This month’s Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is a bucket-list item for many. Stewart Bell explains why it lives up to the hype.
In 2018, a staggering 263,000 visitors descended on Singapore for the city-state’s annual Grand Prix — and the event has shown no sign of slowing down in 2019.
Over three electric days between September 20-22, Singapore goes turbo to celebrate all things motorised and F1, closing off major roads for track events and playing host to glitzy soirees across the city.
Singapore’s close proximity to Oz make it a popular last-minute getaway spot for Aussies, with many already strapped in for big ticket event. They’ll be in good company, too — Perth-born F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo is heading to The Lion City with his new squad, Renault. The 30-year-old is a Marina Bay specialist, having nabbed four podiums in the last five visits.
“I think that since Singapore has been on the calendar, it has certainly brought interest from all over the world,” Ricciardo tells 9Honey.
Over an adrenalin-fuelled weekend the driver will reach dizzying speeds of 320km/h while battling other high-profile track rivals, including the sport’s five-time F1 World Champion, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
“It’s actually a race that everyone talks about. It’s close to Australia, so we get a lot of Aussies flying out. Also Europe and even the United States,” he says.
“It’s kind of like one of these iconic races now, which is pretty impressive.”
It’s also an event luring more than just motorsport fans. Local Singapore attractions aside, the weekend sets the stage for major musical acts and epic off-track entertainment.
The 2019 line-up is set to feature headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Fatboy Slim, and Hans Zimmer among others.
Circuit Park will be teeming with activity, with interactive displays, support category paddocks, all manner of themed bars, and authentic local and international food options.
There’s also a “family zone” centred around the Circuit Park’s Empress Lawn, with roving acts creating a carnival-like atmosphere – think stilt walkers, fire dancers, acrobats and even a bubble artist.
How to get tickets
Event listings can be found on singaporegp.sg. There’s an option for a range of budgets, with single day-walkabout (general admission, no seat) and grandstand (seat) tickets starting from SG$98 (AU$105), and single-day hospitality packages from SG$1592 (AU$1690).
Upgrade to VIP
If the grit and crowds of the bandstands aren’t your jam, you may want to splash out on a pass to the Formula 1 Paddock Club — it gets you access to the sport’s coveted inner sanctum where you can rub shoulders with heads of state and pop stars, and indulging in gourmet morsels from celebrity chefs.
Australian chef Neil Perry is again flying the flag for Oz cuisine this year, as his award-winning restaurant Rockpool pops up, alongside The Hind’s Head by Heston Blumenthal, and NOBU.
For the first time in the event’s history, there’ll be a new VIP party precinct Twenty3, with mutiple big-name dining, bar and club venues joining forces for a mega party, that sees attendees dancing, indulging and partying — all while watching F1 (how novel). The line-up includes three restaurants, a whisky and rum speakeasy, and a two-storey nightclub.
Singapore is a foodie Mecca, but where to start? Neil Perry, who experienced the event for the first time last year, has a hot tip.
“Tai Wah pork noodles at Upper Cross Street for the noodles and the pork and the black vinegar and the chili,” he says.
“You can have it with soup, or soup on the side – dry-style. And that’s really worth seeking out.”
Also tac Kok Sen at 30 Keong Saik Road onto your dining hitlist, he says.
“That’s pretty classic fried chicken and claypot fish with spring onions, black pepper beef, frogs legs — that sort of stuff… It’s really local food. And that’s really worth dropping into.”
Kick on after dark
There are lots of different after-dark spots to expel that excess on-track adrenalin. Clark Quay is sure to be abuzz with tourists throughout Grand Prix week, and is a great spot for grabbing dinner and drinks.
Elsewhere, Orchard Road might be a shopping hub by day, but come evening you’ll find a stretch of trendy bars and nightclubs.
Kick on into the wee hours at Club Street and Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, where you’ll find some of the city-state’s best food and bars.
If you’re lingering in Singapore after the races are done and dusted, head down to Sentosa Island for some stunning beach bars that are so authentic you’ll think you’ve stumbled into the South Pacific.
The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 will be held from September 20 to 22. For more information visit singaporegp.sg.