[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] RACE PREVIEW: SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX

Hot, humid and forward thinking. Singapore broke free of its reputation as a business and airline hub more than a decade ago - with the emergence of F1's original night race.

The Asian city-state, one of just three in the world, along with the Vatican City and Monaco, is a cultural melting pot. A spicy mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and international expats.

And a futuristic urban paradise… one filled with local delights, and green space, ensuring residents can take a break from the madness.

In race week, the glamorous Marina Bay is the pace to be. But the circuit construction begins in May, as the barriers go up and the lights go on for one of the calendar’s true highlights. The Singapore Grand Prix.

Last year, Mercedes’ five-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton was the dominant force - his stunning pole position time smashing the track record by more than three seconds.

The Brit keen to play down rival Sebastian Vettel’s past success at the Marina Bay Street Circuit with Red Bull and Ferrari.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,

5-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:

“I don't think it's that he's [Vettel] more comfortable. It's just that he's had, he's had a package just worked here really well in the past you know the Red Bulls massively quick here. It's a downforce circuit and Red Bull always had all that more downforce than anyone. So this is a good track for them. And then Ferrari have in excess extremely fast the last couple of years.”

Hamilton’s 2018 victory put him equal with Vettel, four wins each, for the most in Singapore, while Fernando Alonso has two. Nico Rosberg makes it in all F1 World Champion winners’ list.

But it’s not an easy one to win, with the conditions in the cockpit reaching extreme levels - 60-degrees Celsius at racing speeds, for almost 2-hours. Drivers will lose up to 3-kilograms in fluid over the race distance, meaning pre-event preparation is fundamental.

AUDIO QUOTE (English) NICO HÜLKENBERG,

F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:

“Singapore is the most physical race of the year for us drivers. Always hits the two-hour mark, and yeah, the heat and the humidity they just get to you, to your body. So the best way to prepare is just being fit. And to prepare for the conditions as best as possible.”

Located in the heart of Singapore’s Marina Bay, the 5.065-kilometre track features 23 turns, more than any other circuit in F1 - and a top speed of 315 kilometres an hour. Kevin Magnussen reset the lap record last year in his Haas. There are two DRS activation zones - on the back straight, another on the pit straight. There are also two DRS detection points, one at Turn 4, the other between Turns 21 and 22.

… with the on-track action featuring not just F1, but support categories in Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

The race has had its fair share of drama, with 2017’s first-corner crash a multi-million dollar carbon-crunch involving both Ferraris, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen… following the event’s first wet start.

But even that is dwarfed by 2008’s crash-gate scandal with then-Renault driver Nelson Piquet Junior ordered to crash at Turn 17, helping two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso to reach the front and win.

…for Renault’s first of two-straight wins, the second at Suzuka in Japan, that remains its last as a constructor in F1.

Hot, humid… tight and twisty… in one of the world’s great cities.. It’s time for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.