By Jay Paloma I thought seeing practice sessions during the first two days was exciting enough...to have seen Formula 1 machinery and hearing internal combustion engines at their peak. It was NOTHING compared with the excitement and mayhem at the start of the race. In practice sessions, no one was actually up against each other...it was every car and team for themselves. One would be lucky enough to have seen 2 to 3 cars on the same place at the same time. But 20 cars passing the same area in a little over than 10 seconds was simply indescribable! Maybe the medical community should confirm if adrenalin levels in the bloodstream are directly proportional to the decibel levels picked up by the ear. You wished you were here at the starting line of the F1 Grand Prix race in Singapore? Wish granted, or let's just say, "Watch this video" that I took. Here's Day 1 Practice Session. This is Turn 13, just off Anderson Bridge here in Singapore. After seeing the F1 map, and noticing that Turn 13 is a tight left turn from a 10-meter wide Anderson Bridge to Esplanade Drive, I knew that the race cars would run slow in this section. The fact that the cars are facing the walkabout area before making that left turn makes it a perfect spot to take pictures and a video.
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By Erika Tapalla INQUIRER.net SINGAPORE--Six months and 13 grand prix races separate this island-state from its inaugural Formula One hosting duties, and preparations are in full swing as Singapore expects to finish its first-ever city circuit by June. From September 26 to 28, Singapore will play host country to the Formula One Singtel Singapore Grand Prix, the first fully lit night race in FIA Formula One World Championship history. Thus, heavy construction must be done in order to accommodate the needs of the participating constructors, drivers and spectators. The main challenge Singapore faces is illuminating the night race on a street circuit. The lighting system needs to be powerful enough to simulate daytime conditions and for drivers to see the road clearly. At the same time, good lighting is needed by the spectators and cameras. According to the race organizers, an Italian lighting expert by the name of Valerio Maioli, aided them in devising a state-of-the-art lighting system capable of delivering optimal visibility with brightness equal to almost four times that of a typical stadium. This system will also enable both the racecar drivers and spectators to witness a spectacular backdrop of the city's famous skyline since all the buildings will be lit. The Singapore GP will take place counter-clockwise on public roads around the Marina Bay area. INQUIRER.net was given an exclusive guided tour of the circuit which was being prepared at that time. The circuit is 5.067 kilometers long, and referring to the circuit map, it was indicated that there would be 24 turns. A lap should ideally take a minute and 30 seconds to complete, with drivers speeding upwards of 300 kilometers per hour. The drivers will race for 61 laps for a total race distance of 309.087 kilometers. There are many long stretches in the circuit where drivers can have the opportunity to overtake each other but one of the most difficult parts of the circuit would be the Anderson Bridge. The Anderson Bridge, a 70-meter-long vehicular bridge that crosses the Singapore river overlooking the Fullerton Hotel, is the narrowest part of the circuit, but since it is almost as wide as the widest sections of the circuit in Monaco, road width on the circuit in Singapore would not be an issue. Singapore is preparing for 90,000 spectators for the inaugural 2008 Formula One Singtel Singapore Grand Prix. As of March 19, 180 corporate hospitality suites accommodating 50 people each have been released, including 3,000 paddock club passes and a total of 80,000 three-day grandstand and walkabout passes. These were all given in two phases: 70,000 on February 14, Valentine's Day; and 10,000 on March 10. Construction work on the Pit Building, roads and other parts of the circuit was started last year and is scheduled to be completed by the end of June. Singapore is only the second country in Southeast Asia to host an F1 race, next only to Malaysia which has the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on March 23. The Sepang GP is the second race of the season, after the inaugural Australian GP held in Melbourne on March 16. The Singapore GP will be the 15th race of the season, preceding the October 12 Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway, the only other Asian race in the championship aside from the ones in Singapore and Malaysia.
By Mike Sy INQUIRER.net LAST weekend, I took a trip to Macau with my family and, on a rainy Sunday, when I was supposed to travel with them by ferry to Hong Kong, I was prevented from leaving by Macau immigration because I could not show them my stamped departure card (unfortunately, my wife misplaced it) and also forgot to bring my valid passport (my wife accidentally brought an expired one and left the valid one at our hotel). After telling them to go ahead without me (yipee!), I checked my city map to see how to get to the Macau Grand Prix Museum. I was happy to find that it was just a short five-minute walk from my hotel. The museum, which opened in 1993 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix, is an avid racing fan's dream with various car and motorcycle displays, pictures and other memorabilia. There is also an F1 simulator to test your skills in a Formula 1 car. The grand prix itself was a stepping stone for many racing drivers, and it was amazing to see how many of the famous names from Formula 1 and MotoGP began their fledgling careers by competing in the Macau Grand Prix. The list included Michael and Ralf Schumacher, Takuma Sato, David Coulthard, Mikka Hakkinen, Ayrton Senna and Jenson Button to name a few. From MotoGP, I saw the name of former world champion Kevin Schwantz. On prominent display in the museum, and one that I had to see, was the car of Arsenio "Dodgie" Laurel, a Filipino, and the first driver to win the Macau Grand Prix in succession. I was proud to see his car (a Lotus F22 Ford FJ) on display with the Philippine flag on its side. Before leaving the museum, I had to try the F1 simulator and see what it feels like to be in a cramped race car. After fitting my chubby frame into the tight confines of the tub, I raced a 2002 F1 McLaren racecar in the simulated Mugello circuit and achieved a best lap time of 1 m 58.932 s. Overall, the Macau Grand Prix Museum is very interesting and a must-see for race fans, both young and old. After purchasing a Macau Grand Prix souvenir cap from the museum store, I smiled as I left the museum thinking to myself how different things would have been for me if I had left for a trip to Hong Kong on a ferry boat.
I HAVE been following intently the careers of our Filipino racecar drivers, in the hope that one day, a Filipino will be able to reach the pinnacle of motor racing which is Formula One. More than 10 years ago, we had a Filipino driver named Jovy Marcelo who became the first Filipino to race in the Indy 500 after winning the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Unfortunately, his life was cut short by an accident during practice in 1992. Now, we have Tyson Sy trying to blaze a trail in the Star Mazda championship, a competitive open wheel driver development series that produced current Torro Rosso F1 driver Scott Speed and IRL driver Marco Andretti. In the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland last June 9, Tyson Sy finished sixth out of a field of 30 young racers, 11.003 seconds off the lead car after qualifying an excellent sixth the day before. I hope Tyson would continue with his good performance in this series, and I look forward to the day when a Filipino driver would stand on the top step of the podium in F1.
By Andrew Fagan Agence France-Presse MONTREAL--Lewis Hamilton dedicated his maiden Formula One race victory to his father Anthony on Sunday after cruising to an assured, cool and measured triumph in the Canadian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old British rookie, the most successful newcomer in the sport's history, said he felt "fantastic" and "on a different planet" after emerging clear of his rivals following a crash-hit and incident-filled 70-lap contest at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. He even said that driving around and keeping his concentration during the four periods in which he was leading while following a Safety Car was "boring." Hamilton said: "It has been a fantastic day for me and my family -- this is history. To come here for my first visit to Canada and to win -- it has been just a fantastic feeling and this season already we have had six podiums. "I felt that I have been ready for this win now for quite some time and for me it was just a matter of when and where. The team gave me the best car and it was great. I had no problems at all during the race. "A few Safety Cars were there, but that's all -- they made it a little bit boring at some points. But as soon as we got going again, it was exciting again. Yesterday I was over the moon, yes, to get pole. But today, this is definitely on a different planet for me." Hamilton's father Anthony has looked after his career for the last 15 years and at one time held down three jobs in order to help fund his son's burgeoning career. He could hardly have expected this sort of return from his first six races in Formula One as the young rookie wrote another amazing chapter in his heroic, if brief, and unprecedented motor racing history when he won the Canadian Grand Prix. The first man of Afro-Caribbean descent to race a Formula One car claimed his maiden victory with a superb, assured drive through the carnage of a dramatic, wild and incident-filled Canadian Grand Prix. Hamilton, 22, in his McLaren Mercedes-Benz, took full advantage of the first pole position of his career to grab his first win in only his sixth race at the highest level in typically composed and perfectly-focused fashion. No wonder sports writers all over the world are predicting a phenomenal career for the youngster from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, England, and also dubbing him as F1's answer to golf's black superstar Tiger Woods. Hamilton's superb win lifted him eight points clear of Spaniard Fernando Alonso and 15 ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari. In the constructors' championship, McLaren lead now with 88 points to Ferrari's 60. "He deserved it and I am proud and very happy for him, for Lewis," said the McLaren team chief Ron Dennis afterwards, brushing aside all controversy following last month's Monaco Grand Prix where Hamilton was ordered to finish second behind team-mate Fernando Alonso. "He won it fair and square and drove superbly. We came to win, but we like to see both cars do well and today it was not Fernando's day. Once there had been the first Safety Car intervention, it was not going to be possible for him." But the race was overshadowed by a series of massive accidents and unexpected incidents as the Safety Car was deployed four times. Poland's Robert Kubica survived a massive high-speed accident with just a broken leg in his BMW Sauber car and two top drivers were disqualified and two others penalized for infringements. The two men black-flagged and disqualified were Ferrari's Brazilian world title challenger Felipe Massa and Renault's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, both for exiting the pit-lane under red flags. The two penalized for pitting were defending double drivers world champion Alonso, Hamilton's team-mate at McLaren, and German-born Nico Rosberg of Williams, both for pitting when the pit-lane was closed during the first Safety Car period. All of this drama left experts praising the integrity of the Formula One cars, following Kubica's 300 kph crash, and predicting that Hamilton is a future Formula One champion in the making. Hamilton has reeled off a series of astonishing results in his first six races - third in Australia followed by four seconds in Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Monaco and then this stunning victory. His win here on Sunday was overwhelming evidence of his class in a race that saw German Nick Heidfeld finish second for Sauber BMW ahead of Austrian Alex Wurz in a Williams. Finland's Heikki Kovalainen was fourth for Renault, compatriot Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Ferrari and Japan's Takuma Sato sixth for Super Aguri. This left Alonso, after a desperate race riddled with problems and off-track excursions, to finish seventh ahead of under-pressure German Ralf Schumacher in a Toyota. Kubica was reported to be stable and conscious, despite breaking his leg in a horrifying accident that saw his car smash into a wall, barrel-roll across the circuit and then rebound off a steel barrier. He was lifted out of the car and taken to the circuit medical centre from where he was later air-lifted to hospital.