing! Sadly, Google Maps did not account for all the barricades and diversions that have been placed for the Race. What should have been a 5-10-minute walk took me 40 minutes. No matter, I was positive I would get to meet someone. I reached the Conrad and boy, was this a fancy joint. Wearing shorts, I was pretty sure they would not let me in. The parking lot had so many supercars, I lost count. Here are a few pics:

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I reached the main entrance and I saw some McLaren team members, all waiting for their transport to take them to the track. Wished them good luck for the weekend as I walked past them. I noticed a black Mercedes S-Class parked outside the entrance with the engine running. Is somebody important coming through? Five minutes later, I see Eric Boullier, McLaren's Racing director making a dash towards the car with his associate. Took me a while to digest the fact that it's actually him, I ran towards him asking for a photograph. He was hesitant at first and then finally agreed. He stood for a microsecond and ran off saying he is running late. Not enough time to pull out my phone and click. Photo opportunity missed! Gutted, I thought I'll give up on the celebrity hunt, I decided to leave.

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Moments later, I see a camera crew walk out and three people wearing Manor Racing team wear. One of them was Esteban Ocon!! He was walking out with his entourage; I ran up behind him and politely asked him for an autograph and a photograph. He smiled and readily agreed! He even took some time to ask me where I am from and when did I arrive in Singapore. I wished him good luck for the weekend. Nice chap indeed. I wasn't aware that it was his birthday the next day, else I would have wished him.

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So mission accomplished, I have finally met a Formula 1 driver. Hooray.


Exhausted and dehydrated from the heat and walking, it was time to move indoors. I went to ION Mall on Orchard. I was supposed to meet up with my friend there. I reached ION mall, and roamed around for a while. He called me after a bit saying he is running late. So in order to kill time, I decided to step out and explore Orchard Road.

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On Orchard Road, there were quite a few Singapore GP Pop-Up Stores which were selling Singapore GP and F1 team merchandise.

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Down the road, I came across this interesting little building called the 'Information Centre'. It's like a permanent kiosk for tourists. They had several PCs offering free Wi-Fi for 15 minutes, free maps and brochures, and a lot of souvenirs. The staff were very friendly and were ready to answer any queries. The staff informed me about the revised MRT timings for the race weekend. Usually the last train is at 12:00 A.M midnight. For the race weekend, all train services were extended till 1:30 A.M.

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Finally, my friend arrived at an agreed meeting point. I was extremely exhausted and the two sleepless nights started taking a toll on me. it was time to call it a day. My friend suggested a few places we could go visit, but all I did was wave and say "Bro, letís go home, I'm done!".

This is how much I walked that day:

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Reached home at around 8:00 PM, went out for dinner and came back at around 9:00 P.m. It was time to hit the bed. I had initially made plans of going to the track at night, to catch some of the teams doing their track walk. But after a long day, I just couldn't. A good night's sleep seemed like the best option.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:33.
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Old 20th September 2016, 19:14   #4
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Day 1: Friday Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2

Friday, September 16th! The first day of the Grand Prix weekend, Excitement much!! The venue opened at 2:30 P.M, I left home at around 2:00 P.M. Grabbed a quick bite on the way to the circuit. So Friday's ticket gave me access to only Zone 4, the largest zone of the track. This was a good opportunity for me to explore this zone. I took the same gate as the previous day i.e. Gate 3 from City Hall MRT. I was expecting a huge crowd, but that wasn't the case. There were several lines marked for people with and without bags. On entering the gate, they scan the barcode present on the ticket, and do a quick bag search. I packed light so that was done pretty quickly. I was given a circuit map which contained the locations of all the different stalls, first aid booths, ATMs, grandstands etc. This also contains the schedule for each day. Neat!

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To enter the Padang Ground and the Padang grandstand, I had to cross the track. The over-bridge is made of metal and covered on both sides from top to bottom. This is to avoid spectators from standing here and watching the race. Smart indeed.

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I entered the Padang ground and wow, this place was HUGE!! The lawns were slightly wet since it rained earlier that morning. The food and beer stalls were operating in full swing. It was a very carnival like atmosphere!

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The Padang Stage was bang right in the center. It was massive and looked promising!

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To sum up the amenities list, there were plenty of portable toilets, sufficient ATM machines, the first-aid booth were well staffed, the food and game stalls were well organized and were able to handle the large crowds.

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I tried my hand at changing tires at the Pit Stop challenge booth. The pneumatic gun wasn't the actual one used by professional pit crew members, but the tires were full size inflated ones. Much heavier than I thought they would be!!

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I got a tattoo at the tattoo stall. There was a long line but worth the wait. They had a decent selection of patterns. I decided to get one on my arm. Others got it on their backs, legs, and some on the cheek! The tattoo spray on took only 5 minutes. Had it been permanent, my parents would have disowned me

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The venue was huge, there was plenty to discover. But before I proceeded further, I wanted to know where exactly my seat for the day's practice sessions was. The ushers were kids who were super friendly, cheerful and helpful. They guided me to my seat. Each seat and row number was clearly marked. When I arrived, the TCR Challenge practice session was going on. Watched a few laps and then moved back to the Padang ground to see more of the venue and its offerings.

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When I went back to the Padang ground, several performers arrived and this made the venue look like a carnival rather than a race weekend. The atmosphere around was a positive one. Was already considering booking tickets for next year's race even before Free Practice 1 commenced!!

The 'Mirror Family' and 'Harlequin' were well received by the crowd.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:45.
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Old 21st September 2016, 13:01   #5
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

I also spotted the Singapore GP mascot, 'Petrol Ed'!

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I went on to explore more areas in Zone 4, which seemed never ending. There were many merchandise stalls, including the official team stores. I passed by these stalls at least 4 times; the urge to buy everything was strong!!

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So I lost that battle with myself, I bought an Official Jenson Button Team flag from the store. Letís move on now, shall we

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There was a big stall operated by Singapore Airlines; the title sponsors for the race. They had a photo-booth, driving simulators, memory game stall, First and Business class experience booths and a souvenir store.

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There were more food stalls and bars on the other side of the ground. All that walking started taking a toll on me. Stocked up on '100 Plus', this thing ladies and gentlemen, is a lifesaver on a hot day! Met a couple of McLaren and Ferrari fans sitting in the shade and got a chance to meet and intereact with some new people.

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The big screen showed the F1 2016 season and race reviews and analysis videos. Not a bad way to chill on a Friday afternoon.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:48.
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Old 21st September 2016, 14:06   #6
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Time flew by and it was almost 6:00 PM. Time for Free Practice 1!! I went to my seat. I was happy with my seating location as it was close to the track, close to the corner (Turn 9), and right in front of the Big Screen. The clock struck 6, the session was underway. On the big screen, I saw the two HAAS and two Renault cars have left the pits. Eagerly watching on the big screen, I could see Romain Grosjean completing each corner. At the same time, I could hear a rumble. Yes, the rumble of the V6's! It grew louder and louder and my smile got bigger and bigger! And there it was, in all its glory, the steel colored HAAS car just came out of Turn 9 and zoomed down the straight. My first sight of an F1 car in action! My heart definitely skipped a few beats! And within seconds, a pack of cars zoomed by! Yes, I was watching F1 cars in action on track!!

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The cars were LOUD! Yes, they may just be using a V6 engine, but they are highly capable of obliterating your ear-drums. Ear plugs is a MUST!

Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:50.
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Old 21st September 2016, 22:46   #7
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Free Practice 1 was 1.5 hours long. This happened at dusk and it was quite an enjoyable session. Got to see Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso try out the 'Halos' on their cars. The session got over at 7:30 P.M. Free Practice 2 was scheduled for 9:30 P.M. This was more than enough time to hit the rest rooms, have dinner and relax before FP2.

Time for dinner! Food and beverage options were plenty. All were decently priced. Few items here and there were ridiculously priced but since options were many, it was irrelevant. Grabbed some food and went to the Singapore river bank to have my meal. A nice place to unwind.

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The night was still young; there was a small dance floor with a DJ. Also, more street performers showed up. This time, it was the Funky Love Squad. Everyone around me was having a good time, including yours truly.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:51.
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Old 21st September 2016, 23:19   #8
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

9:30 P.M, its FP2 time. Rushed back to my seat. This time, it was well beyond sunset. The night sky was dark but the track was very well lit. The first pack of cars came around the corner. Being night time, taking photos just got a lot more challenging. Looks like it was a practice session for me as well. I am not a photography expert, so tried different modes on my phone and digital camera. Managed to get a few good shots. But after a bit, I stopped taking pictures. I wanted to sit comfortably and soak in the air, noise and feel of F1 live.

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FP2 was over, people slowly moved out of the grandstands onto the Padang ground. It was time for the concert. Friday's headlining act was Kylie Minogue. I'm not a big fan; I have just heard a few of her songs in passing. But I have to admit, the show was brilliant. Very lively, the crowd was energetic and she still has an amazing voice after all these years.

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The show went on till 12:30 A.M. I left the venue at around 12 A.M. Exiting the venue wasn't difficult. I got out the same gate I came in through. The ushers present at the gates scanned my ticket on exiting the venue. Took the train and hit the bed as soon as I got home. An eventful Friday indeed!

Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:53.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 00:53   #9
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Day 2: Saturday Free Practice 3 and Qualifying

Saturday afternoon! It was time to head out to the Marina Bay Circuit. I left late on this day since I had some other commitments in the morning and early afternoon. Reached the track at 4:00 P.M. I had access to Zones 3 and 4. Decided to explore the unexplored i.e. Zone 3. Took a walk down the pier. The weather was better on Saturday compared to the day before. It was cloudy and there were chances of a wet qualifying session. But humidity was at 80%!! So it wasn't the nice cloudy weather!

I checked out some of the viewing platforms in Zone 3. These are for general ticket holders. Not too bad. There were quite a few of these platforms around the track. Saw a bit of the Porsche Carrera Cup Qualifying session from these platforms.

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The Porsche Carrera Qualifying was followed by the Ferrari Challenge Race. I decided to watch the race from my designated grandstand. The Bay grandstand, unlike the other grandstands is a permanent fixture. It sits in front of a floating football field. The track runs between the grandstand and the football field. This section of the track is between Turns 17 and 18.

I climbed up to my seat. It was high up and far from the track. But I could still see the track clearly. The background view was magnificent. Couldn't wait for nightfall and see all these buildings illuminate the night sky!!

The Ferrari challenge was underway. There was a major crash and the Safety Car was deployed. It was nice to see the race. There were a few Ferrari fans in the stands cheering for some of the drivers as they drove by.

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Turn 18: The most iconic corners of this circuit. A section of the track where the cars go under the grandstand!
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As the pit wall would radio in and say "Safety Car, Safety Car!"
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Last edited by frostbite911 : 24th September 2016 at 23:58.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 01:28   #10
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

At 6:00 PM, Free practice 3 was underway. It was a 1 hour session. From today's angle, i could see cars come in from turn 17, zoom down the straight and brake into turn 18 and the cars would disappear under the grandstand! SWEET!

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 23rd September 2016 at 01:41.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 12:22   #11
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After the chequered flag was waved for Free Practice 3, I jumped out of my seat and rushed to the Padang stage. Bastille was going to perform in 5 minutes!! I made it just in time and there wasn't a lot of rush. I managed to get a spot quite close to the stage. This meant a good spot for taking some nice close up shots!

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The concert was beyond amazing!! They ended their performance with their hit song 'Pompei'. But there was only one problem. Qualifying was set to start in another 10 minutes. Time to RUN back to the Bay Grandstand!!

Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 00:01.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 12:36   #12
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Made it back to my seat with 5 minutes to spare. Took out my camera, plugged in my phone to a power bank. I was ready for qualifying. Time was 9:00 P.M, the session was underway. 1 hour, three qualifying rounds.

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Quite a dramatic qualifying session. Part of the session was red flagged because Grosjean lost control of his car and hit the barricades. This meant no on track action for about 5 minutes but the clock was still ticking! 10:00 P.M, the chequered flag was waved. Nico Rosberg had claimed pole position!

Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 00:02.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 12:52   #13
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People got up to leave, but I sat there for a bit. Just to admire the beauty of the city skyline. WHAT A VIEW!!

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The day's racing events were over, which meant it was time for the night's headlining concert. It was Queen+Adam Lambert. I slowly walked back to the Padang stage. The concert had already started. I bought some food and drinks and sat on the Padang lawns in front of the big screen to watch the concert while I had my dinner.

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The concert was good! Amazing laser light effects were used. The crowd loved it, especially when they played classics like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'We are the Champions'.

The concert ended at midnight. Everyone left the venue as soon as the concert was over. I made my way to City Hall MRT. The late night MRT operations were truly a blessing!

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I reached home at 1:00 AM. A Saturday well spent! Short, but sweet!

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 00:06.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 14:56   #14
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

Day 3: Sunday Race Day

Sunday, September 19th, 2016. It was officially race day! Hooray!! Woke up early, left earlier than usual. I took a different route this time. Went via raffles to Gate 6. I reached very early. 2:10 P.M to be exact. The gates open at 2:30 P.M, and yes, they were strict about this. I had 20 minutes to kill. It was very sunny, so roaming around wasn't a good option. Gate 6 was near the Merlion statue. Took a few photographs and stood in the shade for the remaining wait time.

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2:30 P.M, the gates opened. I walked in after my ticket and bag check was complete. This time I head straight for Zone 1. Sunday's ticket gave me access to all the zones. What's even better, Zone 1 ticket holders get to go on the Singapore Flyer for free!! Was not planning on giving that up. I decided to go for that right away, that way, I won't miss out the drivers parade which was scheduled to take place later in the day two hours before the race.

The ushers around the circuit helped me find my way to the flyer. There was hardly any rush, in fact me and a few others were the first ones on the flyer for that day! The walkway to the flyer had a lot of modern art-science fusion structures, trippy lights and sound effects. I reached the entry point and we were put in one of the capsules.

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 00:09.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 18:05   #15
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Default re: Singapore GP: My First Formula 1 Race

The flyer never stops. One complete rotation takes 30 minutes. Including me, there were 5 of us in one capsule. It was pretty spacious and airy. Air-Conditioned and had tinted windows. A welcome relief from the sweltering heat. As it slowly moved up, I could see part of the ocean, buildings on the other side and right below, was the track. The TCR Challenge race was happening during my ride on the flyer. I could see quite a few corners of the track. A very beautiful view indeed. I'll let the pictures speak on my behalf.

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Exactly 30 minutes later, I got off the flyer and head out towards the Zone 1 entrance. On the way, I saw the garage for the Ferrari Cup Challenge cars. At least 10 to 15 Carbon fiber clad Ferrari 458's with some of their engines running. It was a sight to behold and music to the ears!

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Last edited by frostbite911 : 25th September 2016 at 00:11.
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