It has been just over 2 weeks since I visited the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix and it has lived up to my expectations once again. The first time I visited the Singapore Grand Prix was in 2011 and it took me 2 years to revisit Singapore. At the time, I thought it was one of the best grand prix events I had ever been to and 2013 has almost lived up to its 2011 counterpart. The event is one of the most iconic F1 events on the modern F1 calendar, albeit not one of the most historical events on the calendar. The Singapore Grand Prix has grown a lot and developed into one of the most entertaining events and one of the most anticipated events along the lines of Monaco. Being a night race, it is interesting to see the cars race by and at such a close proximity as well. Compared to the traditional circuits, the street circuit lets you get up close and personal to the cars and drivers, something that is hard to do at other circuits. It is something that I truly enjoy and if I lived in Singapore, you can be assured that I would be at this race every year.
From my 2011 recap to 2013, things had changed enough that some of the information is no longer valid. In 2011, I mentioned that there was a great run up of sales at the various shops as well as a great atmosphere around Singapore at the time. I was a little disappointed that the atmosphere seemed a little less interesting compared to my time there in 2011. Everywhere seemed to have less Formula One related activities and there appeared to be less sales in the shops in general. While the shopping malls that were adjacent to the circuit were still heavily promoting the race, the sales were not really there compared to my trip in 2011. It is still true that you will find sales in the week leading up to the race, but they were not as commonplace as the sales in 2011. I was a little disappointed but I was happy to do a little shopping anyways. One of the biggest disappointments of the entire event was the lack of car displays around the city. I was expecting to see a few F1 cars and maybe some other high end luxury cars. What I saw was tired old replicas, usually made of wood. Any real F1 fan would notice that these were wood replicas and nowhere near as beautiful as the originals. They appeared to be cheap Chinese knock-offs and I was really disappointed when I got close to them. Yes, it is hard to live up to previous races, but at the very least they could have done a better job with the models. The city seems to be becoming divided on the race. You have those who love it for the boost to the economy it provides during what was traditionally the off season in Singapore, but then you have those who hate the road closures, the flood of tourists, and the general pain any international event can bring. I didn’t really feel it as much but it did seem more evident than the last time I was in Singapore.
The race course itself hasn’t really changed in 2 years. The first time I went, they were doing a lot of work on the Supreme Court buildings, but they had finished a lot of the work so I was able to see most of the buildings this time. I didn’t really spend much time there again as I was pretty tired after the first Friday practice, so I barely took a few pictures before heading back to my hotel. As I mentioned in my post 2 years ago, the main area most people will visit is Zone 4 which is near the Supreme Court buildings. It is where the concerts are held each night and it has most of the entertainment areas. I wasn’t interested in the concerts this year but I’m sure they were pretty interesting. I focused my time on areas that I didn’t visit from my last visit. I focused on Zones 2 and 1 this time. I visited the Esplanade Theatres but to be honest, aside from the views of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Gardens by the Bay, I didn’t really care for this area. I then visited the main grandstand area which was also uneventful. I found the area of the main grandstands to be somewhat sparse. Aside from the grandstands and a few food stands, there really wasn’t much to see or do there. It was a nice refuge from the hustle and bustle of the main areas as Zone 1 is not open to a large portion of visitors to the track. Behind corner 1 is the main F1 Village area. This year I wanted to visit that area to see what it was like. It was a little different to the F1 Village area in Zone 4. The party atmosphere was a lot quieter and you could enjoy one of 4 bars setup in that area. I made sure to enjoy an expensive beer there as well as to check out some of the other events in the area. For the race itself, since I didn’t have seats, I spent most of qualifying at Corner 1 and then most of the race at Corner 5. I tend not to walk around during the action and with the Premier Walkabout passes Zone 1 was the best place to watch the race as it wasn’t crowded. The free stands in Zone 4 were almost always packed and you had to camp out there in order to get a good spot. I was happy with my location and if I go back, I’ll continue the tradition of camping at Corner 5 during the race.
The race itself was pretty straight forward. It is one of the longest races in the year and it has the most corners as well. The race often runs right to the 2 hour limit and this year was no exception. The race started off with a dash to be first and Sebastian Vettel almost lost the lead in the first corner, but was able to recover in the first set of corners. By the time the train reached corner 5, there were no incidents and everyone seemed to be moving smoothly. In total, 2 drivers crashed with only 1 yellow flag being called. 2 other drivers had to retire due to engine problems. The entire race was pretty standard with only a little passing. Corner 5 is not the best corner to watch the entire race and it was all pretty straight forward. No one passed leading into Corner 5 and I didn’t see any passes exiting Corner 5 either. While it could have been a boring race, I did enjoy going from the entrance of Corner 5 to the exit of Corner 5 to take photos. I also enjoyed watching the race via the official live timing app. The live timing app is a great companion for the race and something that helps you understand what is happening when you can’t follow it as closely at the race. When watching a live race, you rely on the screens to tell you what is happening. I ended up buying a data SIM and using it along with the F1 Live Timing App so that I could see who was coming up as well as know who passed who. While in Singapore, there isn’t a lot of passing, the timing app did help me understand who would be coming at what time faster than I could have otherwise. It certainly made taking photos a lot easier than if I didn’t have it.
The 2013 Singapore Grand Prix was a great race. It is still a wonderful event to visit and I do recommend it to anyone who wishes to go. The race is the main event but not everyone goes for the races. Others go for the concerts and some just go for the atmosphere. If you have grandstand tickets, you are probably with others who love the sport, but if you are in Zone 4, you might get a few people who are just casual observers. It is good value for your money to just go to Zone 4 but it is also one of the busiest sections. The 2013 event also saw things become a little toned down compared to my experience 2 years ago. My only guess is that the economic downturn was not as bad anymore and they didn’t have to worry as much about getting people into the stands as well as getting tourists to shop. I hope things turn around again so that there are better deals to be had in the city as well as having a better atmosphere at the event itself. It was still great but I hope they aren’t losing some of the charm that made me want to return this year.
2013 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is part of a series of posts detailing my experiences of visiting various F1 races around the world. To read more about the various races I have attended, please follow the links below:
- 2013 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
- 2012 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix
- 2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix
- 2009 Formula 1 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
- 2008 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
- Official Website: http://www.singaporegp.sg/