Singapore, one of the world’s great cities. A forward-thinking multicultural hub, where east meets west – its stunning Marina Bay a futuristic mix of innovative architecture and green space.
… with the city-state attracting more than 16 million tourists annually.
An average of 250 thousand of which head to the prosperous Asian nation each year when the barriers go up and the lights go on, for one of Formula 1’s marquee events, the Singapore Grand Prix.
This year, the sport’s original night race is celebrating its 10th edition – and with the world championship battle intensifying – the race is expected to be another blockbuster.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is the most successful at the Marina Bay Street Circuit – with four victories, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have two. Nico Rosberg is the only other driver to have won, dominating last year.
Vettel will head to Singapore not only with great memories, but also a car again suited to the tight and twisty track – with plenty of local support, care of Ferrari’s strong supporter base there.
The Prancing Horse celebrated its 70th anniversary at the track last month – breaking the Singapore Book of Records, for the largest single gathering of Ferraris; followed by a cavalcade through the streets.
And while the Scuderia has its eyes set on the victory silverware, Ferrari is set to be challenged – not only by Mercedes, but Red Bull Racing as well.
… with Daniel Ricciardo especially confident, following his white-hot battle for the lead with Rosberg last year, finishing less than half a second adrift at the chequered flag.
AUDIO QUOTE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“At Singapore, I genuinely think we can certainly fight for the podium again, but hopefully I get my first win there. I’ve been knocking on the door for a few years there now so yeah, we’ll have a few more updates there as well. If they work as they should, then it should put us in a good position.”
But in F1’s faster and more furious cars, Singapore is expected to be even tougher: cockpit temperatures reaching up to 55 degrees Celsius at racing speeds – for up to 3 kilograms lost in sweat, across the two hour maximum race time, meaning pre-event heat training will be key.
SOUNDBITE: (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
3-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"It's just so hot, man. The clothing that we have is still fireproof, but if you have long sleeve underwear on, long sleeve kind of pants and then top, balaclava and then the suit on top of that, which is another three layers and then gloves. Then you go in a sauna. And here, even if you open your visor a little bit, there is no cool breeze coming in, so you are sweating before you even get in the car."
There’s been 13 safety car periods across all nine events, with the race won from pole seven times. There’s been 235 overtakes, while the race winner has also been crowned world champion in five of the last six events.
There’s been plenty of highlights over the years – such as Renault’s crash-gate saga in 2008, when Nelson Piquet junior deliberately crashed to help teammate Alonso win the race.
Or 2010, when Alonso won again – this time on-merit – for Ferrari, fending off Vettel to the chequered flag.
And 2015, when there were multiple safety cars – first for a crash between Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg, then a track invader. Vettel taking his first Singapore win for Ferrari, while both Mercedes struggled.
Always exciting, a feast for the eyes. It’s time for lights on in Singapore.