F1 journalist Stewart Bell has his ear to the ground when it comes to all things Formula 1. He has the lowdown on Singapore’s big race and why it’s going to be a race to watch:
The world’s finest drivers threading the barriers under lights at up to 320km/h, trackside parties, live performances from top international artists, numerous food and beverage offerings from hawker-style eateries to luxurious hospitality, all in the heart of Singapore. The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix has established itself as one of the world’s great sporting events, a spectacle few can match.
It’s no surprise then that since the inaugural event, more than 200,000 spectators have attended each year, with almost 400 million more watching on TV globally.
And this September 15-17th, the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix will celebrate a special milestone – its 10th edition, which is expected to be a blockbuster. A titanic battle ongoing for the world championship between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will come to a head.
Here are the 10 things that will ensure the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix is a milestone to remember:
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That’s all Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo needed last year to cover Singapore’s stunning 23-turn, 5.065km Marina Bay Street Circuit in his Red Bull Racing RB12, setting the timing screens alight as the race’s fastest lap.
But for that to happen, a dedicated crew of more than 4,000 worked around the clock for 22 weeks to set-up the temporary facilities – 2,608 concrete barriers, nine grandstands, nine entertainment stages, numerous hospitality facilities and 1,600 lighting projectors were installed throughout the 799,000sqm Circuit Park.
“Everything must be ready for the 250,000 spectators coming through the gates and the global TV audience of hundreds of millions,” says Australian Jonathan Giesecke, Senior Project Manager at Faithful+Gould, Official Engineering Project Manager for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
For 308km of F1 on Sunday. This race usually hits the maximum two-hour time limit. Discovering the best places to watch the cars thread the barriers on each lap is all part of the experience, especially with the action so close in Singapore.
A slew of new ticketing offerings have been introduced this year, such as single day tickets for selected grandstands and the Premier Walkabout ticket category to allow fans to customise their experience over the weekend. This is in addition to a new junior ticket for all Zone 1 grandstands, Super Pit ticket category as well as three new Combination packages, which provides flexibility to explore all of the different parts of the Circuit Park over the weekend.
“There’s also a new Empress Grandstand which will offer spectacular views of the cars slowing down between Turns 11 and 12 of the Marina Bay Street Circuit before they cross the historical Anderson Bridge,” says Michael Roche, Executive Director, Singapore GP.
That’s the amount of lighting projectors needed to create one of the greatest spectacles in world sport. The bespoke, state-of-the-art system from Italian lighting specialists DZ Engineering has not only delivered optimal visibility for night racing conditions since 2008, but also wowed fans all over the world as the track is lit up against the city backdrop.
The lighting projectors are strategically positioned around the track, ensuring the drivers can attack the racing line with minimal glare or reflections from wet surfaces or spray from other cars.
Setting up the system of 1,600 light projectors, 108.4km of power cables and 240 steel pylons is not the work of a moment. But to reduce timeframes the power cables are housed within Aluminium trusses – similar to light fittings at concerts – safely and securely well-above ground level.
The number of plates served in the Formula One Paddock Club throughout the event, by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose new restaurant The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar will be one of the highlights of Singapore’s famed Formula One Paddock Club.
The Formula One Paddock Club is where royalty, captains of industry and plenty of rock stars rub shoulders in a super-exclusive enclave, designed to not only put them at the heart of the sport, but in the lap of luxury. It is, absolutely, the finest way to enjoy the pinnacle of international motorsport.
Other hospitality options include the new industrial-themed Apex Lounge located opposite the podium, the luxurious Sky Suites, directly across from the F1 team garages, Club Suites and the Green Room on the main pit straight, and the Turn 3 Premier Grandstand for a fantastic view of the opening corners (1-3) and the action that happens there lap-after-lap.
The number of Grammy Award winners who have performed at the event since 2008. This year’s line-up is one of the best-ever, with global DJ sensation Calvin Harris, pop superstar Ariana Grande, synth-pop veterans Duran Duran, US pop rockers OneRepublic, American DJ duo The Chainsmokers, British singer-songwriters Seal, and Lianne La Havas, and spoken word performer George the Poet.
Naturally, organising a bigger and better entertainment line-up each year is not the work of a moment, “it’s a combination of listening to our fans as well as active engagement with multiple agents to check who is on tour,” says Michael Roche, Executive Director, Singapore GP.
“We have a mountain of work to do once any artist is confirmed – as it’s not just the one act. We try to balance our entertainment offerings between the younger music acts and the evergreen acts to cater to fans of all age groups.”
That’s the sheer weight (in tonnes) of Formula One cargo, which is flown into the city-state on seven jumbo jets. This precious cargo from the teams, weighing the equivalent of 280 African elephants, includes the all-important cars. Once the cars are on the ground, the teams’ advance parties arrive to set up the garages.
However, all of the teams stay on European time to ensure they’re razor-sharp for the night racing – with drivers, mechanics and engineers going to bed in the early hours of the morning and getting up around lunchtime to start their days.
“The flights actually work out in our favour in that respect, because we arrive in the evening, the guys get there and can have a big night if they like for their first night in Singapore and they don’t actually have to go to bed until 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning,” says Red Bull Racing team manager Jonathan Wheatley.
This is the amount of fluid lost by drivers during the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. They’re under maximum physical stress, with cockpit temperatures soaring to 55 degrees at racing speeds.
To ensure the drivers retain concentration over the race distance, and keep cool under pressure, they put the hard yards in pre-event, with more heat training once on the ground. And it pays off.
“The last few years I’ve put emphasis on Singapore with my training, and I think the results I’ve shown that I’ve been on the podium three years in a row there,” says Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who knows the faster, more furious F1 cars this year will provide an even bigger challenge there.
This is the number of accredited media who head to Marina Bay every year to cover the event across broadcast, print and digital. The 23-turn street circuit generally makes for great racing, and normally at a crucial point in the World Championship – with this year’s edition set to be a white-hot battle between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The FIA International Media Centre is where it all happens, above the F1 team garages, with journalists and photographers working long into the night to get the latest news from the paddock to the eyes of the world. The sport normally stays on European time to ensure perfect concentration at night, so it’s a mid-afternoon start going through to early morning.
“We have received great reviews amongst the international press, with many regarding Singapore as a must-visit destination on the Formula One calendar. This is certainly a feather in our cap,” says Mr Colin Syn, Deputy Chairman of Singapore GP.
That’s the average number of spectators heading to Marina Bay Street Circuit every year, spreading out across the 799,000sqm Circuit Park – equivalent to approximately 80 soccer fields. Hugely popular, a ticket to the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix not only offers fans a night of fantastic racing and international artists.
For the family, there’s so much to see and do. On track the action never stops – with F1 and fantastic support categories in Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific, and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Off-track, kids young and old can get their hearts racing with fun interactive activities like the Pit Stop Challenge, where you can challenge yourself against the Singapore GP off track pit crew by changing a tyre. You can even get behind the wheel of a race simulator, for a few laps of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
This is the exact duration of the now-traditional post-race fireworks display. It’s a performance that has to be timed to perfection, triggered as the winner crosses the line to take the chequered flag. Check out the podium celebration after that – before heading on to the Padang stage for the Calvin Harris concert.
But as the race weekend begins, the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix organisers are already planning the pack-down, and dismantle of the circuit – for its return to city streets with minimal disruption to traffic and businesses. “Nothing is left to chance with over 25,000 crew members working around the 799,000sqm Circuit Park,” says Michael Roche, Executive Director, Singapore GP. “To ensure a smooth delivery of the event, all activities are planned down to the finest detail, and every department relies on a minute-by-minute guide.”
The 2017 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX will be held from September 15-17, with more information at singaporegp.sg