Singapore GP 2016 preview: Tough, humid and all lit up

Singapore GP
Singapore's night-time grand prix makes for spectacular sights

Of all the new races that have been added to the Formula 1 calendar in the last 15 years or so, only two have really cut through to establish themselves as something special.

One is the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas; the other is Singapore.

Each one has that certain je ne sais quoi that lifts them out of the humdrum and makes them exceptional.

As far as Singapore goes, it's no surprise it has become second only to Monaco as the place where most business gets done over a grand prix weekend. It's a place you just really want to go.

That message permeates, and has made it into one of the most desirable races on the calendar.

For a start, the ambience is terrific - and, let's be honest, this is what appeals to the business visitors, rather than the demands of racing on one of the longest tracks in F1 in crippling humidity.

Singapore is a fascinating destination full stop, thanks to its place at the crossroads of south-east Asia and colonial past. But hosting the race at night adds an extra dimension.

The track jags through the city centre under lights, Chinese lanterns adding a dash of colour, the futuristic city skyline the backdrop.

As the sun sets, the whole place seems to shimmer and sparkle for a while. Darkness takes the edge off the tropical heat, and a heady, luscious tropical atmosphere settles over the place.

For those working at the race, there's a surreal edge to it, too.

First track sessions at dusk, qualifying and race after dark means staying on European time. So you wake up at 2pm, finish work in the early hours and go to bed at six in the morning.

You can eat in a hotel restaurant, some of which stay open all night for the race weekend. Better, though, to head to an all-night hawkers' market, where delicious, cheap local food is on offer from a myriad of stalls and you can drink in the atmosphere of the place.

Oh, and the track is pretty good, too. It's no Spa or Suzuka, but the Marina Bay Circuit has a challenge all of its own.

A long, long lap, a nearly two-hour race, bumps, 23 corners and intense humidity make it arguably the toughest grand prix on the calendar - only Malaysia comes close.

Add it all up and it's a race not to be missed.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

Singapore GP

The Singapore Sling got the hook

Adrian Sutil Singapore 2010
Marina Bay's most notorious corner is no longer with us - not in its original guise anyway. The Singapore Sling (turn 10), a left-right-left chicane, was changed to a plain left-hander in 2013 after drivers complained about its dangerous kerbs. Adrian Sutil (pictured) went airborne there in 2010, as did Kimi Raikkonen in 2008

Putting the S into Singapore

Singapore GP first turn
In terms of being pleasing on the eye, the first sequence of corners is the winner. Drenched in spotlights, the left-right-left 'S' shape is alive with colour

An acrimonious beginning

Alonso and Piquet Jr
The first Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 was soaked in controversy. Fernando Alonso won the race, but his Renault team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr later admitted that he purposefully crashed under team orders to bring out the safety car and enhance Alonso's chances of winning. Renault received a two-year suspended ban from the sport

The 'crazy' track invader

James Allen tweet at Singapore
Remember this intrepid explorer? At last year's race, a spectator managed to clamber on to the home straight and miraculously avoided creating a health and safety nightmare. Sebastian Vettel described the man as "crazy"

A time when Ferrari used to win races

Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning in Singapore in 2015
Singapore in 2015 was the site of Ferrari's most recent race win - it was also their last pole position as Sebastian Vettel went from first on the grid to the chequered flag

Rosberg's firsts

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg has taken maiden victories at Bahrain, Baku, Monza, Sochi and Spa this season - can he get his first in Singapore?

Shaky start in Singapore?

Shaky starts
Not for the first time this season, Lewis Hamilton made a bad start in his last race - the Italian Grand Prix. Can he avoid a shaky start in Singapore?
Singapore GP: Everything you need to know

The state that's never in a state

Singapore skyline
Singapore is one of only three city states in the world. Monaco, of course, also hosts a grand prix. The third, the Vatican, as yet has not hosted a race, although a proposed Rome GP was said to venture near it
Singapore toilets
Singapore is renowned for its laws aimed at achieving widespread tidiness - it is illegal to not flush a public toilet after use and you cannot sell chewing gum

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