THE atmosphere at the Sepang International Circuit was electrifying — and exceedingly hot but that did not stop people from all over the world to flock to one of the year’s biggest events in Formula One (F1) racing, packing the grandstand entrance by mid-morning.
To prepare for the fickle weather, though, a good portion of the fans came with umbrellas and raincoats, and were dressed as lightly as was decently possible to maximise comfort.
The tired ones simply sat in the shade or on the grass, having a drink with friends or lunching with their families.
“The unpredictability makes it even more interesting,” said a fan who only wanted to be identified as Emir.
“The weather can change at any time! Sometimes you never know how the race is going to turn out,” added the 23-year-old Malaysian.
Emir, one of four brothers, had been coming to the F1 for years with his family.
His father, Wan Anuar, 53, sparked their interest in motorsports when they were young.
“It’s a family tradition,” said Emir.
Emir came to this year’s Grand Prix with his father and younger brother, Amar, 16.
Their two other brothers are currently studying in London but they have been connecting and talking about the race through WhatsApp.
And all four brothers support three completely different teams.
Emir supports McLaren, and the other two brothers are Sauber fanatics.
Amar is a recent convert to the Scuderia Ferrari team.
“Fernando Alonso’s been really consistent these past few years,” said the young Amar with a smile.
They are not the only people attracted to the Sepang circuit.
By afternoon, the place was packed with a large number of fans, both local and foreign.
This is the second year here for a Japanese tourist who only wanted to be identified as Yuasa. The 48-year-old has been coming to Sepang with his family and friends.
“We really like the circuit here, and the wide view we get from the K1 grandstand,” he said.
“We can also get the same view back home at the Japanese Grand Prix, but it’s really expensive over there.”
Yuasa’s family came here specially for Infiniti Red Bull Racing talisman, Sebastian Vettel.
“My son’s a big fan of his,” he said, nodding at his young pre-teen son.
He then showed all the photographs he had taken at the circuit paddock of Vettel with his family.
“We’re all Red Bull fans. We’re all here for Sebastian.”
With attendance quickly reaching its peak, shuttle buses were available everywhere to ferry the swarms of eager fans arriving from their parking lots to the main entrance.
Others were content to take the scenic route and walk, carrying with them everything from their huge backpacks to their umbrellas and cameras.
The usual shops and stalls were open, doing brisk business.
Aside from shops for the usual Formula1 merchandise, there were also many food stalls lining the entire grandstand walkway.
Earplugs and earmuffs, of course, were bought by the dozen, even more so by evening when the main races started and the roars of the speeding cars filled the circuit.
The race ended with a spectacular performance by veteran rockstars Guns n’ Roses who wowed the crowd.