Singapore hosted the first night–time race in Formula 1 history
And it has been on the formula 1 calendar ever since
It is a night race
On a street circuit
Bumpy and bounded by walls…
With the city’s famous skyline providing a truly spectacular backdrop
Probably the most exciting race of a formula 1 season
Singapore Grand Prix has produced epic moments
It has hit headlines too
The scandal that affected the outcome of the 2008 drivers world championship between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton
And on this circuit, Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning pole lap in 2018, rated as the best-ever pole lap at 1.3 seconds quicker
Most F1 drivers say it is one of the toughest races of the year
With humidity around 80% and air temperatures, even at night, around 30 degrees Celsius
The Marina Bay Circuit has the most corners, 23 in total, but with changes in Sector 3 this year, the corners have been reduced to 19
With drivers working under these extreme heat conditions, they can lose up to 3kg of body weight during the race.
The race is expected to attract over 250,000 spectators this year
And will be on the calendar until at least 2028
Singapore Grand Prix History – The Origin Story
The history of formula 1 racing in Singapore dates back to early 1960s
First organized in 1961, the race was initially called the ‘Orient Year Grand Prix’ and was held along the Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit
It was renamed to Singapore Grand Prix in 1966, shortly after Singapore gained her independence in 1965 from Malaysia.
The independence of Singapore Agreement 1965 was a major agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Singapore on 7th August, 1965.
Formula 1 racing would continue from 1966 to 1973
…before the event was discontinued after 1973 season
A variety of reasons have been suggested, including an increase in traffic, the very high danger and unsuitability of the track for racing, the inconvenience of having to close roads for the event and fatal accidents during the 1972 and 1973 races
It took about 35 years for the Grand Prix to comeback in the formula 1 calendar
This saw the unveiling of the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2008
Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore
While construction took place in 2007, Marina Bay Circuit was inaugurated in 2008
The original track plan was designed by Hermann Tilke
Tilke is a German engineer, racing driver and a circuit designer, who has designed numerous Formula One racing circuits.
However, Marina Bay Circuit was later refined by KBR Inc, a U.S. based company operating in fields of science, technology and engineering
The 5.063km circuit is one of the most physically demanding on the calendar.
It has a bumpy surface which when coupled with humid conditions gives the F1 drivers plenty to think about when on the cockpit.
In 2008, Singapore had the honour of hosting the first night-time race in F1 history.
The race, the 15th round of that season, proved a huge hit with the fans, teams and drivers.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso claimed a controversial victory in 2008.
The circuit also boasts some of the most unique features of any track on the F1 calendar, including Turn 18, which actually sees the drivers pass underneath a grandstand.
Although the track has seen some minor changes, the basic layout has in many aspects remained unchanged.
It is a twisty circuit, making it the slowest in Formula One running at normal race distance above 305 kilometres (190 mi).
When combined with its features of proximity to walls, this leads to frequent safety cars, further extending the running to nearing the race time limit of two hours
In fact, there has been a safety car deployment at all the races in the past 18 races since 2008.
2020 and 2021 races did not happen due to the global crisis that affected all of us
The race tests the limits for both drivers and cars.
It has some 90-degree turns, but with a high degree of variability, featuring technical sections and quick direction changes.
Overtaking is primarily done at the end of the first sector, where top speeds are at their highest.
While runoff areas exist at the end of the long straights, they are short by Formula One standards.
At most parts of the track, cars run very close to the walls.
With over 19 corners, drivers really work a lot around a high-speed lap at the Marina Bay Street Circuit
In general, a victory at the Singaporean Grand Prix is dependent on a drivers’ experience and skills…and sometimes luck.
Crashgate Scandal in F1 – Singapore Race in 2008
In 2008, Marina Bay Circuit hosted the first night-time race in formula 1 history
This was met with huge celebration from within the country
Fans also flew from other countries to witness and watch the race in Singapore
With close competition between drivers and teams in formula 1
There are always rumours of mind games, sabotage and conspiracies on the track
Singapore Grand Prix has been at the centre of such controversy
The race in 2008 was eventually won by Fernando Alonso, who incredibly started in 15th position before working his way through the field.
But, it was Nelson Pique Jr. and the Renault team that took the headlines.
Pique Jr. crashed out of the race on lap 14, which meant a safety car was deployed.
This played into Alonso’s hands as it meant that the gap between him and Felipe Massa, who was leading the race, was massively reduced.
Alonso, on the fresher tyres, was able to pass Massa and win the race.
But, it was later reported, after Pique Jr. had been dismissed by Renault that he was ordered to crash his car so that Alonso would get a chance of winning.
As a result, Renault accepted their fine, were suspended for 2 years and bosses, Flavio Briatore and Pay Symonds, were removed from their positions within the team.
This is a scandal that continues to hit headlines to date
In fact, it is on the background of this controversy that Felipe Massa is seeking to overturn the championship results from the 2008 season.
He claims that the championship title belongs to him, and should be compensated for losing the 2008 F1 title.
Massa sought legal advice after former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was quoted in media saying he and former FIA president Max Mosley knew in 2008 that then-Renault driver Nelson Piquet’s crash was deliberate.
Singapore F1 Race Contract to 2028
The good news is that you are going to continue enjoying F1 racing in this great city.
In 2022, Singapore Grand Prix contract was extended, which will put the race on the F1 calendar until 2028
This is a multi-year contract extension, agreed between Singapore GP Pte Ltd, Singapore Tourism Board and Formula 1.
According to the organisers, sustainability efforts will feature prominently in future races at the Marina Bay Circuit.
They are working together to reduce the carbon footprint of the Singapore race as part of the transition to a sustainable business model.
It is in line with the sustainability goals of Formula 1
There are efforts and initiatives to increase recycling and use of sustainable materials to reduce carbon emissions of the event.
Singapore GP’s Chairman Mr Ong Beng Seng added:
“We are very pleased that the night race will continue for seven more years. After more than a decade of celebrating this spectacular event on the racing calendar, we are looking forward to building on its success and working with Formula 1 as well as its partners to take the night race to greater heights. We are delighted that this marquee event will demonstrate how Singapore is open for business.
“We look forward to welcoming both local and overseas fans and visitors to the Marina Bay Street Circuit once again.”
For Singapore, having a formula 1 race was and is not just about racing
It is part of a bigger and larger dream…
A goal to turn this Island into an economic hub and powerhouse
It is vision that started way back in 1950s with Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern-day Singapore
A country that can today be considered a mature economy
It remains a big financial centre with high standards of living
…and an incredibly attractive destination to visit
Where you can watch the on-track action from the best vantage points offered by city’s top hotels.