I’m back from the 2012 Korean F1 GP. Initial feelings before going were a bit dull, I was excited but after my experience in Singapore, I was genuinely worried I’ll be put in the corner again and prevented from making any waves. Instead it was fantastically awesome. My buddy “Timmy” (not his real name) took me on his team when he found out I’ll be joining the marshals as a Singapore GP visiting official and the rest went as smooth as butter. I was super lucky booking flights, even last minute, award seats were available on the dates I needed to fly (especially to get back so I can make Petit Le Mans). Even Priority Club send me a free night promo for keeping their credit card for a year, so I was able to book InterContinental Grand Seoul on my first night to experience the area of Gangnam and Samseong.
Timmy was kind enough to drive me down to the circuit in Mokpo from Seoul, and invited me to stay with the marshals at the hostel they were put up in. So every morning and night we had cafeteria style Korean food which was amazing. At the track itself, we got recognized as visiting Singapore officials, the only other prominent group after Australian CAMS senior officials who were there on their last year of the training contract. Things were really professionally done and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Once on station, flagging was my role. But instead of taking turns with different flags we found it more useful for me to help out the local Korean marshals getting used to the different flags during practice. So I coached them to the best of my abilities and it was pretty obvious they were getting more and more comfortable for the race itself. On race day I switched roles to operate the light panel and I’m glad I did. During my training sessions showing others flagging techniques I noticed our light marshal didn’t blue flag much, what I realized during F1 race was that the panel itself was malfunctioning so even if he was pushing the button the actual light may not have come up. This really scared the hell out of me when I realized the situation during a double yellow condition when I had the recovery crew from my station, Timmy included, running out on a hot track to recover Jensen Button’s car. I pushed the button and the light went out after a few seconds of flashing. As one can imagine, I pushed that button often and in a rather frantic manner. Luckily, after bringing this out to the attention of one of CAMS people, a simple unplug and re-plug in seemed to have mended the issue.
After the race I CouchSurfed in Mokpo for the night with a fantastic Canadian couple that had so much to share with me over a traditional Korean dinner. Hitched a ride back to Seoul with the CAMS officials who were flying out back to Australia (on a flying bus, the guy was doing 151 km/h on a highway that had speed cameras every few KM, but that didn’t seem to bother him). For my last night in Seoul I was hosted by a fellow marshal from my post, and on the last day in Seoul I organized a foodie tour that a few locals and tourists actually showed up for, so it was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope to repeat again in the future.
All in all very happy with this last minute trip!