The Ultimate Guide To The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
It’s the perfect cure for the winter blues. Balmy nights, racing under lights and the top international artists performing on stage all in one of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities, complete with unlimited shopping and dining options. The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix never fails to deliver.
Whether you’re going for the first time or a seasoned pro, the sheer amount of things to do, see, eat and take pictures of at Singapore’s sporting juggernaut can feel overwhelming. Here’s everything you need to know about the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
What is the Singapore Grand Prix?
The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is one of the major highlights on the global sporting calendar. F1’s original night race made its debut in 2008, and it almost immediately became a classic. And not just because night racing had never been done in F1 to that point, but for the spectacle it created from all angles.
And it’s always been about so much more than the race. Held around the streets of the glamorous Marina Bay, in downtown Singapore, more than 250,000 fans flock to the Circuit Park each year for high-octane entertainment – including F1 and other exotica, along with the hottest acts from the music world.
There’s also a lot more to explore, with the Circuit Park covering 799,000sqm (equivalent to 80 soccer fields) – and jam-packed with entertainment options, such as interactive displays, support paddocks, themed bars and opportunities galore to make your friends jealous on Instagram.
For F1 fans specifically, it’s a kind of Disneyland – with the sheer scale of it all sure to bring a smile to their face… as if this is how it should always have been. Former drivers alike are also not shy in heaping praise on Singapore
“I think Singapore is probably the most important race on the championship now, for the brand of F1, as well as for the business side,” says Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle, an ex-F1 driver of 158 Grand Prix starts.
“The place looks incredible during the race, with the night race aspect, and the skyline. Just everything about it works. I think the track is challenging. It’s the one race of the year where the drivers look battered when they get out of the cars [after the chequered flag].”
When is it?
The event runs for three days (September 20 to 22), though the action kicks-off daily from late afternoon – with things really heating up in the early evening when the lights go on, perfectly showing-off the true beauty of art in motion, sparks flying from the F1 cars as they thread the barriers.
How does it work?
Singapore may be a compact city, but the Circuit Park is vast. The best way to become oriented is to take a look at the map, with the precinct cut into a number of zones – and your ticket providing access to one or all of these.
Zone 1 includes the area behind the main pit straight, F1 Village and The Wharf Stage. Zone 2 has both the support race paddocks to explore. Zone 3 has a range of merchandise and the Bay Grandstand, with Zone 4 the one you want for all the headline concerts at the main Padang Stage.
On-track, the action never stops with Formula 1 supported by Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific, both super-competitive series with top drivers looking to make their mark in front of the Grand Prix teams who’ve flown in from Europe for the week.
For F1, it’s all about the various sessions. On Friday, there are two practice sessions (where the drivers basically get comfortable in their cars, and make adjustments to go quicker), before a final practice session on Saturday (final chance to do last-minute changes), before qualifying in the afternoon, while Sunday is race day (61 laps or 120 minutes, whichever comes first), starting from 8.10pm Singapore time.
You can find a complete run-down of on-track times here.
Along with loads of race-themed activities, the Circuit Park features nine stages, with 46 local and international acts performing at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2018 alone for more than 100 hours of entertainment. Music is a big part of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix experience.
This year’s entertainment line-up has everyone chattering on social media, with six-time Grammy Award winners, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, leading the charge alongside Gwen Stefani, Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Fatboy Slim, Hans Zimmer, and as well as Toots and the Maytals.
What to look out for?
There’s plenty to look forward to in 2019, with F1’s top teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing all in with a chance of winning. The mid-field is also a brutal fight, with seven squads fighting tooth-and-nail, including McLaren, Renault, Alfa Romeo Racing, Toro Rosso, Racing Point, Haas, and Williams.
In terms of success in Singapore, four F1 World Champions have won the race – with five-time F1 World Champion, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and four-time F1 World Champion, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel leading the charge on outright wins with four victories each at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
To make sense of the F1 action on-track, look at one of the many timing screens located all around the track. Saturday’s final practice times are generally a good indicator of who will be on it come qualifying. As for the race, the most exciting time is the start – when drivers are jockeying for position to get ahead of where they qualified for a shot at the win or podium places.
How do you purchase tickets?
Go to the event website. There you’ll be able to get a feel for the different ticket options, before you click through to make your purchase. It’s easy, and nicely laid out.
Where are the best seats?
It really depends on your budget, but anything you choose will give you a great view of the action – with single day-walkabout and grandstand tickets starting from S$98 (approx. AU$100).
What’s cool beyond the circuit?
Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, but where do you start? Ask Aussie super-chef Neil Perry, who is bringing Rockpool to Singapore’s opulent Formula 1 Paddock Club again this year – alongside the Hind’s Head by Heston Blumenthal.
“Tai Wah pork noodles at Upper Cross road for the noodles and the pork and the black vinegar and the chilli,” he says. “You can have it with soup, or soup on the side – dry-style. And that’s really worth seeking out. And Kok Sen at 30 Keong Saik Road, and that’s pretty classic fried chicken and claypot fish with spring onions, black pepper beef, frogs legs, that sort of stuff. And it’s really local food. And that’s really worth dropping into.”
The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 will be held from September 20 to 22, with more information at singaporegp.sg.
(Images: Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix)