Our good mate, Mitch, very kindly gave us a couple of tickets to the race. The first were walk about tickets which allowed us to walk the track edge in the green area.
Arriving at the Marina Square Shopping centre we followed rather a lot of signs through the shopping centre, up escalators and over bridges, finally ending up beside the track. The whole track is surrounded by concrete median barriers with steel posts about 3m high set into them and a heavy wire mesh between the posts to protect spectators from debris should cars collide. Set back from that is another barrier so spectators can’t get close to the mesh.
We arrived as the Porsche racing got underway. The cars raced by and in what seemed like no time at all they had completed the 5.063km loop and were back again. We wandered around watching the race from various spots, always through the barriers.
There is lots going on: just the number of people in some sort of uniform helping out is overwhelming plus there are thousands of spectators roaming around. In typical Singapore style everything works and flows smoothly.
Our second set of tickets are yellow and give us access to a lounge at the base of the Singapore Flyer. We make our way through the purple area with the thousands of people on the move. One thing that often amuses us about Singapore is which side of the path one should walk on. They drive on the left here like in Japan, Malaysia and a number of Asian countries. In the shopping centres they often have arrows to stay left but then some escalators will be on the right. Around the track most of the barriers had signs up directing one to the left but every now and again there would be one putting the foot traffic on the right. Not to worry, when I first visited London in the 80’s everyone kept left on the footpath, now with the influx of Europeans it’s also just a shambles.
After a good wander around we headed to the lounge, with food and drinks provided and a large deck from which to watch the racing. Being quite high up we got an unobstructed view of the track in a couple of places. We were overlooking the last straight, about 400m long with the cars slowing down before heading around the final bend either to the pits, or the finishing straight.
We watched a bit more racing as the sun went down, hidden largely by the smog, which has been really bad this week as the Indonesians do their annual forest and vegetation burn.
The Grand Prix final started just after 8pm and is run at night so people in London can watch it in the middle of the day. Around 7pm the drivers are driven round the track in old cars to give the crowd a good look.
A buffet dinner was served at 7.30 in the lounge, after which we headed out onto the deck to watch the racing get underway.
After a couple of warm-up laps to get the tyres and cars warmed up the race gets underway. Over the PA they give us a few stats on what is about to take place. I once drove a cat at 260km on a long straight road in a country I won’t name. I thought that was quite fast. These guys are hitting over 300k on some of these short straights. The temperature in the cockpit apparently reaches over 60 degrees. They change gear thousands of time. The fastest lap of the night is Kevin Magnussen at 1.42 with an average speed of 178.168km/h, not bad as there are 23 corners on the course. It costs around $150 million to put this show on with about a 100,000 tickets being sold.
As the racing is underway the Gardens By the Bay light up with their nightly light show, Our friends Frank, Deb, Natasha and Keir, who are visiting from NZ, are over there watching the show with the noise from the track no doubt interrupting their evening.
The 61 laps totalling 308.965km is over in around 2 hours. Photo taking was a bit tricky as there was only a small gap where the cars were not obstructed by the fence or poles. It was also a bit hard to work out who was in front especially as cars stopped in the pits to change tyres and refuel and towards the end the field was very spread out.
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari won the race in 126.96.36.1997. 1.58.33 would be close enough surely!!!