F1: Doing it for the thrill and stress

F1: Doing it for the thrill and stress

Imagine working 13 hours, with no pay, in one of the most stressful environments around.

While many would not entertain such a stint for even a day, some 1,000 people sign up for that sort of treatment for a week every year.

Two people with such inclinations are Johnson Wong and Nicole Chai - volunteer marshals of the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, which roars to life along the Marina Bay street circuit from this Friday to Sunday.

Chai, 29, and Wong, 37, have been marshals since the inaugural race in 2008.

They weren't even ardent fans of Formula One before they signed up. They were simply "curious" and "fascinated" that the world's first night race was being staged in their own backyard.

Since then, heading into the sixth edition, they can't get enough.

"It's because of the passion for the work and the friendship forged among the volunteers," said Wong, when asked what compels him to return every year.

"Once, a fellow volunteer even quit his professional job because he wasn't allowed leave to work here for a week. "I'm lucky I have understanding bosses; I just make sure I apply for my leave as early as January."

A civil servant, Wong is the chief support paddock marshal. In brief, his job involves forming up the cars for the support races and managing the service crews.

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