Prior to 2008, I was never a fan of the Formula One races. Still not a huge fan, truth be told. And if it weren’t for my previous job with MediaCorp as a Assistant Producer, I would have never encountered the sport.
As part of the inaugural F1 Night Race in Singapore, Singtel commissioned a reality television show to search for Singapore first set of Grid Girls. And I was part of the team tasked to find said grid girls. It was a massive undertaking. We had a mini amazing race style finale with 4 grid girls competing to win the top prize. And prior to the finale, we had 3 episodes in which we had to whittle the competition down from 20 to 3. And of course even before we reached the starting number of 20, we had to go through scores and scores of audition footage and applications!
I shall rehash my past experiences in another post but it was this experience of doing the Singtel Grid Girls programme that made me curious about the F1 races.
Despite my curiosity about the sport that was such a huge part of my life for over 4 months, I had never been to an Formula One race before. Until November 2013.
My significant other’s mum is invited (almost) yearly to attend a work event in Abu Dhabi and in 2013, I was offered the chance to tag along. The biggest reason I was excited about going to Abu Dhabi was because we were invited to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!
Why so excited?
For everyone who aren’t Formula One fans, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the final race of the championship. The 2015 championship kick started in Australia mid-March.
Australia – Malaysia – China – Bahrain – Spain – Monaco – Canada – Austria – England – Hungary – Belguim – Italy – Singapore – Japan – Russia – United States – Mexico – Brazil – Abu Dhabi.
In 2008, the inaugural race held in Singapore was Formula One’s first ever night race. And a year later, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix became Formula One’s first day-night race.
Race 19 of 19.
Once we reached Yas Island, we were served lunch in one of the Formula One Paddock Club™ rooms then we got the chance to go down to the pit lanes to take photographs and possibly rub shoulders with the crew and drivers of the teams.
Well, I never got to see Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel up close, I’d likely have a better chance of that at my old job in MediaCorp, but it was still very fun to watch the teams prep for the race.
I spent lots of time watching them prep for the race. And my patience was rewarded when I scored a video of the Sauber team as they practiced removing and attaching the wheels of their car!
I suppose doing the same thing over and over again made the process become like second nature to them. The team would have practiced so much that come race time they would just be going through the motion and doing their task as quickly as they could.
After the pit lane walk we adjourned back to the Paddock Club rooms. We could either watch the race on the multiple television sets in the air-conditioned rooms or head out to the stands above the pit lanes and watch the race.
Even before the race began there was quite a lot of fan fare. We were even treated to a fly past by a Eithad airplane.
But the most exciting part was watching the drivers in action racing around the race track. Initially I thought I would be bored. But I found that I really enjoyed it.
I especially loved to watch the crew change the tires at the pit stop! They’re so fast! I suppose that’s why they practice so much before the race. Because every second counts!
Just before the race kicks off at 17:00 local time, we were all herded back to our rooms where we waited in air-conditioned comfort for the race to start, ear plugs ever ready in our hands.
In 2013 I watched Mark Webber place second after Sebastian Vettel at Abu Dhabi. It was his last year of racing. Then in 2014, I went again and witnessed Lewis Hamilton clinch first place at the race.
After my first F1 experience, I was better able to appreciate the sport. In fact, I realised that I was thrilled by the speed of the cars racing round the track and how mere seconds could make such a huge difference in the end results.
Watching the race from above the pit lane made me realise how a split second can make a whole world of difference. And every time the first placed driver made a pit stop, I found myself holding my breath counting the seconds it took before the driver was out on the track and back in the race again.
I don’t know about the Singapore Night Race because I’ve never attended a race in Singapore, but at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, there would be fireworks once a championship winner has emerged.
I love watching fireworks so that was a treat. I find fireworks so pretty, but also think it’s a pity its so short lived and brief. Not to mention expensive!
Fans can also watch the race from the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, the first hotel in world to be built over an F1 race circuit. And after the race ends, the hotel will be brightly lit in various different colours.
It’s really quite a sight to behold.
Attending the Formula One race in Abu Dhabi was an amazing experience. One I am not going to forget. And though I can’t afford to watch all the races all over the world, it’s something to aspire to.
What do you think?
Have you been to a Formula One race before? Which country’s race track is your favourite? What about the race excites you?
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