Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Brighter than your average football game // A weekend at Singapore, and hints of Kubica's future

Published by Lorenzo Maimone

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The Lion City was amazing as an overall experience.  The culture is an interesting one on many levels but I suppose to sum it up, it would be like this: Food = amazing. The sights are decent. Shopping – well, literally when you aren’t eating, you are shopping and after you have finished shopping it’s time to eat.  The credit card got a real battering whilst I was there, but it was worth it!!

On the F1 front a few things had me pleasantly surprised. The city truly embraces the race, as there were banners, boards, hoardings and other forms of advertising on the streets, merchandise stands all over town, signage about and how to get to different gates of the track, TV advertisements, old F1 cars for people to pose in front of and people generally talking about the race, so in that way it was interesting for me. In Melbourne for instance, we hardly even acknowledge that the race is here, whereas Singapore was all about it. Perhaps it was youthful exuberance, as it is only their second ever race. Maybe we Melburnians are old hats at hosting F1 races now, so we don’t get so excited anymore?

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Anyway, on the Thursday before the race, we headed to the track in the early afternoon to see if we could get near/on it and basically we were able to walk on the tarmac from turn 3 all the way around to turn 22 (2nd last corner).  The circuit itself was filthy. Dusty, dirty with debris everywhere and surprisingly to me the surface varies significantly from section to section, even some of the joining sections between different surfaces were pretty ordinary, (Melbourne has a much higher quality surface).

We couldn’t get into the Pit straight area, but ended up finding ourselves stationed just outside where the drivers were heading into the paddock complex, all in their various guises - some in full team garb, others in their civvies, but it was a welcome surprise nonetheless.  The drivers marched into work from 3:30pm onwards - we got to see and exchange a brief "g’day and good luck" chat with, Seb Buemi, Tonio Liuzzi, Adrian Sutil, Seb Vettel, Mark Webber (yay!!), Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima, Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld.  DC and Jackie Stewart even made appearances too which was good to see!!

Apparently we had just missed Lewis and Heikki, as they arrived before us, but we did manage to catch a glimpse of Kimi being driven right up to the gate in a gorgeous Maserati Quattroporte. They had found him a sneaky back way into the circuit, bypassing his heartbroken fans - seven female Singapore teenagers in full Kimi apparel, chanting “we love Kimi...we love Kimi”.  They were so upset when I pointed out that Kimi had circumvented them, that they cried off nearly all of their Ferrari facepaint. Poor things.

The lights? Way brighter than I had imagined. I know they say 4x brighter than your average football game and that's so bright the track is effectively better lit at night, than with the natural daylight at mid-afternoon. We had seats at Piquet corner, where we watched Grosjean spin in FP1 right in front of us, and for a moment I had thought the humidity had finally gotten to me when I saw him hit the wall, that I had to double take... priceless.

The race, well the only insight I may be able to provide from being trackside is how the drivers don’t really seem to be pushing the limits as you would expect. They were all very cautious on corner entry and leaving plenty of margin to the point where it was all a bit tame and even pedestrian sometimes.  I watched from 4 different corners over the weekend, to see how the guys were tackling the track and probably due to the dirty track and lack of overall grip, they were really very cautious. Maybe the onboards show a different story, but my feeling was that they were so focussed on not making errors (the walls are close and unforgiving after all), that they left decent margin in many places.

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Finally, I have a cracking photo of Nico staring right down the barrel of my camera, open chested Williams shirt on, smirk and goldilocks in tow, as we wished him well for the race. Probably more insightful I did manage to get a wry smile out of Daniele Morelli (Kubica’s manager) when I said to him in Italian, “has Robert been practicing his French for next year??”  I know Robert understands Italian too, but he didn’t flinch!!  ICE running through their veins those F1 boys, I tells ya!!