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Paddock Postcard from Singapore 22 Sep 2013

Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Wednesday, 18 September 2013 Caterham's new high performance roadcar concept, the AeroSeven, September 2013 Alexander Rossi (ITA) Caterham F1 Reserve Driver at the Amber Lounge Fashion Show.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Ronald "Ronnie" Vannucci jr. (USA) Drummer of rock band the Killers in the Red Bull Racing garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Bob Geoldof (GBR) with Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Hermann Tilke (GER) Circuit Designer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Felipe Nasr (BRA) Carlin leads at the start of race 1. GP2 Series, Rd10, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, 21-22 September 2013. Race 1 podium and results: 1st Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Carlin, centre. 2nd Felipe Nasr (BRA) Carlin, left. 3rd James Calado (GBR) ART Grand Prix, right. GP2 Series, Rd10, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, 21-22 September 2013.

There is always an element of sadness when the paddock says goodbye to Europe for the final time in a season, but that is quickly forgotten when they arrive in Singapore for what has rapidly become one of the most popular Grands Prix on the calendar, especially when there is so much going on in the build-up to the race.

Wednesday saw Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez join team partners Chelsea Football Club for ‘Dribble and Race’, a cross-sport event in cooperation with the Chelsea FC Soccer School Singapore and F1 in Schools, designed to combine the exhilaration of soccer and intensity of racing. Children aged 11 to 14 got to build and race their very own balsa wood model cars alongside Gutierrez and participate in a kick-about with the coaches from the Chelsea FC Soccer School.

On Friday, Caterham Chairman Tony Fernandes was on hand to unveil the company’s new, ultra-high performance roadcar concept, the AeroSeven, which has been designed and developed with input from all of the group’s business arms, including its Formula One team. The dramatic-looking machine, intended primarily for track use, showcases the value of F1 methodologies as the whole project was completed in a mere 11 weeks. The aerodynamics have been optimized by the F1 team’s CFD software, the suspension includes F1-style inboard front pushrods, and electronic aids include traction control, launch control and ABS brakes, all adjustable from an F1-style steering wheel.

Veteran Formula One photographer Steve Tee was given a surprise reception at McLaren on Saturday night to celebrate his 500th consecutive Grand Prix. Tee started at Imola for the 1984 San Marino round, following in the footsteps of his father Michael Tee, founder of renowned motorsport photo agency LAT. Michael was present at the 1950 British Grand Prix which kicked off the official world championship, and himself did more than 400 races.

Also on Saturday evening, the famous Amber Lounge club hosted its traditional fashion show and among the models were several Formula One test drivers swapping race suits for sharp suits. Those on the catwalk included Caterham’s Alex Rossi, Marussia’s Rodolfo Gonzalez, McLaren’s Oliver Turvey and Lotus’s Davide Valsecchi.

The huge race weekend concerts put on by the Singapore organisers always add an extra, musical buzz to the Grand Prix and among the superstar acts performing this year are Rihanna, Justin Bieber, The Killers and Owl City. Also on the bill are much-loved names including legendary singer Tom Jones, '80s icon Bob Geldof, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Laura Mvula and magician and illusionist Dynamo.

Throughout the weekend the Singapore paddock was filled with familiar famous faces, including footballing legend David Beckham, world champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, IndyCar champion Gil de Ferran, and Derek and Rhonda Warwick, together with Giancarlo Minardi, Rubens Barrichello, circuit designer Hermann Tilke, Sir Martin Sorrell and FIA deputy president of touring, Brian Gibbons.

On-track, Saturday’s GP2 race saw Jolyon Palmer make a spectacular recovery after the anti-stall on his Carlin car kicked it to deny him the advantage of an excellent pole position. After dropping to fifth briefly he surged up to third place in the first corner, picked off Racing Engineering’s Fabio leimer, then pushed hard until his pit stop and then used a savvy tyre choice to catch and pass team mate Felipe Nasr for the lead despite what was at one stage a 12.8s gap.

On a good day for British drivers, ART’s James Calado likewise overtook Leimer early on, then kept him behind in the closing stages despite the Swiss driver’s tyres being in much better condition.

Both Carlin drivers opted for the soft Pirelli tyres, but as he stopped first Nasr changed only the rears, making for a quick pit stop. Palmer pitted three laps later, and on fresher rubber cut the deficit within eight laps after a string of fastest times.

Behind them, as Calado defended yet another podium position, Leimer came under threat from DAMS’ Stephane Richelmi and the Monegasque passed the Racing Engineering car on the final lap. Russian Time’s Tom Dillman took sixth from DAMS’ Marcus Ericsson, while Briton Sam Bird recovered from a poor start from 10th and a delay in his pit stop to take eighth and thus claim pole for Sunday’s race for Russian Time. Fellow countryman Jon Lancaster was ninth for Hilmer Motorsport from MP Motorsport’s Dani Clos.

On-track, Sunday’s sprint race saw Bird dominate to set up a title showdown at November's Abu Dhabi season finale. He was never challenged at the head of the field, but failed to achieve the two extra points for fastest lap. However, Bird has closed the gap to just seven points to series leader Leimer. It was Bird’s fifth win of the season. Ericsson finished second, ahead of Leimer and Richelmi. Strangely, on the slowing down lap, Leimer hit Alexander Rossi’s Caterham car as he was making the sharp left turn off the track to enter the support-race paddock. There are reports Leimer injured his left wrist slightly. Lancaster finished fifth followed by Johnny Cecotto Jr, Daniel de Jong and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, who all started well down the grid. Saturdays’ race winner Palmer finished 17th.

For more pictures, check out our Paddock Postcard gallery.

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