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Singapore street circuit review - How the Marina Bay circuit handled its first F1 race

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

The anticipation ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix was rising from the moment it was announced as a night race. Even when Valencia was staged, and we were excited about a new street circuit, Singapore was always at the back of our minds.

Unfortunately, Valencia didn’t manage to live up to the hype, as the street circuit saw wide field spread and the views weren’t very interesting. Singapore, however, lived up to our expectations and exceeded them.

From the early moments of Free Practice 1, you could instantly tell that this track was different. Firstly, there’s the stunning scenery. With FP1 and 3, there was a beautiful sunset to take in, as the rays filtered away behind the city landscape. Once it was dark, the skyscrapers were lit up, the traffic was blinking into the distance, and a single circuit of tarmac was illuminated for all to see.

Whilst the background was too dark to affect the view too much, the lighting did make things more interesting. Only a couple of corners seemed to be slightly darker than the rest, and as predicted, shadows were not a problem. The track itself, although long, slow, with many corners, allowed for some fascinating racing.

The entire weekend saw incident after incident, as drivers bounced over the kerbs and into the walls. This brought out the safety car, which can only ever mix things up a bit. It’s not a good idea to have a circuit relying on a safety car to make for an interesting race, and Singapore looked as though it could hold its own without any outside interference.

The only worrying aspect of the weekend was the marshals. Whilst they seemed to do a good job once they got going (and things certainly improved as the weekend went on), they were very slowly to get to an incident. When Piquet hit the wall in the race, it took him a few minutes to climb out of the car, and there wasn’t a marshal in sight. The only way we knew he was okay was because we heard him on the team radio, apologising to his team. There were struggles with the crane, and getting cars out of harm’s way, but whether this was partly to do with the narrow streets and tight run off areas, remains to be seen.

There was a small problem with the pit lane entrance during qualifying, as drivers slowing to come in for a stop, naturally hinder anyone on a lap behind them. It seems likely the pit entrance will be altered for next year, although it didn’t cause any problems in the race itself.

All in all, Singapore can count itself as a big success. Without the night race aspect, it would probably be a worthy event anyway, but for now, the added novelty of racing in the dark means it’s up there as one of the best on the calendar.