Four More Years of the Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore F1 Grand Prix - Day 4
SINGAPORE SEPTEMBER 17 Fireworks display during the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix at on September 17 2017 in Singapore Photo by Edwin KooSingapore GP via Getty Images

Friday 15 September, Turn 2 Grandstand, SGP F1 2017 first practice session is interrupted by an announcement that sets the Marina Bay Circuit on fire. “The Singapore Grand Prix has been extended for another four years!”

The announcement comes against the background of a year-to-date 19% increase in ticket sales, with the weekend sales still to be included. In its first decade, the race has yielded significant economic benefits, attracting over 450,000 international visitors to Singapore and about S$1.4 billion in tourism receipts, inclusive of projected international visitor arrivals and tourism receipts for 2017. With more than 90% of the race organisation sub-contracted annually to Singapore-based companies, the race also contributes to the local economy, over and above the tourism outcomes.

Meltwater, a global media intelligence firm, tracked online reactions in the lead-up and during the F1 weekend between September 13 – 18. Its analysis found 76% of reactions to the last-minute deal were positive, while 23% remained neutral. Only 1% reacted negatively to the news. Online perceptions tracked by Meltwater included reactions to the drivers, cars, brands and sponsors across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, forums, message boards and review sites.

Singapore Airlines, the official sponsor of the Grand Prix, dominated social buzz, accounting for 85% of chatter. Sentiment around the brand was mostly positive during the period, with positive mentions peaking at 88% on September 14, and eventually settling at 68% on race day.

Other sponsors that generated reactions included Heineken, Rolex and DHL at 9%, 4% and 2%, respectively.

As the Malaysian GP draws its final curtain, Singapore’s iconic night race draws fresh breaths.

No, sir, Formula 1 didn’t put Singapore on the world map. We have always been, in our own right. But the sport of sports is a natural match for Singapore’s high international profile. An obvious partnership, and the last decade, a landmark in the F1 calendar.

Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix 2017
Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Back on track, great qualifying from Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari. The German driver was 2 seconds slower throughout the practice sessions. On Saturday, he reduced the gap, but was still behind the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. And in the last laps of qualifying, Vettel pulled out all stops, setting a new track record!

The Marina Bay circuit doesn’t quite suit the Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton qualified 5th only. But in sport, luck is part of the equation. Several minutes before Sunday’s start, it rained, neither heavy shower nor light drizzle, but enough to blur the sight of 20 cars speeding towards the go green light.

And in under a minute it was all over. For the most of us anyway. When Ferraris crash, the race is over. At turn 2, at the end of the starting straight, three out of the four leading cars crashed painfully. And you could hear Italy’s heartbreak all the way from there to here. The prancing black horse and the raging bull, Ferraris and Red Bulls, in their pole positions, bumped, smashed, knocked, cancelled each other out of the race. A collective cry heard all the way from here to er, Italy.

OH. NO. SIAL. That b o r i n g Hamilton sure win, basket.

Singapore Grand Prix Race
Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates on the podium with the champagne at Formula One World Championship Rd14 Singapore Grand Prix Race Marina Bay Street Circuit Singapore Sunday 17 September 2017 Photo credit Singapore GP

Well, Vettel did not take his best start, but was ahead. The 19-year-old aggressive teenager Verstappen steps up the heat pushing on his left. Vettel tries to block him. Verstapen moves left but butts the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The three top cars are totalled.

A veritable nightmare for their drivers and fans. And a bloody lucky dream come true for ho-hum Hamilton. And that was it for the Singapore GP. Lewis Hamilton grabbed the first spot and never looked back. A Singapore aunty next to me – Ferrari fan of course – was furious “Verstapen must be punished! He’s just a teenager!”

Earlier in the week, we’d met with Max Verstappen and Patrick Dempsey (yes, yes, McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy) at a Tag Heuer event. I should have flung my arms around Max’s neck, and throttled him. The watch’s tag line is: Don’t Crack Under Pressure. You damn well bloody kiasu did.

Dan & Max: How NOT to Open a Durian
Dan Max How NOT to Open a Durian Photo credit Red Bull Racing

The Red Bull Racing Formula One Team also had the biggest challenge here in the Lion City at Monit to enjoy the Singaporee skyline before the race and accept the challenge of opening Durians using everyday tools such as the screwdriver, hammer, mini saw and a rubber chicken.

Well you can imagine how less interesting the rest of the race was, but there’s no dampening the F1 fan’s enthusiasm, now further fuelled by the four-year extension.

Hamilton now leads the championship by 28 points yaddayadda. All is not lost for the German. Vettel still has six more Grand Prix to stage a comeback.


The SGP F1 is the best long weekend in Singapore. You don’t have to be physically there, but it helps. Three days of burning rubber, bells, whistles, the largest congregation of expat community in sponsored polos, PRs working overtime to accommodate guests to meet and greet drivers, such as EDOX the Maitre de Horlogerie Geneve for Marcus Ericson. Yes. I did ask if his mobile is an Ericsson.

The Amber Lounge. The Podium Lounge. Or is it Amber Podium. Over 10,000 guests were entertained over the three-night action-packed affair at The Podium Lounge hosted by Formula 1 legend Giancarlo Fisichella alongside Miss Indonesia ’14 and E! News Asia host Maria Rahajeng at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.

This year JW Marriott South Beach hosted its first SGP F1 Perfect Race Party in its rooftop sky garden. With a grand turn view.

Singapore F1 Grand Prix - Day 4
SINGAPORE SEPTEMBER 17 Duran Duran perform on the Padang Stage ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix at on September 17 2017 in Singapore Photo by Robertus PudyantoSingapore GP via Getty Images

The only downer was the VIP deck for media for the performances on the Padang was a downgrade. We used to be up there, with seats, competing with Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams.

Singapore F1 Grand Prix - Day 2
SINGAPORE SEPTEMBER 15 OneRepublic perform during practice for the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix at on September 15 2017 in Singapore Photo by Brendon ThorneSingapore GP via Getty Images

This year, grass-level, no seats, beers from a bucket. Still, Duran Duran is always good, as is Ariana Grande (who has found new fans after Manchester’s tragedy) and the Chainsmokers were ace. Everybody danced. The rain stopped. The fireworks flared. And traffic is back to normal.

Sorry, sorry, re-play, re-play, in the excitement of fast, one got furious, and my bad! The replay has shown that it was not Max Verstappen, but Sebastian Vettel, who caused the crash. Bad boy, Seb. And watch out for Max, he’s gonna do great by next season


Featured image caption: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 on the podium at Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday 17 September 2017. (Photo credit: Singapore GP)

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Sylvia Toh
Sylvia Toh Paik Choo is author, broadcaster, columnist, debater (like to argue), elegant, fashionable, gourmet, hilarious, and we're out of alphabets (well there is i for idiot...)

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