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2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix October 11, 2011

Posted by Dru in Sports.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Jc

For anyone who has read my blog over the years, you know that I am an avid race fan.  I have been to the Japan GP for Moto GP (motorcycles) almost every year since I’ve been in Japan.  I have also been to the F1 Grand Prix in Japan 3 times as well as Rally Japan in Hokkaido last year.  This year, I decided to take a trip to Singapore to watch the F1 race.  Singapore does not have the same history as Suzuka or even Fuji Speedway but it is quickly growing.  The location has been likened to an Asian Monaco Grand Prix due to the similarities of a road course on narrow streets.  Like Monaco, the race winds its way around historical buildings but unlike Monaco, the race also passes new modern buildings that were finished very recently, or are still being completed.  The Singapore GP has also built up a lot of entertainment for both casual and diehard fans alike.

The run up to the Singapore GP lasts roughly a week before the actual GP.  While the F1 circus probably doesn’t arrive until the Wednesday before the race, the event starts roughly 7-10 days ahead.  Many of the shopping malls start by getting their decorations up and many shops have grand prix sales.  It is an exciting time to just be in the city and you can easily feel it in the air.  I didn’t arrive in Singapore until the Thursday before the race, which gave me three and a half days to soak up the atmosphere of the race weekend.  At that time, everything was in place and things seemed to be running smoothly.  Most shops had a minimum 20% discount on items.  It was great to see and many shopping malls had outdoor shops of various F1 sponsors.  Tag Heuer had a portable shop erected outside a shopping complex in the Orchard district.  Puma had a small container ship transformed into a portable shop located near one of the main entrances to the circuit.  While walking around the various shopping malls, you would be highly likely to also run into a previous model of F1 cars on display.  I only saw three, Lotus Renault, Force India, and Ferrari.  I would assume that there were more, but I didn’t run into them and there was little to no information on where they would be.  That is the only challenge when visiting Singapore during the F1 season, some of the public locations around the city are hard to find and you just have to stumble upon them.

The actual circuit is split into 4 fan zones.  Zone 1 encompasses the main straight and grandstands as well as the paddock.  Zones 2 and 3 are located in nicer viewing areas, and Zone 4 is the general area at the far end of the track that is closer to the city.  Most of the casual fans will flock to Zone 4.  This is the largest zone with many viewing platforms, a few grandstands, and the concert venue.  The entire weekend is filled with various concerts on each day.  They set aside a large grass field and built a temporary stage at one end.  During each concert, it is nothing but a sea of people in the entire field.  In fact, I’m sure many people buy tickets just for the concerts, rather than the F1 race.  Being more of an F1 fan than a fan of the musicians, I didn’t go to any of the concerts.  By the time the race ended, I was too tired to push through all the people and barely watch a concert.  I thought that by the time I walked from Zone 1 to Zone 4, the field would be completely full and I wouldn’t be able to see anything.  Zones 2 and 3 are pretty boring to be honest with only a few entertainers roaming around.  The only difference between the two zones is the fact that Zone 2 has one of the famous grandstands facing Marina Bay itself.  These grandstands face a floating platform and the cars themselves race under the grandstands at one point.  Otherwise, both Zones 2 and 3 are almost no different to Zone 1.  Zone 1 is for the real race enthusiasts.  It is where you will find all of the people hanging out waiting for the race.  While both Zone 1 and 4 have F1 villages where you can buy merchandise, Zone 1 has better viewing platforms and it is around the most important corners in the race.  I also found that more kids and families stayed in Zone 4 than Zone 1 and a lot more F1 merchandise was carried around in Zone 1.  It was noticeable difference but not by a huge amount.

The experience of the F1 weekend is something that I can’t explain.  It is a thrilling and exciting event that must be experienced to understand.  Every day is filled with people.  The streets are filled with F1 enthusiasts just roaming around wearing their favourite team colours.  Inside the circuit area, you can see so many people.  After going to F1 at Suzuka and Fuji Speedway, I must say the level of noise in Singapore was much greater.  They had “survival kits” for $2 each that contained a poncho and earplugs.  On Friday, I was walking around and experienced just one practice session.  At first, things were okay.  My ears were fine and I thought it wasn’t bad until I headed up and crossed the track at one of the overhead passes.  The scream of the engines were deafening and I could feel it shaking every cell in my body.  I had to plug my ears just to keep them from ringing.  I went to another location located under a bridge where the sounds of the engine echoed.  It was so deafening that without plugging my ears with my hands, my ears felt as if they were starting to bleed.  It was terribly loud due to the echo, but it was extremely fun.  The other experience of the race that must be felt is how close you actually come to the track.  In regular tracks, you are in grandstands that are metres away from the track itself.  There is also a large runoff area for the driver’s safety.  In Singapore, the track is narrow and the viewing areas are usually no more than a metre or so from the track barrier.  It is exciting to see the cars miss a turn and probably more so to see them crash.  I was not in a corner where a car had crashed, but I was in a corner where the cars missed the corner a couple times.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.

In terms of the race itself, qualifying was a bit of a disappointment for me.  I was hoping to see Kamui Kobayashi do well but he crashed out in the second round.  The race was nice and interesting and the first few laps were exciting to see cars go through the turn two by two.  I was camping out at turn 5 as I liked the position for photos.  Things seemed to be going well and there were no problems at all, from what I could see.  I heard a few things but didn’t see much as there wasn’t a TV screen nearby.  Thankfully some people had Fanvision portable TVs and I could sneak a look from time to time.  I wish I had spent money on renting a Fanvision as I would have been able to see much more of the action.  I’m not sure if I would be as happy as I wouldn’t be able to use my earplugs, but who knows.  If you don’t have a screen to watch the action, I would highly recommend a Fanvision in order to keep up with what is happening around the track itself.  At turn 5, there really wasn’t much action happening for the entire race.  Cars would go by really quickly and that’s about it.  I enjoyed it a lot but had to guess what happened a little when Michael Schumacher crashed into Sergio Perez and brought the one yellow flag of the race.  I also couldn’t tell when the race would end either.  It was a difficult time to keep track of the race but in the end, Sebastian Vettel won the race with Jenson Button in second and Mark Webber in third.  As of writing this entry, Vettel is leading the championship and needs just 1 point to win it.  Jenson Button is in second and needs to win every race to win the championship.  It is more than likely that Sebastian Vettel will win the championship in Japan on October 9th.

All in all, the race was a great experience.  It was the best race I had ever been to, albeit I have only attended 3 races in my life now.  It could be a combination of a vacation and how close I was to the actual action.  Singapore really knows how to throw a great party and they should be patted on the back for it.  I am reminded of a story about the Olympics themselves.  When I went to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, everyone, including foreign media, reported how much fun it was to be in the city.  It was a real party atmosphere.  When people went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they said it was a great event but outside of the event it was very boring.  When going to the races in Japan, I found it to be more alike Beijing than Vancouver.  While the location of the course itself is partly to blame, I feel that having more F1 related activities in Nagoya or Osaka could help a lot.  The same goes for Moto GP.  They cities near the events need to make it a destination in order to bring people in and keep them in.  Doing so would help increase the number of visitors as well as people who visit the area for more than just a passing weekend.   The Singapore Grand Prix is a race I would love to see again, but not sure if I’ll do it anytime soon.  You will get a race that is held at night so that you can enjoy the city by day.  You can party it up with all of the F1 related activities both inside and outside of the circuit itself.  It is a non-stop weekend that I highly recommend.

2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is part of a series of posts detailing my experiences of visiting various F1 races around the world.  To read more about the various races I have attended, please follow the links below:

Information:

Official Website:  http://www.singaporegp.sg/

Maps January 31, 2010

Posted by Dru in Uncategorized.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Maps” and other posts from this blog.  http://wp.me/s2liAm-maps 

For a time at the end of 2009 till 2010, I was creating maps to accompany my posts.  Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to keep this up.  I will continue to keep these existing maps online and you may continue to view them along with the posts that are here at Dru’s Misadventures.

Dru

MAPS:

Ajinomoto Stadium (2010-01-31)
Japanese Football: Kashima Antlers VS FC Tokyo
Japanese Football: Urawa Reds VS FC Tokyo

Asakusa (2010-01-31)
Part I
Part II

Ginza (2009-10-25)
Part I
Part II

Gundam (2010-01-31)
Shizuoka

Harajuku (2009-11-01)
Part I
Part II

Japan’s Top 3 Views (2010-01-31)
Amanohashidate
Matsushima
Miyajima

Jingu Stadium (2009-12-06)
Japanese Baseball: Tigers VS Swallows

Makuhari Messe & Chiba Lotte Marine Stadium (2010-01-31)
2009 Tokyo Motor Show
Japanese Baseball: Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles VS. the Chiba Lotte Marines

Nippori (2010-01-31)
Nippori

Odaiba (2010-01-31)
Part I
Part II

Otaru (2009-11-28)
Otaru
Otaru Snow Gleaming Festival

Samezu (2010-01-31)
Converting a License in Japan

Shibuya (2010-01-31)
Part I
Part II
Part III

Shinjuku (2009-11-15)
Part I
Part II
Part III

Suzuka Circuit (2010-01-31)
2009 Formula 1 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix

Toyocho (2010-01-31)
Renewing a License in Japan

Tsukiji (2010-01-31)
Tsukiji

2009 Formula 1 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix October 13, 2009

Posted by Dru in Sports.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2009 Formula 1 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-hI

On October 4th, 2009, Japan hosted it’s annual round of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.  For those of you who have been reading this blog, last year, I also attended the Japanese Grand Prix.  This year was a little different.  After two years at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka, the Japanese Grand Prix moved back to its traditional home of Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture.  Mie is located south west of Tokyo.  The closest major city is Nagoya, but you can still access Kyoto and Osaka from Suzuka.  By and far, the easiest and most common way to reach the circuit itself is to leave from Nagoya.

The biggest difference between Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit is the owner.  Fuji is ultimately owned by Toyota, while Suzuka is owned by Honda.  The two car giants of Japan competed for the rights to hold the Japanese Grand Prix for the last three years.  From this year, the plan was to alternate between Fuji and Suzuka.  Next year’s race was supposed to be held in Fuji.  Unfortunately, due to the downturn in the economy last year, Fuji decided to not hold the race in 2010, so Suzuka stepped up and will hold the race in Japan for the next few years.  Many of the drivers were very happy about this, but what about the fans and the Japanese people themselves?  While a lot of people don’t really care, race enthusiasts were always happy to hear that Suzuka won the race.  It is one of the very few figure 8 circuits in the world, and the only one on the F1 calendar.  It is steeped in history that, while not as old as Fuji, is more prestigious.

Accessing and retuning home from Suzuka Circuit is very easy.  From Nagoya, it’s a simple reserved express train from Nagoya Station to Suzuka Circuit Inou Station.  You can also purchase reserved tickets to get back to Nagoya.  While this may be a little expensive compared to the regular trains, it guarantees that you’ll have a seat, and when you return to Nagoya, that may be very important.  When you do reach the station, it’s very easy to find your way to the circuit.  Just follow the groups of people and you’ll be fine.  While it may be different in future years, be sure to pick up a map and ask the staff for some information to make sure you know your options.  If you want to play it safe, just return to the same station.  The second option is to take the Kintetsu trains to Shiroko Station.  It’s about 5 kilometres away from the circuit, or an hour walk.  There is a shuttle bus, but it can take up to an hour to wait for it.  Many people enjoy a nice walk in the countryside to get to this station.  To reach it, you must also walk past the Inou.  The main advantage of walking to Shiroko is that trains come more often than at the Inou station.  When leaving Nagoya, don’t worry too much about buying tickets.  You can easily buy them at the main entrance as there will probably be a table set up for selling return tickets.  Just be sure to know which tickets you need before leaving.

When entering Suzuka circuit itself, it’s evident that Honda’s circuit company knows what it’s doing.  It has held the F1 event and other major world sporting events for years.  The F1 event itself is very similar to the one in 2008, but there are noticeable differences.  The first is that the party is slightly bigger, yet more compact.  In Fuji, everything was spread out a lot more.  Suzuka’s main entertainment area was behind the main grandstand, and there wasn’t a lot going on outside of that area.  Of course, you can always buy the basic souvenirs around the course, but there were fewer opportunities to do so.  However, buying food was ten times better in Suzuka.  The options were slightly limited, and it wasn’t the cheapest food in the world, but it was good and reasonable for a world sporting event.  The major plus is the number of activities that are available for children.  There is a large ferris wheel, and other various amusement rides that are centred for children.  Suzuka, being Honda’s signature track, has a better amusement area compared to Motegi.  There are various boat rides, and roller coasters.  There was a go-kart track, but this was closed to add more space for exhibitions.  Overall, I’d prefer Suzuka over Fuji, and most Japanese people would tend to agree.  Fuji’s major advantage was being close to Tokyo.

Looking at the race, it was your typical F1 race.  I had the chance to enjoy the event during qualifying for the first time.  It was a nice event, and qualifying made walking around the main areas easier.  It was extremely busy on race day, so if you can enjoy the Saturday qualifying, be sure to do your shopping then; don’t wait until race day or things will be sold out.  Qualifying was riddled with accidents, and the race itself wasn’t that exciting.  In typical F1 fashion, there were several passes on the first few laps, but after that, it was a war of attrition.  Everyone kept circling the circuit and any passing was done in the pits.  By the end of the day, Sebastian Vettel won the race with home team Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in second.  Bringing up the last spot on the podium was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Suzuka Circuit Links:

(English – Note that this site has only information on the facilities) http://www.mobilityland.co.jp/english/
(Japanese – Note that this site has information on events) http://www.suzukacircuit.jp/
(Wiki) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuka_Circuit
(Official F1 Website) http://www.formula1.com/

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