Thursday, April 24, 2014
MALAYSIA F1 GP 2014 - TRAINING DAY
Having been to Singapore's GP a few times, I had been spoiled! Spoiled by the excellent organization and awesome communication by the organizers. With the Malaysian GP I was sometimes wondering if their email/web/FB updates were just getting lost on the way to me or if they did not communicate anything. I guess now, they are not marketing experts!
I headed to the Sepang circuit by bus for the first day. Surprisingly the buses all left half full because they only had seats in the back. The front of the bus was just standing space and for a 1 hour 15 mins trip. Nobody wanted to stand. What a waste of space!
Arriving at the bus parking area, the driver had no idea where to go...turned, changed, turned, changed...3 times, until they finally told him where to go. A word about the bus driver: he was actually on the phone sending sms and talking while flying down the highway! I reported it to rapidKL and actually got a response back a day later. They wanted to know the ID of the driver...yeah right! I did take some photos of him and his badge, but I didn't want to get the guy fired. A simple message from the rapidKL management to their drivers was all I wanted to get accomplished!
From the arriving bus, we had to get into another bus, which would bring us to the entrance! My ticket said "Gate North MGS", and I asked the driver of the second bus, who told me to stay on. Which sounded logical because we were at the west side of the race track. Another passenger stayed on and told me to follow him to the North gate, while all other passengers got off....strangely. Circling around the whole race track we finally arrived at a gate in the North, which turned out to be the Paddock Club Access, where I was promptly turned back. Nobody knew how to read the map or even where I was or where their gate was located on that map. So, I walked back up the street in 36 degrees heat and waited until I found a taxi, which took me back to the main entrance for 20 RM!!!
As it turns out, all visitors will go through the Welcome Area, which is within walking distance of the first bus stop, unless you have a ticket to one of the hillstands tickets. Would have helped if the organizers communicated some of that to the ticket holders.
The place was pretty empty of course, given that Friday practise is not too popular. Merchandise was sold in a huge tent and in the Welcome Center after which one big entrance area was put up, with all the different gates, including my "North Gate", right next to all the other gates. It's a completely illogical system, which caused me to miss the first training session completely!
No outside drinks were allowed past the "gates" and limited options were available inside. Mostly meat dishes were offered for food options, so I literally ate the same thing three days in a row.
The seats were great, right opposite of the pit lane. They were covered and shielded me from the sun (I'll have a word about the rain later). From the grandstands the view reached all over the race track which is great to check out other spots. On Fridays there is no actual seat numbers which are reserved, so any area or seat was fine to chose. Of course there is not that much to see except the Malaysian Super Series practise sessions, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, Practise sessions and finally my second practise sessions of F1.
This was my first race with the new cars and the first time I heard the new sound of F1 cars, which was quite a shock. It reminded me more of my neighbors noisy vacuum cleaner than the 2013 F1 sound. Malaysian Super Series cars were much louder and I believe even Porsche Cup was louder.
But the good seats and the direct view into the box of my favourite drivers and the pit lane were excellent!
On the way back, the first bus we got in after the exit will actually circle all around the race track again, which takes forever, before they make you board the next bus, which will bring you back to the city. I would have walked faster to that bus than standing in a full bus, which circles around an empty race track. I think it is an idiotic organization and a waste of time. For the trip back to the city, it is the same game again - a half empty bus with only standing space in the front for one hour and 30 mins in Friday evening traffic!