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ZTH Visits The First Ever Formula 1™ Night Race

dsc_7770Yes I know this feature is late but I still need to share this experience with you because the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix was a one of a kind event. No matter what people say about it from what I saw and experienced, it was a massive success, 100,000 people can testify to that. Getting there was a nightmare though. With hotels fully booked in and around the city, I had to put up at a hotel in JB and drive across the cause-way a few times in two days (I missed the practice session).



Nothing like the Malaysian GP where the hot weather and two-hour long traffic jam just kills the mood even before you’re half way there, the atmosphere from the Singaporean GP was obvious everywhere in the city. Almost everyone young and old was dressed in Ferrari Red, Mclaren Silver, Renault Blue, Honda or Toyota White and you get my drift but apparently a survey conducted by a local news team saw 60 percent of Singaporeans were not even aware of the race, I find it hard to believe though. The sound from the racers was audible even from the underground MRT stations, this was seriously Formula 1 at its best and one would have to be deaf, mute, and bed ridden to have not known about it at all.



Having rushed down from KL on Saturday afternoon, I managed to make it on time for the qualifying session. I made my way to the Bay Grandstand area that has a capacity of over 30,000 people meaning it was packed like sardines in a can making it impossible to get some proper shots. This is when I encountered people that give Singapore a bad name, get out of my way, that’s not my problem, so?, whatever, @#@@ off lah, these were just some of the words I came across when I asked if I could take some pictures from their spot for a few minutes. I kept my cool, it was F1, I was more interested in the cars and timing rather than engaging these numbskulls in a heated argument over how important these pictures were.



Ultimately a stomach and a throat that had not been cared for in over six hours prompted me to leave before Q2. I really didn’t know where to go to get replenished and we were not allowed to bring in outside food and drinks so I left, to eat and to catch Carl Cox at Zouk, I had to, I missed him when he was here in KL.



Day two saw me start the day early, about 2pm. Rushed across the border to finish off some photography for a different feature and also to get the best possible parking, which turned out to be a total nightmare in the end. By the time I finished taking the shots, got a parking, had lunch, it was already 5pm, time to take the long walk to the circuit. I must say that the Singaporean Police force were really polite when directing people around, sad I can’t say the same of the ushers and other security personnel though.



The race was only scheduled to start at 8pm but the need to get a good spot for the photography saw me arrive at the Bay Grandstand at 6pm and I swear I did not move from that particular spot for the entire two hours, in total, I spent four hours standing still, I’m still sore till today, but it was totally worth it as I don’t think I’ll ever get as close to the drivers as I did that day during the drivers parade. I even think Lewis Hamilton must have noticed me and the huge logo on my t-shirt. If you’re reading this Lewis, great race.



So how was the first ever night race in Formula 1 history? There are no words in my vocabulary really, I have only witnessed two Formula 1 venues and the Singapore GP prevails over the other in every sense of the word. In other words, it was simply brilliant. A foreign journalist (I forgot his name) described the lighting as pearls on a woman’s neck and I could not agree more. It was brighter than day around the track and the commentators made you feel as if you were watching a football match, fans were screaming, waving, laughing, crying and doing whatever you can think of as their favorite drivers and teams zoomed by at ear-piercing decibels. That’s not something you would experience here in Malaysia where the commentators put you to sleep and you have to call your dad at home to find out who’s leading because the screen across the circuit is so tiny, you can’t differentiate it from the hand-held one that the organizers make you pay an arm, leg and a kidney for.



If I could complain about something, it would be the lack of signboards for driving tourists like me. If it was not for the Garmin GPS courtesy of Motorsports Playground, there really was no way I could have found my way to the circuit due to all the road closures. And maybe the ushers stationed in various places should be more informed too, if they were, I wouldn’t have been told to go to Raffles Square and then to Marina Square when my car was actually parked at Suntec (I showed them pictures of the building where I parked and they were sure it wasn’t Suntec!). Sure, it was my duty to know where I parked, but how am I supposed to find my way back when all the roads were closed and the security and Police were directing us in different routes from the one I took to get there! I’m not Singaporean, how am I supposed to know alternative routes? And the Garmin does not work once you’re underground. Think I must have easily walked 5km just to find my car.



So other than that, the inaugural Singapore GP was hugely fun and a vastly different experience than the Malaysian GP. Some may call the race a circus and a just for show race but that’s concerning the race itself. The experience for fans and visitors, well it really doesn’t get better than this for fans of F1. The Singapore GP is definately worth a visit next year, just be prepared to walk.



ZTH would like to extend a very special thank you to Sheila Rasu of Fulford Public Relations for the hospitality and tickets.


Some news on the Singapore GP:

Ecclestone  fires back at ‘circus’ jibe

Peter Sauber Urges Caution On F1 Night Race

A bad day it was in Singapore For Massa

Heidfeld looks back at Singapore grid penalty

Ecclestone keen on more night races

Rivals disagree on Singapore success

Singapore reignites safety car issues

Suzuka to return as next night race?

Singapore GP Post Race Press Conference – Part 1

Singapore GP Post Race Press Conference – Part 2

  • U
  • Oct 7, 2008
Singaporean=Wong 9 See
It happens to me on that time as well.Got no SPIRITS at all. . .
  • T
  • Oct 8, 2008
Nice one Keshy.
  • L
    lonely driver
  • Oct 9, 2008
for sure it is 10 times better than our local gp. i never been there but according to a few of my friends who went there that was a huge jam until u need to park your car a few km away to the entrance. how could a large circuit with a lot of space still suffer massive jam? for me even i am hundreds km away i will still prefer to drive all the way to singapore :)
  • P
  • Oct 29, 2008
nice pics, really nice with d view at nite..