Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Goodbye Sepang, You Will Be Missed!

19 years ago saw Malaysia host it’s very first Formula One Grand Prix and what an eventful race it was. I remember it so well that moment. 1999 was the first year I started watching Formula One. I was a fan of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher after being influenced by my mum and brother (plus they were red in colour).

Sepang, home to one of the toughest Formula One Circuit in the world
It was a tough season for Ferrari as I remember Schumacher has been out for a couple months after breaking his leg in Silverstone. The Malaysian GP saw Michael Schumacher’s return to the grand stage again although he wasn’t in the running for the championship.

What an eventful race it was with Schumacher taking pole but helped his teammate Eddie Irvine for the win to give him a shot at the championship. Ferrari took a 1-2 in the first ever Malaysian GP but that wasn’t the end of it. The Ferrari’s were disqualified after the race, giving Mika Hakkinen the win, before an appeal saw them reinstated as winners. Phew so much happening on our very first year.

Schumacher cheering on Irvine, Sepang 1999
Fast forward 19 years, this year’s race would be the most special moment for me. Not because it was Malaysia’s final GP but it was the very first time I attended a Formula One race after watching it on TV for 19 years.

Still a Ferrari Fan, I wore proudly my Ferrari shirt and headed to Sepang from Klang. The race was due to start at 3.00 p.m. and I left my house as early as 11.45 a.m. I knew traffic is going to be slightly heavy and thought that if I left 3 hours earlier, I would reach early enough to walk around before getting a seat in the Main Grandstand.

A normal drive to Sepang will take me 45 minutes, and I was expecting it might take me 1 ½ hours to reach there due to the traffic for the race. Boy I was so wrong. By the time I managed to find a parking (which is super expensive), take the shuttle bus, walk to the Main Grandstand and I find a place it was 2.55 p.m. I took me nearly 3 hours!!!!

I barely managed to make it for the start of the race. Super crazy traffic jam it was. At this point I was so frustrated about the experience and told myself I would never ever go for another Formula one race. It is crazy, I rather watch it at the comfort of my home.
The cars line up on the grid for the very last time in Sepang
However when the 5 lights when off the cars when flat out at the start of the race, all my frustration turned into such a beautiful memory. The experience of sitting in a crowd where by people support the same team as you and watch this beautiful machine go at top speed laps after laps with the crowd cheering at the top of the voice is such a beautiful experience.

Vettel who started right at the back of the grid, had a drive of his life moving all the way up to 4th and we kept on cheering for the German lap after lap. Everything seems to happen so fast there. By the time I realized things, 42 out of the 56 laps have gone by in a blink of an eye.
Vettel moving up the ranks
When you watch it at home, it feels like the 1 ½ hours of race time feels super long, but when you are on the circuit watching it life, time just flies and just like that you are in the closing stages of the race. When the chequered flag was waved, Max Verstappen clinched the victory in the final Malaysian Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing.

Max for the win!
The experience of attending a Formula One race is something I will always treasure in my heart and I hope to go for another race in the future. Thank you Malaysia for creating 19 years of amazing memories to all Malaysian Formula One fans. I hope you return soon again, till then I bid you my farewell.
Amazing scenes at Sepang during the trophy presentation

No comments:

Post a Comment