In the early 2010s, the Kartright Speedway track was the only place karting enthusiasts in Singapore could go racing without taking their passports with them. The options have doubled now with the opening of the eagerly anticipated KF1 Karting track. Earlier this month, Johnny and I decided to check it out of our own accord, and this is what it’s like for the fan who occasionally rents a fun kart for a spin.
For the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix, McLaren nominated me to write the fan blog. ‘Chuffed’ doesn’t begin to describe the feeling. Though the page no longer exists, I would like to thank the team publicly for the opportunity to share my experience with a wider audience.
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It has been six years since the first Formula 1 race was held in Singapore but I am not tired of being a part of it. The Formula 1 world does not seem to tire of returning either, judging by the excited social media updates that I read in the week preceding the Grand Prix. It is easy to see why.
The city skyline is absolutely stunning as it is illuminated by dancing lights for the weekend. Meanwhile, the futuristic architecture complements the cutting edge technology on the tarmac. With the music stages close to the track’s edge, roaming performers around the circuit and world-class music acts headlining the concerts, the party atmosphere is palpable.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I watched the circuit take shape. Bit-by-bit, the barriers and the grandstands went up. The sight of F1 cars threading between malls, skyscrapers and colonial buildings under floodlights is still unique to this venue. As a local, it is especially significant as I grew up with many of these places and still visit them regularly.
What is the best part about this street circuit?
With three different subway lines passing through it, it is easy to access from any part of the tiny city. The drivers and the teams stay in hotels around the track and I have frequently crossed paths with them. One of them was McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, and he was kind enough to take a photograph with me.
The weekend began on Thursday, when I was among the 2,500 lucky people invited to take a closer look at the team garages. We witnessed the teams practise tyre changes and saw a few drivers go on track walks to reacquaint themselves with the corners, the bumps and the kerbs. After seeing the 2014 cars in the flesh, I still have not fallen in love with their looks. But who cares when they are still blindingly quick and are even more energy efficient than before?
My walkabout ticket allowed me to watch the trackside action from several different locations around the circuit on Friday and Saturday. It’s an arrangement which I like for its flexibility. That also meant a lot of walking, as the ticket name suggests. It is impossible for anyone to stay dry in the humid outdoor heat even without moving around, but that was the only certainty about the weather. A massive thunderstorm after qualifying soaked everyone, even those with umbrellas and raincoats!
Using my prior experience, I found spots where the cars were just feet from the barriers, setting their brakes alight and smoking their tyres. Each of the three sectors is very different to drive, making it visibly difficult to get a rhythm. The drivers were very close to one another on the practice timing sheets, considering the long lap time. The Ferraris and Red Bulls ran the dominant Mercedes cars close, while McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were often within the top ten.
Race day began with smog-filled skies, but they cleared as night fell
I picked a shady spot under the bridge near the end of the pit straight . It afforded a great view of the start and several overtaking moves before Turn 1. Former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton won the race from pole in dominant fashion, save for a couple of tense laps when Sebastian Vettel tried to fend him off after his final pitstop. Both drivers were well supported by the crowd, as evidenced by the cheers that erupted from different areas whenever the lead changed hands.
The Hamilton fans roared again when he crossed the finish line to set off the fireworks. For the first time, I joined in the post-race track invasion and witnessed the podium ceremony. Even then, all the teams had started packing up their garages. That was the sign that another year of waiting had begun.
The weekend ended too soon, though. It left me with more great memories, gushing comments from friends abroad and a sleep pattern to fix. I hope the next twelve months until the next Singapore Grand Prix pass just as quickly!
The Formula 1 in my home city is just three days away! Tickets collected, ear plugs packed, you’ve read the suggestions on the Singapore GP web page and you’re ready for the weather. What could go wrong?
Having attended all the Singapore GP’s held thus far, I’d like to offer my favourite tips to those race fans who are looking to maximise their enjoyment of the race and minimise the frustration (and one for those who want to avoid the event entirely). Do comment if you’d like my advice on other matters related to attending the race! [Read on]
In ten days, the lights will go out to start the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. In just over a week, the first practice sessions will take place on the streets right in the heart of the city-state. Right now, I’m amped!
I attended every edition of this race faithfully for the last six seasons, and I spent good money that could have gone towards another holiday on watching the racing up close. This year will be no different. A world-class race that the F1 circus enjoys attending and that I could easily commute to via public transport is one of the few things that make me happy to live here.
One of my favourite things to do in the days leading up to the race is to walk the Marina Bay street circuit and see it take shape around me, and it is entirely possible up to midnight on Wednesday evening. A section around the paddock will be off-limits; however, I can still see the corners up-close and admire the landmarks from the middle of the street. That would be suicide at any other time of the year! [Read on]
I previously mentioned a few things that make life in Singapore enjoyable, and one of them is the sheer variety of food that is available. Few conversation topics as such crowd pleasers in the country, which celebrates 49 years of independence tomorrow. But instead of putting together a list of popular local dishes, I have picked a few unusual foods that are peculiar to the region (so I left out the imported cheeses and seafood).
Some are downright obvious choices, while others are a little obscure. I enjoy only a few of them, and none are exclusive to the country (I only said you can find them here), but that has not stopped them from becoming a part of its identity. And where else in the world could you escape to a Japanese/ German/ Thai/ Mexican/ safe establishment next door if you get fed up of trying these weird things? [Read on]
The first leg of my flight from Singapore to Shanghai was scheduled to depart at 6.40am. That meant checking in at silly o’ clock, and it left me cursing the lack of 24-hour public transport.
One option – if I wanted to catch that flight and sleep in my bed – was getting my dad to drive me to Changi Airport. I’m twenty-eight; even if he wanted to there was no way I’d let him. The alternative was a $25 taxi ride. $25 for a nap at home and perhaps an awkward conversation with the cabby along the way.
I decided to trade my bed for a cold airport bench. [Read on]