A trip into the F1 Paddock in Sepang / Malaysian Grand Prix 2011 race

me anita

The paddock! It’s the dream of every F1 fan to be able to walk amongst the pit crews, engineers and drivers prepping the F1 cars before the start of the race. I was fortunate enough to be able to join in just one such expedition.

f1 paddock

There are scheduled pit walks if you’re a member of the F1 Sepang Paddock Club (where you have to shell out a staggering amount for the privilege) but ours was by the Lotus Renault GP team.

girls

Our liaison was Anita Nyers, who travels around the world with the Lotus Renault team as Liaison Officer. She brought us into their allocated garage, which was bustling with activity. There were people hurrying around, all wearing the Lotus Renault GP shirt. I am also donning one of the tees – which I got from PROTON, who is supporting Group Lotus in its sponsorship and involvement in F1 through the Lotus Renault team.

lotus tag

This is the almost magical Lotus Renault GP VIP Garage Access tag that granted us entrance into the area. I still have it. :)

sepang

The paddock visit was scheduled at 11 am in the morning and I drove down to Sepang much earlier than that (didn’t want to risk missing this chance) and parked in PA1. The SIC has decreed that parking this year will be slightly cheaper – I paid RM 50 for the ticket, which is valid for two days. I like the parking spot, it’s right in front of the Sepang International Circuit.

f1 sepang

Anyway, back to the paddock trip, we saw the Lotus Renault GP team working on the cars, tuning and checking every single component before the race in their garage.

garage

The weather and track conditions (temperature of the ground, ambient temperature etc) are tracked constantly with computer monitors. It’s an engineer’s wet dream.

computer

They use all this data to give them an edge in the race. Here is a tyre stack – two front and two rear wheels which will be used during the race. There are spares in stacks all around.

tyres

The interesting bit about this contraption here is that it HEATS the tyres starting from 3 hours before the race based on the track temperature so it’ll perform optimally.

lotus garage

The attention to detail is incredible and F1 cars are amazingly complex machines.

helmets

These are the real racing helmets that the drivers will be using later.

Here’s a video of The Paddock! Experience it vicariously! ;)

driver

Oh, we bumped into the Malaysian driver for Lotus Renault GP while walking in The Paddock – here’s Fairuz Fauzy.

lotus renault lounge

We were also brought into the hospitality lounge where there’s anything and everything you can think of. I had a bottle of Italian sparkling water. There’s Evian, Perrier, various carbonated drinks and even Corona beer in the fridge. You can help yourself to it, or more accurately, Lotus Renault GP has a staff member which helps you get it.

monitors

They actually FLY these people all the way around the world with the Lotus Renault F1 drivers – everyone from the pit crew to the chefs. The drivers have very specific diets and brings along their own chef and food.

monitoring

I discovered a coffee machine which is quite nifty – you just put a packet of coffee that you choose from a dispenser above and put the entire thing in. There’s no need for you to open it or pour it out. The entire packet – unopened – goes into a slot and out comes your coffee. I don’t care if it makes me look dumb, but I’ve never seen anything like that before.

me

I also had a croissant (which is one of the largest I’ve ever seen) and a banana coz I didn’t have breakfast and then we walked out to watch the pit girls parade past, waving to the drivers and teams in The Paddock.

Here is one final video of the Lotus Renault garage in The Paddock!

parade

We had to vacate the premises soon after that for the qualifiers so we did. I watched the 4 pm qualifiers and went back to catch some much needed sleep before the real finals on Sunday.

paddock

Sunday came and I decided to go 5 hours early to beat the jam. It turned out to be futile. It was congested at certain parts of the road to Sepang and though the traffic police did a great job in directing, it took me the better part of two hours to get there.

view

There’s still ample time when I got there so I parked and started walking around before deciding I wanted to go up to one of the towers instead of sitting at my allocated seat. There’s a girl at the entrance which checks your ticket but I guess I was quite official looking with my tags and all on Saturday so she didn’t ask me for my ticket when I went up.

prep

I decided to stroll up again and smiled at her. She recognized me from the day before…and yes, did not check my ticket. Heh! I went up to the 3rd floor, which offers an awesome 360 degree view of the track – I can see the starting point, several straights and two bends.

flags

The pit girls came out parading the flags of the participant countries…

ready

…before the F1 cars came roaring out of The Paddock and into their allocated slots.

Here’s a video of the lineup of all the F1 cars at the Malaysian Grand Prix 2011 final race!

There was an initial placement round and then the race started proper…

…and they’re off!

start

Man, was it exciting! Red Bull Racing’s Sebastien Vettel started charging right off but Vitaly Petrov of Lotus Renault was right on his ass, giving him lots of pressure. Vitaly finished 3rd with his Lotus Renault in Melbourne before this so he was a favorite in Sepang. His pacing was impressive and it must have kept Vettel looking at his rear. It was unbelievable!

bend

I was rooting for Nick Heidfeld though. He’s also with the Lotus Renault team but didn’t start out as well as Petrov. However, he just kept at it and it paid off at the end, as you’ve probably heard.

chase

Petrov did things with his Lotus Renault F1 car that it was not meant to do – aerodynamic stunts – and had to retire at the 52nd lap. It was sooo close to the end but unfortunately he hit the side of the track and actually became airborne for a while before gravity took hold and pulled the car back down. The impact damaged the front so he had to exit after that.

chasing

I was standing all through the entire race – running from one side of the tower to the other to see the action. Nick of Lotus Renault was the dark horse in this race and I like rooting for the underdog. He kept on pushing the limits.

watch

The other fans up there were equally excited, some flew thousands of miles just to come and root for their team.

corners

It was a nail biting race – each lap saw cars trying to outmaneuver each other at bends and vying for position on the straights and Hiedfeld of Lotus Renault managed to come in at 3rd place!

race

It’s not the chequered flag but being able to stand on the podium is quite an achievement in itself. This is especially sweet for PROTON since Lotus Renault’s Heidfeld did it on home soil. :D

finish

Out of the 3 Malaysian backed teams, only the Lotus Renault team managed to get into the top 3 and pop the cork on the champagne bottle in the podium. w00t!

tickets

Lotus Renault GP is sponsored by Group Lotus. PROTON in its support of Group Lotus’ sponsorship of the team kindly provided me the tickets to F1 and the rare chance to go into The Paddock and even better – get INSIDE Lotus Renault’s garage. Not many people have that chance and I’m glad I managed to experience it.

I also went to the Rain concert which was included in the ticket.

anita nyers

Thanks to Jeffrey and Alvin from PROTON for being great hosts and Anita Nyers from Lotus for being an awesome tour guide. I can now say that I’ve held a real F1 steering wheel in my hand and rubbed shoulders with the pit crew inside the Lotus Renault paddock. :)

An interesting fact about the Lotus Renault team: Their golden suits is not just for the bling factor – it allows them to stay cool in Malaysia’s hot weather compared to their traditional black ones.

straight

Now that the Malaysian leg is over, I have one more year to recover from the sonic assault on my ears. I didn’t wear earplugs on both days and I think I might have developed slight hearing problems. ;)

Full videos of Rain Live in Sepang, Malaysia 2011

rain concert sepang 2011

Here’s another two full videos of Rain performing live in his Rain Live @ Sepang, 2011 concert. I recorded several of his set songs that day but since I don’t actually listen to him I’ll just call it “the fast song” and “the ballad” coz that’s just what it sounds like. Heh!


The fast dance music tempo song

The songs are in Korean – I don’t know the titles of them but the crowd went wild for both so I’m guessing they’re either fluent in the language or just too awed by his muscular pecs and brilliant mane of hair. smirk


The ballad

Speaking of hair, Rain only registers to someone like me (who doesn’t listen to K-pop) coz he was endorsing shampoo in a series of ads on TV a while back. I’m not sure if you can make girls go all weak kneed if you have his hair (remember Aaron Kwok and his popular haircut back in the 90′s?) but having a full crown of hair always helps. ;)

rain concert sepang 2011 pyrotechnics

Svenson’s Save My Hair Facebook contest is ending on the 16th of April – that’s just in a couple of days! Click over for your chance to win a full hair treatment session. You can also get a free hair consultation just by submitting a photo of your current hair problem(s) to their Facebook application! :D

Rain Live @ 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix Concert, Sepang

rain concert start

I dropped by the Rain concert after the F1 race in Sepang on 10 April 2011. It was after the final race and there was already a good sized crowd forming there at around 7 pm. Luckily, I had pretty decent tickets so I managed to get into the pit – was about 5 meters from the stage itself.

rain concert billboard

I can’t say I’m a fan of Rain. I don’t know him at all except from the Clear shampoo TVCs. I went to catch his performance with very little expectations since I don’t listen to K-pop.

this is rain

Rain has a really good stage presence – his choreography is excellent and the stage set is managed well by his technical people. However, I can’t say I’m impressed with his singing. I don’t think he’s that talented – he’s just one of those pretty boy “idols” that teenage girls go all gushy over.

rain live

However, I must admit that he’s quite good at what he does – namely his appealing looks and dance moves. The pyrotechnics helped a lot too!

rain concert sepang

I’m not his target audience, but there were legions of fans screaming for him. His fan base is predominantly female and he knows the usual tricks to get them into a frenzy.

rain stage

One interlude had him commenting on the heat in Malaysia while taking off his shirt and wiping his sweat with it and throwing it into the crowd.

rain concert

That went down very well. It was a huge hit with the crowd and I bet the girl who caught it would really treasure that personal souvenir. I don’t want to think about what she would do with it in the privacy of her own room. ;)

I will refrain from making captions like “It’s raining (men)” but that is apparently his most well known song. I think it’s called It’s Raining. I captured it in its entirety for your viewing pleasure.

rain dance

I don’t know how many people who’s reading this is a Rain fan. I’m not but if you are, I hope you enjoyed the video coz I had to stand there for damn near two hours before he came on stage. ;)

Melancholy, my bride

rain.jpg
This was taken while driving this evening in a thunderstorm. The black thingy is the windscreen wiper.

It was absolutely pouring with rain when I was driving home this
evening. You just don’t get this kind of rain in Melbourne. It was a
fierce sort of rain, relentless and loud and making visibility near
zero. There were thunderstorms and lightning and what not and you’ll
get drenched in a second if you’re not under some sort of cover. I have
loved storms like this ever since I was in Form One. Form One – Form
Two were afternoon classes in my high school and it usually finishes by
either 5:45 pm or 6:25 pm. It would be getting dark by then and I used
to wish for heavy rain at the end of a Friday. I had to walk quite a
distance to wait for my mom to pick me up in front of a bakery and when
it rained, it was lovely to walk along the long stretch of road leading
to the bakery. It would be getting dark and the rain would be pouring
down, soaking my uniform and I’ll walk slowly and happily, savoring the
fact that there was a weekend ahead of me. I loved the feeling of rain
soaking me and getting me thoroughly wet. I think the combination of
dusk + rain gave the whole thing a melancholic tone, which I really
liked. That was one of my strongest memories of Form One (age 13).

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