Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The F1 Paddock experience

Having to play the role of jack of all trades and master of none throughout my journalistic career has taught me the need to take everything by my stride. Well, that includes watching with envy when my colleagues get special invites, free passes and VIP treatment to major sporting events. When it comes to Formula 1, the Paddock experience is the ultimate assignment. Free flow of food, nice view of the race, getting chummy-chummy with the VIPs and if you are lucky, meeting the drivers in the flesh!

During my days at Berita Harian, Rosli Safar was the No 1 motorsports writer. The Batu 3 track at Shah Alam was virtually his second home. Of course his name was on top of the list for motorsports assignments, especially so after having proven himself  as a participating journalist accompanying Malaysia's Sabiamad Abdul Ahad and Jensen Loh for the 1993 Camel Trophy, the world's toughest four-wheel drive amateur adventure expedition.

When the Sepang circuit was launched in 1999, I was already into my third year at the Malay Mail but the man on the beat was Fariq Rahman. While he got to sit beside Ferrari's Eddy Irvine, driving his open-top Ferrari F50 on full throttle with the speedometer hitting 280kph on the Sepang circuit, for an unforgettable 2-minute experience ahead of the inaugural Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, there was little prospect of my smelling burning tyres unless I had the means to buy the tickets or the Petronas PR were generous enough to issue additional passes.

When I was extended an invite to the Paddock by the Petronas Motorsports team via TWMR for the recent F1 race in Sepang, ah finally, after all the millions I spent on my primax 95/97-guzzling vehicles I'll be getting my money's worth! haha

I remember the days when Yvonne Ng of TWMR came to the office, either at BH, Metro or the Malay Mail...we hardly said hi to each other as she was pre-occupied talking to the bosses, hehehe. In searching for ideas to write my stories, I would often go down to Metro's office on the third floor. One or two hours later, after exchanging ideas and banters with the guys from Metro, I would go back to the fourth floor and type my stories on the atex machine...

Akbar Sahari had no time for me as he was busy providing the shade for blogger Rebecca Saw. To Akbar it was probably the beach walk...not the pit walk...

Nick Fry, CEO of the Marcedes AMG Petronas team, takes centrestage

My mistake when we were about to board the bus, "Eh Hafizh, on duty ka? well, not realising he was also one of Petronas Motorsports' guests...again silly me...from left Akbar, Barry Leong who discovered Hafizh, loose cannon and Hafizh

Hafizh challenged me to a race, not expecting me to fit into the single-seater simulator. A product of the Petronas Cub Prix, he turned 18 last Saturday. A Moto2 wildcard entrant for the 2011 Malaysian MotoGP, Hafizh is currently competing in the 2012 CEV Buckler National Motorcycle Championship in Spain. He was fifth in Jerez in April but was disqualified at Navarra a few weeks later. Next stop is Aragon on May 27.

I love to study how my fellow journalists conduct themselves while on duty...chasing deadlines is part of the job. Location for interview is virtually everywhere and anywhere

Yvonne, Hafizh, Akbar, loose cannon and Tham Hui Ling 

With Khairul Ghazali...he, Khalid Redza and Rosli Rahmat were my favourite photographers because basically they knew was required of them. One of the most memorable trips with Khai was the Jakarta SEA Games in 1997.

I was so disappointed that she was looking at the wrong camera...alamak...spoil betul la

Now, how many calories would that be? 

Somehow I managed to wiggle my way into the Mercedes AMG Petronas suit. I kept on re-imagining myself, not Petronas' energy, giving Schumacher and Nico Rosberg the additional boost

I am re-imagining myself on the driving seat

My kids love this commercial, especially the song

Putting the whole commercial together was of course a tedious process for some of the familiar faces

I grew up watching and reading about Keke Rosberg. The son Nico finished 12th in Australia and 13th in Sepang before cruising to his maiden F1 win in China in what has been described as one of the best dry-races of the decade.

Thanks Petronas Motorsports team and TWMR! Don't forget ah, next year also ahhh...

No comments: