Bright lights, Hot nights - Singapore Grand Prix


by Melanie Hawkins February 11, 2016

The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is a must-do event on the global sporting calendar. It’s the pinnacle of international motorsport, a competition fuelled by white-hot intensity – where teams work around the clock, and spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the chance to be first as the chequered flag falls.

Formula One has always been this way, albeit now with far greater budgets; and the wheel-to-wheel battles today are every bit as heated as they were with world champions Michael Schumacher, Mika Häkkinen, Ayrton Senna, and more.

Naturally, nothing beats actually being trackside – where the sight and sound of the world’s finest racing drivers in the world’s finest racing cars, dancing on the edge of adhesion, is nothing short of electrifying.

As F1’s only night race, run under lights through the iconic city-state’s streets, the Singapore Grand Prix is a spectacle that few can match – especially when you factor in Singapore’s year-round warmth.

“(It’s) definitely one of my highlights of the year,” says Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver Nico Rosberg. 

“Singapore has an amazing atmosphere and the whole city comes to life for the race weekend. It’s just unreal – and I would recommend anybody to go, as it’s a fantastic experience. It’s the circuit, the city, the atmosphere... everything!”

It’s a feeling shared by many on the grid.

“This is such a special race,” says 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, who drives for McLaren-Honda.

“The whole weekend feels different – there’s a buzz to the F1 paddock when you first walk in on Thursday afternoon and it never goes away.

“You can feel the vibe – and the tension and anticipation climb higher and higher as we get closer to the race itself on Sunday night.”

For Australian Daniel Ricciardo, it even feels like a second home race.

“Singapore to Perth is like Melbourne to Perth, so for us West Australians it’s not too far,” says the Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver.

For the teams, though, Singapore represents a crucial turning point in the world championship – when things start to heat up, and not just literally.

“It’s a time when the whole team needs to dig deep as we continue our work to improve the car and carry some positive momentum across the winter and into next year,” says McLaren Racing Director, Eric Boullier.

To make things even more interesting, the teams don’t change to the Singapore time zone upon arrival, preferring to stay on ‘European time’ to ensure they are properly prepared for the later session times.

“The flights work out in our favour because we arrive in the evening, so the guys can have a big night for their first night in Singapore and don’t have to go to bed until 6am or 7am the next morning,” says Infiniti Red Bull Racing team manager, Jonathan Wheatley.

“I like to follow my first night with a good sleep. I always find myself waking up earlier, though, which would probably be around 4am in Europe, but I tend to go to the gym, and spend some time by the swimming pool, so (it’s) very refreshing compared to other races (for us).”

And it’s easy to see why all the drivers, teams, media and fans love Singapore – the whole event is just on a whole new level to anything we’ve seen before.

Just lighting Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit is a massive undertaking, with 240 steel pylons, 1500 lighting projectors and 108,423 metres of power cables to provide the 3000lux levels required for High Definition television. As a result, drivers can race during the night just as they would during the day.

Singapore’s stunningly lit Marina Bay Street Circuit makes for an incredible place for a race, but it’s when you add to that F1, the various support categories and an array of off-track entertainment that it all really comes alive.

Huge international names like Mariah Carey (2010), Shakira (2011), Linkin Park (2011), Katy Perry (2012), Rihanna (2013), The Killers (2013), Robbie Williams (2014) and Jennifer Lopez (2014) have all played at the FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX. And that is by no means an exhaustive list.

This year, it’s superstar rapper Pharrell Williams, global pop sensation Maroon 5 and veteran British rockers Spandau Ballet, with two more acts to be announced. As the city-state celebrates its 50 years of independence this year, with a host of activities lined-up, September 18-20 really is a perfect time to head to Singapore.

Making it work as a quick getaway is easy, especially with a short flight and just a few days needed either side of a weekend. And one of the best things about all of it is during the day you can sightsee or relax poolside. By night, you’re out at the track, watching the superstars of F1 racing hard under lights.

Naturally, you’ll want to do it in style – and the event has a wide range of options to suit your budget. At the top of the list is the Formula One Paddock Club, which is the sport’s own lavish facility above the F1 garages. 

At the Paddock Club, you can also taste some of the world’s finest cuisine from some of the world’s best chefs. Previous names include top Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and French ace Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Other mega hospitality options include the Sky Suite across from the F1 garages, Club Suites and the Green Room on the main pit straight, and the Turn 3 Premier Grandstand for a fantastic view of the opening corners (1-3). 

With your pass all sorted – finding five-star accommodation to match it is simple. Singapore has some of the most luxurious places to stay on the planet, with many world-famous hotels within walking distance to the track.

Once you’re in Singapore, a quick tour can simply involve a trip on the Singapore Flyer that looks over the Marina Bay Street Circuit, followed by some shopping at Orchard Road and dinner and drinks riverside at Clarke Quay. 

Want to delve deeper? Head to the Kampong Glam historic district for a taste of Malay culture, delight your senses out at Little India, and spend some time at the National Museum of Singapore.

Food is naturally high on everyone’s list, and there’s no doubt that in Singapore everyone is going home (to their hotels, at least) full. Hawker centres, similar to food courts, are amazing for a truly authentic taste of Hokkien Mee, Char Kway Teow, Hainanese Chicken Rice or Chilli Crab. 

If you’re looking for haute cuisine and to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city, book a table at one of the many hip wining and dining establishments at Dempsey Hill.

Of course, if you’re bringing children, you won’t be running out of things to do anytime soon with so many attractions to choose from. 

The options include, but are not limited to, the Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios, Jurong Bird Park, Skyline Luge Sentosa, as well as the scenic Gardens by the Bay that houses a one-hectare Children’s Garden combining nature and adventure.

It’s all part of the reason why the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix has been such a gigantic hit since its debut on the F1 calendar in 2008. 

When you mix the world’s most watched sport with unlimited entertainment options, a quick getaway to Singapore has never made so much sense.

For more information: www.singaporegp.sg  




Melanie Hawkins
Melanie Hawkins

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