Sunday 1st October – Race Day

We were up at 8am again since we’d both had enough sleep and I was feeling less than ordinary and Dad wasn’t much better. I searched through my belongings for some suitable drugs and when I couldn’t find any, Dad provided since he never travels without half a pharmacy of cold and flu medicine. I downed a couple of them before we went down to breakfast. Same routine as usual, except this time I brought my handbag with me which meant I was able to sneak out a couple of sandwiches, some dried apple and sultanas for snacks and pastries for afternoon tea. I am the Queen of free stuff. Our window seat this morning afforded us a view of KL tower and my hand went to my mouth when I saw two people jumping from it. Dad immediately turned around to see what I was gawking at and was just in time to see a pair of parachutes open. I’d read something in the paper yesterday about it being base jumping week so that explained. I spent the rest of our brekkie sitting there marvelling at just how far the jumpers were able to get from the tower horizontally before falling.

With our bus leaving at 11am we had plenty of time to kill so we were back up to our rooms for a while where I watched a couple of YouTube videos Dad had recommended about the Mercedes team and he read my blogs. When Mum called, we sat on the bed and caught up with her, filling her in on the events of the last couple of days. When 10:40am came around we packed up and went downstairs for our bus. We did so lugging all my shit so we didn’t have to deal with it tomorrow morning. We waited for an empty lift then met Rob, Joylene and Henry coming down. In the lobby, most of the group were dressed in Red Bull gear to support our Dan.

The logistics manager (Dad) was armed with a printed spreadsheet and pencil as the two buses arrived. With everything coordinated, I piled onto the first bus leaving Dad behind to load the second. Halfway to the track, Geoff got word from Dad that the second bus left at 11:30am thanks to Hayden being late AGAIN. Not good form but you can’t do much about that. I just hoped it didn’t rain or Dad didn’t get hungry because I was carrying all the day’s supplies.

At the circuit, we all piled out and started heading in the same direction. I ended up walking with Phil and Emma and after a quick bathroom stop, we were the first to reach our spot in the grandstand, finding it relatively occupied. Not to worry though, there were a couple of rows that made up twenty seats so I got to work spreading things out across them to guard our spot. Rain came only ten minutes later and it came in a fury. The roof over our heads didn’t do a whole lot to keep the area around us dry and a lot of people vacated as water poured down the huge pilon at the back of the stand and through the join in the roof overhead.

The rain delayed the start of the Porsche Carrera Cup race and twenty minutes after the rain had started, they were able to get going under the safety car. In only fifteen minutes of downpour, the entire circuit was drenched and we hoped that would mean a wet start for the F1, crossing our fingers. There was still no hint of anyone else in the stand so we hoped no one got too badly caught in the rain. People soon rolled up looking as dry as you could hope and occupied the seats we’d saved.

At 1:30pm, there was still no sign of people from the second bus when I left our stand to go and find my friend Chantelle. I met Chantelle at the Austin Grand Prix last year and we’d made fast friends. True to her goal of doing the entire F1 ciruit over the next few years, she happened to choose KL for this year’s race and happily we were in the same place at the same time! At the bottom of the stairs I ran into Dad who had a Coke in hand and looked a little exasperated. He was keen for the sandwiches I’d made but instead came with me to meet Chantelle.

After looking in the wrong section of the grand stand, Chantelle found me as I peered along the rows of seats looking for her. I gave her a hug, introduced her to Dad and we immediately got into talking, mostly about the events of KL. We were interrupted by the driver’s parade and since the on-track action was about to start, we made a quick plan for her to join us on our bus back to the city so we could catch up more then. We wished her (and Vettel) a great race then went back to take up our position in the stand.

We ate our prepared lunch to the envy of the others and saw the drivers on their parade as they finished their lap of the circuit. Not surprisingly, Dan and Kimi drew the biggest applause from the crowd.

In the hour long lull that followed the parade, we were entertained with technicians trying to repair the black stripe that had appeared on the TV in front of us. The two men watched under the scrutiny of everyone around us and when they appeared to have fixed us we gave them a huge roar as a thank you. When the pit lane opened at 2:30pm, we saw a few of the cars do their installation laps on intermediate tires. Oooh, could it be a wet start?! But no, by the time everyone lined up on the grid everyone was on slicks.

There was drama as Kimi was pushed off the grid to leave the space in front of Daniel clear. Apparently another turbo issue, Ferrari had one car out of the race and the other starting from dead last! At least that was good news for Dan! We took our seats as the cars started their warm up lap, excited for what was to come. As they came around in front of us then lined up behind the start-finish straight, I looked to Dad at my side, gave him a huge smile and a nod and we were ready.

Lights out.

The start was clean and Dan managed to salvage something from a disadvantaged position on the wet side of the grid. For the first twenty laps everyone was pretty close and both the Bullies managed to get past the Mercedes for something different. Along with that, we got to watch Vettel sprint through the field trying to make the most of a shitty situation.

Apart from the pitstops and a swap of positions between Vettel and Bottas, the middle section of the race was pretty straightforward, but Vettel began to close in on Ricciardo during the last ten laps. It was good attempt by Vettel but he wasn’t good enough for our Dan, he held him at bay and he never came back because he’d wrecked his tyres. That kept me happy and it meant a double podium for Red Bull for the first time in ages. All through the race I was listening to the commentary and team radio with my headphones and iPod and by shouting updates into Dad’s ear I wasn’t helping the state of my sore throat, but that didn’t matter too much to me at that stage.

As the cars slowed down we were surprised with more drama when Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel collided, destroying the rear corner of Seb’s car to the surprise of both of them and all of us in the crowd. We stayed in the stand long enough to see Vettel pick up a lift from Marcus Ericsson in a Sauber instead of getting into one of the two safety cars that were following close behind. It was a great, rare, thing to see at the end of a good race.

We didn’t hang around to hear any more details though, we figured we’d be able to catch up later. Instead, we joined the rest of the crowds leaving the circuit. I found Chantelle on the way out without any issue and we met the rest of the group at the usual corner. There was a terrible smell of sewerage, but we did our best to ignore it. I introduced Chantelle to the rest of the crew and we regaled the details of the race as we waited for everyone to arrive.

When there were enough people to fill one bus, Dad took them off and we were left to wait for one straggler Dave. He was a while, but no one was going anywhere in a hurry anyway so it didn’t really matter. With everyone there, we meandered off to find our bus. As we left the circuit, our driver made a critical error and turned left out of the circuit instead of turning right. This would cost us the next 3.5 hours of our lives, but we didn’t know that at the time.

As we joined the crawling traffic, me and Chantelle sat in the back row of the 15-seater catching up. If there was anything good about being stuck in the slow crawl along single lane roads, it was that. After nearly two hours in the bus, the track was still in sight, that’s how bad it was. Even though we’d both been to the bathroom just before we left the circuit, Chantelle soon became desperate and we figured out a solution thanks to the snap lock bag I had in my bag that once contained sandwiches.

Only the last half hour of the journey was spent at a normal speed after getting through an intersection. It was a relief to feel the wind blowing into my face through the window and seeing the city in the distance. We finally got back to the hotel at 9pm and not surprisingly no one was interested in hanging around so everyone quickly dispersed. Not being able to get in touch with Dad, me and Chantelle decided to paddle our own canoe and head to the usual dinner spot.

We ran into Dave along the way and he hadn’t been able to find anyone so we told him we were happy to go it alone. At Michael’s restaurant we were sat down at a table near the kitchen and underneath a fan. Happily when the fan leaked oil it dropped onto my hand and not into our food. I was surprised when Dad appeared at our table. His bus had only taken an hour and a half since he had the good driver and the contingent was sitting at a restaurant a few doors down. I didn’t really register that Dad was wearing his sunnies at 10pm at night when he kindly asked me if I could give him his glasses that I was still carrying. Whoops. He sat with us for the rest of our dinner before we walked down the market to meet the others.

Chantelle was wrecked from three exceptionally long days and so we said goodbye, saying that we’d see each other at another race some time soon. At the big table in a more colourful restaurant than Michael’s, I said hi to everyone, then said goodbye. With no voice left at all, I was feeling rubbish and wasn’t interesting in sitting in silence around a lively table. I said my goodbyes to everyone that I wouldn’t see in the morning, thanking them for a great weekend as best I could, then took the familiar walk back to the hotel.

I had a hot shower, packed my bag in preparation for tomorrow and went to bed after listening to some music.

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