October 1, 2008

The dramatic Singapore F1

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I just came back from a few days in Singapore, where I had my first experience with F1. I'm glad I finally got the chance to go see F1 live, as I had missed two previous opportunities to do so.

Funnily enough, those two chances were both in the same year - 2004. I missed the chance to go to Sepang with clients, as it was both the day of my housewarming party as well as the day of Taiwanese presidential elections. Later that year I missed the chance to go to the first Shanghai F1 - again on a free ticket - because I flew back to Singapore to pack up my household items for the move to Hong Kong.

Anyway. I had picked the seat that was right on the left edge of the Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand. I thought that I would have an unobstructed view of the cars coming toward me on Turn 16, plus a good view of the cars speeding away from me on Turn 17. It took me a while of being on the internet plus calling the ticketing office to get the seat I wanted.

When I walked around the track on Friday afternoon, I was horrified to find out that I couldn't see Turn 16 clearly. There was a steel structure that was part of the Esplanade that was in my way, and a tree next to it! So my strategy completely failed. So I decided to roam around looking for good shooting locations.

During the final practice session on Saturday, I stood on the stairs at the right edge of the Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand. This gave me a view of the cars coming into Turn 17, and speeding away in front of the Bay Grandstand and into Turn 18. I decided to put my 300mm f/2.8 on the monopod and practice my panning as the cars came by. Got some decent shots.

For the qualifying, I moved to the stairs at the left edge of the Bay Grandstand. This gave me a reasonable view of the cars coming into Turn 18 as they passed below the grandstand. I decided not to pan but simply freeze the action with a fast shutter speed.

I was definitely at the right place at the right time. Near the end of qualifying on Saturday, Alonso's engine failed and he came sputtering down the stretch, stopping right in front of where I stood. He got out of his car and held is head in his hands, as realization took over that he would be nowhere near the top for this race. In my rush to take pictures, I had unfortunately forgotten that I was on manual exposure, so most of my pictures didn't quite come out. Otherwise these would have been really priceless shots.

For the finals on Sunday, I went back to the right edge of the Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand. Once again this proved to be a great spot. Nelson Piquet's Renault spun out of control and crashed against the Bay Grandstand. I had a direct view of this, and added my 2X extender to get some close shots.

For some reason, a few drivers just can't seem to get control of their cars and insist on going straight past Turn 18. Later we would see Toyota's Timo Glock crash into Turn 18 and end his race here.

There was of course more drama elsewhere on the track. It just wasn't Ferrari's day (or night, actually). Who could ever forget the sight of Massa's Ferrari speeding off with the fuel hose still attached to his car? And the Ferrari pit crew chasing after the car, removing the hose and carrying it back to their station? I was laughing my head off when this happened, and wished that I had taken the hospitality package because I'd be sitting right in front of the Ferrari pit! Then with about 3 laps to go, Raikkonen lost control and crashed out. No points for Ferrari.

So who won the first Singapore GP in the end? No one would have guessed that it was going to be Alonso, not even himself. For someone starting at the back of the grid to win the race, it was simply unbelievable. But it happened, and I'm sure ING and Renault threw one hell of a party afterwards.


Unknown said...

Post more pictures of the action.
I can't believe how bright the track looks on the photo, certainly doesn't look like at night.

Peech said...

Please go to my Picasa photo site. I have posted 100+ pictures there...


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