I was fortunate to attend the F1 pre-qualifying races yesterday in the Singapore Grand Prix, which is in its 9th year of operation. It is the only night F1 race performed on city streets, unlike the very expensive race tracks built in other countries.
I read in the local newspapers that the Singapore economy benefits to an extent of SGD 150M in terms of travel, transportation, food, accommodation, shopping, etc., for the three days (Friday to Sunday) during which the F1 event is held in Singapore. Hence it is economically an important event for Singapore as well, apart from its sports value and the innovation of being the only night time F1.
The atmosphere was electric. The only thing I did not like was the long walk from the Ritz Carlton to the Paddock and back in the night (the walk back in the night was longer, almost close to 2 KMs or so). Otherwise, it was a great thing which I have not experienced before in my life.
I also had the chance to photograph myself with Max Verstappen, one of the racers. He also signed my entry ticket. I did the garage tour of Red Bull Racing, and also the long pit walk around the grandstand. I was hosted in a nice club by one of our corporate sponsors, so food and drinks were not a problem. There was special treatment for the Paddock Club attendees (and am sure, for the other VIP attendees), we could walk around and get food, coffee, pastries and drinks in famous outlets. There were more crowds in these outlets than were sitting on the grandstand, except when the final race began at 9:00 PM.
I saw the Red Bull cars getting tuned and prepared, and the IT/Networking systems connecting the sensors from Singapore back to the U.K. where the Red Bull factory is located. These sports cars attain a speed of 300 KMPH (around 200 MPH), and so appear in your camera for just a fleeting second. I tried hard to capture the cars on my iPhone Video, and did manage to do so eventually.
Any position on the Grandstand or the Paddock Club only affords a narrow view of the race due to the manner in which the race tracks is designed. Further, the race uses the normal streets without any modification. Hence, to get a full view of what is happening on the entire race circuit, the best way was to view the TV feed. I was told that there were many cameras along the race circuit, and further there was camera shots/video taken from the overflying helicopters. This is a disadvantage in the Singapore F1 as the tracks are rather narrow and short in length before the view disappears via a turn, etc., In any case, the roaring thunder of the cars, their slightly reducing speeds when they are negotiating the curves, and the fire sparks emanating from their tyres from their receding views were thrilling to say the least. I was not able to figure out who is in which car, unless I saw the large TV displays.
It was a wonderful experience overall, notwithstanding the steep cost to attend. I saw that generally people were enjoying themselves in the midst of all the noise. They were eating and drinking for most part, however they looked happy. For many of them, it could have been their first experience of attending the F1 race.
It all finished around 10 PM, and I was told that there was a party afterwards. But I chose to skip that one, and return home. The funny thing was that public taxis from Ritz Carlton to any part of Singapore were priced at SGD 55 at around 10:30 PM Saturday evening, which I thought was atrocious. I decided to walk to the Pan Pacific hotel and to my surprise, there were many taxis waiting and absolutely no passengers! It was normal fare (adjusted for late evening excess), so it was good.
Overall, an amazing and captivating experience. I will see the F1 Finals today (Sunday) on the TV ! Hopefully Red Bull wins the No. 1 spot or at least the second spot and gets to the Podium !
18th September 2016