Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix is a motor race that is part of the FIA’s Formula One World Championship. It is hosted at the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore. The track is the first street circuit in Asia specifically designed for F1 races.

Renault driver Fernando Alonso won the first F1 edition of the Grand Prix. It became controversial when his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. had been allegedly ordered by senior team management to purposely crash in order to bring out the safety car at a time chosen to advantage Alonso. The race was set to be a part of the F1 calendar until 2021, as an effect by the extension contract signed by race organizers with Formula One Management on the first day of the 2017 event. Previously, a 5-year contract extension was signed in 2012 and was effective until 2017. Every race edition has featured at least one safety car since 2008. And as of 2019, there were a total of 21 safety cars deployed.

Singapore Grand Prix Through Time: How did the Grand Prix start?

The race was initially known as the Orient Year Grand Prix, since its first organization in 1961. After a year, the race was given a new label as the Malaysian Grand Prix. The race at the Thomson Road circuit was renamed to the Singapore Grand Prix after the country became finally independent in 1965. In 1973, the event was cut due to numerous reasons that were raised, including increased traffic volume, the very hazardous and inappropriateness of the circuit for racing, the hassles of having to close roads for the event and the occurrence of fatal accidents during the 1972 and 1973 GP.

A five-year deal was announced in 2008 after Singapore GP Pte Ltd, the Singapore Tourism Board and Bernie Ecclestone all signed a contract. An announcement was released in November 2007 that Singtel, a telecommunications company, would sponsor and televise the event on a show on Channel 5 called SingTel Grid Girls. Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix became the official name of the event. The Government of Singapore has co-funded the event, 60% of the total bill, or S$90 million, out of a total tab of S$150 million was taken care of.

Approximately 110,000 tickets were made ready for the country’s very first Formula One race. By the end of November 2007, a lot hospitality suite like hotels and inns packages went on sale and three-day passes to the public has massively went on sale in February 2008. A month later, Single-day passes went on sale. All of event tickets achieved a full sell-out. The 2008 race was a success and it hosted the Amber Lounge after party. In 2010, Singapore became the second venue for the Amber Lounge Fashion show.

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In 2008, the FIA Formula One World Championship’s 15th round was held at the new Marina Bay Circuit and it was 1st night-time event at F1 history. The night time event airing was indeed an advantage for the European audiences. A series of projectors has brightened the circuit in which adapt their output to match the shape of the course. On track, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (in his Ferrari) was the first man to be positioned on the Singapore pole. Unfortunately, Massa wasted that advantage with an early release from his first pit stop. Renault team’s driver Fernando Alonso won the race, success in the race has been tainted by controversy.

The circuit was slightly modified of the 2009 including modifications to turns 1, 2 and 3 to aid overtaking. High kerbs at turn 10 was also modified after a lot of accidents in that place during the 2008 race. McLaren’s driver Lewis Hamilton took advantage of the pole position and dashed away to win. With the German driver Timo Glock finishing a second place for Toyota, Fernando Alonso ended on the podium again as Renault team made its way rebuild a reputation tumbledown at the start of race week.

The Singapore Grand Prix was regarded as one of the greatest of all time in 2010. Fernando Alonso became the first man to win two times in Singapore. Now belonging to Ferrari, Alonso took pole and gave his all against Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. The former Ferrari champion Michael Schumacher’s attempt to make a comeback at 2010 also caught the headlines, unfortunately he and his Mercedes placed 13th. Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen casually got out from his flaming Lotus T127, and extinguished the fire himself.

2011 saw Germany’s Sebastian Vettel’s win at Marina Bay by using his 11th pole of the season to his advantage. Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso and Hamilton (F1’s Gang of Five) filled the top 5 places but Sebastian Vettel was on his way to his first title defense. Michael Schumacher didn’t make it again as he crashed into the Sauber of Sergio Pérez.

On the 22nd of September 2012, the AP informed the public that Bernie Ecclestone and the Singapore Grand Prix signed an agreement that the Grand Prix will continue to be a part of the Formula One calendar through the year of 2017. During this season, Vettel took the win when Hamilton pulled out with gearbox problems. Sebastian Vettel then dedicated his 23rd Grand Prix win to ‘The Prof’ who was mourned that time.

For the 2013 race the “Singapore Sling” chicane, was modified so the cars will have to traverse a flowing left-turn before dashing towards the Anderson Bridge. Once again, it was Sebastian Vettel who triumphed the race.

Started 15 April 2014, Singapore Airlines announced that it would sponsor the Singapore Grand Prix. In the same year, the GP witnessed the release of new set of fully-overhauled new generation, hybrid-powered cars bringing a new look on the circuit.

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes became Singapore’s third multiple winner as he made a way to his 7th win of the year. Unfortunately, Nico Rosberg fell victim to the technical mishaps related to the new formula. For once Sebastian Vettel, who will join the Ferrari in 2015, placed second ahead of new Red Bull partner Daniel Ricciardo.

2015 saw the win of Sebastian Vettel in his new team – Ferrari. Meanwhile, everyone was shocked when a 27-year-old man crossed the track, shrugging off the high change of accident. He was arrested by the Singapore police.

Nico Rosberg hadn’t gone to see the Marina Bay stand ever since 2008, so his 200th GP start appeared like the picture-perfect moment to set things straight; specially as the German driver was engaged in a two-man battle for the title with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. A spectacular ride to pole position set the perfect grounds, and when Hamilton’s expectations faded together with his brakes success give the impression certain. Not one person told Daniel Ricciardo: the Australian driver executed a heart-pounding late push to keep Rosberg’s fans on the edge of their seats, concluding a second place  with another Singapore fastest lap. Rosberg was the winner of the race.

In June 19 2017, the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Geneva launched its temporary 2018 calendar to which the Singapore Grand Prix received a tentative date of September 16. At the time, the race (including the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai) were answerable to validation by the commercial rights owners. In the evening of 2017, the race track and Formula One declared an extension for the race until 2021. This was a serious seasonal event as polesitter and title challenger, Sebastian Vettel, took part in a first corner accident with Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, which caused all 3 drivers’ retirement. Vettel’s title contender, Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton didn’t allow this incident to go without benefiting him. He then took advantage and gained victory from starting 5th on the grid and increased his championship lead over Vettel from 3 points to 28 points.

Just after an unsatisfactory weekend in Monza, Ferrari reached Singapore anticipating a win. On the other hand, a spectacular lap by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying placed him on pole, putting behind Max Verstappen and the Ferrari of Vettel. At first, an incident happened to Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, recognized as the two Racing Point Force India drivers, that lead to their retirement. Vettel surpassed Verstappen right before the Safety Car was out. As a concluding result, Hamilton won, with Vestappen being the second and Vettel third, adding 40 points of championship lead against the German.

Were there any changes to the Marina Bay Circuit?

In the 2008 inaugural event, many drivers criticized and complained about the track’s overly bumpy surface, the risky pit entry, and high curbs. Even after sorting out these issues, the FIA approved to several major modifications to the Marina Bay circuit’s layout just before the race in 2013. The chicane called “Singapore Sling” at turn 10 was replaced with a simpler, faster left turn. Additional minor modifications to the track layout from turns 11 to 13 were completed early in 2015, primarily to develop overtaking opportunities. The present-day blueprint of the circuit is considered contradictory.

What does the Marina Bay Circuit look like today?

Despite the track’s minor changes, the basic design has in several facets stayed the same. It is a winding course that is the slowest in F1 running at usual race distance beyond 305 kilometers (190 mi), which shared with its features of proximity to walls results to recurrent safety cars, extending the running almost reaching the race time limit of two hours. The rough surface, the dense braking zones, the insufficient daylight and the humidity creates the race very challenging for both drivers and cars. It has some sharp 90-degree turns, but with lots of variability, featuring difficult and technical sections added with quick direction changes. Overtaking is mostly done at the finish of the first zone, where speeds are at their peak. Runoff zones occur at the end of the extensive straights, but are very short by F1 criteria. Cars ride close to the walls at most parts of the track.

How to get to the Singapore Grand Prix

The dense city of Singapore has an excellent public transport network and honest, reasonably priced taxis. It will be very easy to go in and out of the Marina Bay Circuit since it is just in the heart of the city.

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Taking a flight to Singapore: Changi Airport

This airport is the fifth in the list of busiest airports in the world in terms of international passenger traffic. Over 100 carriers run more than 6000 weekly flights linking Singapore with 250 terminals in 60 countries. The home of the city state’s flag carrier is Changi and Singapore Airlines as the head sponsor of Singapore Grand Prix. Singapore Airlines operates 62 flights from Singapore, as well as long-haul trips to Australia, Europe and the USA. Meanwhile, Changi is likewise a major hub for economy carriers including Scoot, Air Asia, Tiger Air and Jetstar.

FLIGHTS FROM AUSTRALIA

For the record, most Australian capital cities offer regular direct flights to Singapore with an average of 6 flight hours from places like Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Tickets for return flights with discount airlines range from $400-800 AUD, but even more expensive for flag carriers.

FLIGHTS FROM EUROPE

A number of airlines fly straight from Europe for about 12-13 hours to Singapore such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM. Middle-eastern transporters like Emirates and Qatar are likewise worth considering, since they offer a considerably extensive range of European cities. Return economy flights cost about €500-800.

FLIGHTS FROM THE USA

Singapore Airlines offers relatively long and direct flights from New York, Seattle, San Francisco & LA. The rest of the flights from the USA include at least one stop, usually in Eastern Asia (Japan, China, Korea). Return economy flights cost about $800-1200 USD.

Other Ways to Get to Singapore

The Southeast Asian rail network is a good option if you have more time to explore. Trains are very convenient, comfy and the fares are exceptionally cheap. Singapore is linked to Kuala Lumpur to the north by a number of day-to-day trains. Buses travel on a regular basis between KL and Singapore, driving about 5 hours for approx. $20 USD. Full information are on the Seat61 website. Kindly also check the bus network map and the East Asian rail.

Getting to Marina Bay Street Circuit

If you happen to stay downtown, you can walk your way to the circuit. It’s obviously preferable to take public transport given the hot weather in Singapore. Check out the nearest MRT stations and admission gates for every grandstand. It can get very congested exiting the circuit right after the race but MRT services are still accessible until 1AM on the race weekend.

What to prepare when going to Singapore Grand Prix

Needed Visa?

Most travellers (people from EU, USA and Australia) do not require a visa, as long as you’re only staying for not more than a month. A round trip ticket and proof of funds are expected but not necessarily mandated and always checked.

Language

The four official languages of Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the main language of the economy and majority of the locals are good in speaking English.

Health

You can expect a cutting-edge health service in Singapore but it’s still good to secure a travel insurance for the entire travel. Doctors are usually present at hotel accommodations and pharmacies are accessible at shopping hubs that are open from 9AM to 6PM.

Staying Safe

Singapore is acknowledged as not only one of the safest but also the most organized and cleanest countries worldwide. Crime rate is low but it’s best to keep yourself aware of the strict local laws if you’re coming from elsewhere. Violating their regulations such as littering or even as simple as spitting gum is subject to relatively high fines. In fact, more serious offences like drugs and violence is bound for death penalty. Keeping your important belongings intact is self-responsibility. That being said, even if Singapore is generally safe, you had better be on guard especially on public transport and crowded spaces.

Singapore Weather

The weather is usually hot and humid in Singapore. Since most Southeast Asian countries have tropical climate, make yourself prepared with the shockingly high humidity of about 80% on average in September. The typical average daytime temperature goes between a maximum of 31 °C (89 °F) and at least 25 °C (77 °F). Tropical rain are also expected during the day. Since the circuit is located near the bay, it can in fact get slightly cold after sunset. It’s always best to bring a spare set of clothes, a raincoat and/or a jacket.

Singapore Travel: Need to Know

  • Singapore utilizes the similar three-prong electricity sockets as the UK. It’s advisable to bring the correct adaptor for charging purposes.
  • The time zone in Singapore is GMT +8 hours.
  • Singaporeans drive on the left of the highway.
  • The tap water is safe to drink.
  • Notable phone numbers: Police 999, Emergency/Ambulance/Fire 995

Where is the best place to watch the Singapore Grand Prix?

Bay Grandstand

Considerably more pricey than Zone 4 walkabout tickets, you’ll have great expectation with the Bay stand. However, the views are insufficient and not action packed. You’ll basically be watching cars dashing along the short straight and disappearing in a blink of an eye. On the lighter side, fans are free to walk around Zone 4 and still get to return to their seats whenever they like.

In terms of atmosphere, this massive Bay Grandstand is comparable to Monaco’s swimming pool section. The surroundings of Marina Bay is treasured and very memorable, placing you in a prime position to look out for the post-race fireworks. This way, you get to enjoy the race from a place that’ll make you appreciate and feel the sense of the city’s eccentric presence, culture and atmosphere.

Pit Grandstand

This is where the heart of the action is. The Pit Grandstand seats offers a good view of the main straight in Singapore including the pits.

Well because it’s a straight, you might be deprived of other views except different faces of the fans that do the same like what you are doing – watching the same view, the pitlane and the happening prior and after the race

Grandstands Turn 1 and Turn 2

To keenly feel the anticipation of the start and the every so often chaotic first lap of the race are best witnessed at these grandstands.

Tickets for these grandstands are in the same way priced with views of the same track section slightly varied. For Turn 1 Grandstand viewers, cars come in from the left, offering you a fleeting side-on view; the rest is generally the cars’ rear through the turns. This grandstand revel in a greater sight of the first few corners as the cars turn suddenly into turn 1, lashing their way through turns 2 and 3 before vanishing.

Turn 3 Premier

Turn 3 Premier Grandstand is perhaps the best and unsurpassed view at the Singapore Grand Prix located contrary the exit to the pit lane, between turns 2 and 3. No sight of the grid from here but an exceptional clear sight of all of turns 2 and 3.

Along with the fine executive bathroom facilities and broader, cushioned seats, fans here have the right to use to an exclusive al fresco food and beverage space next to the grandstand. From the tables, you’ll get a sight of the track and still be able to watch the race while satisfying your bellies. Moreover, for each day Turn 3 Premier ticket holders get to collect 2 meal vouchers, 2 snack vouchers, 6 drink vouchers (beer, wine or soft drinks), and comfort pack with earplugs and other treats.

The views are totally incomparable and the additional level of ease and convenience will be worth the eye-watering ticket price.

Zone 4 Grandstands: Stamford, Connaught, Padang and Empress

There are numerous affordable grandstands found in Zone 4; Stamford, Connaught, Padang and Empress. Unluckily, the location of the stands is at a distant from the turns to flatteringly appreciate the action, and watching the cars lashing a conventional route gets boring.

A walkabout ticket is preferable in terms of mobility, with good chances of finding a spot to watch a new thrilling moment of the race.

Ticket holders have the privilege of whether or not to use the guaranteed seat all the time since Singapore is a known country with extreme high temperature and humidity.

Stamford Grandstand

The Stamford Grandstand is situated at the exit to turn 7, as the machines rush of the fast Raffles Boulevard into a sequence of 90 degree turns.

The sight is slightly underwhelming and not a good place to sit for 3 days. You opt to choose other stands if you’re watching on a race weekend.

Connaught Grandstand

Connaught is situated close to the end of the Esplanade Drive at one of the highest speed sections of the circuit before sharply putting on the brakes into the constricted turn 14. This is considered as one of the greatest stands, getting the chance to see the neck breaking speed and astonishing braking ability of an F1 race car.

The seats are for the most a bit far from the corner. Though you might witness chauffeurs driving wheel to wheel, they are unlikely to overtake.

Padang Grandstand

It’s memorable to see the framework of the colonial style National Gallery. Several giant screens are also present to keep the fans on track of the action. The trajectory to the left in the braking zone of turn 10 is preferable. This section showcases the cars’ speed and braking but definitely not a usual overtaking spot.

Needless to say, another advantage is the Padang grandstands’ proximity to the verdant field that hosts the post-racing entertainment. Watching the concert could perhaps make up for the not so satisfying views of the track.

Empress Grandstand

Located at turn 11, cars rush past the Empress Grandstand before brushing left around turn 12 and onto the Anderson Bridge. This is a moderate speed unit of the track where you can also see cars cornering.

This is by far the finest Zone 4 grandstand to some extent but in terms of track views alone would be the best and most affordable grandstand in Singapore.

General Admission – the Walkabout Tickets

A common issue that many fans experience is being close to the race track but with a constricted view of just one corner. And just like many other circuits, Singapore’s general admission areas unfortunately have the same issues. Not to mention the lack of giant screens that is also below par.

Although a lot of the best views are possible through elbowing for position at the fence, there are several viewing stands with bleacher style seats. It is advisable to bring a cushion for comfortability.

Zone 4 Walkabout

A small general admission area is located beside the Esplanade Waterfront grandstand with a giant screen and English annotation over loudspeaker, making it a nice place to stay on track of the race.

Perhaps the best view is located between the Conaught and Padang stands where the two corners are just about to meet and the cars driving towards you right before swiftly turning right.

Premier Walkabout

In fact, these tickets are a bit pricey but if you are watching the 3-day race, they are probably still one of the best tickets to have that’s worthwhile. All 4 zones and a number of perfect viewing areas are accessible here. On top of that is the access to some of the best general admission sights at turns 4 and 5 and in the direction of the finishing lap in the track interior close to pit lane entry.  

Single-day spectators might not make the most of the tickets but a Zone 4 voucher is probably enough. This isn’t the best option for those staying longer and opting to go for a better grandstand.