Though am not much into any sport, there are 3 of them which are very dear to me. They are Cricket(default fav sport for many Indians), Tennis and F1. One of my dreams was to watch a F1 GP live. As soon as I got this job offer in Bahrain, I was overjoyed because there’s an F1 circuit in Bahrain and from 2005, an Grand Prix(GP) is conducted there. But my dreams to watch the 2007 Bahrain GP were shattered as I was just back from a vacation and I had to be present at the office on that day.
So I made my mind not to miss the 2008 edition at any cost. I was planning for this event right from the month of March and started contacting my friends. Finally it was decided that me and Pavan will go to the race together. We waited for the discounted tickets till the last moment but couldn’t get any. So we bought the tickets from the counter itself a day before the first practice session (3rd April, 2008).
I was too exited to visit the F1 circuit as this was my first time (even though the circuit was very much accessible throughout the year, I kept it pending till the GP). As usual, we reached late enough to miss the first practice session and we compensated it by walking around the various F1 merchandise stalls and a Ferrari Classics exhibition. We made sure that we reach our grandstand before the second practice session in the afternoon. That session was awesome. There were few people in the stands but their response was fantastic whenever a Ferrari passed by our stands. I tried to take some pictures but it was a very tough task to capture images of these mean machines traveling over 300 KMPH. However, I managed to get some not-so-bad pictures. Everyone was elated when Ferraris were announced as the fastest cars of the session. The highlight of the day was when Lewis Hamilton couldn’t control his car at one of the bends and crashed into a heap of tyres(this was after the practice session). After the practice session, we were back to the merchandise but nor for the goods they are selling but for the girls who are selling those goods. I was courageous enough to ask them for some pictures. We returned back around 7PM and were very tired. But inspired by the practice session, I started playing my NFS from 11 PM to 3 AM.
The next day(5th April, 2008), we decided to leave early so as to reach in time for the 3rd practice session, which we did. Again, Ferrari’s emerged as the fastest of the lot. Even though there’s time between this practice session and the qualifying session(in the afternoon), we decided to stick to our seats just for the simple reason to not to miss even a single minute of the qualifying session. We gobbled up whatever we can lay our hands upon at the grandstand(the main food stalls were all at the main entrance) and eagerly waited for the qualifying session to start. Finally, it started and as usual, full of twists and turns. The Ferraris were the leaders in the first two sessions but surprisingly, BMW driver Robert Kubica won the final session and took the pole position. But this was largely because of the unusual slowdown of Felipe Massa in the final turn. The line-up was in this order: Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Heikki Kovalainen…. But believe me, everyone is shell-shocked to see this performance by BMW.
On the very important day of April in my life(6th April, 2008), we reached the circuit(BIC for Bahrain International Circuit) way before the race time(2 30 PM). We had a couple of strolls covering the merchandise section, Ferrari Classics exhibition etc. I stood in 3 queues during these strolls but couldn’t get through even a single one. The first one was for the autograph session of the BMW drivers, which they left before I moved 5 paces!!! The second one is for karting, for which I was informed that all the convenient slots were full. The third one was for bungee-jumping, for which I stood in the queue for about 20 minutes but was sure that I’m gonna miss the race if I stood for more time there.
And the last and most important queue was for the food stuff. It was long n tiring but the gori next to me made sure that I stay in the queue until she left!!!! She’s hot… Somehow, we managed to reach our seats just before the race is about to begin. Our seats were just before the final turn. So most of the time, we had to rely on the big screen ahead of us for updates. We were all expecting a Ferrari win but only after a few laps into the race. But to our surprise, Felipe Massa overtook Kubica at the grid itself. Everyone is shell-shocked and gave a loud sigh of relief. Rest was all history. Ferrari clearly dominated the proceedings and never looked out-of-touch. Everyone was worried about Lewis Hamilton but he had a couple of bad moments in one of which he rode into his ex-mate Alanso’s car.
The special mention of the evening should go to Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella, who some tough time to Lewis Hamilton without allowing him to pass through. Finally, the much needed Ferrari 1-2 was achieved and we were shouting all the way. The other teams didn’t get even half the support which Ferrari got. The whole circuit was painted red with Ferrari flags and tees.
Coming to the other programs at the BIC, there were many other races that coincided with the F1 dates. Those races were GP2 Asia, Speedcar, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup etc. They are all as equally interesting as F1 but the only issue was we don’t know even a single driver of those races. Then there were many entertainment programs which entertained the people to the max extent possible. Those were free style dancers, break dancers, high divers, jugglers, football tricks etc. You can find some of them in the pictures attached.
Overall, this event was like a dream come true for me. I had great fun at the event. Looking forward for the next edition too…….
There was a music concert by the Hip-hop singer, Akon, after the race. We stood in the queue for about 45 minutes to get entry for that concert and luckily we got the best seats from where we can get a good view of the concert. But it disappointed us to the core. I think that the bass was set to the maximum in the speakers. We came out in the middle of the show itself.
And now, some small suggestions to anyone who's planning to watch a F1 race live.
1. Don't rely too much on your photography skills. We may be great photographers but imagine trying to capture something which's traveling around 300 KMPH. My sincere suggestion is to opt for video than photos. If you stills want to take pictures of those mean machines, use "Burst" mode on the camera.
2. The food at the venue will be costlier than outside. The difference might be more than double the price. Check it out before you go for the race.
3. Be sure to carry ear plugs. We thought "WTF, it won't be of much concern". But the sound is ear shattering.
That's all, folks. Enjoy your race.