International events are always enjoyable, whether they are music, sport or even gardening there is always a special atmosphere that everybody has gathered for something they’re excited about. After being a Formula one fan since about the age of ten, living in England there was no realistic way to get first-hand experience. Just for the Sunday ticket you will be paying roughly £150 to be in the field area. Secondly the track is in the middle of nowhere and I don’t own a car so would have to pay for extortionate public transport. Thirdly it will probably be cold and rainy.
It was such a ‘coincidence’ that my time in Malaysia coincided with their grand prix and buying an early bird ticket meant only paying £13 for a field ticket (with a very good view) for the full weekend. Compared to UK standards this is such a bargain, in London you can pay £13 for a cinema ticket rather than a world class annual event. The shuttle bus system was really efficient costing £4 each way and going regularly taking just over an hour. Getting back took a little more tactic, and elbow, as everyone was crowding to get on the same busses back, luckily I had been in Asia long enough to stop queuing like an Englishman long ago. It’s not something to be proud of but it makes the difference between getting to KL at 9pm and 11pm.
The attendance there is quite low and there were about two thirds of the grandstand still available, I was on the most expensive field which had cover and a screen and the nationalities were very mixed with about 50% SE Asian 20% English 20% Finnish and then a mix of German, Japanese, Australian and anyone else who happened to be around KL at the time. I’m sure the cheaper field would have had many more locals and the grandstand many less, just a few business men.
The Saturday was fun and I quickly realised that sitting by the screen is much more beneficial than sitting to see an extra corner as you have a much better idea of what’s going on, especially when it comes to race day and the pitting segments. The weather was bright and sunny, very good for photos but also very hot to sit in with air temp 33 degrees. By 4pm when the qualifying started the cover of the area was not so well angled for the sun and many legs got a slight roasting. Button and Hamilton (the two British guys) were qualified 1st and 2nd so there were high spirits all round.
Sunday, race day came and it was all change. The day itself actually had quite a busy schedule of different races. Just ten minutes before the main race the skies clouded over with a threatening grey. By race start there were sprinkles of rain about and it only got worse until it was raining cats and dogs. The race got red flagged waiting for the rain to calm down and one hour of the day was spent wondering if the race will start again or if we were going to be going home disappointed. The atmosphere remained positive with everyone taking the opportunity to run around with flags and start some Mexican waves and finally a glimmer of sun was shining through the grey.
The race got restarted and after a few laps with the safety car a real race was once again underway. Ferrari driver, Alonso, won which made all the Asian fans happy in their array of fake Ferrari merchandise. None of my favourite drivers won but it didn’t matter it was still a completely fun and unique experience.