Sepang International Circuit

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  • Day150

    Malaysia - Sepang Circuit

    October 1, 2017 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Da es zeitlich sehr gut gepasst hat, haben wir uns noch spontan Tickets für das Formel 1 Rennen in Sepang gekauft! Es war richtig cool so ein Rennen mal live zu sehen 😊 Nur leider war es einfach viel zu heiß an dem Tag und man war nur am schwitzen 😄Read more

  • Day107

    Day 107: Grand Prix Practice

    September 30, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    The main reason for coming back to KL was of course, the Grand Prix! I haven't been to a Formula 1 Grand Prix since 2005 (and 1999 before that), and Shandos had never been, so we decided it would be something different to try! Today was the first day of a three day race weekend, and would involve some support races and a couple of F1 practice sessions.

    We'd looked at the schedule and decided that since there were a few gaps here and there, we'd skip the first F1 practice at 10am, and arrive in time for the second practice at 2pm. So we had a leisurely morning in our apartment (our hosts were both out at work), then set off for the track around 12pm. We weren't sure how long it would take to get out there, although we knew the circuit was next door to the airport which is about 50km from the city centre.

    First stop though, was lunch, and we went to a small cafe on the edge of the Nu Sentral shopping centre. The food was decent (I had a chicken & avocado wrap and Shandos had salad), but it took quite a while to arrive as apparently the kitchen was short staffed. So it wasn't until after 1pm that we arrived in the station, bought our 3-day transport ticket and ran downstairs to jump on a train just in time.

    The ride out is about 30 minutes, but we then had to get a connecting shuttle bus from the airport to the course (about 20 minutes, even though it's literally 2km away as the crow flies), and then from the carpark drop off point we had to get the circuit shuttle up to the main gate which was about 200 metres or so, and honestly not really worth bothering with.

    Straight through security and nobody even glanced at our tickets which seemed odd, until we discovered later that Friday was free entry for everyone, since the practice sessions aren't usually that exciting. All the rigmarole with connecting shuttle buses and so on meant that we didn't arrive at the track until about 2:15pm, when practice had already started.

    We headed over to the nearest stand and had a look; Shandos's mouth nearly hit the floor when the first car came flying out of a turn and accelerated! The noise definitely isn't what it used to be, but holy shit those cars move quickly. Accelerating, braking and turning so sharply, it's really something out of this world and has to be seen to be believed.

    After watching for a few minutes we decided to find our proper grandstand, as we'd bought tickets for the Tower. Unfortunately for us, we soon discovered that it was at the far end of the main straight, so we had to walk 1300m or so to get there! At least there was interesting stuff along the way, tents with games, promotions, the usual marketing guff and so on. We also stopped a few times to watch the action.

    Finally arrived at our "seats" (the stand we're in has unreserved seating), and nearly 90 minutes from leaving lunch to sitting down. At least we'd done a dry run and definitely wouldn't miss anything important!

    Enjoyed watching the rest of the session as the cars zoomed around, trying out a few different seating positions as well. It's a unique view, since you're essentially on the apex of a hairpin turn, so cars approach from behind you on the right, slow down from 350kmh to 120, go around the hairpin in front of you, then accelerate off down the main straight. You can also see various other bits of the circuit too, since it's in a natural amphitheatre type thing.

    F1 practice finished at 3:30pm, and we relaxed and wandered while they turned the track over for the next support event - a GP2 qualifying session. GP2 is very similar to Formula 1, just less powerful cars and less experienced drivers. The cars don't have the latest F1 eco requirements either, meaning that they're naturally aspirated (not turbo-charged), and rev unbelievably high - up to 18,000 RPM in some cases. As a result, they were much much louder than the F1 cars, and our ears were soon taking a beating as we had no earplugs.

    With no particular dog in the fight we decided to call it a day, and started the long trip back to KL. After checking out a few of the displays and stuff at the circuit, we didn't hop on a shuttle until nearly 5pm. And we didn't realise that the circuit shuttle is only one direction, meaning we had to do 90% of a circle to get back to the carpark where our shuttle to the airport train station was waiting. Something to skip for tomorrow.

    Not much else to report - we got home without incident and had a quick cheap dinner in the food court inside KL Sentral mall. Arrived back at the apartment just in time to farewell our hosts who are having a weekend away on Malaysia's east coast. They'll be back on Monday night, since it's a long weekend here - start of Islamic New Year celebrations. So in the meantime we've got someone else's large apartment to ourselves!!
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    Joel Baldwin

    Entrance to the circuit

    Joel Baldwin

    The back of our grandstand, where you can see the back straight on the left and the starting grid on the right. The hairpin turn is directly behind me

    Joel Baldwin

    On a fake podium

    Joel Baldwin

    Ferrari during practice

  • Day108

    Day 108: Grand Prix Qualifying

    October 1, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Another day out at the track. Decided to arrive earlier than yesterday to catch the third Formula 1 practice session, ahead of the qualifying session late in the day. On the train by 10am and arrived at our seats around 11:30, just in time for the session. Great fun watching the cars again, though nothing of any particular note happened during the session.

    Had a chicken roll for lunch which was OK, but decided to skip on the beers. Watched a GP2 race with some good action happening, followed by a touring car race featuring race versions of large-ish hatchback cars (Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic etc). Really good racing action here since the margins for error are a lot wider, meaning that cars trade positions much more frequently. Also one of them had an engine explosion on the starting grid which was pretty funny.

    It was a long hot afternoon, though not quite as warm as the previous day. Finally at 5pm it was time for Formula 1 qualifying, and the cars absolutely flew around the track. Australia's Daniel Ricciardo set the early pace with a quick time, but ultimately ended up fourth on the grid behind the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg, and Vettel's Ferrari.

    Left the track around 6:15 on the long journey back to Kuala Lumpur, and stopped in again at the food court for dinner.
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    Joel Baldwin

    Waiting for the next race

    Joel Baldwin

    Hairpin exit (and the pit lane entry behind)

    Joel Baldwin

    Ricer hatchbacks racing

  • Day109

    Day 109: Grand Prix Race

    October 2, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Last day at the track! Arrived very early today since we were expecting a large crowd and our grandstand has entirely unreserved seating. So we were on the train around 8:30am and in our seats by 10, just in time for the GP3 race.

    GP3 is another racing series that's a step down from GP2 (which is a step down from Formula 1). They all have the same owners so they aren't competing, and essentially the talent and money flows upwards from GP3 -> GP2 -> Formula 1. The GP3 race was a bit boring as the front-runners had a good start and never looked like being caught, but the GP2 race was very exciting. Lots of passing moves and shuffling of the pack, with a very close finish. If only I knew who some of the drivers were!

    Final support race was a Porsche Cup with a field of 20+ Porsches competing against each other. Amazing how much slower they are than the open-wheel racers, but again it was a fun race to watch which was good. Now we just needed to wait the two hours until the main F1 event at 3pm. The grandstand was steadily filling up, but we could still come and go as we pleased without having to worry too much.

    Had chicken shwarma wraps for lunch, and I lined up for 30 minutes to get a couple of beers. I guess since it's a Muslim country, they only had one outlet for alcohol and it was very popular (the crowd at least in the main stands was probably 75% non-Malaysians). Plus the guys serving clearly weren't barmen or anything approaching it. They had five different types of drinks to serve, no proper trays, no limits on purchases (I saw one guy buying 30+ beers that he carried away in a garbage bag), no tills that I could see, and the guys were adding up purchases using a calculator! Go figure. Eventually I got my beers and drank them quickly as it was very hot.

    The driver's parade came and went, and before we knew it the cars were on the starting grid. Formation lap away, and then it's lights out - GO! Big crash at the first corner, as Vettel tried to dive into a tiny gap, breaking his front wing and nudging championship leader Rosberg into a spin. Vettel was out, while Rosberg ended up stone last. Ricciardo managed to avoid the chaos to move second behind Hamilton.

    More action and pitstops, so the lead shuffled around a bit. But then the big moment came on lap 38, just as Hamilton started running away with the lead - his engine caught fire on the main straight and he rolled to a stop, out of the race! Suddenly Ricciardo was in the lead ahead of his teammate Verstappen, with less than 20 laps to go! It was a nail-biting run to the finish as Verstappen pushed him all the way, but eventually he got the chequered flag for his first race victory in two years - great stuff. All because of us I think!

    We shoved our way into an area of the main grandstand opposite the podium where we could watch the presentation, including Ricciardo's trademark celebration - the "shoey". Drinking the winner's champagne out of his sweaty gross racing boot. Pretty bogan, but he is from Perth after all. He even forced the second-placed Verstappen and third-placed Rosberg to drink it, as well as his team boss! Also saw some drunken Australians in the crowd who'd stripped down to their Malaysian flag underwear - we found out later that they were all arrested for public indecency. Australians gunna Australian.

    But with smiles on our dials it was time to head back to our apartment in KL. Thankfully the ride back wasn't too bad - we'd been told it can sometimes take three hours due to traffic, but overall it was a slightly quicker run than the previous day. Dinner in the large mall above the station, where we opted for a build-your-own burger place which was quite tasty!
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    Joel Baldwin

    Ricciardo holding his trophy aloft

    Joel Baldwin

    Starting grid

    Joel Baldwin

    Ricciardo braking into the hairpin

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You might also know this place by the following names:

Sepang International Circuit, Sepang Internasionale Renbaan, حلبة سيبانغ الدولية, Сепанг, Circuit de Sepang, Internacia Kurejo Sepang, Circuito Internacional de Sepang, Circuit international de Sepang, Circuíto Internacional de Sepang, Sirkuit Internasional Sepang, Circuito di Sepang, セパン・インターナショナル・サーキット, 스팡 인터내셔널 서킷, Trasa Sepang, Sepanga, Litar Antarabangsa Sepang, Circuitul Sepang, Sepang Internaitional Circuit, เซปังอินเตอร์เนชั่นแนลเซอร์กิต, 雪邦国际赛道