Behind an F1 Driver : An F1x2 Experience

Waiting For My Turn
Waiting For My Turn

This is a really overdue post..   Back in March 2012 (still this year :p) I had the luck to won a lucky draw by Maybank for its customers.
Back then when I got the call I was even confused thinking that it was some kind of marketing agent trying to sell me something. I totally really forgot about that particular contest as the entry form was just a simple sms.

Back to reality, I was properly convinced by the Maybank staff that I won a prize in the contest. Especially when an official letter was delivered confirming the details. According to the letter, I had won the grand prize which would give me the chance to ride in a special 2 seater F1 car. The F1x2 Experience.

I was invited to attend the prize giving ceremony, usually I would decline as it would mean that I had to take a leave from school, but it was during the school holiday so I brought the whole family for a short holiday in KL. The prize giving ceremony was the usual talk talk and take picture then eat session, nothing special even the prize given was ermmm doubtful? We were given a big box with a small card inside and that’s it. Doesn’t actually inspire us to what we were going to experience….

2 weeks later on 29th March, I hopped on Air Asia flight AK5821 early in the morning and got myself to KL, I managed to rope in my brother in law as my “official photographer” for that day. So he picked me up at the LCCT terminal and we went straight to the Sepang International Circuit. Was a bit lost when we got there as we didn’t know where to head to exactly but managed to find the place eventually. I went straight away to register myself and as I was scheduled for the afternoon session was told to have lunch first with the reminder not to eat too much… had to fill in a few forms including an indemnity clause form.

Finished with registration we headed on to have our lunch, Alex Yoong was already there, apparently he finished driving early and was already having his lunch. Proceeded to have our light lunch and the we went around the place looking at the sights. Was then called for a quick briefing before I was told to suit up.

When i finished suiting up that I really felt like I was going for something fun and exciting… After suiting up it was a short wait before we were called up one by one for the real thing. The short wait was intense as I could really see that one by one the participants all had some good fun. I couldn’t even concentrate when talking to one of Maybank’s manager…

Then suddenly it was my turn, time for me to don my mask and helmet. I was then ushered quickly to the pit waiting for them to setup the car. Was briefed on how to use the panic button. All i could remember was, let the button go if u have any problem… so automatically my mind was set.. I’m never going to let go of that button .. ahahahaha… Was introduced to the driver Patrick Friesacher, took a photo with him and the car.

Got into the cockpit.. it was not easy as it was a real tight fit, my leg essentially was straddling the driver although then it dawned on me that i’m probably not going to be able to get any front view at all as the head rest for the driver was blocking most of my view… but then again i might not want to see it.. hihi :p the pit crew then helped to secure me, lots and lots of straps.Checking and rechecking that it was secured properly.

Everything was all set, my heart was pumping.. between regret of getting into the car and the excitement of being driven…  my emotion was all jumbled up and i was really tense with anticipation.. then wooosh off we go into the tracks… damn he really stepped that accelerator and before long we were already hurtling at speeds that i would never drive my car….

A few seconds of getting into the track and we were already taking turns, and I couldn’t keep my head straight as the car was turning, basically my head lolled around banging on the sides of the car everytime we took a turn.. trying to keep myself in place was basically useless with all the high speed turn we were taking and every one of the 15 turns awarded me a bruise on my shoulders banging at the side of the cockpit.. then as suddenly we were already back at the straight in front of the paddock area… when we get to the straight my head was immediately stuck to the headrest as he sped up and everytime he downshift/brake my helmet would nearly hit the back of the driver’s headrest… and all through that time i was laughing/screaming at the top of my lung, enjoying the rollercoaster ride , relishing every moment, and before long the 3 laps were all done as it only took less than 2 minutes to finish a lap, total time in the car was only around 5 to 6 minutes.. shorter than the time it took me to get suited, but i can tell u one thing, it will be the most memorable 6 minutes in a car in my life 🙂

Getting out of the car i was speechless, even when i was approached by the media team for Maybank for a short interview i could only give very short answer as my adrenaline was still high and i felt out of breath as if i ran a full marathon.. all i could think of, couldn’t these ppl fine a better time for an interview.. i got my answer a few minutes after that, as my adrenaline wears off, i started feeling nausea, i couldn’t really keep still, because if i sit down i felt like puking. fortunately that didn’t happen. rested for a while at the lounge area at the paddock, before they asked if i was feeling up to a tour of the grounds. of course I was!

The tour of the grounds was amazing, as we get to go to areas that are most of the times off limit to outsiders, we started off with the news room, where all the reporters are stationed, adjoining it was the conference area, and also the commentators booth. Nothing look interesting to me because at that time it was empty and couldn’t really feel nor imagine how the place looked like when it is in full swing. We were then brought to the winners’ circle, of course everyone took a turn at taking a picture of themselves on top of the podium :p

Then we proceeded to the control room where they have a wall full of monitors showing feed from numerous camera around the circuit. This is where every activity on the circuit is monitored, they can control the cameras from the room, pan tilt zoom, you name it they can do it. When asked if they enjoy watching the race from the room, they say no because at that time they are more focused on keeping the race safe.

The tour then moved on to the perdana suite where all the VVIPs / Head of states / Royals watch the race. The place has two level, one on top of the roof where they have a 360 view of the whole circuit. Essentially the best seats in the house to watch the race. The tour ended there where we were allowed to stay the longest and then we adjourned to have tea.

The whole thing was surreal from the start, from receiving the phone call right down to sitting in an F1 cockpit. The only reminder that every was real and it really did happened to me a few weeks after the experience was mess of bruises on my shoulders… 🙂