An insider’s guide: Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
Now in its 12th year, the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix blasts off on the weekend. Stewart Bell gives you the inside line on the sport’s original night race.
The finest racers and hottest music acts, under lights and in the middle of one of the world’s great cities. It could only be the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, the sport’s original night race, and one of the great spectacles in world sport.
And for good reason, Singapore is absolutely pumping in race week – with more than 250,000 people enjoying the balmy tropical weather and superb trackside parties for a post-winter getaway with the lot.
Australians have been there from the start and with a home driver to support – first Mark Webber (who retired at the end of 2013) and now Daniel Ricciardo, who heads to Singapore’s Marina Bay this year with a new team in Renault.
“I think that since Singapore has been on the calendar, it has certainly brought interest from all over the world,” Ricciardo says.
“It’s actually a race that everyone talks about. It’s close to Australia; we get a lot of Aussies flying out for that race, but also Europe and even the [United] States. It’s one of these iconic races now, which is pretty impressive.”
F1 on track
There’s plenty to look forward to in 2019, with F1’s top teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing the favorites for the win. But, anything can happen and the mid-field teams can grab a lucky result should anyone falter, seven squads going tooth-and-nail including McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso, Racing Point, Alfa Romeo Racing, Haas and Williams.
In terms of outright success Singapore, four F1 World Champions have put their mark on the race, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel leading the charge with four victories each.
If you’re trackside, keep an eye on the timing screens to see who’s consistently on the pace throughout the weekend.
On Friday, there are two practice sessions (where the drivers get comfortable with the balance of their cars), before a final practice session on Saturday (the best indicator of who’s fastest). Qualifying, which determines the grid for the race is held on Saturday evening, while Sunday night sees that grid blast off for 61 laps or 120 minutes (whichever comes first), all starting from 8.10pm local time/10.10pm AEST.
One of the biggest reasons that the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix draws in more than just motorsport fans is its fantastic entertainment line-up, which – every year – features some of the hottest names from around the music world. The biggest play at the Padang stage in front of up to 60,000 people.
This year’s line-up is one of the best in recent memory, with the headline acts including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Fatboy Slim, Hans Zimmer, and Toots and the Maytals.
Of course, the Marina Bay Street Circuit is the place to be on race weekend! But, beyond the barriers, the city state is buzzing all week.
One of the best places to start is at any one of the official precinct parties, which are held at world-famous shopping strip Orchard Road, restaurant and nightlife hub Clarke Quay, and in historic district Kampong Glam. There you’ll find lots of race-themed activities to get you up to speed.
There’s also Amber Lounge Singapore, the official F1 after party where you’ll find many of the Grand Prix drivers after the race looking to wind down after threading the barriers at up to 320 kilometres per hour. You’ll find it just outside the Circuit Park at the exit of Gate 2. It’s on both Saturday and Sunday nights.
Kick on for more fun at Club Street and Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, where you will find some of the city state’s best food and bars. One for post-race weekend, head down to Sentosa Island for Universal Studios or some stunning beach bars (like the Tanjong Beach Club) that are so authentic you’ll think you’ve stumbled into the South Pacific.
Need some souvenirs after all that eating, relaxing and sightseeing? Head over to Little India and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre, where you can shop ‘til you drop for everything from fresh produce to beauty products. You can easily spend hours in there exploring, going from floor to floor.
For tickets, there’s definitely an option for any budget with single-day walkabout (a form of general admission) and grandstand (seat) tickets starting from SG$98 (approximately AU$100). For those looking for a next-level experience, single-day hospitality packages start from SG$1592 (approximately AU$1,638).
The Formula 1 Paddock Club is the ultimate experience at the heart of the sport, the inner sanctum where teams and drivers host their SVIP guests. In Singapore, it’s done in serious style with a series of celebrity chefs’ restaurants set around The Garden – which takes on an exotic new theme every year.
British celebrity chef Heston Blumental will make his event debut this year with one Michelin-starred gastro pub The Hinds Head. The English institution will sit next to Australian icon Rockpool by Neil Perry, returning for 2019.
The colossal names continue with NOBU, and COMO Cuisine in partnership with Culina (incorporating signature restaurants from the COMO Dempsey family in their showcase such as Candlenut, Singapore’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant, Ippoh Tempura Bar by Ginza Ippoh and COMO’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Bangkok, Nahm).
There’s also Stockton Bar by Maximal Concepts from Hong Kong, which is ranked number eight across Asia’s 50 Best Bars, and Tarte, led by pastry chef Cheryl Koh of two Michelin-starred Les Amis Restaurant. All that comes with Insta-fame care of daily F1 pit lane walks, even a spa for pampering.
The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 will be held from 20-22 September, with more information at singaporegp.sg. To book your hospitality package, please contact the corporate sales team at +65 6731 5900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.