Racetracks have massive run-offs, sand pits, and plenty of barriers between the shrieks of the F1 cars redlining at 15,000rpm and its spectators. However, for Formula 1 fans, the great joy of street circuits is being closer to the action. Singapore, like other F1 street circuits, puts you right in the middle of things.
The Marina Bay streets will witness a decade of the pinnacle of motorsport in September. Formula 1 is back for a tenth year in a row, and going by the unpredictability of the F1 calendar, that’s a huge success for the island city. The Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled in the second half of the F1 season and marks the beginning of the ‘Asian leg’ of the championship with The Malaysian and Japanese Grand Prix following it.
So, if you have the need for speed, and you are in town over the F1 weekend in September, here’s what you need to know about this spectacle that comes only once every year.
What makes the Singapore Grand Prix special?
The Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled in the second half of the F1 season and marks the beginning of the ‘Asian leg’ of the championship with The Malaysian and Japanese Grand Prix following it. Singapore in a sense is the face of Asia as a result and any good welcome demands a great party. That’s what the Singapore Grand Prix is – a weekend long celebration. Ever since the first race in 2008, the lights stayed on as the party moved from the grand stands to the concerts and from the concerts to the exclusive parties that have been graced by the crème de la crème of celebrities from around the world. Let’s get to that a little later though. First, the sport.
- 2017 is a hard fought season between Mercedes and Ferrari with the former leading the constructor’s championship. Ferrari however has the fastest driver on the grid, at least for now, with Sebastian Vettel leading the driver’s standings before the Belgian Grand Prix. He enjoys a 14-point advantage over his arch rival Lewis Hamilton but with the faster circuits of Spa and Monza before Singapore, this lead could be a lot narrower or wiped off as the faster circuits favour the Mercedes cars. The tighter circuits are where Ferrari will want to bounce back and Singapore is one of them. So expect an exciting race considering the way the championship is panning out in 2017.
- Seb vs Lewis is where the main action is but their teammates and the Red Bulls are getting better and more consistent so you are poised for a cracking F1 race on Marina Bay.
Preparing for the Singapore Grand Prix: How it’s done
The circuit is a 5.065km long closed road that is restricted to these race cars where they average over 250kmph over a lap. To put that speed in perspective, note that the expressways have a speed limit of 90kmph. Here is what goes into preparing the circuit:
- You don’t just put a few barricades to stop the traffic and convert the cordoned off area into a race circuit. While it may seem like an easy conversion, it actually takes about five months to prep for a race. Since May, infrastructure is set up in a carefully planned way to ensure it doesn’t impede traffic around the bay.
- Fences and barriers are the tricky bits as it has to be flexible yet robust. It is followed by miles and miles of cables laid around the course to set up the lighting. 1600 lighting projectors light up the tarmac evenly and extreme care is taken to ensure the light doesn’t blind the drivers at any time, not just in the dry but also during a wet race when spray from other cars and reflections come into play.
The Singapore night race: What you can look forward to in 2017
The first practice session starts early in the evening in broad day light on Friday but as you move on, the speed of the cars improve as temperatures begin to cool. Qualifying is held at 21:00 hours under floodlights on Saturday and the race starts on 20:00 hours.
The cooler night temperature and the lights that form a halo around Marina Bay infuse energy into the race and its spectators, the kind of energy that will not die down for at least a couple of hours after the race finishes.
That’s because F1 is a party too, not just a race. The race is the cherry on top, but you’ve got to take a dip in the cream. That cream is the concert, or rather concerts, scheduled over the weekend.
Music Mania: Singapore F1 2017 concerts
- Duran Duran: The Iconic British band will perform on Saturday and Sunday. The rock band has 14 albums to their credit and have sold over 100 million records. Relive the Eighties and Nineties with Hungry like the Wolf and Sounds of Thunder with your pals who appreciate the lost art of rock bands and reminisce over an era gone by.
- Headliner: Calvin Harris, one of the most heard solo artists of our times, will headline the acts at the Singapore Grand Prix. You can enjoy his performance for free with a three-day pass or a Sunday ticket.
- OneRepublic: You could be divided between old school and the king of mixes but there’s more. If you happen to attend the entire weekend to experience the more relaxed practice sessions, the One Republic performance on Friday shouldn’t be missed. With little Formula 1 competitive action, Friday is more for the flavours of the party than the sport itself and the pop rock band knows more than a thing or two on how to get a party started.
- Other Grande plans: Ariana Grande, the American pop singer will set to soar temperatures on the island city on Saturday.
- Not to be missed! Then there’s the unique Londoner – George the Poet with his innovative style of musical poetry that offers something different to the high energy atmosphere. More Britons, Lianne La Havas and Seal, join the line-up as do the American duo – Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall of the Chainsmokers. Expect local talent too in and around the circuit for a varied musical experience.
Foodies delight: Must visit places during the F1 weekend
The Singapore street circuit map will reveal the fanciest of hotels lining the track and the restaurants these hotels house are some of the finest places to splurge on. If you are looking for some fancy place to enjoy a meal and drinks while enjoying the race, our pick would be one of the below:
- LeVel 33: One of the world’s highest Urban craft-brewery, a place here gets you an unparalleled aerial view of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
- Zafferano: At the Ocean Financial Centre, you can enjoy the multiple-course dinners while taking in the striking view from the 43rd
- Me@OUE: If dining, drinking and partying by the F1 tracks is on your agenda, then Me@OUE is where you should head.
Other places you can check out to enjoy the panoramic view of the race while enjoying a lovely evening are the Aura at the National Gallery and the Axis Bar and Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental.
But the F1 weekend is an expensive one. Meals here can be upwards of 150 dollars per person. Reason enough to go local and savour the food on the streets. After all Singapore is voted as one of the best street food cities and the variety of food on offer is sure to flirt with your taste buds!
Take your pick from a variety of seafood. Red snappers, stingrays, crabs, with interesting Chinese and Malay recipes find their way to the streets here. Other meats like pork, chicken and frogs too form major ingredients in street food. Few of the best places to try out the local cuisine near the circuit are Lau Pa Sat, the Maxwell Food Centre, and the Tiong Bahru Market. Dishes that you must try include Char Kway Teow (flat rice noodles with fishcake, sprouts, sausages), Nasi Lemak (coconut milk-infused rice with chilli sauce) and a Chai Tao Kway (carrot cake). A must-try dessert is an Ice Kachang.
Other restaurants to try around Singapore
From SGD 5 a meal to over SGD 400, if you have no limits on your credit card, there are more than a handful of expensive restaurants you could go to if you believe in fine dining over rolling up your sleeves on the street. Here of course the menu is painfully crafted to have something for vegans and vegetarians too.
From the famously expensive Restaurant Andre where you could easily swipe SGD 1500 for a meal for two to authentic Italian delicacies at Fratini La Trattoria, there’s something interesting for everyone in Singapore.
For French cuisine, Rhubarb has developed a reputation for itself and if you want to wear your suits, Colony is one of the finest places to go. Singapore is one of the most expensive places to eat but even by the regular standards, these are a notch above. So make sure you go through the menu before making a reservation.
Tips for a great experience during the Singapore F1
- Book early: You should have already taken care of this considering it is August. Early booking gets you the right seats at a good price. Turn 3 Premier is the ideal place for all the action as an enthusiast. It will give you the best in-race action so you are ensured a satisfied two hours on race day. The grandstands will give you entertainment through the weekend as you can catch a glimpse of the drivers and the team in the garages.
- Use public transport: An F1 race can get very crowded and getting in and out even when there is enough parking can become a time-consuming exercise. Singapore has great public transportation so it is better to take the MRT as the stations are located close to the circuit. Promenade (yellow line) is one of the MRTs closest to the F1 circuit.
- Book your stay at a HomeAway: A hotel room in proximity to the circuit can cost upwards of multiple hundreds on the F1 weekend. The best way to enjoy your stay in Singapore and take in most of the sights and smells is to book a HomeAway. It is affordable and convenient.
- Comfort wear: Unless you are going to the paddock where it is expected to look your best, a pair of sneakers and light comfort wear is essential as you will be walking a lot. Temperatures will be over 30 degrees and you don’t want to be sweating and limping your way through the streets. Get a light backpack too for your essentials and stay hydrated.
- Find your zone: The F1 stands are divided in different zones and your ticket clearly mentions them. You can only enter the circuit in your zones so make sure you check the map and find the directions to your zone.
- Ride the Flyer Ferris: Free access to the Singapore Flyer Ferris is granted with a Zone 1 ticket. You could time it in such a way that you get to watch the start of the race from it. It is also air conditioned so gives you a respite from the heat.
- Lights in the sky: The fireworks on display near the Marina Sands hotel after the chequered flag is the ideal way to end the Sunday before the parties begin. Get to Esplanade drive as it is the best place to view the fireworks.
Where to stay during the F1 weekend
Hotels in Singapore are a huge draw near the circuit. But they could be steeply priced during the F1 weekend and lack the personalisation and cosy atmosphere of the below listed HomeAways:
Stylish apartment close to Mt. Elizabeth, Orchard
Just 15-20 minutes from the circuit, this apartment is the ideal place to unwind after the high-energy nights at the Grand Prix. This three-bedroom luxury apartment is at Orchard, Singapore’s shopping belt. It can house up to eight guests, has 24-hour amenities, free WiFi, cable television, and air conditioning. You can even opt for the airport transfer at an additional cost. Minimum stay is for three nights, which works perfectly for an F1 weekend.
Average price per night: PHP 12,085
The Oakwood studio apartment
An absolute delight on Orchard road, this one-bedroom HomeAway is your stylish abode for the F1 weekend if you visit with your better half. The Orchard MRT station is a stroll away, shopping in Singapore is as convenient as it gets, and when you are in the apartment, you will be bathed in luxury. A high-definition flat panel television awaits you, high-speed wireless internet, a fully equipped kitchen, a gym in the building, and even limousine services are a phone call away. Add all this to a bedroom that would put a lot of premium hotel rooms to shame, and you’ve got a luxurious weekend planned to perfection.
Average price per night: PHP 12,315
The jacuzzi penthouse
If you plan to visit the grand prix this year with your kids and want an experience your family will remember, this penthouse is just about perfect for the weekend family getaway. It is a split-level apartment on the top floor with a private Jacuzzi so couples could find a romantic Home Away here too. In the words of the owner, “Great place for food lovers! One of the best cafes in Singapore, Jewel Cafe, is just next door for your morning cappuccino.” Amenities include cable and satellite television, wireless internet, washer/dryer, and a pool in the building.
Average price per night: PHP 6,868
The studio at Novena has been conveniently converted into three bedrooms with a double bed in the living room and two single beds in cosy bedrooms in the apartment. The 580 square feet apartment is larger than most hotel rooms and the privacy of an apartment is an added bonus. The apartment has all the cutlery, and a well-appointed kitchen to cook up an elaborate dinner. A few bus stops ahead is the Novena MRT station, and it is just 20 minutes away from Marina Bay Sands.
Average price per night: PHP 9,131
Art Deco apartment
A little further away from Orchard and Novena is TIong Bahru. With it comes attractive prices though. Singapore is so well connected by its MRT system that it doesn’t matter if an apartment is a few extra stops away. This beautifully sunlit HomeAway has class written all over it. Cable television, wireless internet, a well-appointed kitchen and air conditioning are included. You can also book it for a single night so if it’s just race day that you plan to attend, a quick night’s stay here is ideal.
Average price per night: PHP 5,563
Studio at Tiong Bahru
Another couples special, this studio apartment at the heart of Tiong Bahru is just 300 metres away from Outram MRT. Convenience stores and cafes are a stone’s throw away. Popular restaurants and cafés such as the Tiong Bahru Bakery, PS Cafe, Por Kee Restaurant are nearby. Standard amenities like television, internet, air conditioning, a kitchen, and washer/dryer are part of the package. The room is beautifully furnished and gets plenty of natural light.
Average price per night: PHP 5,755
Looking for more options to stay in Singapore? Check out the below.
*All prices are average price per night for the listing. Actual prices may vary depending on the date selected.
HomeAway is the world leader in vacation rentals. The HomeAway network of sites represent more than 1.2 million listings of vacation rental homes in 190 countries and is part of the Expedia group family of brands. Visit www.homeaway.com.ph or download the HomeAway app to choose the ideal holiday homes and homestays for your next holiday.