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Posted by on 29 March, 2014

…bring a raincoat, it usually rains at the Sepang Grand Prix…but did I listen….NO! So here I sit…under David’s raincoat. He is such a gentleman!

We are sitting in a covered grandstand at the end of the first straight of the Sepang F1 Circuit, Malaysia. It has been very hot and sticky all day…with only a breath of breeze on the odd occasion since we arrived at around 9am.

We took the bus this morning which was nice and easy and not at all busy today (being Saturday). We met a couple of Ferrari fans on the monorail to the bus station…we were a step ahead of them on the escalator going inside KL Sentral and laughed that we would be ahead of them all weekend…1 for Red Bull…they were taking the train to KLIA then the shuttle to the circuit (the more expensive option than the bus all the way that we were taking)…funnily enough we were sitting in the Circuit Shuttle already when they got off the airport shuttle and hopped into the Circuit Shuttle…2 for Red Bull!

As we had had a good look around the ‘Welcome Area’ and spent plenty of money yesterday we didn’t feel the need to head there again so we made a beeline straight for our section of the stands and found our seats…we were the early birds…so we spread out a bit to have some breathing, moving, comfort space until the people who had booked the neighbouring seats arrived.   The stands filled up a little, but our neighbours never came. The seats in front were occupied by a Brit and a German who were both living in Singapore and the German’s partner, a Singaporian lady. There was a big group of German’s behind us and some very vocal Aussies beside them.

The morning session of track activity involved a race of the Malaysian A Series cars which included a wide variety from Lambourghini to Commodore. There were a few minor bingles and a surprise finish after the race leader spun on the second last lap.
After that (early afternoon now) the F1 cars came back out for Practice Three. Our seats were great, we could see them come down the last third of the first straight; the pit exit; the first, second & third corners; the short straight up into the fourth corner; if you have good vision…the back straight after the sixth corner; and if you have excellent vision and they go into the gravel trap on the very far side of the circuit.
The first and second corners are entertaining as they are very tight turns and every now and then someone’s brakes lock up or they brake late and slide into the gravel at the end of the straight…Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado did it for us a couple of times today!

After practice three it was time for the Porche Carreras to have their turn…to qualify for tomorrow’s race. They were uneventful…I don’t know who got pole position. Once they finished though the excitement began…we went to get lunch (don’t worry, that isn’t the exciting part)…I wa a in the queue to but some chicken pocket things when it started to rain…not just a sun shower…a tropical downpour!

Watching race cars is exciting…watching race cars in the wet is more exciting! Unfortunately, the rain was so heavy that it meant the next track activity, the F1 qualifying had to be delayed…which brings me back to sitting under David’s rain jacket…it was more to protect my bag and camera than me as I was already damp, but it did help a bit when the rain changed direction and started coming in quite directly from behind us…

After about an hour it was over…qualifying got underway only 30 minutes late on a very wet track. Some teams opted to go out on ‘wets’ while most tried their luck on ‘intermediates’…I don’t really know which were better, though the Mercedes team did well on their choice and finished Q1 ahead…poor Max Chilton from Caterham probably wished he had the opposite of what he did have though, as he crashed into the wall on the small straight after loosing control exiting the third corner. I believe he is fine and I expect the car will be repaired in time for the race tomorrow!

Q2 saw the top 16 finishers from Q1 head out onto a still very wet track…almost all went out on wets though a lot changed to inters before setting a lap time. This was mainly due to the session being suspended after a bingle between Toro Rosso’s rookie, Kvyat and Ferrari’s journeyman, Alonso. Thankfully both were repaired in time to rejoin the session and Alonso even made it through to Q3…Kvyat wasn’t so lucky.

Q3 is quick and whilst the outcome wasn’t really to my liking it could have been worse. Pole position went to Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton (boooo…oops, did I say that out loud!?!?) with 2nd place going to Red Bull (woohoo, even if not the preferred Bull) and third to Mercedes, Niko Rosberg (yay, I don’t mind him). Our favourite, Daniel Ricciardo did very well too, achieving a credible 5th behind Alonso. Hopefully he will keep this spot…there is a review to be conducted regarding an incident between Daniel and Valterri Bottas…I thought Bottas should have got out of Daniel’s way personally, but I don’t know the rules!

As the qualifying finished, the ant march began. I guess some people have plans for afterwards, but not us…so rather than battle the crowds we stayed and watched the Malaysian B Series race…it was quite entertaining…lots of different little cars, like Honda Jazz and Subarus…which I don’t think had as many tyre options as the F1’s…sliding around the track, bumping into each other left right and centre…much more entertaining than watching people waiting for a bus!!!

Eventually though we headed to the shuttle pick up area…it was bedlam still and some of those who had been queueing for a while were getting upset. ..understandably as the organisation of the shuttle buses to the other buses and shuttles was atrocious…but trying to reason with someone in another language is pointless, not that it stopped some Germans from trying. We chose to walk back down the hill to the buses ourselves rather than wait for a shuttle which would then drive all the way around the track. It didn’t take long and we were soon seated on the bus to KL Sentral.

We took a different path to the monorail tonight, through the brand new shopping centre which has opened very recently. Most stores aren’t finished yet but a few are. There was a giant screen set up on the ground floor of the atrium…with a Playstation driving game linked to it…someone was sitting in the driving seat having a go and there was a seating area behind him for spectators. I imagine that earlier in the day it must have been running an event.

Anyway it allowed us to walk to the monorail station without getting wet…yes, it is still raining. On the monorail we met another couple from the UK…McLaren supporters (we won’t hold it against them, Jenson Button did okay today). They had spent the last couple of weeks in Thailand and we going via Langkawi on their way home after the race. Interestingly she had family living in Adelaide and had even knew where Toowoomba is.

On the way back to the apartment we stopped and picked up some dinner…I called it Indian as it was curry, rice and roti bread…but the cashier reminded me we were in Malaysia, so it was Malaysian. I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t great tasting…definitely not as good as the curry from Miss India at home!

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