Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MALAYSIA F1 GP 2014 - RACE DAY

Race day is the busiest day of the three days of F1. The rain of the qualifying day and the long way back to the city had caused me to buy a One-Way ticket for the way home after the race with the KLIA Express Train/Shuttle Bus combination, rather than using my already paid bus transfer. An extra RM 25!

The race track was very busy even way before the F1 activities started. Malaysian Super Series had their second races, with Series A and B as well as Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. I felt kind of sorry for the winners who went up the podium and had their champagne splashing fun and winning ceremonies, with nobody really watching down below. 

The F1 drivers truck parade had never happened before, according to my seat neighbors, so it was great to see all the drivers walk up to the bus directly in front of us and assemble in the open deck, with the exception of Sebastian Vettel and another driver, who stayed in the covered back of the bus. I guess it must have been the heat/humidity which kept them inside. But for the hard-core fans who sit here in the sun for three days it is the closest they will ever get to their drivers. 

Again, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton seemed to be the friendliest, smiling and waving at the crowd, while others were quiet and seemed distant. Great to see them up close though. 

The race kicked off with a moment of silence for MH370 and the national anthem of Malaysia while the grandstands filled up with people. People who had a seat and people who obviously didn't and just stood wherever they pleased to - mostly right in front of us, blocking our view. Unfortunately the race organizers did nothing to limit this behaviour and the poor girls who checked the tickets where completely overwhelmed with people coming in and out of the gate.

Luckily the weather was perfect for a great race and it did not get delayed for any rain, as during the qualifying. It's a great race track with good views, perfect seats at a real attractive price. No fireworks at the end, unlike in Singapore and no real concerts, during the first two days. A concert with Calvin Harris happened after the race but I am not sure how many people actually went to it. After the podium fun, everyone seemed to move back to the parking areas and buses. 

The alternative option to go back to the city, which was labeled "the fastest way to the race" turned out to be better than the RapidKL direct bus option, however the first line I hit was long. And it turned into an even longer six lines inside the tent next to the buses, however it moved fast. The way down to the KLIA Express train was well posted and I actually got the next available train which was in the city in 20 minutes. It seemed faster, AC was much better than on the RapidKL buses and I got lucky having seats. However the train was very full with lots of people standing. It will be my option for next year's race for sure. 























Sunday, April 27, 2014

MALAYSIA F1 GP 2014 - QUALIFYING

Buses from KL Sentral to Sepang were more full on qualifying day. I let one bus go since there were no more seats and ended up in a bus full with hung-over young Australians who had partied all night long. Some looked like they would not live through the day!

Sepang race track was more busy than on Friday with lots of fans showing their colours and being dressed up in funny ways. Very entertaining. 

I also met my seat neighbors who flew in from the U.K. for the race and as it turned out, they were real F1 experts, having worked in that field and living close by most of the producers of F1 engines. And they turned out to be real nice people who shared the same resentment against all those people who didn't have proper seats but were standing and blocking our views.

The morning and early afternoon was filled with Paddock Club Pit Lane Walks, Pit Stop Practice and Malaysian Super Series as well as Porsche Carrera Cup activities. 

Just in time for the F1 Qualifying session the air felt like rain and surely half way through the qualifying session it just came down on us as if the world would end. It was expected here in Malaysia though, but having bought a covered seat I was not expecting the roof above me to leak! And the constant splashing of water behind our seats made us as wet as if we had just stood under an umbrella. My neighbors said, they had complained about this leak for years with the organizers and nothing was fixed!

The Qualifying Session had to be delayed for a long time with nothing else to do but wait. Eventually the rain eased off and it got going again shortly before it was getting dark. 

The rain also took it's toll on the way back to the city, for two reasons. 1) the back door did not fully close and driving on the flooded streets with heavy downpour made the first three rows in the back unfit for seating. The front of the bus was full too with people standing and hanging on to the rails. And secondly, it rained even heavier as we got back into the city, with streets flooded and traffic standing, which then took a full 2 hours to get us back. Definitely not taking that bus tomorrow on race day!