SEPANG - Eighties pop icon Rick Astley's first time in Malaysia and he is having a blast.
"I have never had the chance to visit many countries here or in South America, so when the opportunity came for me to come to Malaysia, I took it.
"The Sepang International Circuit is simply amazing and you can see that it was designed to accommodate the prestigious Formula One race," he said when met at the Mercedes Petronas Formula One pit garage yesterday before the Petronas Formula One Grand Prix was held.
Astley, who is currently enjoying a revival of his iconic status, said the circumstances under which the race was taking place, however, was unusual due to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 crisis.
"I believe that the race is a good thing as it will help the people take their minds off the incident," said Astley, who is a die-hard Formula One fan.
Astley also said that he was looking forward to watching this season because his favourite team, the Mercedes Petronas Formula One team, was demonstrating good results.
"I hope Lewis Hamilton does well this time but Nico Rosberg is one of the drivers to look out for as well," he added.
The 48-year-old singer, who is well-known for his hit Never Gonna Give You Up, also said that Malaysians were friendly and welcoming.
Astley was supposed to perform at the 2014 Twin Towers Alive Concert scheduled for March 29 in conjunction with Earth Hour.
The concert, however, was cancelled in view of the MH370 tragedy.
One minute of silence was observed before the race began yesterday as a mark of respect for those affected by the crisis.
It was led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone when the drivers lined up at the starting gird.
Also in attendance at the event were Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir as well as SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali.