Staying on European time while working in Singapore is like living in the twilight zone, writes F1 journalist Matt Youson in his blog...
The generally accepted and often printed story is that the Singapore Grand Prix is a night race in South East Asia that runs on European time. It’s a myth. A cruel, vicious untruth. The Singapore Grand Prix is run on a schedule entirely of its own invention, and after three days of sleep deprivation I’m red-eyed, thoroughly confused and quite possibly drooling.
The origins of racing at night in Singapore is that is syncs-up nicely with the European season and starts at an audience-friendly 1400CET, just like a European race would. That works perfectly for Sunday, when the race commences at 8pm local– but the schedule for the rest of the weekend is a little bit off. It shouldn’t be a problem but for heavily-indoctrinated creatures of habit, appalled by the idea of even the slightest change, having a slightly wonky schedule is hell on wheels. In fact having a slightly wonky schedule is actually much worse that having a completely wonky schedule: it lulls you into thinking everything is normal when really it isn’t. It’s like being in the first five minutes of The Twilight Zone, over and over again.
Take today’s practice. FP1 was 6pm until 7:30pm, FP2 9:30pm until 11pm. Horror. It’s Friday, so FP1 starts at 10am, and FP2 at 2pm. This is set in stone. But if we really were on Euro time, that’d 4pm and 8pm starts. Piling on the infamy, the gap between Friday sessions should be two and a half hours, not two hours. When cars fired up at 9:30pm dozens of people milling about in the paddock suddenly stopped, looked at their watches and yelled ‘what the hells’ that?’ Worrying, some of those people were in team kit.
Things went completely off the rails after that. Friday’s press conference is supposed to be at 4pm and by whatever logic you’re using there’s no reason why it should have been scheduled for 11:15pm today. Cue a stampede of puzzled scribes dashing down to the press conference room at speeds they usually only deploy when there’s a free lunch in the offing.
Of course there’s a good reason for not simply nudging everything back an industry-standard six hours. If they did then the ‘morning’ sessions would run in daylight, which isn’t of much use to anyone preparing for a race that’s exclusively held at night. But right now this is no place for logic. Everyone’s coming in too early, staying too late and bumping into things in the hours between. A novice might suspect this was some secret military psychological experiment run amok but spend long enough in F1 and it all seems normal. Albeit normal in the sense of bizarre being the default.
It’s 3.55am. There’s still the sound of engines being fired up down below in the garages but to me this seems like a good time to go to bed. In a couple of hours I’ll get up, eat a three course dinner, put my trousers on my head and come back to work.