SINGAPOREAN KIDS SAMPLE THE SAUBER STYLE

Five young football fans from Singapore received a unique insight into the world of Formula 1 at the weekend when, courtesy of Chelsea and the Sauber F1 Team, they were taken on an exclusive tour of Sauber's garage.

The teenagers were selected for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after emerging as the winners in the Dribble & Race with Chelsea FC and Sauber F1 Team programme, held at Henderson Secondary School last week.

As their reward, they were met by representatives from Sauber and Chelsea at the Singapore Grand Prix pits last Saturday and shown around the Sauber F1 Team garage as the team prepared for the evening's qualifying session at Marina Bay.

The youngsters toured the garage and were given a briefing about the Sauber C32-Ferrari car and the inner workings of a Formula 1 race team before watching the team practice their lightning-fast pit stop routine ahead of the night's action.

While they may have considered themselves as bigger football fans than F1 fans beforehand, the visit to the Sauber F1 Team garage certainly created a big impression on the kids.

'It was great and very interesting,' said 13-year-old Chelsea fan Mika Michalowski. 'I never knew that the pit stop and changing of the wheel could be so fast!'

'It was fun to see that. Very fast and challenging,' added Sri Syahzanani bte Saifful, 13. 'I am a lot more interested in F1 after visiting the garage and meeting the team.'

The group of five, which also included Muhammad Zakiey bin Surahmat, 13, and Brendan Rodriguez Wee and Citra bte Alias, both 14, had been part of the victorious Team Cech earlier in the week during the Dribble & Race programme, which brought together the two sports in a fun and informative afternoon for 48 Singaporean students.

The youngsters were given an insight into the world of Formula 1 by Andrew Denford, the Chairman of the global F1 in Schools programme, which covers 26,000 schools in 42 countries, and had a chance to meet Sauber F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez, who joined in with the kids as they crafted their own balsa wood model cars in a workshop. They then got a chance to race their cars with points awarded for their reaction time and the speed of their cars on a long track.

Sauber and Chelsea

'It was good to come out here and support this programme today,' said rookie F1 driver Gutiérrez. 'It's not something that we've done before and it certainly was a lot of fun to interact with the kids and to get my hands dirty working on my own car.'

The 22-year-old Mexican also got a chance to show off some of his soccer skills later during a coaching clinic conducted by coaches from the Chelsea FC Soccer School Singapore where the participants were drilled on their football skills and given points from their passing and dribbling skills.

There were plenty of smiles at the end of the day from the participants and the organisers, who were delighted at the enthusiastic response of the youngsters to the unique sports day in Singapore.