In 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix burst onto the Formula 1 calendar as one of the most dramatic additions to the high-profile and glamorous sport. Now in its fifth year, the Singapore Grand Prix remains the world’s only night-time Formula 1 race, and continues to wow audiences around the globe with its dazzling racetrack and illuminated backdrop of iconic modern architecture and colonial heritage buildings.
The Singapore Grand Prix takes place in downtown Singapore with the illuminated skyline as a backdrop — Photo courtesy of Singapore GP
Night-time racing aside, what is it that sets the Singapore Grand Prix apart from the world’s nineteen other Formula 1 races? While it is undoubtedly the adrenaline-inducing sight and sound of racing heroes Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button battling it out at exhilarating speeds of up to 300km/h, the Singapore Grand Prix appeals to a much wider audience by offering a unique combination of race action and world-class post-race entertainment.
Sarah Martin, Operations Director of the Singapore Grand Prix and the brainchild behind this ‘total event experience’ explains “Asia doesn’t have such a passionate following in sports, in particular motorsports, and so we had to broaden the appeal to make the event attractive to a wider audience. We’re not programming for a particular audience; we’re programming for everybody.”
Racing heroes battle it out in the world's only Formula 1 night race — Photo courtesy of Singapore GP
And so, once the sound of the F1 engines fades into the darkness, a roll-call of A-listers kick off the post-race festivities. This year, multiple Grammy-award winner Maroon 5, global musical icon Katy Perry and former Oasis frontman, Noel Gallagher will all be gracing the stage, while 400 other artists of varying genres will also provide entertainment around the park.
But just what does it take to organise such an all-inclusive world-class event and a street race in the middle of a dynamic and busy city? Plenty it seems, and Martin is quick to credit her fellow teammates who work with her throughout the year, in addition to the 28,000 temporary crew that help make this three-day event run seamlessly.
Katy Perry will be joining other A-listers Maroon 5 and Noel Gallagher in entertaining the post-race crowds — Photo courtesy of Singapore GP
This figure includes 1,000 security personnel, 1,000 waste management and cleaning staff and 1,000 race marshall volunteers. Beyond that, the scale of the event means that the Civil Defence, the Army, the Police, the National Environmental Agency and National Parks are all involved behind the scenes, in what is arguably Singapore’s largest event.
As if the staffing requirements aren’t mind-boggling enough, here are some more fascinating figures to contemplate:
- Approximately 85,000 spectators enter the circuit park daily over the 3-day event
- 2,600 concrete barriers, 10km of debris fencing and 6 temporary overhead bridges are erected during the build-up
- 1,500 lighting projectors, 9 grandstands and 6 stages also form part of the temporary race park
- 469 fire extinguishers are on standby during the race
- Last year, 70,000 bottles of champagne, 154,260 glasses of beer and 19,680 cups of ice cream were consumed in the hospitality suites
Just as impressive is how quickly and seamlessly the build takes place. Given that the Grand Prix takes place in downtown Singapore, this entire project is undertaken while allowing daily life to continue around the 5.073km track. “We build in stages to minimize disruption and we even re-open the race track to allow for morning peak hour traffic.” Martin explains.
Current World Champion Sebastian Vettel leads the pack in the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix — Photo courtesy of Singapore GP
While the lighting rigs may have begun appearing in June, most of the build is left until the week before the race. This is when the Formula 1 teams arrive with their 650 tonnes of equipment, and is also when Singapore GP gain access to the site to install electricity cables and plumbing for the food & beverage tents, portable toilets and entertainment stages.
More amazing, is how quickly the city returns to normal following the Sunday night race. The F1 teams ship out on the Monday, the roads re-open on the Tuesday, and everything is swiftly returned to the warehouse to await the following year.