INTERVIEW: SingTel Grid Girl winners 2012!

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Top_3_2012_SingTel_Grid_Girls_LtoR_3rd_place_-_Esther_Leong_1st_place_-_Ashvin_Sandhu_and_2nd_place_-_Emily_Chia(L-R) Top 3 SingTel Grid Girls of 2012: Esther Leong (3rd), Ashvin Sandhu (1st), Emily Chia (2nd)


The SingTel Grid Girl search has been running since 2008, created in tandem with the inaugural Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix night race. This year, only eight finalists between 18 and 23 years old were chosen from the 100 over applicants from two rounds of auditions at the SingTel F1 roadshows held at Bishan (7-8 July) and Jurong Central Park (21-22 July). Previous years used to have 12 finalists.


At the last SingTel F1 roadshow at East Coast Park on 1-2 September, the finals of the SingTel Grid Girl search was held and huge F1 fan Ashvin Sandhu, a 21-year-old Singapore Management University undergrad took the crown, based on public voting through SMS and Facebook. Second place went to Emily Chia, 21, bank teller and Esther Leong, 23, a marketing graduate from Singapore Institute of Management. Prizes included cash and for Ashvin, she will be taking ‘pole position’ at the front of the grid on race day.

Top_3_SingTel_Grid_GirlsAshvin never had any modeling experience and this experience included many firsts for her, such as her first photoshoot and first media interviews. The huge F1 fan also didn’t have a Facebook account prior to this competition and only created one for the onling voting segment so her friends could help. 


Let’s find out more about the top three winners:


Cheryl Tay (CT): Why did you take part in this competition?

Ashvin Sandhu (AS): I have never taken part in such competitions before actually. With some nudging from friends and family, I decided to go to the audition at the SingTel roadshow in Jurong. As a long time F1 fanatic, I thought I would try my luck and hopefully be able to view the race from the race track, not just on TV. I also want to interact with the F1 drivers and be part of the prestigious SingTel Singapore Grand Prix event. With my knowledge on F1, I believe that I will be a good race ambassador for Singapore.

Emily Chia (EC): I took part in this competition because of my passion for speed and glamour, and my interest in racing. I wanted to be one of the top SingTel Grid Girls especially because I saw it as an opportunity to be as close to the race as possible.

Esther Leong (EL): To get the chance to experience the action of the F1 race ‘live’! Being a top SingTel Grid Girl gives me the opportunity to be actively involved on the track and even in the races, which I believe is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Ashvin Sandhu


CT: How were you expecting to do in this competition?

AS: I am truly surprised to be the top SingTel Grid Girl! I didn’t expect to do well as I have never taken part in competitions like this before, and neither did I have a Facebook account before this competition. I only created it two days before the voting started, where I asked over 200 of my friends to vote for me!

EC: I did not expect to win, let alone make it as a first runner-up. It was quite a surprise to me when they announced my name in the top three winners.

EL: I entered the 2012 SingTel Grid Girls competition with no expectations, I just wanted to give my best, and enjoy the race.


CT: What do you think led you to win this?

AS: I think it has to be my knowledge of F1 and my down-to-earth personality. In addition, I must also thank all my friends and family who voted for me.

EC: I think my supporters, friends and family played an important role. Unlike the past SingTel Grid Girls competition where judges were involved, this year’s top three SingTel Grid Girls have been selected purely on public SMS and online voting. Only with the votes from all my friends, family and supporters was I able to win the competition. 

EL: I think it would have to be my personality and warm smile that shone through the pictures. Not forgetting the tremendous support from my friends and family, which I am truly grateful for.

Emily Chia


CT: How big of a motorsports fan are you?

AS: To say that I am a huge fan would be an understatement. I have been watching almost every F1 race on television since 2008.

EC: I am a fan of the sport for sure. I really like fast cars and races, so I have never missed a single F1 race before.

EL: I do follow F1 every year when it comes to Singapore and I love the adrenaline of fast cars, so yes, I’m a fan! I can’t wait to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spectacle on race day.


CT: Any modeling background?

AS: No, this is my first time doing a photoshoot and interviews.

EC: Yes, I am a freelance fashion model. I was previously featured on a motorsports magazine and I also model for corporate events during my free time.

EL: Yes, I have had about three years of modeling experience.

GG2-_Esther_LeongEsther Leong


CT: What are some of the challenges being a SingTel Grid Girl?

AS: I am a naturally shy person, so posing in front of the camera was and is a challenge to me as I have never done photoshoots and videoshoots before. Taking part in this competition has definitely made me a lot more confident.

EC: To juggle between a full-time job and the competition was a challenge because whenever I was off work, I would be training as a SingTel Grid Girl. It is tiring but definitely worth it.

EL: The biggest challenge would be waving the flag on race day in heels. It can be quite heavy and requires an amount of stamina and strength to hold for that few hours! Nevertheless, I am prepared to build up my stamina just for race day.


CT: Who would you like to dedicate this to?

AS: My immediate family and close friends who have been rooting for me since day one.

EC: I would like to dedicate this to my family, friends, and colleagues, as well as SingTel for this great opportunity to be a top Grid Girl!

EL: I would love to thank my parents, my sister, my boyfriend, my best girlfriends and everyone else who supported!


Keep your eyes peeled for them as they grace the grid this coming weekend!


Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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