Singapore Grand Prix
2021 Singapore Grand Prix
Marina Bay Circuit Details
Lap length: 5.063 km
No of laps: 61
Race distance: 308.706 km
Race lap record: 1:41.905, Kevin Magnussen, Haas-Ferrari, 2018
Fastest Lap: 1:36.015, Lewis Hamilton (Q3), Mercedes, 2018
The Singapore Grand Prix is held on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and has been a part of the FIA Formula One World Championship since 2008. The Grand Prix broke new ground in Formula One as it became the first Grand Prix to be held at night.
The race starts at 8 pm Singapore Standard Time which is at GMT+8.00. That is the time when the European Grands Prix start. That makes it convenient to broadcast live in Europe. The streets can be easily illuminated at night and the streets are closed to the public.
Held against the backdrop of the magnificent Singapore skyline, the Grand Prix has become a permanent feature of Formula One calendar year since 2008. Unfortunately, the 2020 Singapore Grand Prix was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The current contract that the organisers have with the FIA ensures that the Singapore Grand Prix 2021 will be on the calendar. The organisers are chasing a further deal with the current F1 owners, Liberty Media at a better bargain.
Singapore is a small city-state and is among the smallest nations in the world. It is a good place to visit at any time of the year. During the race, Singapore attracts up to 40,000 international Formula One fans. The country is also among the most developed nations and is one of the best shopping centres in the Orient.
Having a tropical climate, the temperature and humidity do not vary much over the year. The average temperature is 32 degrees during the day time to 25 degrees during the nights. Thunderstorms can be expected any day but are not frequent. Humidity can be as high as 80 during the race days.
How did the Singapore Grand Prix start?
The first non-championship race was organised on the Thomson Road Circuit and was called the Orient Year Grand Prix. The race was renamed the Malaysian Grand Prix the following year. On Singapore gaining independence in 1965, the race was named the Singapore Grand Prix.
Post-1973 no Grand Prix races were held in Singapore. It might be that the Thomson Road Circuit was too dangerous and risky for racing. It could also be that the traffic in Singapore had increased exponentially and it was difficult to close the road to the public. The fatal accidents in 1972 and 1973 also might have weighed in on the decision.
In 2008, Bernie Eccelstone, the then Chief Executive of Formula One, announced the signing of a deal with Singapore GP Pte Ltd and the Singapore Tourism Board. The agreement promised Singapore the rights to host the Championship Grand Prix for 5 years.
The Singapore Grand Prix was strongly backed by the Singaporean government who put up 60 per cent of the costs of holding the event. The event was held to a full house of 110,000 Formula One fans and was a spectacular success.
Marina Bay Circuit: Changes made over time
The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was a massive success with the fans, organisers and the FIA. But the Formula One drivers were not impressed either by the track or in the way the race was won by Fernando Alonso. The hot and humid conditions did not help either.
Fernando Alonso, having won the pole position dominated the race till his pitstop. Alonso was released early from the pit stop and broke the fuel rig, thus dropping to the last place. Renault was later found to have ordered Nelson Piquet Jr, to crash. The safety car that emerged benefited Alonso who ultimately won the race.
The climate in Singapore at the end of September is very hot and humid. Drivers are known to lose more than 3 kgs of fluid during the race because of temperatures reaching in more than 60 degrees centigrade in the cockpit. Drivers often take ice baths before and after their race to keep their body temperatures low.
Many drivers complained that the track was bumpy. Lewis Hamilton commented that the track was twice as hard manoeuvre on that the Monaco Street Circuit. He also felt that driver’s needed twice the energy for one lap in the Singapore race than in the Monaco race.
The next year turns 1, 2, and 3 were slightly modified to enable overtaking. The high kerbs on turn 10, which caused many incidents in 2008, were also changed. Lewis Hamilton secured pole position and easily won the race. Fernando Alonso finished third as Renault was penalised for interfering in the race the previous year.
Fernando Alonso won the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix becoming the first man to win the race twice. Heikki Kovalainen leapt out of his car and extinguished the fire his car had caught, with a borrowed fire extinguisher. Sebastian Vettel finished second.
Sebastian Vettel was leading the Championship race by 100 points before he arrived at Marina Bay. He won the race from his 11th pole position of 2011 to add to his eight victories. Jenson Webber came in second while Mark Webber took the last place on the podium.
In 2012 Bernie Eccelstone had agreed that the Singapore Grand Prix will be on the F1 circus calendar year till 2017. Hamilton got the pole position but had to pull out at the start of the race with gearbox problems. Sebastian Vettel won the race for Red Bull-Renault.
The “Singapore Sling” chicane at turn 10 was eliminated in 2013 and cars now had a sweeping curve before approaching the Anderson Bridge. Sebastian Vettel secured his third straight Singapore Grand Prix win in anticipation of his fourth straight Championship title.
Singapore Airlines agreed to sponsor the Singapore Grand Prix since 2014 just as the FIA introduced the 1.5-litre turbo-powered cars to Formula One. Lewis Hamilton claimed his second Singapore event having won six races before that year.
Sebastian Vettel won the pole position at the 2015 race. Lewis Hamilton had to wait to emulate his idol, Ayrton Senna’s record of eight pole in a row as well as his 41 career pole records. Vettel went on to win his fourth Singapore Grand Prix that year, this time driving a Ferrari.
Nico Rosberg won the event in 2016, his 200th Grand Prix starts from pole position. He had to hold off Daniel Ricardo as Hamilton, his template in Mercedes retired with brake problems. Hamilton had also retired after electrical problems the previous year.
Lewis Hamilton saw his jinx at the race broken in 2017 after retirements the two previous years. He was competing with Sebastian Vettel for the title when Vettel’s car was involved in a collision at the first turn with Kimi Räikkönen and Max Verstappen. Hamilton won the race and increased his lead from 3 to 28 points.
In 2019 Lewis Hamilton, in a Mercedes, again increased his lead over Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari in the race for the title. Collisions and obstruction saw several drivers penalised during the race. Hamilton fought off Max Verstappen and beat him to the finish line increasing his lead over Vettel to 40 points.
A third DRS zone was introduced to the event in 2019 to facilitate overtaking. Lewis Hamilton was leading the race to the Championship by 63 points and was well on his way to the sixth title. Sebastian Vettel had other ideas and won the race while Hamilton did claim the Championship later on.
How is the Marina Bay Circuit today?
Despite the many changes implemented to the track, the track is still very harsh on drivers as well as cars. Although the race distance is above the 305 km approved by the FIA, the twisty circuit and the closeness of the track to the walls make it the slowest circuit on the Formula One calendar.
Even though the track is well lit during the race, adjusting to artificial light makes it difficult for drivers to adjust. The bumpiness of the track and the intense heat and humidity leads to fatigue for the drivers and creates problems for the naturally aspirated engines.
Remarkably, at least one safety car has been deployed in every race held at the Marina Bay circuit. This, and the slow speed of the circuit because of the many turns, results in the race extending to the full limit of two hours allowed by Formula One regulations.
The track has some ninety-degree turns and heavy braking zones. Overtaking is only possible at the end of the first sector where the cars attain maximum speed on the circuit. Runoff zones are provided at the end of the longer straights but do not meet Formula One specifications.
Despite these shortcomings, the Singapore Grand Prix attracts many international fans to the race. Although attendances have dropped in recent years, (89,333) from 2008, as many as 40,000 international visitors thronged to Singapore for the 2019 event.
A lap of the Marina Bay Circuit
The race starts not much after the last turn of the circuit along the first DRS zone along the Main Straight and alongside the pit lane. The cars accelerate up to 308 km/h braking to take the left-hand Turn 1 at 211km/h. Turns 1,2 and 3 forms an ‘S’ with Turn 3 being the tightest.
The cars take Turn 3 at 83 km/h and race down the Republic Boulevard to 260 km/h and brake down to 145 km/h to negotiate the right-hand Turn 5. They then race along the Raffles Boulevard past the lenient Turn 6 attaining speeds of 320 km/h before braking hard to 111 km/h for Turn 7.
Turns 7, 8 and 9 are a left-right-left combination and all the turns are slightly more acute than rights angles. Turn 7 offers overtaking opportunities after the long straight down the Raffles Boulevard and has also been a scene of many incidents.
Turn 9 leads to St. Andrews Road where cars reach 276 km/h. Turns 10, 11 and twelve were re-profiled to allow drivers to reach speeds 167 km/h. But they have to shortly slow down to 111 km/h to take the hairpin Turn 13 which has been widened to increase chances of overtaking.
The cars then race across the Esplanade Bridge before braking from 285 km/h to 78 km/h to negotiate Turn 14 which almost meets Turn 8. Turns 15 to 19 are mostly blind corners before the track passes below the floating Bay Grandstand between Turns 18 and 19.
A right-handed Turn 20 determines what position drivers take on Turn 21. Exiting the left-handed Turn 21 close to the inside of the track allows drivers to gain speed advantage along the flat out Turns 22 and 23. Thereafter the cars accelerate further past the start-finish line across the Main Straight.
Who has won the Singapore Grand Prix?
Nico Rosberg is the odd man out among the four drivers to dominate the Singapore Grand Prix. In 2016 Lewis Hamilton had to retire with brake failure. Rosberg won the pole position and held off Daniel Ricciardo to become the only driver to win the event once.
Sebastian Vettel has flourished at the race, winning the event no less than five times including the last race in 2019. He is the only Formula One driver, to win on the Marina Bay Circuit race three times in a row (2011-13). He also won the honours in 2015.
Lewis Hamilton has won the race four times and had to retire due to mechanical problems twice when he was in a good position. Nico Rosberg, his teammate at Mercedes, won in 2016 but Hamilton came back strongly to win the subsequent two events. Hamilton had also won in 2009 and 2014.
Fernando Alonso was the winner of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008. Although Lewis Hamilton took the trophy away from him in 2009, Alonso won in 2010. Surprisingly, only four drivers have shared the Singapore Grand Prix between them out of the 12 events held.
Among manufacturers, Mercedes has won the Grand Prix five times if you include Lewis Hamilton’s win in a McLaren-Mercedes in 2009. Red Bull-Renault has won the event three times with Sebastian Vettel as the driver while Renault has won the inaugural event with Alonso driving.
Alonso won Ferrari their first Singapore Grand Prix in 2010 after switching allegiance from Renault. Sebastian Vettel also moved from Red Bull-Renault and scored two more wins for Ferrari in 2015 and 2019.
How much are tickets for the Singapore Grand Prix?
The Marina Bay Circuit is a street circuit and there is no chance of holding Grand Prix behind closed doors. So holding the Singapore Grand Prix during the current pandemic was out of the question. The 2020 Singapore Grand Prix was cancelled.
The 2021 Singapore Grand Prix will be held on October 1-3. The organisers have not yet announced the tickets for the event. This page will be updated as soon as the tickets for the race are announced.
Nevertheless, the Singapore Grand Prix is very popular in the region, particularly after the Malaysian Grand Prix dropped out of contention. The event draws more than 40,000 international visitors.
Here are some things to know before purchasing your tickets
- As the Singapore Grand Prix is held on a street circuit, no matter which grandstand you are seated in, you will only get to see the action on the portion of the track in front of you.
- The tickets that you buy will determine which Zones you will have access to as the circuit is divided into four Zones.
- You will get access to all four Zones with the costlier tickets while the cheaper seats will limit your access to one or two Zones.
- The organisers annually have big-name concerts at the end of the on-track action. These concerts are held in either Zone 1 or Zone 4. If you want in on one of the concerts, choose your ticket wisely.
- Zone One has a Walkabout option. If you chose this option you get to sit in the Pit Grandstand on Friday. On the race day, you can sit in the Pit Grandstand and exercise your walkabout after the action in Zone 1.
- One day tickets are only available for some zones. Walkabout tickets are also available for the race day.
- Giant television screens are placed in front of all grandstands keeping you in on the action throughout the race. The catch fencing obstructs views from the lower seats in all grandstands except the Bay Grandstand. So choose your seats accordingly.
Where is the best place to watch the Singapore Grand Prix?
This grandstand is divided into section AA and AB and sections A1-A22. It stretches the entire length of the main straight. While section A3 and A4 give good views of the celebrations after the finish, Section A15 is just in front of the start-finish line.
The higher numbered sections are closer to Turn 1. Seats in the higher rows of these grandstands will give you an unobstructed view of the action in the pits and the action on the track. Ticket to this grandstand allows access to all Zones.
Turn 1 & 2 Grandstands
Turn 1 Grandstand has sections A2-A8. Section A7 is located just outside the apex of Turn 1 and you can see cars further up the track as they negotiate Turn 2 and enter Turn 3. Sections A8 and A9 give good views of the Main Straight as well as the pit exit.
Turn 2 Grandstand also has sections numbered from A1 to A6. While Section A1 gives a good view down the pit straight Section A6 is closer to Turn 3. Go for the highest seats in both the grandstands for better views. You get access to all Zones with a ticket to these grandstands.
This is a lesser priced grandstand on Turn 14 and will get you views of the turn which is renowned for incidents. The higher numbered sections are a better choice and a seat in the highest row will earn you a view of cars negotiating Turn 8 behind the grandstand. Access is only available to Zone 4.
This Grandstand is also divided into 7 sections. While the lower numbered sections are closer to the sweeping Turn 7, the others are closer to Turn 8. A seat in the sections closer to Turn 7 will also give you views of the action on Turn 14. Choose the highest seats as usual. A ticket in this grandstand will only grant you access to Zone 4.
Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand
The best seat in the Esplanade Waterfront Grandstand, located between Turns 16 and 17, is the last Section A3. In the higher seats of this section, you will get views of the cars as they approach Turn 18. This is another of the lower-priced grandstands which will grant you access only to Zone 4.
Another of the grandstand which grants access to only Zone 4, the Padang grandstand is between Turns 9 and 10. The lowest numbered among Sections A (A1-A10) and the highest numbered among Sections B (B1-B11) are the best seats in this grandstand. Both these sections are closer to either turn. Access for tickets on this grandstand is allowed to only Zone 4.
The Bay Grandstand is not only the lone permanent grandstand on the Marina Bay Circuit but it is also the largest and the cheapest. Unlike the other grandstands, the areas in the Bay grandstand are colour coded. The grandstand has 83 rows and is the highest on the circuit.
The seats at either end of the stands are the best for viewing as the stand is located after Turns 16-17 and above Turns 17-18. The track runs under the grandstand between the latter two turns. Unlike the other grandstands, select one of the lower seats for better views of the action and the television screen. Those choosing a seat in this grandstand will get access to Zones 3 and 4.
Walkabout tickets are a feature at the Marina bay circuit that is akin to general admission tickets at other circuits. There are no reserved seats but tiered bleachers are placed at various places around the circuit, some of which offer a good view of the action.
You can purchase two types of walkabout tickets- either for all the zones or exclusively for Zone 4. Zone 4 tickets are a good budgetary option as there are many seats in the zones. While the viewing areas in Zone 4 are not the best, you get access to the biggest concerts on all three days.
The higher priced tickets come with access for all the zones. The advantage of buying a walkabout ticket for all the zones is that you get access to Zone 1. There are very few fans in Zone 1 and most of them have access to a seat. So your chances of getting a good bleacher seat are higher in Zone 1.
How do I get to the Singapore Grand Prix?
Singapore’s Changi Airport is the home of Singapore Airlines, the city state’s flag carrier as well as the sponsor of The Singapore Grand Prix. The Airline connects over 60 cities across all continents. The airport operates 600 flights daily to 250 destinations in 60 countries.
The Marina Bay circuit is located in the heart of the city and with Singapore’s excellent public transport, getting to and from the circuit is easy as can be. Singapore can also be easily reached by road and rail from the neighbouring countries like Thailand and Malaysia.
Singapore is well connected by train to the prominent cities around it. You can reach Singapore from Kuala Lumpur in six hours during day time and 8 hours overnight by a sleeper coach. Travel from Bangkok will take 2 nights, The tickets are also cheap.
How do I get to the Marina Bay circuit?
The best way to get to the Marina Bay Circuit is by train. Get down at a station close to your respective gate and walk the distance. Those staying in downtown Singapore are within walking distance of the circuit, but the oppressive heat and humidity will deter you.
Public transport is very efficient and cheap. If you are there for the racing weekend you can buy a three day Singapore tourist pass. The pass, costing just SGD 25, will allow you to travel all over the small city for three days.
Where should I stay for the Singapore Grand Prix?
Singapore has accommodation for all budgets from the best five-star hotels in the world to hostels capsules hotels. One has to note that more than 40,000 visitors descend on Singapore during the racing weekend.
Those international travellers are over and above regular visitors as Singapore is both a business hub and a shopper’s paradise. This tends to send the prices up during the racing weekend. It is advisable to book your accommodation early.
Singapore’s best hotels are located around Marina Bay. The plus point is that you can watch the activities and the race on all three days from your hotel room. But these hotels don’t come cheap, especially during the race weekend. Check with the hotel before you book your room if you have a view of the track from your hotel room.