Ricciardo of Australia driving the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer on track during final practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 15, 2018.
© Clive Mason/Getty Images

How the Singapore Grand Prix Changed the World of Formula 1

The Marina Bay Street Circuit. Home of the Singapore Grand Prix. Home of Formula 1 Night Racing. A spectacle to behold, it’s an event that the world of motorsport looks forward to each and every year.
Written by Avi Dixit
5 min readPublished on

The Circuit That Changed the World

First held in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix was a pioneer, paving the way for night races which have become increasingly more common in Formula 1. In 2023, there will be up to 6 night races with the additions of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and Qatar Grand Prix to the calendar — showing the significant impact that the Singapore Grand Prix has had on racing under lights in Formula 1.
However, the spectacle under lights that is the Singapore Grand Prix is far different compared to when racing was first introduced to Singapore in 1966. That’s right, motor races were held in Singapore far before the little red dot’s glamorous, stylish glow-up. Previously known as the Oriental Grand Prix, the yearly event was renamed the Singapore Grand Prix once Singapore gained independence in 1965 and held at the Thompson Road Grand Prix Circuit till 1973 when it was discontinued due to the dangerous nature of the track and the logistical nightmare that it presented to organisers of the event.
Fast forward 35 years and Singapore was introduced to the pinnacle of motorsport as the Singapore tourism board struck a deal for a 5-year contract with Formula 1 in 2008 to race around the tight, narrow Singapore streets. A first for Singapore, a first for Formula 1, and a first that the world would never forget.
Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2008
Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2008

Starting With a Bang

The 2008 inaugural Singapore Grand Prix was arguably one of the most talked about races in Formula 1 history. Pole-sitter Felipe Massa from Ferrari, who pipped McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to start at the front of the grid, would eventually come home in 13th place as Fernando Alonso, 2-time world champion, claimed victory at the maiden Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg with Hamilton rounding out the podium positions. It was far from smooth sailing for the Spaniard though who started in 15th place and would have to navigate his way through the field. The 2008 race was famous for 2 key moments. First, is the controversial manner in which Alonso went on to win. It would later be revealed that Renault ordered Alonso’s teammate Nelson Piquet. Jr to crash at a time perfect for the safety car to be released and for Alonso to gain a cheap pitstop which would help him lose less time and ease to victory come the chequered flag. Second, Felipe Massa’s disastrous pit stop. Back in 2008, refueling cars was a largely common process during a pit stop as it allowed teams to achieve faster lap times with the cars being lighter. However, a dramatic incident in the pit lane saw Massa (who was leading the race comfortably then) released from his pit box early with the fuel hose still attached to his car. He would trundle down the pit lane spewing fuel everywhere and eventually would have to stop to allow the mechanics to remove what was left of the hose before continuing the race. His incident was one of the turning points in Formula 1 which has since resulted in a rule that all cars must be fuelled for the entire race to avoid such accidents.

Hard-Fought Victories

Sebastian Vettel at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix
In the 14 years that Formula 1 has raced in Singapore under the lights, Sebastian Vettel has reigned supreme around the streets of Marina Bay, winning 5 times — the only driver to ever achieve the feat with Lewis Hamilton close behind with 4 victories. Vettel was also the most recent winner in 2019 before Formula 1 had to take a break from racing in Singapore due to the covid pandemic and Singapore’s strict rules which have since been mostly dissolved. Mercedes and Ferrari are joint leaders as constructors who have won 4 times around the 61-lap circuit with Red Bull 1 behind them on 3. The circuit itself however has seen some change with the original Singapore Sling corners near the Fullerton hotel being removed as they resulted in multiple accidents and turns 1, 2, and 3 being re-profiled to assist with better racing. Formula 1 cars are now almost 2 meters wide meaning the Marina Bay Street Circuit will be an even more difficult place to overtake. Furthermore, Singapore holds the record for the only track where the safety car has come out in every race. In 12 races the safety car has made 21 appearances.

A Triumphant Return

Since 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has been a regular member of the F1 calendar not only for the brilliant racing spectacle that it provides for fans who come from all around the world but also because of the global stars that it attracts. Artists such as Katy Perry, Maroon 5, and Shakira to name a few have graced the F1 Padang stage resulting in sold-out concerts which few other Formula 1 events provide. The event goes far beyond just racing which is why its return to Formula 1 has been met with so much anticipation and excitement.
Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2019
Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2019
The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix is just a few weeks away and Formula 1’s return to Singapore could not be at a better time as Singapore finally emerges from the dark, tumultuous times following the Covid-19 Pandemic. The return of the Singapore Night Race is a sign for brighter times ahead for the little red dot as we look once again to make history, while Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looks to make his own history as the only Dutch driver to win 2 World Championships.
From now till 27 Sep 2022, play Red Bull Racers for a chance to win the Ultimate Red Bull Racing experience in Singapore.
Max Verstappen finishes P2 at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix
Max Verstappen finishes P2 at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix