Nothing drives home the high-octane excitement of Formula One quite like actually being at a race and there’s no race to be at quite like the Singapore Grand Prix.
In just ten years, the sport’s original night race has become a popular and iconic fixture of the 21-race schedule, not just for teams and drivers but also for fans.
Often referred to as the Monaco of the East, the floodlit spectacular has drawn over 450,000 fans from all over the world since it first featured on the calendar.
Having made its debut relatively recently in 2008, it is just as much a ‘must attend’ on every fan’s list as the Principality’s iconic classic.
And it’s not hard to see why.
The Singapore Grand Prix serves up so much more than just fast cars threading their way through the heart of the city.
As spectacular as the cars look, sparks flying, racing against the glittering backdrop of Singapore’s distinctive skyline, it’s the combination of on-track action and the variety of entertainments to keep the adrenaline going off it that make it such a special race.
In Singapore when the flag drops, the party starts.
“From the outset, we wanted to create a memorable event that stood out from any sporting event here,” says Michael Roche, executive director of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“This is a fantastic platform to showcase the best of Singapore – the spectacular city skyline, award-winning attractions, architecture and dining options, dynamic shopping districts as well as a buzzing nightlife.
To begin with, at the track, fans are treated to a level of access very few circuits can offer. They have a wide choice of grandstands to watch the race from, whether it is from opposite the team garage or at Turn 18, where the cars literally pass right beneath their feet.
Even the more affordable ‘Walkabout’ tickets allow them to watch the action from different parts of the circuit and see the cars up close.
Off track, the excitement continues. The Killers, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and DJ Martin Garrix, Dua Lipa and Jay Chou are among the headline acts set to entertain the crowds this year at the Padang stage as part of the race’s entertainment line-up. The eclectic entertainment line-up does not stop there as it also features British pop/soul band Simply Red, hiphop legends The Sugarhill Gang, Mercury Award-winning band The Young Fathers, poet/rapper Sampa the Great, popular Abba tribute band Björn Again, Japanese pop band End of the World aka Sekai No Owari, Singapore’s own TheLionCityBoy and Myrne. On top of all these performances, you have a carnival atmosphere filled with the brightest colours and sounds with dance duos, percussionists, acrobats, performance artistes and fire breathers roving the walkways.
Singapore is the only race on the Formula One calendar that both begins and ends at night. Fittingly then, no race beats the city-state’s glittering extravaganza when it comes to the nightlife.
All through the weekend, even as the cars race, the city in the background reverberates to the pulsating sound of parties. Amber Lounge plays host to celebrities, F1 drivers and supermodels. Podium Lounge celebrates its tenth anniversary celebrations. Zouk celebrates the race season with an after-party that features world-renowned DJs alongside old school race-themed games that guarantee an epic ride down memory lane.
For those who aren’t inclined to party, Singapore has to offer in terms of food and shopping.
The country is a veritable foodie haven and its cuisine, a mélange of cultural influences, reflects the diversity of the city-state’s population.
The Newton Circus hawker centre is a particular favourite with the Formula One Paddock, where journalists and former drivers-turned-TV-pundits can often be found lounging well into the early hours of morning.
For those more interested in shopping - whether it’s the fashion boutiques on Orchard Road, the knick-knacks and souvenirs in Chinatown, or a day at the mall in Bugis, they will find themselves spoilt for choice.
Over the years, Singapore has successfully harnessed the power of Formula One’s global platform to advertise the best of the country to the world. The status the race enjoys on the sport’s calendar is testament to this.
“It’s clear that being a stop on the F1 calendar helped boost the profile of the country as a business and tourist destination at a time when many people around the world had no idea where or what Singapore was,” says James Walton, Sports Business Group Leader at Deloitte Singapore and Southeast Asia.
“It will have played a part in other major sporting events ...coming to Singapore,” he adds, “as the organisers recognise that Singapore is capable of pulling off a secure, successful event in style.”
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