Hardcore fans of S'pore F1

Staunch F1 fan Rocky Go in his favourite team Red Bull’s gear, and his collection of F1 souvenirs.

The Lion City is set to roar again - with the engines of lightning- fast cars when the sixth annual Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix flags off next weekend.

The only night race in Grand Prix and the only street circuit race in Asia, the event attracts not just local race fans but also dedicated followers from around the world.

For example, organiser Singapore GP estimates that 40 per cent of the attendees last year were overseas visitors, similar to the figures in previous years.

All 84,317 tickets last year were sold out, and Singapore GP is confident it will achieve a similar feat this year. To date, 96 per cent of the tickets have been sold.

F1 fans are also snapping up race merchandise.

In the last five editions, 150,000 pieces of souvenir and apparel ranging from pins to T-shirts have been sold. A new range totalling 250,000 items, priced from $15 for a can cooler to $125 for a jacket, will be sold this year.

A novel product to look out for this year is a "cooling" towel, which is said to help combat the hot and humid weather here.

Besides being sold at the circuit park, official merchandise items are also available at sports retail chain World Of Sports, as well as Singapore GP booths outside Wisma Atria and at Orchard Green in Orchard Road.

For fans, watching the race is not just about catching the skilled drivers and their super-powered cars in action. As home-grown F1 fan Jasvinder Singh, 33, puts it, heading down for all three days of the race is an "all-round experience".

"The atmosphere at the Marina Bay circuit park over the three nights is always fantastic," says the assistant manager at the National University of Singapore's engineering faculty.

He caught the Singapore race in 2008 and 2009, as well the F1 races in Sepang, Malaysia, and is heading to the Marina Bay Street Circuit next weekend.

"You don't just get the action on the tracks, you get good music and good food too and there's a carnival-like atmosphere to the whole event," he says.

ROCKY GO, 46, FROM SINGAPORE

Whenever Singaporean race fan Rocky Go heads down to the Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, which he has attended every year since its debut in 2008, he makes sure he is clad in navy blue, red and yellow, the colours of his favourite team, Red Bull.

"I used to be a crazy Ferrari fan and would even buy $600 Ferrari jackets to support them. But last year, I switched to supporting Red Bull instead," says the 46-year-old, an engineering officer in the construction industry.

He was won over by the skills and achievements of the team's drivers, Sebastian Vettel from Germany and Mark Webber from Australia.

"These two guys are young, energetic and daring, unlike current and past Ferarri drivers such as Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who always find it hard to be in the Top 5."

Mr Go, who spends about $1,000 on his F1 experience every year on tickets, drinks and merchandise, used to go with his wife in the first two years. But she was "irritated" by the loud noise from the powerful cars, so he has been catching the race alone since 2010. The couple have no children.

"It's fine with me because I always run into my colleagues or friends. We don't just watch the races but also have a few drinks and enjoy the atmosphere."

He has never been to any other F1 races besides the ones here, but he catches up on Grand Prix news whenever he can.

He still remembers the first time he attended the Singapore edition in 2008.

"Being at the track and watching and hearing the race live is thrilling and very different from watching it on television."

He also makes sure he gets tickets to the grandstand seats to get a better view of the action on the tracks. He made an exception only in 2010, when he bought walkabout tickets as he wanted to roam around the Marina Bay circuit park.

The entertainment programme off-track is another draw. "My favourite performances over the years have always been those by 1980s pop stars, such as Bananarama and Boy George."

He also looks forward to the camaraderie among strangers who support the same team.

"In the past few races, I have made friends with other car enthusiasts not just from Singapore but also from Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. It's even better when we all support Red Bull together."

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