Internal blog post
Verulam Sports Jo Kiely Adventures in Singapore Grand Prix.

Dazzling Singapore Grand Prix

I am a fan of most sports but I am a relative new comer to the world of
Formula 1.  After having watched my cousin kart a few years back and then
to have had the fortune of a Force India garage tour, I began to understand
how exhilarating racing was and what a disciplined team sport it is, with
the pinnacle of engineering teams behind the drivers.  As I was watching
the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix on TV, I was enthralled by the bright lights,
the dramatic stormy sky and rain; and of course, that epic crash “sandwich”
at the start of the race between Vettle, Verstappen and Raikkonen.  I
decided right there and then that I would go to the 2018 Singapore Grand
Prix, even if it was on my own.  I tried to round up some interest among
friends, but they weren’t as excited by the idea as I, so I did indeed book
the trip to Singapore (and a few days R&R in Bali) on my own.

After a few lonely and slightly underwhelming days in Bali, I arrived in
Singapore on the Thursday, a day before the racing weekend’s action.  I had
an instant smile on my face; it was a clean, friendly, exciting and
efficient city.  I immediately took a wander down to the Marina Bay to
check out the track and the floodlights were like nothing I’ve seen before
blinding – and there was a real buzz about the city, with light shows set
to music from the Marina Bay Sands hotel, shining across the bay, and
hordes of fans roaming around the city, equally beaming with joy, like me,
and adorning their favourite team’s merchandise.

Come free practice on the Friday, the buzz about the city was even more
intense.  Given the racing activity was in the late afternoons and
evenings, I had time for some sightseeing in the daytime.  This was the
beauty of a street circuit, that I could be a tourist and watch sport
also.  On the Friday I had a walkabout pass to all areas, so I was
frantically running about from corner to corner along the track, trying to
find the optimal vantage point for qualifying and the race.  I had been
told it would be loud and should bring earplugs but I had left them in the
hotel – what a mistake - it was deafeningly loud trackside.  In fact, you
could hear the roar throughout the city.  Come Saturday, I had my earplugs
packed and I was bopping away to the Sugarhill Gang at a fan stage, when I
fortunately received a call letting me know a friend of the family had got
me a pass for the paddock area for qualifying and into the Force India team
pit!  My weekend was getting better and better!  The pit was electrifying –
I was right by the mechanics doing the tyre changes and car calibrations
and was fortunate to have access to the team radio, so I could hear all the
team instructions, again reinforcing how much of a team sport it is.  Force
India had a good day at the office during qualifying, getting positions 7th
and 9th.  After this, I was lucky enough to be allowed into the hospitality
tent and again I got to meet such interesting and enthusiastic members of
the Force India team and from there could be a fan girl and spot the
drivers and presenters walking past.  At this point I could have pinched
myself and was so pleased I braved going to Singapore alone.

On Sunday I awoke with a rather sore head, so the sightseeing went out the
window but I met some of my new friends at a fan stage to watch Simply Red
before the race – that’s the allure of the race weekend; you may not get as
good a view as on TV but you get the noise, the excitement, the buzz, the
festival set up and are surrounded by people equally happy to be there as
you.  The race itself was not too exciting but I was certainly pleased that
local hero, Hamilton, won.  At the end of the race I ran onto the track for
the podium presentations and walked the track to see all the marbled tyre
rubber – the smell of the burnt rubber was thick in the air.  Very quickly
after the presentations, the cherry pickers were already out on track,
dismantling the circuit to return the city back to normality - until next
year!

The Singapore GP was an awesome experience and one I’ll never forget.  If
you’re an F1 fan, I highly recommend it and above all else, I recommend
everyone takes those chances to do things you’ve always wanted to do, even
if it is alone; you never know where or what it will lead you to.

Jo Kiely, Verulam Sport