The Singapore, Malaysian and Japanese GPS
THE MAIN EVENT
Marina Bay astonished everyone who turned up to its debut race in 2008 when they saw the circuit lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. It was beyond spectacular – and had an atmosphere that subsequent imitator night races have more-or-less completely failed to replicate.
Nine years on, it remains the most intense driver challenge on the F1 calendar. The sapping heat and humidity are problematic; so too are the 23 corners of vicious kerbs, low grip and unhelpfully situated bumps, all keen to throw the unwary or plain unlucky into the omnipresent walls. These they have to survive for the full two hours. Last year’s Singapore Grand Prix was the quickest ever, at a sprightly 1hr 55m 48.950s. The race has twice been stopped on the clock in the last five seasons.
Kicking off the final tranche of flyaways, this is a great venue for the beginning of the end. In a tense season, drama is magnified and every decision scrutinised as it all grows more real under the glare of the floodlights.
CLASSIC RACE: 2008
The phrase ‘instant classic’ is grossly overused, but the first race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit fits the bill and instantly made the Singapore Grand Prix a keystone of the F1 calendar. Fernando Alonso took an underdog victory, Renault’s first in nearly two years, which was later tainted by the ‘Crashgate’ race-fixing controversy.
Race leader Felipe Massa had blown his chance to take the title lead, leaving his box with the fuel hose still attached in a catastrophic case of premature evacuation. The race produced spectacle, drama and controversy – all conducted against a dazzling backdrop, the likes of which F1 had never seen before.
Circuit name Marina Bay Street Circuit First GP 2008 Number of laps 61 Circuit length 3.147 miles Race distance 191.897 miles Lap record 1m 47.187s Daniel Ricciardo (2016) F1 races held 9 Winners from pole 7 Tyres Ultrasoft, supersoft, soft
TV TIMETABLE (UK TIME)
Friday 15 September Practice 1 11:00-12:30 Practice 2 14:30-16:00 Saturday 16 September Practice 3 11:00-12:00 Qualifying 14:00-15:00 Sunday 17 September Race 13:00 Live coverage Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1