And, with plenty of experienced marshals around the track, this year’s F1 race here in Sepang, which enters its 17th edition this year, is again in safe hands.
“I would say half of the track marshals this year have more than 10 years of experience working in F1. And, many of them like myself were here from the first F1 race in 1999,” says Chief Course Marshal, Encik Azmi Ariffin.
Azmi, who started as a track marshal, was appointed the Chief Post Marshal in 2002 before later assuming his current post of Chief Course Marshal. He as a total 285 marshals reporting to him this year.
“This year, we have 148 marshals for recovery, 70 for Pit and Grid, 240 for medical and 70 fire marshals, apart from the 285 course marshals working with me. Many of all these marshals are very experienced and had worked in previous F1 races,” he said.
Asked on his preference of working in severe heat and rain, Azmi said all marshals would agree with him that they would rather work in the hot sun, regardless the high temperature.
“We will prefer the hot sun. We can stand even on the hottest day in Malaysia. We can do our work well. But, in the rain, we encounter many challenges. It will be a lot more difficult but we can still do it well. Our past recordshave shown this. We are ready for all challenges and we aim to make Malaysia proud,” said the 48-year old marshal.
According to Azmi, for the past 16 years, F1 races in Sepang have been free of major incidents and the track marshals had been commended for their swift rescue work to ensure the smooth running of the races.
“We have had good comments from the FIA. We aim to continue that impressive record. Today, at our annual pre-race meeting with SIC CEO (Datuk Razlan Razali), this matter was mentioned again. Datuk Razlan commended us on our good job and urged us to continue to work hard in keeping the good record.
“On behalf our all the track marshals, we would like to thank Datuk Razlan and SIC for the strong support given to the marshals and our training programmes. Our track marshals are always happy to work with SIC and that’s the reason why they keep coming back to serve the circuit,” Azmi added.
His views were echoed by his colleague, Encik Hamid Mohd Kusani, whom like Azmi, had been a track marshal since the inaugural Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix.
Like Azmi, Hamid also prefers working in the heat, saying it was more manageable than handling incidents in the rain.
“The rain will adversely affect our movement to incident sites. That’s why we at SIC usually hold special prayers to have no rain. Hopefully, today we see the sun all day long,” said the 55-year old veteran.
Another track marshal who served since the first F1 race is EncikMohdTaufikIdris, who is serving as one of the chief course marshal.
“I prefer it dry as well. Never mind how hot, but dry is always better for the marshals to do their job. But, if it rains, we will manage it as well. We have done it before, and we can always to the job again,” Taufik said.
Asked on the most severe incident that had occurred in Sepang, Chief of Recovery, Jasni Isa said that it would definitely be the race in 2001 when one of the Jaguar cars lost a front wheel and threw itself in the air.
“It almost caught a cameraman working on the scaffolding. That was quite an experience. Thank God, nobody was injured,” he said,
“There’s plenty of run-off areas for the drivers. We also have very good marshals working on the track,” added Jasni, who began serving as track marshal since 2001.