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Letters from Abu Dhabi: It’s the F1 pits and a flying circus

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Letters from Abu Dhabi: It’s the F1 pits and a flying circus | The Thaiger
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Abu Dhabi: The motorway to the Yas Marina Circuit hops from Abu Dhabi onto Sadiyaat Island, en-route they are building a Guggenheim Museum, a Louvre, and lots of expensive housing. Right now Sadiyaat Island it is a flat naked barren sun-blasted atoll interspersed with cranes, but when Abu Dhabi has a will, there is a way.

Then we crossed onto a lush verdant Yas Island, grown green from desalinated water and transplanted flora. We passed the Yas Water Park famed for its 360° Liwa Loop slide, and Ferrari World boasting the fastest Roller Coaster on Earth. I noted that I should avoid both. There are several hotels by the track, and we knew we were close as we passed them.

It’s a 35km 8 lane motorway just to reach the island that houses the F1 track. Then it’s into the car parks, onto shuttle buses, and we are there. It’s easier than getting to the Hilton in Phuket.

There was a lot of security with big men in black T-shirts, scanners etc, but there were also dolly-birds handing out free water from time to time, so getting in was not all bad. ID cards were scanned in good humour and advice dispensed, some of which was quite useful.

The circuit’s chosen theme colour is aquamarine, and surprisingly fresh and pleasant it is.

When you get to the pit lane you will be surprised at how it separates plebeians from the patricians. The crews pick themselves by the diligence with which they focus closely on trivial tasks to avoid the attentions of the spectator whose son’s girlfriend has a mother who works for the team’s PR Company.

But it is the pits themselves that choose best. They start at the Caterham and Marussia end with the lowest ranked teams, and move up towards the superstar zone. The first half of the pit-lane was filled with many men doing very basic things with decals that involve glue and chewing gum. Down here in the plebeian Section, not much had yet been achieved, and the pit wall was so far a naked skeleton bereft of equipment. As we moved to the patrician pits, everything changed. Here unhurried crews were checking in a leisurely fashion. They already had their tyres in warmers, and the pit wall was already fully operational, and the cars were raised from the ground on computerised life support systems.

The only driver in evidence was Mark Webber, chatting with his crew. It would be so nice if he did well this weekend. It’s such a pity that spectators are not allowed lead “curses” any more; I could bring-in one or two for Sebastian Vettel, but I’m sure security would be awkward about it.

Then it’s on to the parc fermé and scrutineering, leading up to the podium. After that I inspected the track – the going will be hard by the way. The beer garden is most well-appointed. The beer is suitably chilled for the thirsty work of spectating. Somewhere nearby Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were signing autographs, but somehow I did not get around to queuing for that event; there was just so much else to do, and Stella was seductive in her icy charms.

And here in the beer tent are the delicious rumours: Kimi has had a row with Lotus, Lotus would like a Grosjean win, and McLaren has a rabbit to pull out of the hat here. There is also a rumour about next year. It seems that FIA regulations for next year have reduced the size of petrol tanks too much, because of incorrect data from Renault’s testing. This means that cars will be unable to finish a race with a tow from team-mates, and that in turn means F1 will be back to refuelling next year. Well, it will add to the spectacle if it’s true.

There is still a lot to play for.

Letter from Abu Dhabi – Chapter Three: The Flying Circus

We had arrived at the track for the practice. Spectators were milling, and below us marshals were misbehaving, taking photos, and playing with flags. Pickups came by, dragging cleaning frames down the track. Finally the marshals lined-up on the trackside, and the safety car crawled by to inspect them and demonstrate how flags are waved.

In the grandstand there was a lot of annoying shouting that crept inexorably towards us. It was, it transpired, staff giving away free “Golden Ring” Tickets for Jay Z to those that could scream the loudest. Someone told me Jay Z is a rapper and Beyoncé’s husband. Rapper? Beyoncé? Well, I didn’t shout, so I will not be inside Jay Z’s Golden Ring. But thankfully I had little time to reflect upon this loss, as officials waved us into our seats, prior to the cars appearing for the second practice.

A sound from across the track grew steadily brassier. They were coming. The sound people recall in a GP is that of angry hornets, and it is true. But if you are up close and near a corner, what you hear mostly sounds like machine-gun bursts.

“Immediately there came the sound of machine guns as the triplane had spun with them. Clearly the other pilot was an old hand, keeping behind so the agent could not fire though Biggles, the prop and the wings at him. But Biggles was an old hand too and executed one of his expert flips, bringing the triplane into direct range of the mobile machine gun.”

The Red Bull and the Mercedes battling through the corners echoed in my mind like those imagined from the books I had read under the blankets by torchlight. Biggles’ Vickers spits venom and the Flying Circus’s spandaus reply with spatters of fire. The two teams trigger burst after burst as they approach the chicane, and continue through it, so that the experience is one of being in a sustained firefight. They seem to use quantum mechanics to straighten out the chicane so that they can straight-line it with a sustained speed.

The Lotus sounds completely different. Instead of machine guns, the sound is of a slow jackhammer, and much less prolonged; then there is no more explosive sound as the machine wends through the chicane but six different changes of engine note, including a two low pitched moans. Red Bulls and Mercedes managed with just two, so something is different with the Lotus. But the Lotus looks majestic.

McLaren, Force India and Ferrari fire much fewer bullets but negotiate the chicane with such liquid smoothness that they demand admiration. The Williams makes almost no explosive sounds, but quietly twitches through the corners; it’s obviously harder to drive. The Marussia’s trademark is a series of high voltage cracks that seems to ripple into spectators, and other cars make metallic coughs. But the sound is magnificent. Earplugs would ruin the glorious exciting reverberating experience.

Like a great wine, F1 has a trademark bouquet. It’s hard to pin down; ozone, detergent and nail-polish remover are all there, and when tyres lock, there is a hint of rubber.

The brakes glow red-hot, not on all cars, but on many. Lotus is Highly Commended for its deep red heat, but the winner is Marussia, whose wheels glow like the coals of hell, deep crimson and bright ruby, with spots of white heat; magnificent.

We are so close we can see the illumination on each car’s cockpit display. We can sense when the drivers are really trying and when they are coasting. It is obvious that the teams at the back approach the corners more cautiously. They all start gently, slowly wind-up the tension, and finally start to play with each other at the corner. It is a taste and promise of things to come.

Today is qualifying

My seat is in the front row of the south grandstand, at the end of Sector 2 and the second DRS zone, right before turn 11, and behind the marshals station No. 20. Look for a lithe fashionable cultured chap in a nice hat; that would be me.

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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