So I (finally) got the first one under my belt! First F1 weekend that is. About 6 months later than I expected, but better late than never??
And what a place for it, Singapore is quite a city. Can’t say I recommend visiting in September, the weather has been all over the map. The only constant has been really high humidity, sometimes falling hard from the sky. As I write this on Monday afternoon, it’s not actually raining, though its thunder and lightning, and the sky scrapers are enshrined in clouds.
I arrived here on Thursday morning about 7 am local time. The unique thing about this weekend, is that it is a local night race to maintain the normal European timing. As such, we stay on European time. Which means going to bed at 5 am local and waking up at 1 pm or so. It’s very odd. I have never felt really tired or really awake since I arrive. I get up at 1 pm and am ready to go back to bed. But when I lay down at 5 am I’m not tired. It’s strange, like living in a dream or something. And the constant bright lights to illuminate the track area (and hotels and all the bars) only add to the surrealness.
Checked into the Pan Pacific hotel, which is right beside Turn 6 of the track, and immediately went to breakfast. I would have gone to bed, but was told the breakfast here was really good. And it was, I have never seen so much food at a breakfast buffet. Normal bacon and egg and hash browns, or an omelette, or any of a thousand pastries, or noodle dishes and other Asian style food. It made getting up in the ‘morning’ a little more tolerable all weekend. Then I ‘went to bed’ for Wednesday night, which was really just a long nap, but I was trying to get acclimatized to something, though I’m still not sure what.
The hotel is spectacular, I’m on the 21st floor and I have a balcony that looks out over the harbour. It’s provided some stunning views and scenery. There is also a really nice pool area that I’ve been able to spend 20 minutes at, and the gym is decent. Add to that a comfy bed and the aforementioned breakfast, and I highly recommend this place.
Anyway, onto Thursday, setup day at the track. It’s generally fairly quiet, the only thing I was nervous about was having the weekend briefing with Williams. This was to be the first time I was responsible for anything for them. In the end it was fine, I almost felt like I knew what I was doing by the end…
We had dinner that night in the hotel lobby (the restaurant options after midnight are limited) and decided to go checkout the Marina Bay Sands. It’s the stunning hotel that composes three triangular tower with what appears to be something out of the Jetson’s at the top connecting them. There is a club on the 58th floor that we wanted to check out. We were pleasantly surprised to find Thursday was no cover (at least at 3 am), though the Friday it was to be $98… The view was spectacular and the drinks were expensive ($19 for my Tiger beer, but worth it). We had a table at the edge of the patio looking across the harbour to the city. It was a great way to start the weekend.
Friday and Saturday didn’t have anything that exciting. Practices went pretty well, the meetings and debriefs were fine and I got more and more comfortable with the team, the people and my role. Sadly ‘our’ car isn’t terribly competitive at this kind of track, due to it’s aerodynamic and mechanical characteristics. Fortunately for me, the team is aware of this, and didn’t put anything on my or my tyres shoulders.
The race was pretty exciting though. About 2 hours before it started to absolutely pour rain. We watched the storm come in off the water, it looked like a hurricane. And all of a sudden the city was wrapped in clouds and there was water everywhere. And just like that, the sun was back out, and the track was dry when the cars went to the grid. And then it started to rain again. Not as hard, which made the strategy decisions quite complicated. Our cars started on a split strategy. The start was crazy, chaos at the front, allowing out guys to jump up about 5 places each. Stroll’s guys nailed the strategy I think, and he was able to finish P9, which is a great result after starting P18. Massa had a bit of trouble both with the car and strategy so he ended up P11. It seemed possible for a double points finish (top 10) for awhile which would have been mega, but the team was still pleased with the result. Onto Malaysia!
But first, for me, I fly to Heathrow tonight and then to Barcelona tomorrow morning for a 2018 F2 development test. Hopefully it’s a fairly quiet week and everything goes well. What I am looking forward to, is I fly straight to Malaysia from there and have a few days off. I’ve booked a room in the Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort which looks pretty great!