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Bright Lights, Big City

Travel – Singapore

The original F1 night race in Marina Bay is a truly amazing experience and STEWART BELL explains how to get the best bang for your buck in MAXIM’s Insiders’ Guide to the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix…

It may sound cliché, but you can’t help but be blown away by the power of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Marina Bay is absolutely pumping; the F1 cars look stunning flat-out at night under lights, the live performances are huge, and all against the futuristic backdrop of one the world’s great cities. The first time I went I was astonished at the sheer scale of it all, how it was like motorsport’s version of Disneyland — themed bars and eateries, constant action on-track, an electrifying atmosphere, cool lanterns dotted throughout the park. The whole thing was almost made to be on Instagram. And you will want to put everything on Instagram, if only to make everyone jealous.
This year sees the event’s 12th edition and the annual festival is still running hot with the ticket price worth it for the entertainment line-up alone — which is headlined this year by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Fatboy Slim, Hans Zimmer, and Toots and the Maytals. And that’s really what it’s all about in Singapore, being far more than just racing, and one of the reasons why more than 250,000 people attend every year for the great atmosphere, trackside parties and the hottest music acts on stage. Oh, and seeing the unbelievable spectacle of F1 superstars racing wheel-to-wheel under lights. All you need to do is book it — here’s the lowdown:

THE EVENT
The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix event runs for three days (September 20-22, 2019), 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.

GETTING THERE
Eight airlines fly direct from Australia to Changi airport, but Singapore Airlines flies multiple times daily from most capital cities. Once you’re in Singapore, you can either grab a taxi (around SG$20 into the city) or take the city-state’s world-famous MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) train system. Get the Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited train/bus use, the three-day option is SG$20.

ACCOMMODATION
You can book hotel packages at the official event website by clicking on ‘Tickets’ and then ‘Beyond the Track’. What you’re looking for, in addition to comfort, is its location relative to an MRT station. That ensures you’re never far away from anywhere, and makes getting to and from the event a breeze!

TICKETS
Go to the event website (https://tickets.singaporegp.sg/en/tickets/listing/all/). 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. You can also grab tickets from the event’s Authorised Ticketing Partners here in Australia, which are easily found online (https://singaporegp.sg/en/tickets/authorised-ticketing-partners/international).

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 SG$98 (approx. AUD$100). The Turn 1 grandstand (from SG$1288) gives you a mega view for the start, while the Padang grandstand (from SG$488) is a perfect spot for music fans wanting the best of both worlds.

THE CIRCUIT
Singapore may be a compact place, but the Marina Bay Street Circuit Park is vast. The best way to become oriented is to take a look at the map (https://singaporegp.sg/en/event-info/circuit-park-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’s 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 local time — or if you’re watching on Fox Sports, 10.10pm AEST.
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.

THE GRID
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 outright success at Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit, it’s equal at the top, with five-time F1 World Champion Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and four-time F1 World Champion, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on four wins each. F1 World Champions Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso also have one. 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.

DINING
Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, but where do you start? Ask Aussie superchef 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 chili,” 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.”

NIGHTLIFE
There are lots of different spots to explore in Singapore for fantastic nightlife. Clark Quay is buzzing with tourists throughout Grand Prix week and is perfect for dinner and drinks. Orchard Road might be a shopping hub by day, but it has lots of bars and nightclubs when the lights go on. 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 some stunning beach bars that are so authentic you’ll think you’ve stumbled into the South Pacific. ■

The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 will be held from September 20-22, with more information at singaporegp.sg. To book your hospitality package, please contact the corporate sales team at +65 6731 5900 or email hospitality@singaporegp.sg

For the full article grab the October 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.

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Titus O’reily

Kym Aust-Howlett