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Fans can meet F1 drivers on the circuit and get autographs too
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KUALA LUMPUR: It’s a rare treat for fans to meet up with a F1 driver up close and the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) have managed to pull it off by getting the teams to agree to participate in autograph-signing sessions during the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix this weekend.

F1 Management have made available the list of drivers scheduled to take part in the sessions at the Grand Stand Area of the Sepang circuit. Each autograph session for the respective teams will take 20 minutes.

The free practice session on Friday is open free of charge to the fans and they will get the chance to meet Williams’ Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima; Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil; and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.

The next two days’ sessions are for those who have tickets to the lower and upper tier of the Mall Area and Tower.

On Saturday before the qualifying sessions gets underway at 5pm, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa; Panasonic Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock; and Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will meet the fans at scheduled time slots.

The session at noon on race day on Sunday involves the “home team” BMW Sauber, who have Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica in their ranks. Also meeting the fans are Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Buemi and Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet.

The race this year will begin at 5pm instead of 3pm previously to draw a bigger European TV audience.

The SIC chief executive officer, Razlan Razali, said yesterday: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us. It is very difficult to approach a driver when they come here for a race and the SIC are bridging the gap between the drivers and the fans.

“We have been informed that the drivers are required to participate in the sessions. After 10 years, this is the first time we will have autograph sessions at the circuit and we believed this will generate more excitement for the spectators.”

Razlan added that they had also been offered an extra slot for a session on Thursday but the SIC were unlikely to take it up as it would be difficult to draw the crowd to the circuit.

The SIC are hoping to attract 130,000 spectators to the GP, which is the second round of the world championship after the race in Melbourne last Sunday.

Brawn GP pulled off a spectacular feat in the Australian GP with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello romping to a 1-2 finish. It was the first time in 55 years that a team succeeded in winning on their debut race in F1.

The autograph signing sessions:

■ FRIDAY

12.20-12.40pm: Williams (Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima)

12.40-1pm: Force India (Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil)

1.20-1.40pm: McLaren (Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen)

■ SATURDAY

12-12.20pm: Ferrari (Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa)

12.20-12.40pm: Panasonic Toyota (Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock)

12.40-1pm: Red Bull (Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel)

3.30-3.50pm: Force India (Tonio Liuzzi)

■ SUNDAY

11.50-12.10pm: BMW Sauber (Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica)

12.10-12.30pm: Toro Rosso (Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Buemi)

12.30-12.50pm: Renault (Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet and Romain Grosjean)

* Slot for Brawn GP to be confirmed

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