Sonia Irvine: The woman behind Amber Lounge

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

For someone with two lovely daughters, it’s quite hard to believe that she once did not want to have any children at all. Sonia Irvine, owner and founder of F1 VIP nightlife experience Amber Lounge, wanted a second child and had her second daughter Katie through artificial insemination.


“When I was working in F1, first as a therapist and then as sports sponsorships manager, l was so wrapped up in my own world going from one Grand Prix to another that time literally flew past me. I was so busy and I didn’t think I would have the time to have kids,” said the 47-year-old Irish who is well-respected in the world of F1.


“I got pregnant by chance with my first daughter Megan and that changed my mindset entirely. I am very fortunate to have Megan, who is now nine years old, and in 2010 I decided to take fate into my own hands. I used a donor and I gave it a try as I wanted to have another child,” said Sonia, sister of former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine.


Giving birth to Katie just three weeks before the Grand Prix in Barcelona last year, Sonia discharged herself from the hospital even though she was still weak from the Cesarean section.


To Sonia, the biggest challenge about being a single mother is in finding the balance between work and family. When she isn’t travelling between countries for business, Sonia makes it a point to spend quality time with her daughters.


Back home in Monaco, she takes Megan to school every day on her scooter before going for some exercise then to the office. In the evening she picks her up from school and takes her swimming or spends time doing homework with her.


“I am very contented with my life now and my daughter understands that Mummy needs to work so I can buy them things. Megan also knows the value of money, as I give her pocket money when she accomplishes simple tasks like making her bed or clearing the table after meals.


“Megan’s dad remarried and Megan was saying to me that one day I will meet someone special too. Then she paused and said maybe not, as I am perfectly happy with my life. She’s absolutely right and I’m proud of her for being able to understand something as profound as that,” said Sonia.


When asked if there are any plans to have another child, Sonia replied, “No I don’t intend to have another child. I wouldn’t mind a big family though. So if I meet someone special and he has kids of his own, that isn’t a problem.”


So how important is it to have a man in her life?


“I don’t need someone for the sake of it. I’m very independent and when I chose to have Katie on my own, I didn’t expect to have anyone around. It takes someone very special to be with me; someone who can understand my work and shares the same life values.”


Tips to become a successful entrepreneur, by Sonia Irvine:

  •  Be organised and plan your time carefully
  • Having the right people around you
  • Be fully focused on what you are doing at any one point in time
  • Be prepared to make sacrifices
  • Choose friends wisely
  • Eat healthily


About Sonia Irvine

Sonia Irvine was working as a physiotherapist in the National Health Service in the UK before joining her brother Eddie Irvine as his personal physiotherapist when he joined Ferrari in 1996 alongside Michael Schumacher.


From there, she became Ferrari’s team physiotherapist and also started looking after Eddie’s business matters. When Eddie left Ferrari for Jaguar, Sonia wanted a change after working four years for Ferrari. She then became consultant to a sports marketing company dealing with sponsorships.


“Life in F1 is very very fast. Your phone is switched on all the time and you are literally on standby 24 hours. When emails or texts come in, you are expected to reply immediately,” Sonia shared.


The first Amber Lounge party was held at the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix and since then it has evolved into a group of businesses, including Amber Lounge Fashion, Amber Lounge Dining and Amber Lounge Hospitality amongst its businesses.


Amber Lounge is only held at selected Grand Prix races to retain its elite exclusivity.


“I want people to be asking ‘When is the next Amber Lounge?’ instead of ‘Another Amber Lounge?’” said Sonia. “I wanted to create something for the F1 community to come together and have a good time. It’s a huge family but there’s rarely any opportunity to get together in one venue. I saw the need for a stylish and unique VIP nightlife experience that teams, drivers, sponsors and guests can enjoy together.”

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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