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Getting the most ot of the Singapore Grand Prix Night Race
The First Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix was held in 2008 at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. It was the first and only Grand Prix to be held entirely at night under a flood lid track. Singapore is due to hold the race till the 2017 event, following a 5 year extension in 2012. At the moment the Singapore Tourism Board /Government foots 60% of the bill to hold the event. In addition to worldwide TV exposure Singapore receives around 40000 overseas visitors for the event. As the event is held in the evenings over 3 days, it is entirely practical to use the mornings and afternoons for sightseeing and shopping or any other regular visitor activity and watch the racing in the evenings.
The 2014 Singapore Grand Prix is due to be held on September 19, 20 and 2st.
Any questions? Feel free to post on the Singapore Forum.
(This List was last updated 4th September 2013)
To recover some of the costs to hold the event the Government imposes a 'F1 Levy' on hotel rooms during the 4 days of the event (Thurs-Sunday). Currently hotels designated as 'Trackside' are charged 30% of their room revenue as a levy. All other Tourist hotels are charged 20%. Hence, the prices of accommodation during this period reflect this extra charge the hotels have to bear as well as price rise due to demand. When should you book your rooms? Early!- especially for the Trackside hotels that are occupied by the race teams and officials, and hospitality guests. A lot of hotels block out the Grand Prix dates to early reservation and only release these rooms once other hotels release their rooms and prices. Other offer for a cheaper price initially and then raise the rates as rooms get taken up.
In 2010 an early reservation at the start of the year would have cost you S$400 per night to stay at the 5* Trackside Pan Pacific hotel (used by Ferrari and Lotus), this gradually raised to nearly S$1000 per night closer to the event. The Ibis in Bencoolen (walking distance to the track) was less than S$200 per night if booked early. In Orchard Road (3 stops or about 6min on the MRT)the 5* Royal Plaza on Scotts and the Mandarin Orchard Hotel consistently had the best rates. For those on a budget the Hotel 81 and Fragrance Chains offer good value. Though some of these are in seedier/more colourful (but very safe) parts of town, F1 fans seem to be the majority of the customers during this period. In the last 3 years prices have dropped in the 2 weeks before the event as Hotel try to fill their remaining rooms. For last minute deals please check the Online Hotel room consolidators like Agoda, Asia Best Hotel, Wotif and Asia Travel. Click on the link (labled Singapore,Singapore) below the title to brings up a TripAdvisor thread on F1 Accomadation.
*** October 2011 - Expedia has good prices for the 2012 race. The 4* Traders is S$240 inclusive of taxes. The 5* Mandarin Orchard is S$300 including taxs and the Shagrilla Hotel Tower wing is not much more! Book now for 2012 its not going to be any cheaper for top end hotels.**
n Oct 2010 you could book rooms for 2011 at the very popular 4*Traders Hotel on Orchard Road for only S$225+tax per night (this is pretty much the regular off peak rate). In Nov 2010 The 5* Mandarin Orchard was available for S$199+ Tax for the whole Race Weekend in 2011 (on Hotel Club)
In March 2011 The PanPacific was $550+ tax, the SwissOtel Marchant Court iwas around $330 including Tax and the Landmark Hotel is $220 inc tax (all prices in Singapore dollars).
There is a new large 800+ room business class hotel called V Hotel which opened in 2011. Its 3.5*with a large pool and pretty much on top of the Lavender MRT station so just 4min to Gate 3/ 4 of the Grand Prix at City Hall. There were some very good deals to be had for 2011 event so keep an eye on this hotel for 2013.
Tickets for 2012 went on sale Dec 12 2011. . They can be bought online from the Official Singapore F1 website, the Singapore Ticketing agent SISTIC or from a range of authorised ticket agents worldwide (in your local currency), which will be listed on the Singapore F1 website.
As per other Grand Prix events around the world, there is a significant discount (nearly 20%) for purchasing your tickets early during the 'Early Bird' period. For 2012, the Early Bird period is till the 1st of May. Tickets are either for a seat in the Grandstands (with a view of Big screens so you can follow the race) or for 'Walkabout' / General Access tickets - will allow you access to the Circuit park but no access to any Grandstands (unlike European GPs where there is free seating on the Friday). For 2012, there are combo tickets that give Grandstand seats on the Friday and Saturday and walkabout on the Sunday. All Grandstand tickets are sold as 3 day tickets only, except for Pit Grandstand Single day tickets. Initially all Walkabout tickets are also for 3days only but with a month or 2 to the race the organisers normally release individual day tickets for those who can only attend a single day. A small number of tickets are reserved to be sold on the day at ticket booths located next to the entry gates. You receive a different ticket for each day and the tickets are transferable so different people can attend on different days. This also make it easier to swap your Friday or Sunday tickets with like minded fans so you see the action from different Grandstands and vantage points (I got to see the action from Esplande and Stamford Grandstands as well as my ticketed seat in Turn2). Tickets permit entry and re-entry as many times as you like throughout the day (the circuit normally opens at 3pm and closes at 1am).
One of the advantages of the Marina Bay Circuit is it is right in the centre of the city, walking distance to numerous MRT stations, Shopping malls, food and beverage establishment and hotels. This makes popping and in an out of the circuit after the support races and in-between sessions a practicality. There is a lot of off track entertainment and concerts put on throughout the day when there is no action on track however.
If buying online direct from the Official Singapore F1 website you get to choose the Block within the grandstand as well as the grandstand itself. Front rows are very popular (you cant choose rows, first come first served, the ticketing system at previous events have released the lower rows first) You get very close to the cars, there's no one tall infront of you and there is a hand rail in front of you to place a camera atop - there is however slightly less leg room. You can choose to have the Tickets mailed to you internationally (they seem to get sent out in July) or collected from a Post office in Singapore (from August) or the Ticket collection centre next to the Track when you arrive in Singapore (this is the option I choose travelling from the UK - for 2010 & 11 it was located at the convention centre of the SwissOtel the Stamford Hotel)
Tickets for 2012 went on sale Dec 12th 2011 - the earliest they have ever been on general sale. 'Super early' bird ticket, at a deeper discount for 2013 were available for a week after the 2012 event. Regular ticket sales for 2013 are due to start in December 2012.
Grandstands - Grandstands seats generally give the best views, you get a seat and even the lowest seats are well above ground level giving you bigger field of view. Grandstand seats are also in front of big screens (with commentary that you can actually hear) so you can follow the race. The price of the Grandstands generally reflect the view you get.
Bay Grandstand has the worst physical seats, cramped and less comfortable than those found in the temporary stands. However for only $80 or more than Walkabout tickets, they are very good value as upgrade. The view is however the worst of any of the grandstands. Also bear in mind there will be long queue to get out of Bay at the end of sessions as this stand hold close on 25000 people.
The lower rows of the Esplanade Waterfront Grand stand allow you to get very close to the cars at a slow part of the circuit. In faster parts of the track it generally better to sit further away to allow you to follow the cars. The Sun normally sets just before 7pm. It becomes bearable (for me ) to sit out in the sun from around 6pm. The Stamford, Connaught and Esplanade Grandstands gets the most shade as they face East and the setting sun is behind you. The Stamford Grandstand also has a hospitality block build above the grandstand that block out the direct sun much earlier in the day.
The only covered seats are part of Hospitality packages (comes with meals, free bar, indoor air-conditioned area etc), the cheapest being the Green Room package. Pit Grandstand Tickets, together with Turn 1 and Turn 2 are the top price tickets and give a view of the cars lining up for the start of the race as well a view of the pits from seats. Turn 1 Bloack A4-6 seats give close quarter views of the Turn 1, 2 and 3 - and are amongst the best seats in the house. Pit Grandstand – despite the name, you really need to be in the upper rows of this stand to see the pit road and the car in the pits. Any lower and you can only see the pit garages. The cars go by really fast at this point, so they are gone in a flash and they are hard to make out if you are in the lower rows. You do however get to see the circus at the start of the race. Blocks A12-13 are right on top of the start line.
Singapore being a street circuit means that your view of the track normally covers only a short distance and a car is only in view for a few seconds. The 3 stands with the longest views of the cars is Turn 2 Block A2, Turn 1 Blocks A4-6, and the Esplanade Grandstand – the block on the end than looks down the straight.
Walkabout ? These ticket give you free access to all parts of the circuit park included within the Zones on your ticket but no access to the Grandstands. There are bleachers set up at strategic points where you can see the race. Whilst there are public big screens where you can also watch the race. There aren’t normally any in front of the bleachers (you can hire a Kangaroo TV handheld unit to follow the race though). Public commentary can be heard throughout the circuit. Some of the Walkabout viewing platforms and areas get you closer to the cars than any of the grandstands and afford excellent views. The bleachers next to Turn 1/2 are particularly good, as well as viewing areas next to Turn 11/12. The bleachers at the final turn give a sweeping view of the cars approaching and heading down the main straight as well as pit entry and the first couple of pit garages – these seem to be the most popular bleachers, get there early to claim your spot.
In 2011 the run up to T7 was the DRS activation zone and say a number of over taking moves. Unfortunately there is no ticket that gives you direct view of the action here. Stamford Grandstand is located at the end of T7 so you can cheer a successful over take as the leading car come into view after watching the overtake on the screen.
New for 2012 are combo tickts allowing you to sit in a different grandstand on each day and Single Sunday Pit Grandstand tickets.
Though the organisers do a good job of screening off fences and overpasses, as this is a street Circuit there some public areas that overlook the track where you can catch some live action for gratis. If you bring a small stool with you can get a reasonable view over the barrier from numerous points (though as your often close to the track along a straight, the cars are gone in a flash. Naturally the trackside hotels, especially those with balconies provide a view if you are a guest there. The best free view I found is from the windows of the Galary food court at the Marina Square Mall, which overlooks. Turn 16 and 17. Personally I think this view is better than what you would get from most of the Bay Grandstand. So get there early, get some cheap tasty food and get a table by the window.
The Circuit is dived into Zones. For 2011 The Pit, Turn 1,2 and 3 Grandstands are located in Zone 1. All other grandstand are located in Zone 4 (except Bay Grandstand which is located in Zone 3). Ticket holders to Zone one (and premier Walkabout Ticket holders) can access all zones and use any of the 10 entry points around the circuit. Ticket holders to Zone 4 (and regular Walkabout ticket holders) can access Zone 4 only. Bay grandstand is the only thing in Zone 3 and Bay Grandstand ticket holders can access Zone 4 as well. In 2010, The Singapore Flyer was located in Zone 2 and was only accessible to ticket holder with Zone 1 access who were able to get unlimited free rides throughout the day and night.
The full entertainment schedule is usually known by June or July. For 2010 the headlining acts were confirmed rather late. For 2011 the Sunday headlining act was annonced ant the time ticket sales started and the rest rather later on.The 2 main entertainment stages are the one in the Padang (the big open field with the circuit located in Zone 4) and the Village stage located in Zone 1. There is secondary entertainment held in the floating platform and in the Paddock lifestyle area accessible only to those of the Formula 1 Paddock Club. Entertainment of one sort or another is virtually continuous from 4pm when there is no activity on the track. Linkin Park performed after the end of the race on Sunday at the Padang Stage in 2011. There is no additional charge for any of the entertainment laid out within the circuit.
For 2013, there organisers have arranged an additional concert on the Monday night, the day after the the race. This concert requires the purchase of a separate ticket and is open to anyone ( though race goers get a sizeable discount)
There are numerous F&B stall set up in the Padang and a significant amount in Zone1. Zone 1 has a more premium feel to its F&B establishments with more exclusive units. Zone 4 houses the Hawker village with the cheapest food. Expect to pay roughly twice what it would cost in a food Court. $4 for 500ml bottle of soft drink, $10 for a big plastic mug of beer (no glass allowed in the Circuit), $7 for a bowl of Laksa & $10 for 8 sticks of satay in plastic cup. Between the Esplanade water front Grandstand and the Esplanade Theatres is the food gem of the circuit park – The Glutons Bay Hawker centre. This is a regular popular hawker centre that finds itself ring fenced within the circuit for the 3 day race weekend. Food here is better and cheaper than anywhere else on the circuit – you pay regular everyday prices in general. Of course there are many malls containing food courts and fast food outlets as well as other restaurants literally with 2min in any direction around the circuit park. There are numerous entry/exit gates to allow you to get to food and drink just as quick as it would be to walk to the Food stalls within the circuit park. These malls also provide welcome free air-conditioning and respite in between track activity.
Additionally there is a 1960's themed food centre in the base of the Singapore Flyer, though this is only accessible to Zone 1 and Premier Walkabout ticket holders.
There numerous post race parties that regular ticket holder can access with the purchase of the appropriate ticket including the official Amber Lounge event often frequented by the drivers themselves. Lots of clubs, bars and restaurants in Clark Quay offer promotions and discounts for ticket holders.
Raffles Place, City Hall, Esplanade, Promenade and Nicoll Highway MRT station are close to various gates around the circuit. This must be the eaiest GP to get to from your Hotel on the Calender (no need to camp out at the circuit) Last train times are extended till after 1am across the network for the race weekend for those not staying within walking distance. Most of the Orchard road hotels are with 30min walk once you have left the circuit, if you rather not take the train. Leaving the circuit is very easy even with the crowds, by heading towards the nearest gate and MRT station. Leaving your Grandstand seat to arriving at an Orchard Road Hotel by MRT should take around 30min or so. The track is opened up to the public after the race on Sunday so you can take the scenic route back, rather than the designated walking route. Taxis are also readily available, however there is location surcharge of $5 for the 3 race days. Singapore is a small Island and the MRT trains are quick so even if you are staying at the furthest hotel from the circuit (Crown Plaza at Changi Aiport) you are no more than 35-40min by public transport from one of the entry gates to the Circuit
I am not a photographer and don’t have any gear more advanced than a Compact Super zoom camera. I did take plenty of pictures but these were to remind me of the event rather than have great close up pictures of the cars. It’s dark and the cars move pretty fast. You will need a wide aperture and fast shutter speed. Try and shoot cars at a slower corner to allow longer shutter speeds. Some of the walkabout viewing platforms are great for this. The fencing is a hindrance with auto focus cameras choosing to focus on the fencing rather than the cars further away- manual focus if you camera has that option. Tripod/monopods are not allowed to be used in the Grandstands. If you are in the first row of the Grandstand there is a hand rail in front of you which is a nice sturdy place to rest a camera while zooming and shooting through the fence without any camera shake. On the Friday when the Grandstands are not as busy you will be able to find unoccupied seats so you shoot from different vantage points. In most parts of the circuit you need to be above row 13 or 14 to be able to see completely over the safety fence. The safety fence does not affect viewing the race much but affects photography.
There was some talk that there would be some significant changes made to the circuit for 2011 to reduce the number of turns and speed up the race. There was talk of removing the now infamous 'bus stop' stadium section (Bay Grandstand) and altering T7 to go around the War memorial (removing 2 corners from the circuit and enhancing overtaking possibilities). There were however no track changes for 2011. Looking at the circuit as it is now, it is hard to see how there coulfd be any significant changes for the forth comming races to the stadium section, however changes T7 remain an outside posibility to improve overtaking.
For 2013 the infamous Turn 10 was changed to a simple left hander.