She's very much into Formula 1

She wasn't much of a motor racing fan before the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

After seven years of being intimately involved in the world of Formula 1, Sarah Martin's view of the sport has changed dramatically, and it's not just because she is the director of operations and security of race promoters Singapore GP Pte Ltd.

"I have a great respect for it; it's a different art form," she told The New Paper.

"I think it's the level of perfection that comes with this race, the technology behind it (and) the way it's set up and run."

This weekend's street race along Marina Bay will be the eighth edition of the only Grand Prix fully run at night.

In her role, Martin (above) strives to ensure everything - from security to logistics and the rest of the nuts and bolts - run smoothly.

She heads a team involved in all operational planning and logistics pertaining to the event, apart from race related matters.

This includes sourcing, contracting and planning the entertainment programme that features multiple stages with over 300 acts throughout the circuit park.

She oversees the gate and grandstand operations, security development and food and beverage vendor arrangements, emergency planning as well as the recruitment and training of over 5,000 staff.

In the high-octane world of pilots unafraid charging around in space age machines at supersonic speed, many would think Martin's biggest challenge is being a woman in a man's world.

The 40-year-old rejects that notion.

"I don't think of myself as a woman in a man's world. It's a job and it's a job whereby I have the skills set to deliver," she said.

"Yes, you are dealing with very serious issues and you're in a room full of men.

"But, man or woman no one is given any leeway and that's the greatest thing, because then everybody just gets the job done."

To facilitate the set up of the final phase of infrastructure, roads around the circuit park area in downtown Singapore are set to close at midnight tonight. The F1 Village is already 95 per cent ready awaiting just the small touches: carpet grass, signages etc.

EXCITEMENT

A huge part of the excitement unique to the Singapore race are the various musical performances that accompany the Grand Prix.

Over the years, the likes of Robbie Williams, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez have been highlights, and in 2013, around 65,000 people made their way down to the Padang to watch Justin Bieber perform 24 hours after the race.

Martin, who in the past was responsible for bringing international world music event network WOMAD to more than nine countries, is expecting a 70,000 crowd to catch super group Bon Jovi at the Padang after the race on Sunday.

"The Padang field, we now know, can take up 70,000," Martin said.

"It's because of the way the crowd dynamic is fixed. You normally have a situation on a flat field whereby only the front is packed. Our scenario is to have the whole field packed.

"We have safety measures, a secondary crash barrier in the middle of the field. Most (concerts) only have one mosh pit. We create multiple mosh pits."

The Singapore Grand Prix has showcased the country to a global television TV audience of around 360 million every year, and at each race, around 40,000 international visitors flock to the Lion City.

They leave not just mesmerised by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso and their unique skills on a street track with the Singapore skyline as a spectacular backdrop, but also rave about the excitement of watching the fastest drivers in the world bang wheels under the Valerio Maioli-powered lights, and the world-class entertainment that surrounds the race.

Martin is proud to be part of the unique experience that is the Singapore Grand Prix.

The balance of entertainment and sport across the three-day event, she insists, is never an issue.

"The race holds its own; it's the crown jewel and around it are the additional jewels," she said.

"We wanted to have an event that played to the space and audience. That's one of the successes of the Singapore GP as it's allowed a greater profile of people to come to the race.

"It comes quite naturally, there is no formula. When we put things together it's a combination of what is available, what we have seen, how we up the gambit on certain things.

"Of course, every year we've got to deliver whatever else we delivered last year and then promise a bit more."

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 15, 2015.
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