5 Reasons We Love... The Singapore Grand Prix
The European season is over and it’s goodbye to the motorhomes and trucks as the flyaways get back underway with the Singapore Grand Prix. Here's why we love going racing at Marina Bay…
1. It looks amazing
We’ve been able to enjoy some spectacular sights in Formula 1 recently – a Ferrari driver standing on the podium at Monza for one – but you will be hard pushed to find a more awe-inspiring venue than the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.
A real downtown street track, it looks incredible enough in daylight – but as F1’s only night race, it’s when the sun goes down that the venue really comes alive. Floodlighting ensures the drivers have no problems with vision, but it also makes for an amazing spectacle when the track is viewed from afar, with this bright outline of the circuit layout.
The track has a permanent section but largely utilises the city streets, with the backdrop of skyscrapers, the Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer observation wheel. There’s even part of the circuit that goes underneath a grandstand – not your everyday layout.
2. It’s a tough physical challenge for the drivers
Although the circuit is amazing for fans, the drivers will arrive in Singapore with a sense of trepidation because they are in for a tough weekend.
With 23 corners and a track length of over five kilometres, it’s a busy enough lap for the drivers as it is, but add in a high level of humidity and they’re really working hard behind the wheel. On top of that, the nature of a street circuit means the average speed is lower – despite a number of relatively long straights – and therefore this is a race that is often the longest of the season in terms of time.
Racing flat-out for two hours in 30-degree heat and high humidity is not an easy challenge, and drivers will train specifically for this event. If you’re fit enough to tackle the Singapore Grand Prix, then you’re fit enough for any other race on the calendar.
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3. The schedule is unique
The conditions the drivers are racing in are so difficult despite the Grand Prix starting at 2030 local time and running until after 2200. While it might seem strange to be racing at such an hour, that translates to 1410 CET, so the whole F1 paddock remains on European time.
That means going to bed at around 5am and getting up in the early afternoon, so blackout curtains are essential for a full night’s sleep. Breakfast is served around 3 or 4pm at the track, while lunchtime is more like 8pm – and you’re thinking about dinner in the early hours.
The schedule does mean FP1 and FP3 take place before sunset, and therefore limit the amount of representative data the teams can gain from practice – which often leads to entertaining and unpredictable races – and also that it’s all taking place at a similar time to the European races, wherever in the world you’re following from.
4. It’s a street circuit where you can overtake
As spectacular as they look, if there’s one criticism sometimes given to street circuits, it’s how hard they can be to overtake on. By their nature, street circuits tend to be tight and twisty with short straights, but the Singapore layout does give drivers the opportunity to make a move.
The best opportunity comes into Turn 7, where drivers have been at full throttle for a relatively long spell with only the right-handed kink at Turn 6 to contend with. Bumps also make it tough to pick a braking point – especially into Turn 7 – which can lead to errors as drivers run wide across the exit kerbing.
Turn 14 offers a similar opportunity after the drivers cross the river on Esplanade Drive, with the tight right-hander one of many heavy braking points that open up the chance to attempt a pass.
5. There’s a festival vibe
With its location in the city centre, the Singapore Grand Prix also boasts some incredible entertainment options outside of the race itself. A large fan zone and music stage is located at Padang, on the inside of Turn 9, where the track wraps around this area of the city.
And this year there is a music line-up to rival some global festivals, with Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Fatboy Slim, Hans Zimmer, Toots and the Maytals, J.S. Ondara, Lighthouse Family, Larkin Poe, Texas, The Ramona Flowers and Wolfgang Flur all performing during the race weekend.
But it’s not just the Padang Stage that features entertainment, with a number of different zones around the circuit providing a variety of acts – including music, magic, art and dance – as well as the F1 Village on the outside of Turn 1.
With all that to keep you busy, just don’t forget the times of all the track action!