S'pore Grand Prix: Six years on and still a spectacle

S'pore Grand Prix: Six years on and still a spectacle

The machines have arrived. So too most of the estimated 500 tonnes of equipment.

But even as Singapore awaits the roar of the Formula One cars' 2.4-litre V8 engines later this week, and last-minute touches are put on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, there is no doubt that there is a buzz about town.

Only limited tickets to the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix are available with just six days to go and organisers say they have already exceeded last year's total attendance of 84,317. A full-sized Mercedes show car, together with personal racing gear from the 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, went on display at UBS' One Raffles Quay headquarters last week. The Swiss bank is a global partner of F1.

Even non-trackside facilities have been getting in on the act. At Royal Plaza on Scotts, a life-sized car made of pasta by a team of 18 chefs and culinary staff has been placed in the hotel's lobby. And under the Rev-Up @Orchard campaign, held in conjunction with Grand Prix Season Singapore 2013, Ferrari and Mercedes show cars and official F1 merchandise stores dot the nation's prime shopping belt. All this, for a race that is into its sixth edition.

Some say that the novelty of having a night race, in the narrow confines of a city, has faded. But try telling that to the drivers. McLaren's Jenson Button, who has finished second in the last two races here, told the sport's official website (www.formula1.com): "The thrill and novelty of racing through spot-lit streets is just as intense for me today as it was when we first raced there - it's a unique spectacle.

"In fact, the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the wonders of modern sport." His boss, team principal Martin Whitmarsh, agreed: "I think everybody in Formula One now regards the event as one of the cornerstones of the Grand Prix calendar.

Indeed, it's one of the miracles of televised sport." Even the topsy-turvy schedule - the drivers' day starts when they awake at lunch time and have "breakfast" at about 2pm because they stay on European time - is not enough of a deterrent.

As Sauber's Nico Huelkenberg told formula1.com: "Being in the paddock when it's dark is something quite special." This, even though the race is easily the most challenging of the sport's 19 stops this year.

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