Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Five reasons boombastic Singapore is the future of F1 // How the night race is changing the face of Formula One

Published by Christine

Formula One will return from its summer break at the much-loved Spa-Francorchamps, but for me, it is the Singapore Grand Prix where the sport will come back with a bang. Since the introduction of F1's first night race in 2008, organisers at the Marina Bay circuit have continued to find new ways to keep the fans entertained. Here's my list of five reasons why this year's event looks to be the best yet, and other circuits should take note.

1. One ticket rules all

Singapore, amongst others, have been inviting musicians and bands to perform over race weekends for a couple of years now. The F1 Rocks initiative encourages fans to come to the circuit for a bit of racing and a bit of music thrown in. Singapore look set to go all out this year, with a variety of artists enough to rival the Edinburgh Festival.

From theatre, to stunts, magicians and street dancers, plus concerts and shows, there's a lot of entertainment to choose from, all included in the price of a ticket. Organisers claim there are over 300 local and international artists performing, including fire-eaters. I'd pay money not to see someone consume fire, but with 299 other acts to choose from, there's bound to be something that appeals. With five sessions of Formula One, the support categories, plus all the extra-curricular activities, you'll do well to cover all that in one weekend visit.

2. Waka waka

Shakira - coming to a Grand Prix near you
Shakira - coming to a Grand Prix near youCredit: Mauricio Moreno Valdes / Creative Commons

Previous years have seen some lesser known artists mixed in with a more mainstream headliner, but it seems as though Singapore have encouraged a few more chart-topping acts to the stage this year. They won't be to everyone's taste, but with the likes of Linkin Park and Shakira headlining the concerts over the weekend, with the addition of Boy George, Shaggy, someone from Glee, plus the rather fabulous Rick Astley, there's a heap of options to choose from.

Of course, I am easily convinced when it comes to music, and was almost ready to travel to Singapore for their 2009 lineup.

3. Grand Central

As popular as racing is in places like Spa and Silverstone, there's something to be said for having your hotel at your fingertips. Travel can be a real pain when the circuit is in the midst of the countryside, and finding places to stay can also be a trouble. With accommodation, restaurants, and most importantly wifi, all within minutes of the circuit, you're in a better position to enjoy the weekend, rather than worrying about the logistics of getting around.

F1 of the future should never be more than 20km from the airport, with good transport links and no chance of getting stuck in a muddy field.

4. The wrong kind of Spa

Australian Grand Prix organisers announced their new initiative for 2012, the so-called Ladies Lounge. Aimed at the female F1 fan who wants a bit of pampering with her weekend, it's a place to get dressed up, watch fashion shows, and get a massage. Apparently gentlemen are welcome to, which isn't clear from the title Ladies Lounge. Nothing wrong with a bit of pampering, if that's your thing, but it's quite clearly separate to the racing action, including flat screen TVs for those ladies (and, apparently, gentlemen) that don't want to leave the comfort of a massage parlour.

Putting a relaxing spa beside an intense race experience seems incongruous. You want to be fired up before you get to the grandstands. Give me Linkin Park any day.

5. Sunset Boulevard

Singapore by night
Singapore by nightCredit: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic

Although the intense scrutiny of the night race has diminished as each year passes, it is still one of the more intriguing and gorgeous races on the calendar. The overhead shots of a brightly lit track, snaking through the buildings never seem to get old, and the opportunity for striking photography makes the race a highlight of the year.

The cars look vivid, the colours sparkle under the lights, and the spectacle of Formula One seems that much brighter when racing around Singapore. Circuits, particularly those who have been languishing in developments, need to look at what Singapore has brought to F1. They started with a bang and have continued to refine the experience to build on the Formula One brand. Singapore is my Monaco of the future.