Singapore Grand Prix
Ever dreamt of attending a Formula One Grand Prix race weekend? I was dreaming of just that since 2008. Ever wondered what it might be like to enjoy said weekend as a guest in formula one’s exclusive paddock club? I wondered that too. I want to tell you the story and share with you my fabulous experience of such a weekend and why you should consider a sporting event as a part of one of your future destination plans!
Singapore 🇸🇬... The Jewel of South East Asia and the formula one race weekend of them all that makes the hairs on the back of my arms stand up when I settle down on my sofa to watch the fantastic coverage every year on #skysportsf1
I’m naturally a night person, so the thrill of this particular race weekend being the only one in the season’s calendar to be held completely at night gave it, for me, an extra special zing! The promotional livery on the cars pop under the powerfully bright night lights and so do the sparks ⚡️ as the down force from the speed of the cars forces the undercarriage to rub against the tarmac. It looks fabulous on television, so I needed to experience it for myself in the flesh, as it were.
It was 2018, ten years since I’d been dreaming of making this trip. This is how long it takes for the average working class person to save for such an occasion. 😱😱 It was also going to be my first time visiting this amazing country, so It was important to me that I made this epic long haul journey on the country’s national carrier, #singaporeairlines
I wanted to do this properly! 💯😁😁
I’d purchased my paddock club and airline tickets online in the month of March 2018 for the scheduled event which would be eight months later in the November. I was to expect those tickets around six weeks prior to departure which gave me ample time to save up a nice amount of spending money.
I can still remember how excited I was as I counted down the days until I received those tickets. When that day finally arrived and the post/mail man rung the bell with my package, I was dancing around the house like a little kid on Christmas Eve knowing the big day was imminent. 🤩🤩
The passage of time is an amazing thing. It seems to take an eternity to pass when you’re awaiting something exciting and zooms by in almost a flash once you’re living in that special moment. 🤷🏾♂️
Before I knew it, I was sat in my A380 seat 💺 ready for take ✈️ off. A barhusive fourteen hour direct long haul flight from London’s Heathrow to Singapore’s Changi. This particular experience is another story which I will write about in another blog!
So straight to it...Each formula one race weekend begins on a Friday with practice one and two (P1 & P2) for the drivers to get a good familiarisation for the circuit they’ll race on, on the Sunday. As this is a street circuit, it takes in excess of three months for the organisers to build the track, closing off a significant portion of the city to accommodate this very lucrative event. It is so precisely engineered that every person attending is given a well planned out map to help them to navigate the way to their designated grandstand. Of course, I was in the paddock club and if you were staying in the Marina Bay area, which I was, then the route to that stand was made easiest to negotiate. Thank God for that, I’m only good with a London AtoZ street map. 😁😁
With my Friday lanyard safely around my neck, I made my way along the clearly marked out route to the entrance of the paddock club taking in for the first time ever, the sight of the awesome cars, the smell of the rubber as the tyres leaves its marble residue at the side of the track and the sound of those turbo charged hybrid engines zooming around the track.
A ginormous pinch yourself moment.
The small pieces of tyre rubber that accumulate at the side of the track off the racing line. Typically these are very slippery when driven on.
I have to tell you though, the very oppressive Singapore humidity is something that I have never before experienced anywhere around the world in my entire life. There’s nothing like it on the planet. I’d read stories about it in my extensive research of the country, but nothing can prepare you for it! It was an absolute pleasure to take refuge from it as I was welcomed into the very plush air conditioned compound to seek my very first beer 🍺 of the weekend.
Security as you can imagine, was very stringent indeed. After a proper high tech scanning, the pass dangling from my lanyard was hole punched and I was free to roam around the vast VIP area. I felt a sense of belonging as I ordered that first thirst quencher. 💫There are different lounges in the paddock club area, I was in the ‘Marina Suite’ and entering it was as you would an airport first/business class lounge. In this case though, I was offered a refreshingly, scented hot towel before being escorted to my designated seating at a beautifully dressed table with my name on it. Talk about first impressions! 🔥🔥🔥
As I was the first to the table, I noticed there were five other places and wondered who’s direct company I’d be in over the weekend. About then is when a hostess came over with a bottle of Tattinger champagne 🍾 and poured me a glass. Continuing my look around the paddock suite, I can clearly see the crowds in the stands across. Getting up, champers in hand, I ventured over to the large sprawling windows, I was surprised to see just how close we were to the pit lane and start line end of the track. It couldn’t be this good, could it? ✨
As the Marina lounge began to fill with guests including my table, it became evident that I wasn’t going to be surrounded by what I thought would be hoity toity clientele. There were all sorts,from corporate guests to plain and simple fans just like myself, just here to enjoy the lavish spread and some formula one action from a different perspective.
Also included as part of my ticket pass, was exclusive pit lane access, meaning I would be able to get up close and personal to the garages. You couldn’t actually go into them, but you were close enough to witness all the teams at work and the comings and going’s of various drivers. It’s the sounds and smells that really gets you, something that is not experienced via the television set! Pit lane access also afforded me the opportunity to meet, albeit fleetingly, some of the sport’s pundits, and commentators whom I was more accustomed to listening to from the comfort of my sofa 🛋. Of course I was going to spend the majority of this very special privilege by my sporting hero’s team garage, #teamlh . If I never get to have this opportunity again, I wasn’t not going to soak it all up now. And just think, I was going to be able to do this on three separate occasions more, over the entire race weekend. Qualifying tomorrow. Awesome!!!
This fella is one of formula one's very few super fans. His name is Moko and he hails from Senegal in West Africa. A staunch die hard Ferrari fan, Moko is blessed to travel the world attending all the key races and I wondered if he'd be here this year. Of course he was, Singapore is not a race weekend you'd miss if you were a fan like him. As I tuned in race after race over the years on television, he'd always be there on my screen in the paddock, rubbing shoulders with drivers and team bosses alike. Of course I googled him as I was intrigued to know more about this seemingly eccentric, colourful man and today, I got to meet him in person. Managed to have a nice little chat with him. An absolute pleasure for me. One of two great highlights to come from this weekend. The other I will close with. So Mr Moko, thank you so much for going out of your way to greet me and share a few minutes of your time and of course, this epic photo!!
Back upstairs in the corporate suite, what seemed like a never ending supply of first class cuisine was being presented by a Michelin star ⭐️ chef and served buffet style. Choice cuts of meats 🥩 🍖🍗🍤🦪 to choose from and as much champagne as you could guzzle, all inclusive to your package. Expensive, but worth every penny/cent in my opinion. Although formula one is the main event, you also have the added treat and access to the open air concerts laid on throughout the weekend. The headline act in my case for the Saturday night was the band, The Killers with hot UK act Dua Lupa headlining Sunday night. There were stages dotted all around different parts of the compound with impressive local bands performing along with various food and drink outlets. My paddock club pass was pretty much access all areas (well apart from the Grid 😩) and so it should be, it cost enough!! 🙃🙂🙃😅
The atmosphere under the Singapore night sky and pulsating, intense track lighting, is one to behold. I was spoilt for choice as to where I would watch the start of the race. There was the roof of the actual paddock club itself giving an astonishing aerial view of the start line, or trackside where I eventually chose so I could feel the power and vibrations of the cars as they were propelled to that first corner, the corner where the most spectacular title defining crash occurred the year previously. It was that crash which cemented my decision to be here for this night extravaganza.
(Check it out on YouTube. 2017 Singapore Grand Prix start). Even down at trackside there’s ice cold beers 🍻 on tap along with bottles of bubbly 🍾🥂to keep us all hydrated. It’s just non stop fabulous service!!
A formula one race has a maximum run length of two hours, or 50-75 laps depending upon circuit, or whichever comes sooner. At home, I’ll normally be tuned in and rooted to my seat taking in all the driver and car stats, right down to tyre degradation information, all that is available here too with giant screens perched in every eye shot and a running commentary of the race on strategically placed speakers hidden around the paddock for optimum sound, but with so much to do and see here, I was able to move around during the race to experience it live from many different angles. Had I been in a stand seat, I would’ve been limited to that position for the entire race, this is why the memory I will take home from here will be so much more special.
Being in two places at the same time would be absolutely ideal in that as the race was coming to a close, I could try and find myself a spot overlooking the finish line to watch #lewishamilton bring it home live with my human eye, or I could stay where I was at ground level basking in the mood of the party area while watching it all unfold on the giant screens. Well I chose the latter which incidentally was only feet away, anyway. As car 44 crossed the line for another epic Hamilton victory, the hugely anticipated firework display lit up the dense night sky with 💥💥💥. Television never gave this the justice and full airtime it so deserved. It’s really beautiful to watch something so energetic!!
Eventually, I made my way back up to the Marina Suite to get me a final glass of champagne while watching the trophy 🏆ceremony and interviews with the top three drivers. Travelling halfway around the globe to witness firsthand one of my dream bucket list sporting events was nothing short of spectacular. To be able to watch it in such fine splendour I give huge thanks to the universe and gratitude in abundance! 🙏🏾☮️💟☯️
I would like to close this blog story with my absolute highlight of this race weekend. On race day I happen to be on the balcony watching the #skyf1team broadcasting live back to the UK when I noticed commentator David Croft walking along on his own. I shouted down to him and asked him if he would grant me a photo opportunity. He looked up and said, “of course I would, I’ll walk back down to the front and you can meet me there”. Shocked at his reply, I bolted down to the front of the paddock and ran down the stairs excited about the fact that I was about to meet this man that I’d been listening to for the past ten years. Anyway, gets down there, and @croftyf1 is waiting there for me with a huge grin on his face. We exchanged a few pleasantries and had a brief conversation about what brought me out here and so on. We took a couple of shots and I thanked him for being so kind to walk all that way back just to greet me and wished him a great broadcast. That alone says a lot about the man. So fast forward a week now and I’m back in the UK and I decide to watch the recording of the race which I’d set up before I left for Singapore. As the drivers are in their cars preparing for the out-lap before lights out, the footage pans over the Marina Bay Sands hotel infinity pool and Mr Croft begins to talk about the fan he’d met earlier named Derek who’s ambition it was to swim in that pool and his second ambition was to be here to witness the Singapore Grand Prix. I was sat there mouth agape in total shock. I had to run to get wifey to come and watch. This just goes to show how a little kindness which cost absolutely nothing, could go such a long way. Can you imagine If I was feeling down in the dumps, that would surely have picked me up mentally. @croftyf1 I salute you sir. Thank you!! 🥂💫✨