After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Formula One racing makes its much-awaited return to Singapore from 30 September to 2 October. This comes just over eight months after the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Singapore GP (SGP) and F1 announced in a joint media release that Singapore will continue to host the motor-racing extravaganza as part of the FIA Formula One World Championship from 2022 to 2028.
With the international audience flocking en masse back to the glittering Marina Bay circuit, we look back at the short but eventful history of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Image Credit: Singapore GP Pte. Ltd
The 5.063km Marina Bay Circuit is one of the most physically demanding on the calendar. The bumpy street surface coupled with humid conditions gives the drivers plenty to think about as they scream along the spectacular backdrop of the city’s famous skyline.
Launched in 2008, the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix was the first night-time race in F1 history. Won controversially by Renault’s Fernando Alonso, the event quickly established itself as one of the standouts on the F1 calendar. The Singapore Grand Prix is now proudly Asia’s biggest motorsport and entertainment extravaganza.
The race is a well-known global event that is broadcast live to almost every country on the planet and is watched by millions around the world. In addition, it is also well-covered online, as well as popularly followed on social media. Over the years, the event has attracted more than 930 million audiences worldwide.
Image Credit: National Archives of Singapore
But did you know that the Singapore Grand Prix goes way back? The first motor racing event held under the now world-renowned moniker occurred shortly after Singapore gained independence.
Organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs under Othman Wok, the OG Singapore Grand Prix was held from 9 to 11 April, 1966. That rendition was also the first time the main car race received an official international listing in the world motor-racing calendar. That said, it was still not considered part of the world championship.
The main car race saw racers compete on the notorious 4.8km Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit on Formula Libre rules. Singaporean racer Lee Han Seng clinched the title on the Lotus 22.
Image Credit: Instagram - iremembersg
Yet, the 1966 Singapore Grand Prix wasn’t even the first time racers duked it out on the Thomson Road Grand Prix. That would go back 5 years to 1961, when it was known as the Orient Year Grand Prix. The race itself was one of a series of sporting events held in support of the government-sponsored “Visit Singapore – The Orient Year” tourism campaign.
The Orient Year Grand Prix was the first worldwide grand prix to have races for both cars and motorcycles, with participants coming from Australia, Britain, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaya and Singapore.
That inaugural event attracted more than 120,000 spectators over the 16 to 17 September race weekend. The attendance was so overwhelming on the second day that the police had to halt ticket sales at the main entrances an hour after the race had begun!
Don’t miss out on the buzz this coming weekend! Get yourself ready for the race with the slew of attractions, sideshows, and more as we celebrate a return to life before the pandemic!