The Singapore Grand Prix became a firm favourite when it joined the calendar in 2008 as F1’s first night race. Just before the tenth edition, the organizers signed a new four-year contract that guarantees the event’s place on the F1 calendar until at least 2021.
Formula 1’s first night race has firmly established itself as one of F1’s premier destinations thanks to its spectacular location on public roads set against a backdrop of the spectacular Singapore skyline, slick marketing and big name concerts. The event has enjoyed strong financial support from the local government, but the organizers are not rushing into the next contract with F1’s new owners, Liberty Media, as they presumably chase a better deal. The current contract ensures the event’s place on the calendar until at least 2021.
Attendances at the Singapore GP have actually fallen in recent years (from 87,000 in 2015 to 73,000 in 2016) and the race in neighboring Malaysia fell off the calendar for 2018 due to big financial losses. Despite the falling attendances in recent years, the event is still a big tourist draw card, attracting over 30,000 international fans to the city state each September.
During the inaugural event in 2008, the track drew criticism from drivers who complained about the excessively bumpy surface, potentially dangerous pit entry, and high curbs. Whilst these issues were sorted out, it wasn’t until before the 2013 race that the FIA approved some larger changes to the configuration of the Marina Bay circuit. The “Singapore Sling” chicane at turn 10 was removed and replaced with a simpler, faster left-hand turn. Further minor changes to the layout of the track from turns 11 to 13 were made ahead of the race in 2015, mainly to improve overtaking opportunities. The current layout of the circuit is pictured opposite.
- Just four drivers have shared victories at the twelve Singapore Grands Prix held since 2008. Sebastian Vettel (2011-2013, 2015, 2019) and Lewis Hamilton (2009, 2014, 2017-2018) have won four times, Fernando Alonso twice (2008, 2010), and Nico Rosberg once (2016).
- The Safety Car has made at least one appearance in every Singapore Grand Prix held to date.
- With frequent Safety Car periods, it’s not unusual for the Singapore Grand Prix to run to the two hour limit. Four races here have been won in a time of over two hours.
- Spare a thought for the drivers, who endure sauna-like conditions in the cockpit during the Singapore Grand Prix and can lose up to 3kg of fluid during the race. The circuit, with its bumpy surface and 21 turns, is one of the most physically demanding races on the calendar.
- Approximately 1600 custom-made floodlights are spread around the 5.075km Marina Bay circuit. The lights, four times brighter than at a regular sports stadium, are specially designed to minimize glare and surface reflection, and to meet F1’s TV broadcasting standards.
- No driver has recorded more than 3 DNFs at the Marina Bay Circuit. Plenty of drivers have recorded 3 non-finishes here though, including reigning champion Lewis Hamilton.
- The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was the first, and so far only, night race to be held in wet conditions.
- Red Bull have had more podium finishes here than any other team. They’ve scored top three results 13 times in total, double the tallies of Ferrari and Mercedes.
Memorable Singapore Grand Prix Moments
2008: Crashgate: The inaugural race in 2008 is best remembered for Nelson Piquet Jr’s infamous ‘deliberate’ crash which helped his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to a controversial victory. After being sacked by the team the following year, Piquet Jr claimed that he was following team orders. The results of the subsequent race-fixing investigation launched by the FIA saw Renault receive a suspended 2-year ban from the sport and two leading members of the team – Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds – banned from involvement in F1 for a number of years.
2010: The closest finish of the 2010s: The closest finish of the last ten seasons came at the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, when Sebastian Vettel chased down Fernando Alonso for the victory. Such was the closeness of the 2010 title race, all of the top five in the Drivers’ Championship had the chance to be the new championship leader, depending on the result of the Singapore round. Alonso had started from pole and led the entirety of the race; but Vettel had closed to within a second of the Ferrari driver with ten laps to go. In the end, Alonso held on to win by just 0.293 seconds, and moved up to second in the championship as a result. The race is also memorable for a spectacular fire on Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus car in the closing stages.
2017: First corner chaos: The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was the first race at the Marina Bay Circuit to be held in wet conditions. Sebastian Vettel started alongside Max Verstappen on the front row, with Kimi Raikkonen just behind in fourth place. At the start, the Ferrari pair squeezed Verstappen, leading to heavy contact, which eliminated both Verstappen and Raikkonen. The Red Bull also swiped Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, who was also out on the spot. Vettel spun on his own oil before the next corner, leading to a rare double DNF for Ferrari. All of that resulted in a relatively trouble free run to victory for Lewis Hamilton.
Singapore Grand Prix Facts
|Circuit Name||Marina Bay Street Circuit|
|Race first held||2008|
|Track length||5.063km (23 turns)|
|Race distance||61 laps (308.706 km)|
|Lap record (all track layouts)||1:41.905, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 2018|
|2019 Result||1st Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:58:33.667|
|2nd Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) + 2.641s|
|3rd Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +3.821s|