Start your engines: organisers of Singapore Grand Prix aim to surpass the excitement of previous years – on and off the track
High-octane racing along with big-name musical acts all promise to make this year’s Marina Bay Street Circuit event a weekend for spectators to remember
The organisers of the 2016 Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix have set themselves a hard task.
That’s simply because they want the all-round impact and excitement of the weekend of September 16 to 18 to once again surpass the level of previous years, providing visitors from around the world with an unrivalled package of high-octane racing, big-name musical acts, special fan events, and a genuinely unique ambience.
“Wherever possible, we try to outdo ourselves every year by constantly reinventing the wheel and challenging ourselves to innovate,” says Michael Roche, executive director of Singapore GP. “The aim is to provide something for everyone, with an irresistible mix of high-quality action and entertainment, all taking place in a truly exceptional setting.”
When launched in 2008 as Formula One’s first night race, the Singapore Grand Prix immediately drew worldwide attention. Run on the 5.065km Marina Bay Street Circuit, which winds anticlockwise through the heart of the city, it provided not just thrilling race action, but also spectacular views of the illuminated track against the backdrop of the Singapore skyline.
Since then, it has continued to go from strength to strength and is now recognised by drivers, fans and sponsors as an undoubted highlight of the 21-race Formula One calendar.
“The event is also a fantastic way to showcase the city to the world,” says Jonathan Hallett, director of Singapore GP. “An average of 79 million TV viewers watch annually, which gives us massive global visibility. The glitz and glamour, the positive brand associations, and the business and networking opportunities generate a buzz around the region, helping to show that Singapore is the perfect hub for companies to invest in, expand and explore. Also, everyone now knows that the city can successfully host massive world-class events.”
For the 200,000-plus spectators expected to attend over the weekend, the prime attraction will be the chance to see the world’s best drivers go wheel-to-wheel.
Reaching speeds of up to 320km per hour along Raffles Boulevard and duelling around the tight turns of the Padang and waterfront sections, the likes of last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel and current world champion Lewis Hamilton promise spectacular, nail-biting manoeuvres and, quite possibly, a measure of off-track controversy too.
After practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday evenings, which give teams the chance to fine-tune their car set-ups and analyse the telemetry, the 61-lap event is scheduled to start at 8pm on the Sunday.
As ever, it is sure to be a tough tactical battle, lasting up to two hours, with the Lion City’s renowned heat and humidity introducing an extra element for both drivers and pit crews as they monitor tyre wear, engine temperatures and general track conditions.
As part of the warm-up, fans can also look forward to races in three support categories earlier in the day. The Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific, the TCR International Series, and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia-Pacific give up-and-coming talent from around the region the chance to shine before the crowds and packed grandstands.
“Over the past eight years, we have seen a lot of improvements in the way the races have been organised,” says Colin Syn, deputy chairman of Singapore GP, who oversees all technical aspects of the event. “That applies to the on- and off-track programming, hospitality offerings, infrastructure, and the overall spectator experience. We have received great reviews, which is why many now regard Singapore as a must-visit destination on the Formula One calendar.”
Adding something new this year, in the lead-up to the race weekend ticket holders can win the chance to participate in a Behind the Scenes tour that includes visits to the Paddock, team garages, race control room, and the podium.
For contest winners, there will also be drivers’ autograph sessions and the Pit Lane Experience to see the cars up close and watch the pit crews in action.
A special ticket category, the Red Bull Turbo Seats Package will let fans meet drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen and dine in the team’s VIP area.
“We also make it as convenient as possible for corporate patrons and their guests to attend the race,” Hallett says. “Accessibility to the circuit is a key pull factor, with the option to take a ferry to jetties located just behind the hospitality suites. It is little details like
this that ensure the best possible experience for corporate clients.”
However, the range of ticket prices, dining outlets, roving acts, and live performances on the Padang stage and other points around the circuit also guarantee there is something for everyone.
For example, this year’s musical line-up already includes top international names such as Imagine Dragons, Australian songbird Kylie Minogue, 1970s hitmakers KC and the Sunshine Band, Pentatonix, and perennial favourites Queen, with Adam Lambert now on vocals. “With the entire city embracing the event, visitors can look forward to a weekend of action and excitement,” Hallett says.