I was never a fan of the Formula One races. Actually, I have been to one in Sepang, Malaysia, but I didn’t really enjoy it. To me the cars were just going round and round and I had no idea what was going on, nor did I care. A few months back, my friend, a huge F1 fan found out that the tickets for the Singapore leg of the races were on sale. And being the huge fan that he is, he insisted that we all go watch the race. Another friend from Hong Kong will be joining us. From past experience, I really didn’t feel like watching the race. Just like before, the cars just go round and round and I didn’t think the Singapore leg would be any different.
Putting a twist to the race, the Singapore leg was decided to be a night race. A first in the history of F1 racing. The track will be in the bay area of Singapore passing through landmark buildings such as the Old Parliament House, the Supreme Court building, the Esplanade, the Singapore Flyer and, of course, the Merlion.
We originally wanted to get the cheapest tickets with seats, which was the Marina Bay Grandstand, but they sold out first. So we ended up buying the Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand, but it cost almost twice as much. However, it offers a better experience since it is located in between two curves, giving us a better view of the cars as compared to the straight lines of the Marina Bay Grandstand.
Preparations for the race dramatically ramped up as the September 26, 27 and 28 deadline drew near. Extremely bright street lights were set up to light the streets of the track. Grandstands grew out of nowhere at an astounding pace. Even the buildings of the central business district had their own preparations for the race, putting on lights to make an impressive backdrop to show the rest of the world.
September 26 was the practice run and I rushed towards the track right after work to catch the drivers practice. At this point, I was still feeling very much indifferent abou this whole race thing. But when I got within a few blocks of the track, I started hearing the familiar engine roar of the F1 car. Wow, it really excited me. Just hearing it was enough to make me look forward to the race.
The entire track was surrounded by tall fences, built to keep the spectators safe from any accidents that may occur. From Bugis, we made our way to Suntec then to Marina Square. At several points here, you can actually see and hear the cars drive by. Although there were a lot of views that were blocked by high fences, people can still get a glimpse of the cars once in a while, through gaps in the fence. However, no amount of fencing will keep the sound away. It was truly exhilirating!
Having scouted our grandstand, I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. However, I wasn’t really expecting to see big screen televisions in front of us, but there were. This really made this much easier for me to understand the race. Aside from the television, there was also commentary, so people really know what is going on. The seats were a little small though, since I wasn’t really that big, I didn’t mind it. Also, being one of the earlier buyers of the tickets were seated near the front on row 7. My other friends were seats much higher. The view was quite disappointing though, although we were closer and have a great view of the street. The tall, steel fences are in the way. If you love to take photos like I do, you’ll be severely disappointed.
Whatever I say, the fence will not go away, I still watched the practice race. Being the newbie that I am, I didn’t know who the teams were, nor did I know who the drivers were. Only the more famous ones were familiar to me, like Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton. Apparently, you can tell who the drivers are just by looking at their helmets. I never did.
The practice race was uneventful as it was just a chance for the drivers to get a feel of the track. One thing I noticed though was that the streets were a little narrow for racing. Overtaking is going to be tough. Anyway, the practice race was won by Fernando Alonso of the Renault team. There are no rewards for winning the practice race so it didn’t really matter.