This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, but the surprises keep on coming. MAXIM gets an exclusive first taste of the event’s ground breaking new hospitality precinct Twenty3…
You can’t beat watching F1 trackside. The buzz of being at an international event, cold drinks with friends and the tension building up to the action on-track. Then, the festival vibe is shattered by the sound of Grand Prix cars — the drivers almost within touching distance, as they blast past at up to 320km/h. And since 2008, Singapore has taken the experience to the next level. Not just as F1’s original night race with the cars treading the Marina Bay circuit under lights, but also in what it offers the more than 200,000 fans who attend each year — from sourcing the world’s hottest music acts, to interactive fun for families.
For F1 fans, it’s long been a must-visit race — with the Marina Bay Street Circuit looking like a billion dollars, set against the backdrop of Singapore’s futuristic skyline. It’s a view made for Instagram. It’s also a must for those inside F1, who adore heading to Singapore every year in September for the warm weather and greeting. “The Singapore Grand Prix is a modern-day classic,” says McLaren’s two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso. “The race hasn’t been on the calendar for long, but it’s already very prestigious.”
Former F1 driver-turned-commentator for Sky Sports Martin Brundle echoes Alonso’s sentiments on the importance of the race. “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 of it,” says Brundle. “The place just looks incredible during the race, with the night race aspect, the skyline. Just everything about it works. I think the track’s challenging. It’s the one race of the year where the drivers look battered when they get out of the cars.”
On-track, the race is normally action-packed, with the safety car making at least one appearance in all events since 2008. While last year’s milestone 10th edition was voted as having the most dramatic moment of the season, following a multi-million dollar Turn 1 crash that claimed Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing car and both Ferraris. Four-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton came away with the win, his third in Singapore. The Brit stretched his legs after capitalising on a first-ever wet start that resulted in the chaos of the crash, which saw the safety car being deployed. “What a day, I can’t believe it, I’m so happy!” said Hamilton post-race. “It was the first time for all of us driving here in the rain, so it was a massive challenge. But I love that when you have to rise to the toughest of challenges, that’s the most exciting part for me. Then it was all about staying focused and not making any mistakes.”
Off-track, it’s glamour galore with international celebrities, business leaders and revellers jetting in from all over to soak up the electrifying atmosphere, mingle and enjoy the world-class hospitality, which the event is known for. This year’s recently revealed 11th edition entertainment line-up is also epic, with headline acts including Martin Garrix, The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Jay Chou, Dua Lipa, Simply Red and The Sugarhill Gang. And while you can do the event on any budget, doing it like a boss just got better — with the organisers going out all on the development of a new hospitality precinct making its debut this year known as Twenty3.
At a conceptual level, Twenty3 takes its name from the track’s final turn, which it’s located next to, ensuring you see some of the fastest, most breathtaking action on the track (think lightning fast as they sweep onto the main straight), but its name is probably the only normal thing about it. With a pass to Twenty3 around your neck, you enter an elite 3,000sqm enclave that has got to be some sort of first in international sport. For dining, there are three feature restaurants, each the brainchild of household name chefs — guaranteeing a five-star haute cuisine experience. Franceschetta 58, sister restaurant of Massimo Bottura’s three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana, will serve their signature Italian-influenced cuisine.
There, you’ve got to try the Modena eatery’s famous Emilia Burger, southern-inspired pasta dish Mezze Maniche with Chickory, Anchovies Cream and Spicy Toasted Breadcrumbs, as well as a Venetian salt cod dish Baccalà Mantecato with Eggplant Purèe, Toasted Pistachios, Lemon Skin and Smoked Tea. The feasting continues at Le Charlemagne by the acclaimed French chef Laurent Peugeot. The one-Michelin-starred establishment is known for exciting fusion cuisine that melds Asian and French Burgundian flavours. On the menu will be Scallop Hokkaido with Takuan, Pomelo and Sake Yuzu, as well as Wagyu Beef Pot-Au-Feu with Daikon, Pickles and Ravioli.
For the best in Chinese cuisine, an absolute must when in Singapore, move over to the Five Light Pavilion, which is a collaboration between local restaurant Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House and Albert Tse’s China Blue restaurant in Tokyo. For more casual dining, the alfresco Makan Boulevard is the place to be, where guests can feast on Indian Tandoori, grilled meats, and Singaporean favourites, such as Mee Siam, Satay and Laksa. And if you’re feeling like something sweet, Twenty3 has its own 10-metre long dessert bar with esteemed Australian pastry chef Andrew Bowden’s Saga patisserie serving up its creations. Saga is best known for its spectacular cakes and pastries by Bowden, who is better known by his online moniker Andy Bowdy. Guests can indulge in delightful treats like Glow in the Dark Vanilla Slice, and the chocolaty decadence of the “Karl” Cake.
Want to take your party to the next level? Stroll over to one of Twenty3’s four bars that serve a great variety of champagne, wines and cocktails. Over at the Whisky Bar, guests will be spoilt for choice with 23 different kinds of scotch whiskies available straight, on the rocks or as cocktails. Then head over to the two-storey Apex Lounge, which is a VIP nightclub on the pit straight with feature bar and dance floor, presided over by deejay Gil Glasenberg (DJ Gil Glaze). Yes, at a Grand Prix! It has to be one of the only places in the world where you can dance and watch F1 cars at the same time. Adding to the ambience at the Apex Lounge is a kinetic light installation, which has been specially brought in to Singapore from Germany for the very first time. Guests will be dazzled by the mesmerising movement and colours created by the 300 light spheres hanging overhead.
Want to watch F1? Enjoy it at your table via the full-length windows at all of the restaurants, head outdoors to any of the viewing galleries, or onto the rooftop of the Apex Lounge — where the party continues. All of it with the one pass. As you might expect, it’s a VIP area that’s taken years of planning to perfect all the details that will make it a smash hit from this year’s 11th edition onwards. “Taking things to the next level began pretty much the day after we finished the last event,” says Jonathan Hallett, Director of Singapore GP Pte Ltd. “Given the popularity of our Formula 1 Paddock Club tickets, and the Apex Lounge nightclub — which we debuted last year as an experiment — we thought it would be cool to develop a new experience, one that extends beyond the traditional VIP luxury of a suite into dining, cocktails and the dance floor. We took around eight months to develop the concept, before construction began. But it’s really about taking hospitality at the event to the next level, in creating a party atmosphere and experience you can’t get anywhere else. All at one of the world’s great sporting events, in the heart of Singapore.” ■
The FORMULA 1 2018 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX will be held from September 14-16, with tickets available at singaporegp.sg. To book your hospitality package, please contact the corporate sales team at +65 6731 5900 or email email@example.com
BY STEWART BELL
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