SINGAPORE — A heavy downpour on Sunday (Oct 2) threatened to wreak havoc on the highly anticipated 13th edition of Singapore’s Formula One (F1) race, delaying it by an hour and causing several accidents on the wet track that included Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crashing into a wall.
The spirits of fans who turned up in droves were not dampened as well, despite what was believed to be the first time a Singapore Grand Prix was delayed due to rain.
Since its debut in 2008, the night race has also generated more than S$1.5 billion in incremental tourism receipts.
Most of the race organisation is sub-contracted to Singapore-based companies, including food-and-beverage firms, event companies, and logistics and transport providers.
About 25 meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions were held during this period, with about 90,000 delegates attending. This included the Milken Institute Asia Summit held from Sept 28 to 30, billed as a gathering of “influential individuals with the financial resources” to advance and transform institutions and communities.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that many of the event organisers leveraged the F1 race as an attractive occasion for corporate networking and meetings.
Beyond economic benefits, fans who spoke to TODAY described this year’s F1 race as one of the most exciting Singapore Grands Prix they have experienced.
However, some said that more could have been done to prepare for the wet weather, especially after many fans’ shoes got caked in mud after a similar downpour before Saturday’s qualifying session and concert.
F1 fan Clarissa Sih, a 29-year-old communications professional who has gone to “around half” the races held here since the inaugural one in 2008, said that this year’s race was even more exciting than 2017’s, which also began in wet conditions.
Kimi Raikkonen, the driver she supported at the time, crashed out during the opening lap then. The sheer number of drivers dropping out of the race (six) and safety car deployment both real and virtual this year was, to Ms Sih, the most dramatic Singapore Grand Prix she had seen.
Accountant Zachary Ang, 33, said that more could have been done to prepare for the wet weather. He was present on all three days of the event with his girlfriend, including Friday’s practice session.
“We were instructed not to open our umbrellas at the pit area and to collect our ponchos at the information counter instead. Over there, we were told that there weren’t enough ponchos. With Singapore’s experience in planning, we expected better,” he added.
Mr Tobi M, 51, could not fully watch the concert on Sunday. TODAY spotted him huddled in a tented area with several other attendees.
However, the regional manager appeared in high spirits and said that nothing much could be done about the weather, adding that he thought the organisers planned the event well and that he enjoyed the atmosphere.
Business consultant Roger Guzman, 31, a Costa Rican who has worked here for more than six years, was among the music fans who was not into racing.
Unprepared for the rain, Mr Guzman had to return home — a few stops away from the Marina Bay Street Circuit — to change into fresh clothes, but said that the hassle was worth it.
“I came here to see (American rock band) Green Day but I am enjoying seeing the side performances, too, who are honestly very talented,” he added.
A Mercedes fan, Mr Nicholas Werner, took it upon himself to wait outside the F1 paddock where he could see the drivers enter. The Briton last went to the race here in 2019 when he began working in Singapore in the technology industry.
TODAY spoke to the 29-year-old just before it began raining. He pulled a poncho from his bag and quipped: “Worth it for that selfie with George Russell.”
F1 VERSUS PREMIER LEAGUE
On Sunday night, the race ended up starting at the same time as another important sporting event — the Premier League clash between English football clubs Manchester City and Manchester United. The race delay meant that both events began at 9pm Singapore time.
Mr Parvin Rajadren, the chief executive officer of a securities and IT firm, said he that livestreamed the football match on his mobile phone.
The Ferrari fan arrived at the race with his friends in a Manchester United jersey, having last been to the Singapore Grand Prix in 2018. He had splurged for a paddock pass, saying that the “hype was real” after two years without the race being held here.
Human resource manager Tracy Goh, 34, said that she was following the live score of the football match while watching the F1 race.
Having last attended the Singapore Grand Prix in 2012, she said that she was happy to watch it a decade later. She added that in spite of rising ticket costs, it was “definitely worth celebrating”.
After the race ended, fans rushed to walk on the track, head home or watch the Green Day concert, which began immediately after the race.
Mr Hee Chung Wye, 33, a Red Bull fan, expressed happiness over Perez’s win but said that he felt disappointed for Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen.
“Overall, I felt that the drivers did well and it was an exciting race to watch,” he added.
All eyes were on Verstappen who had a shot at clinching his second world title. However, the Dutchman started Sunday’s race in eighth position after being forced to abort his final fastest effort in qualifying due to a lack of fuel. He ultimately finished seventh.
Hamilton, seven-time world champion and four-time winner of the Singapore Grand Prix, ended up taking ninth place. He collided with the barriers and had to return to the pit lane to get a new front wing.
Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion who holds a record five wins at the Singapore Grand Prix, finished in eighth place for Aston Martin. He last won here in 2019 while racing for Ferrari.
Carlos Sainz completed the podium for Ferrari on Sunday, while McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo came in fourth and fifth respectively.
Due to the delayed start, the Land Transport Authority said in a Facebook post that train services would be “correspondingly extended by half an hour”.
The Traffic Police said that road closures along Coleman Street and North Bridge Road were extended to 3am on Monday.