Read all about the famous night race at the Singapore Grand Prix!
What a weekend!
I personally have been lucky enough to enjoy many of the F1 destinations and races in my time. But I can honestly say nothing can quite offer the atmosphere of Singapore on Race Weekend, as the F1 roadshow turns up for what is now the only night race of the series.
To start with, yes, the flight is long but believe me when I say IT IS WORTH IT! With direct flights from London Heathrow our clients had the choice of a 4 night tour, or to add an extra night to allow for that little bit of extra R&R before the trip home. Alternatively, the chance to arrange your own flights and extend your trip around this fantastic part of the world was a popular option for those seeking to go even further afield.
On arrival into Singapore (albeit a little blurry eyed) our executive transfers took clients to their desired hotel, with options ranging from the centrally located 3* Ibis on Bencoolen, the 4* Amara nestled by the bustling China Town or the luxurious 5* Sheraton Towers. One of the lovely things about Singapore is that it is nice and compact, so the airport transfers only take around 25-30 minutes. For those of us who arrived in the morning it meant a chance to get our baring’s and explore the local markets and area, before returning to the hotels to meet up with the rest of the tour group. We enjoyed a couple of nice cold drinks before turning in for a well-earned sleep, to set us up for the main action of the weekend!
As the F1 is a night race it means that the on-track action in the form of the support races only really starts at 3-4pm. This allows a leisurely start and gives you enough time to enjoy Singapore and its many varied delights. While some people wanted a bit of beach time on Sentosa Island, others headed out to meet the Orangutans and get up close with these magnificent creatures at Singapore Zoo. For those of us who wanted to explore the city in the day, a favourite was heading to the ‘Gardens by the Bay’. As well as the ‘super-tree’ top walks you could explore the man-made wilderness of the Flower Dome & the Cloud Forest. After which you are can venture up the Marina Bay Sands hotel for a (rather pricey) drink, but the views do not disappoint.
The Practice sessions on Friday allowed for the first real sight of the cars beneath the lights and our clients were treated to a 3-way battle between Mercedes, Ferrari & Red Bull to top the time sheets. The city centre circuit means that the normal general admission option of the European circuits is not possible, with the circuit being split into Zones to facilitate moving the thousands of racing fans to and from the entertainment areas and their viewing areas. Premier walkabout tickets offer the chance to see everything and view from platforms dotted around the circuit. However, the grandstand options provide something for everyone, from the fantastically affordable Bay Grandstand to the premium areas on the pit land and Turns 1, 2 & 3.
For those looking to make the trip that extra bit special the Singapore Grand Prix as a multitude of hospitality offers, ranging from upgraded grandstands to bespoke hospitality options including Michelin starred chefs, live entertainment and multiple viewing areas.
Qualifying came around in a flash and provided the first real opportunity to see the driver’s test themselves against not only one of the most challenging circuits in the calendar, but also the heat and humidity. The session ended with Le Clerc seizing pole position away from Vettel and Hamilton. Could the young Monegasque driver back up his heroics in Italy with another race win and further the pressure on not just Hamilton and Mercedes, but also his own more senior team-mate...?
After qualifying we had a refreshing change from fighting through traffic in a coach and instead, we took a leisurely 20-minute stroll to the renowned Haji Lane area for some well needed refreshments. The area consists of several tight lanes packed with bars and music, it made the perfect place to enjoy the night with locals and race fans alike. It also allowed me to try ‘salted egg prawns’ for the first time in my life and can confidently say it is a game changer and sure to be a fixture in my orders at my local Asian restaurants in the future!
With race day fantastically set up the Gullivers team ventured to the fabulous Level 33 bar to watch the sunset before settling in for the main event. Controversy ruled for the race with Ferrari’s strategy seeming to favour Vettel and allowing him to put his dismal form behind him and claim his first race win in over a year, much to the clear frustrations of the sport’s newest superstar! Verstappen completed the podium with Hamilton and Bottas 4th and 5th respectively. Following the race everyone was treated to one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have seen, lighting up the already supremely impressive skyline. After that, the fireworks continued with Red Hot Chilli Peppers taking to the main stage to entertain the crowds until the event closed at midnight (much to the delight of my inner 14-year-old self!)
Monday and our first departures went off without a hitch and allowed one final wander around the streets of Boat and Clarke Quay followed by our final departures on Tuesday morning. During the flight home conversation was still alive with fresh memories of a fantastic weekend and the possibility of a championship race right down to the wire…maybe…sure not…but possible…
Ali (off to find a salted egg prawn) Hills