I’ve been a F1 fan since the Senna days. The first and only F1 race I attended was in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1995. Damon Hill, my favorite driver at the time, won the race. Early on in 2014, even before I left for this long round the world trip, I knew for certain that I would want to attend the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. My fascination with this race started after watching on TV the very first one to take place there in 2008. I was amazed by the nighttime racing, the street-circuit, and the city’s impressive skyline.
I arrived in Singapore from Hong Kong on the Wednesday before the race weekend. I picked up the tickets (which I had bought 11 months in advance) on Thursday and spent the late-afternoon and evening walking around the track, as they were making the final preparations. I was so happy and excited and grateful for the opportunity and the freedom to make my wishes come true. This whole trip has been one epic moment after another.
I ended up walking almost the entire track, scouting for the best place to watch the action. The nice thing about the tickets for this race is that most of them give you access to zones, as well as a fixed seat on a stand. I got a ticket to the Bay Grandstand, but also access to Zones 3 and 4 (orange and green areas on the map below). There are additional viewing platforms along these zones, so you are not restricted to watching the race from just one location. I saw the workers set up these platforms, and later in the evening they run a few test laps with the safety car to make sure the TV and track crew got one last rehearsal.
Just as I was about to leave for the racetrack from the hostel, Joni from Finland arrived to check-in. I was wondering where all the F1 fans where, since nobody at the hostel up to that point were going to the race. Joni was a Kimi Raikkonen fan and we had the same type of ticket (Bay Grandstand with access to zones 3 and 4), so we ended up watching the race together for the rest of the weekend.
We first sat at Bay Grandstand to watch Free Practice 1. One thing that was going on this weekend (and the following few weeks) was the haze that covered the city due to fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
It’s always an emotional moment when you watch and hear the F1 cars for the first time in a race weekend. A lot has changed since 1995. Back then the dominant teams were Williams and Benetton. The drivers fighting for the championship were Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. Most cars had V-10 engines, except Ferrari which had V-12s. Fast forward 20 years, all cars now have V6 1.6L hybrid engines. Engine sound level is considerably lower, and this was a mayor complain from fans last year. I think the sound level has gone up a bit this year, as I didn’t find them to be that “quiet”. Aside from the better engine noise, watching a race live allows you to see how hard the drivers really push on each inch of the track. On TV it doesn’t look or feel that they are going that fast sometimes, but when watching it live, you can really see how close to the limit they are.
After about 20 minutes, we decided to move to other viewing platforms around Zone 4. First was the bridge at Esplanade Drive. I didn’t like how far away the platform was from the actual track.
We watched Free Practice 2 from the platforms between Turns 12 and 13. This was, in my opinion, the best spot in zone 4. The downside was that there were no viewing screens, so you couldn’t know what was happening around the rest of the track.
After the action on the track I stayed to watch the Farrell Williams’s performance. I thought he’d play only 3 or 4 songs, but it was actually an almost full length concert.
We watched Free Practice 3 from Turn 8 right next to Stamford Grandstand. This was a good spot with a viewing screen. But the stand was small and would get filled up really quickly on race day. We watched Qualifying from our seats at Bay Grandstand. This is a big stand with beautiful view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the city skyline. I had a seat on row 14 and was constantly annoyed by the amount of people walking in front of me and blocking the view. They would come at all times during qualifying, some people were even leaving with 5 minutes left in Q3, right before the most exciting part of the day. I decided then that I was not going to watch the main race from that location the following day.
Maroon 5 played that night, but I only stayed for 30 minutes.
The big day had arrived. Two hours before the race, we made our way to the viewing stands next to Stamford Grandstand. It was already pretty full, but after a while we were able to squeeze our way to the guard rail. It was a great spot with a viewing screen in front of us, but it also meant that we would watch the entire race on our feet. We were very close to the track and the cars, but as with most street courses, you only get to see a very small section of the track.
The first few laps were very emotional, seeing all the cars bunched together and scream by me in a span of 10 seconds.
In the end, Sebastian Vettel ended up getting the win for Ferrari. The most exciting part was maybe when a drunken spectator started to walk on the track.
I was happy fulfill my wish of attending this race. While the main race ended up not being very eventful, I got a lot out of the weekend.