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  1. #1
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    Default SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX,00.html?

    Published September 25, 2008


    The benefits of safety


    WHENEVER the 20 Formula One cars line up on the grid at the start of each race, one other vehicle stands out on the track and it's not only because of its flashing beacons.

    High visibility: Driver Bernd Maylander and Mercedes- Benz's F1 safety car

    Unlike the other cars, the safety car is the only one that looks most like a normal road car. In fact, it really is a road car except for the beacons, some extra cooling, a few lightweight measures and other racing modifications. For the current season, the official F1 Safety Car is based on the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG.

    AMG is the high-performance division of the German luxury carmaker and the SL63 convertible has an AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine with 525 hp. It accelerates from zero to 100 kmh in 4.4 seconds, an essential quality for leading the pack of powerful F1 cars in an orderly procession whenever there is an accident, adverse weather conditions or any other hazardous situation on the track.

    But more interesting than being chosen as the safety car for this glamorous high-speed race is the fact that the brand with the three-pointed star has been associated thus for the past 12 years.

    Eight generations of safety cars have served in F1 since 1996. The Official F1 Medical Car has also carried the AMG insignia over the same period, although as early as in 1984, an AMG E-Class Coupe with a V8 engine was used occasionally as medical transport. The current medical car is a C63 AMG Estate.

    Wolfgang Schattling, director of motorsport communications for Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, cites the use of AMG models as evidence of Mercedes-Benz's commitment to Formula One.

    'We have a long-standing, close working relationship with the FIA in the field of safety in motorsports,' he explains.

    FIA refers to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the world governing body for motorsports.

    Mr Schattling declines to say why AMG was chosen by FIA to provide both the safety and medical cars. But he did mention that AMG produces 'the most dynamic cars in the Mercedes-Benz model range, so that's why we chose AMG to take care of the Safety Car project'.

    For a sport with a television audience of 500 million viewers per race, this arrangement has to be the ultimate in product placement. However, Mr Schattling refuses to disclose the financial terms of this high-profile branding.

    He would only say: 'The exposure we get from supplying the safety and medical cars is excellent and enhances our image of producing safe and dynamic cars and presenting ourselves as a safety-conscious company.'

    As a rough guide, though, corporate partners who supply F1 teams with products for their use, such as watches or clothes, typically pay anything from US$15 million to US$25 million per season for the privilege.

    The safety car is driven by Bernd Maylander, a former German touring car champion and Porsche Carrera Cup driver. He has been the official driver for the past three years.

    For each race weekend, Mr Maylander and his co-driver strap themselves into their AMG sports bucket seats with four-point seatbelts. The interior trim parts are made of real carbon fibre with black leather appointments and Mr Maylander's fingers are curled around a flat-bottomed AMG performance steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles.

    There are two monitors on the centre console for the safety car crew to supervise the action on the racetrack, while a two-way radio system allows them to remain in contact with the race management. To further protect Mr Maylander and his co-driver, the SL63 AMG has a rollover bar and a larger braking system.

    Interestingly, the addition of these protective measures does not make the safety car heavier than the series-production SL63 AMG. This is because of lightweight design measures such as the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the engine bonnet, front and rear aprons, front wings and luggage compartment lid.

    The roadster's insulation materials have also been dispensed with, as well as all the mechanical and hydraulic components of the folding hardtop since the safety car is always driven with its roof up.

    All these modifications may be costly but there are untold commercial benefits to be reaped.

    'With F1, there is very high visibility for the AMG brand because the safety car can be seen clearly at the start of the race when it goes around for the warm-up lap,' says a senior Mercedes executive.

    And when there is an accident during the race, the safety car's presence is amplified because it will come on-track again.

    'The safety car gives Mercedes-Benz and AMG a very high profile.'

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    Default SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: S'pore counts on night race to brighten economic gloom,00.html?

    Published September 25, 2008


    S'pore counts on night race to brighten economic gloom

    AS the economic outlook dims, Singapore is switching on floodlights to brighten its future.

    The city stages Formula One's first night race this coming Sunday under the glare of 1,600 lamps that will generate four times the brightness of a regular sports stadium.

    Singapore, girding for a possible recession, is paying about US$200 million over five years for the rights to host the event, tapping the glitz of the world's most-watched motor races to promote itself as something more than a financial hub.

    'Singapore has always been known as a good international business centre,' S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said in an interview. 'What we want to do is also raise Singapore's profile as a global city with great lifestyle, buzz, vibrancy.'

    The race is the latest attraction for the South-east Asian city, including two casino resorts and the first Youth Olympic Games in the next thee years. The world's biggest ferris wheel - the Singapore Flyer - opened this year, towering over the pit lanes that will teem with the mechanics and drivers of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW.

    Hosting major sports events is part of Singapore's strategy to diversify the economy from its traditional manufacturing base and to attract tourists, economists say. The F1 effect will be felt over years and won't be measured by the experience of this weekend's race alone.

    'Singapore wants to become a global city and events like these are needed to make it one,' said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB-GK Securities Pte in Singapore. 'The F1 race is just another piece in a big jigsaw puzzle.'

    The arrival of F1 pacesetter Lewis Hamilton and world champion Kimi Raikkonen coincides with one of the closest championships - and a financial slowdown that's pushed Singapore to cut its growth forecast to between 4 per cent and 5 per cent this year from the 7.7 per cent pace in 2007.

    'The financial turmoil throws up quite a lot of uncertainty, but tickets have sold out,' said Vishnu Varathan, a regional economist at Forecast Singapore. 'Retailers will probably see more restrained spending.'

    Mr Iswaran expects Formula One to deliver $100 million of extra tourism revenue, with about half the 100,000 people involved in the Grand Prix flying in from overseas.

    The closeness of the F1 title race - McLaren driver Hamilton leads Ferrari's Felipe Massa by one point with five of 18 races to go - may intensify the spotlight on Singapore.

    'Just like the Beijing Olympics, all eyes will be on Singapore,' said Michelle Denise Wan, a spokeswoman for the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Marina Bay area, where rooms sold out by July even with a minimum four-night stay.

    Not everyone is getting a slice of the windfall, including some retailers closest to the action. Road closures and entry restrictions to the race area has Melvin Yap considering shutting his watch store in Millenia Walk.

    'Things are going to be really bad,' said Mr Yap, sales director at Precious Time. 'Our regular shoppers won't be coming here.'

    Formula One, with about 150 million viewers per race, is becoming the sport of choice for cash-rich nations. Bahrain added a Grand Prix in 2004, while Abu Dhabi is paying a record US$45 million for rights to host its first race next year, according to Formula Money, which tracks the sport's finances. South Korea and India will add F1 races in 2010. -- Bloomberg

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    Default SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: Suite smell of success for privileged fans,00.html?

    Published September 25, 2008


    Suite smell of success for privileged fans

    In all, there are 180 suites at 7 locations around the 5.1km Marina Bay circuit


    Among the 100,000-plus people watching this weekend's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, 13,000 will be doing so from the comfort of a corporate suite and not the grandstand.

    Instead of being confined to a seat in the open for the duration of the 90-minute race, they will enjoy air-conditioning, food and drink. But not all suites are equal. Some not only offer more food and better drinks, but also exclusive privileges.

    For the 2008 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, there are 180 suites at seven locations around the 5.067 km Marina Bay street circuit. Depending on the location and view, they cost between $3,500 to $7,500 per person for a three-day pass and offer various levels of amenities.

    Of the corporate hospitality packages available, the most expensive and exclusive is the Paddock Club at $7,500 per person plus GST. Despite the premium, the 4,000 tickets on offer were the first to be sold out - soon after they were launched last November.

    They could be booked as a dedicated private suite, or tables of 10 within a shared facility. Each suite can take up to 50 people and those who bought two suites could have the wall between them removed.

    Guests will be welcomed with arrival tea, dinner and light supper for the night race that starts at 8pm. For dinner, an international selection of - among other things - milk-fed veal and sushi, also offers localised alternatives such as lobster kueh pie tee topped with trout caviar.

    The Paddock Club is housed in the pit building - the only permanent structure on the temporary circuit - directly above the team's garages. According to race promoter Singapore GP, it offers 'thrilling views of the nerve centre of the race' as well as 'unparalleled access, seamless service and the finest cuisine and wines' with a suite ambassador to 'service your account'.

    Most of these ambassadors are former airline crew with experience in serving first and business-class passengers, said a Singapore GP spokesman. 'Their familiarity with the service ethic for this segment of clientele should help ensure a high standard of service.'

    However, the most cherished aspect of the Paddock Club has to be pit access. 'Paddock Club ticket-holders can have a twice-daily privilege of walking on the Pit Lane so that they can observe the team garages up close,' said the SGP spokesman.

    It is this exclusive privilege that those at the Pit Grandstand Suites will not enjoy, although there will be the 'same style menu as the prestigious Paddock Club'.

    The Pit Grandstand is opposite the pit building and like the rest of the suites, there are two types - Sky and Club.

    The Sky Suite costs $6,500 per person and allows access to the shared open-air sky deck above the suite, complete with a lounge and bar area to enjoy the race under the night sky.

    The Club Suite option is cheaper at $5,000 per person but this single-level suite is situated one floor below the Sky Suite and does not come with the same rooftop option.

    The Pit Entry and Exit Suites are located at the respective ends of the Pit Grandstands and they too have identical Sky and Club alternatives with the same pricing.

    Ditto for Turns 1, 2 and 3 farther down the track at the Turns Grandstand Sky and Club Suites at $6,500 and $5,000 respectively.

    Only the Sky and Club Suites at Stamford Grandstand are cheaper than this lot. At $4,500 and $3,500 per person, these suites are located at the War Memorial Park between Turns 7 and 8. The only consolation is that it is just across the road from the Raffles City hotel and shopping complex and good for a quick getaway after the race.

    There are also two non-suite options that offer F&B - the Esplanade Steps Premier Grandstand before Turn 14 at $2,588 per person, and the Singapore Flyer Promenade Premier Grandstand at $2,188 per person. Anyone who buys one of these will get a grandstand seat in the open and access to F&B in the form of a self-service buffet and a free flow of drinks.

    If you're tempted, you have to hurry - 'less than two suites' are left, says Singapore GP.

    'With over 99 per cent take-up, we are now hosting one of the highest numbers of corporate guests for any Formula One race,' said the SGP spokesman.

    Amid all these privileges, there is one suite that money can't buy. It is located at the southern end of the pit building on the third storey. Cantilevered out over the track, it boasts a magnificent view of the pit straight, its entry and exit as well as the pit lane - all unobstructed and all from the vantage point of the top floor. No doubt about it - this has to be the best room in the house.

    Alas, entry is restricted to VVIPs - read government ministers and other 'big shots'. So if you're not either, please feel free to enjoy the race from somewhere else.

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    Default SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: Party with the VVIPs at Amber Lounge,00.html?

    Published September 25, 2008


    Party with the VVIPs at Amber Lounge


    FORMULA One fans looking to rub shoulders with celebrities and race aces need look no further than Amber Lounge.

    Amber Lounge was created in 2003 by Sonia Irvine, sister of ex-Ferrari F1 driver Eddie Irvine, as a place where the F1 community can come together to party after a race. It is limited to four Grand Prix locations a year to keep it exclusive.

    The other three venues this year are Barcelona, Valencia and Monaco.

    Party-goers generally include team sponsors, F1 drivers and celebrities.

    'We'll have a mix of the right local people and F1 fraternity,' Ms Irvine said at a news conference yesterday. Amber Lounge can handle 1,000 people and will take place at a purpose-built venue in Temasek Avenue on Saturday and Sunday.

    Tomorrow, Johnnie Walker - the headline sponsor for the lounge - will hold a private party for regional and local celebrities.

    Ashu Kaul, marketing director of Diageo Brands, said that Diageo chose to partner Amber Lounge because of its 'association with glamour'. 'We will deliver the ultimate F1 party,' he said.

    But don't expect the star treatment to come cheap. The VVIP tables - which seat eight - go for 7,250 euros (S$15,088) per table, while the classic tables go for close to 4,000 euros per table. And individual passes cost 500 euros a head.

    These prices buy guests unlimited champagne such as Dom Perignon and Moet Chandon - depending on ticket type - and drinks until the club closes at 6 am.

    Prices vary from city to city, depending on cost. 'It costs more to run Amber Lounge in Singapore than in Monaco, because I had to put up a marquee, as well as put in air-conditioning,' Ms Irvine said, adding that Singapore tickets are still cheaper compared with Monaco.

    At the moment, all 60 tables for Sunday night are sold out. There are six tables left for Saturday night. Individual passes are still available.

    Of course, the crowd will be different each night, as top drivers are unlikely to be caught dancing Saturday night away before the big race.

    Still, this will not stop party organisers from ensuring that guests have the nightlife experience which they have been promised.

    'If people aren't dancing on the sofas by the end of the night, I haven't done my job,' Ms Irvine said.

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    Sep 25, 2008


    Anchoring a totem


    AS SINGAPORE readies itself to host the world's first Formula One (F1) night race, the expectant air in the city-state seems to have fallen below expectations. A recent poll by The Straits Times suggests that Singaporeans are perhaps uninterested in the upcoming motoring event. Undeniably, the sport lacks the mass appeal of football - our de facto national sport. However, hosting such a mammoth event results in more than just tourist dollars and international publicity. It also has the potential to bolster a Singaporean identity.

    That potential lies in the correlation between the event and its site - the Marina Bay. And the salience of a site or place is bound to the concept of a 'nation'. Sites can act as anchors because a city cannot exist only in the mind. The 'nation' being an invisible concept needs to be personified and symbolised before attachments can be conceived. Hence, such 'anchors' are commonplace for nations across the world.

    For example, one need only think of major cities such as Tokyo, New York, Paris or Sydney and images of Shibuya, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower or the Opera House, respectively, will come to mind. These 'totems' serve as rallying points of national pride.

    Similarly, the Marina Bay landscape has emerged as Singapore's dominant image as seen in photographs, maps, televised images and tourist promotional materials. But a city's landscape is not simply an aesthetically pleasing image. The spaces of a city should also be valued as highly dynamic, multisensory arenas of engagement and interaction as well as theatricality.

    The bay is a site steeped in value and meaning, which grants it capital to serve as a national 'totem'. It is a site of preservation, renewal, revitalisation and reinvention. Urban planners have expended every effort to infuse the bay with an array of spectacular devices. For example, early immigrant life-in-action at the Singapore River has been commemorated in bronze sculptures.

    Structures of our history are preserved and renewed in modern guises - such as today's Fullerton Hotel (the old General Post Office), the soon-to-be-completed Clifford Pier complex, the Old Parliament House, the old Supreme Court and the Padang. Modernity is enshrined in the distinctive skyscraper-lined Central Business District - perhaps losing some of its shine now. But no fear: It will soon be buffed by the massive integrated resort and its adjacent new financial district of gleaming new-age metal and granite.

    Singapore has also invested in distinct architectural iconography, akin to structures such as Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium and Dubai's upcoming Burj Dubai. There is, for instance, our Esplanade Theatres on the Bay. Its unique external silhouette and cavernous magnificence contribute to the imagery of the bay. The Government has also positioned the bay as the nation's own Eden, with a multimillion-dollar project to transform the Marina Bay into the Garden City by the Bay. And finally, there is the Singapore Flyer, which adds a certain theatrical element.

    How do all these relate to the race? Value and meaning aside, the strength of the bay as a national 'totem' cannot rely simply on the aesthetics of the site. Instead, it requires an element of 'performativity' to bring attention and importance to the site.

    There is a conflation of national pride, excitement, joy and exhibitionism that characterises mammoth events like the F1. The interactions between lived space and the living will help bolster the rallying ability of the bay. For example, the bay has played host to the nation's most important and nationalistic event - our annual National Day Parade on the world's largest floating facility.

    The platform's strategically located position allows participants and viewers to enjoy the arresting landscape as an impressive backdrop to the event. Likewise, the various seating positions of the F1 Grand Prix are carefully calculated to not only catch the sporting action but also to experience a visual theatrical presentation of the Marina Bay landscape as a whole.

    As the serpentine track winds around the bay, it will become evident that these tracks are not simply for the high-velocity machine-beasts. For the observer, every arresting minute that it takes to loop around the bay will also disclose the character and history of Singapore. This, multiplied by the 61 grand laps it will take to win the FI race, will ultimately add to the centrality of the bay as a national 'totem' and anchor it in the imagination of both its inhabitants and visitors.

    As the final stage of preparation commences, it is with bated breath that one anticipates the projection of Singapore's comeliness across the world. Grand emotions will be evoked: the feelings of immense nationalistic pride and celebratory joy while witnessing the hypnotic beauty of the bay.

    The writer is an Associate Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

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    Default Ecclestone gives race track the thumbs up,00.html?

    Published September 27, 2008


    Ecclestone gives race track the thumbs up

    He says hosting the world's first F1 night race is a win-win situation for Formula 1 and Singapore


    IN just 10 months Singapore has put together a top-quality race circuit that will make the rest of the world sit up and take notice, Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone said yesterday.

    (Left to right) Mr Ecclestone, Mr Ong and President Nathan at the Istana yesterday

    Giving the track the thumbs up, he said he 'knew it would be super'. It would have taken a European country at least two years to pull off a similar feat, he added.

    Mr Ecclestone first bandied the idea of an F1 race with property tycoon Ong Beng Seng - who sealed the deal that brought the race here - some 20 years ago.

    'Once he agreed to do it, I never had any doubts,' said Mr Ecclestone, adding that he never does business with someone who doesn't have his trust.

    Hosting the world's first F1 night race is a win-win situation for Formula 1 and Singapore, as it has catapulted the tiny island on to the global stage, he said. 'It's a street race at night. Worldwide, people are looking and talking.'

    The government has also been a strong backer of the race organiser and the race - something the F1 supremo clearly appreciates. 'I've just come from the President's lunch. I asked all the drivers to come and they did, except the two McLaren drivers,' he said, adding that he would ask why they did not show up.

    The lunch in question was the official Formula One luncheon hosted by President S R Nathan at the Istana. 'They're in showbusiness. They owe it to the public,' Mr Ecclestone said.

    Despite his confidence that Singapore's inaugural Grand Prix will come off without a hitch, Mr Ecclestone is not completely without concern. 'I'm anxious to see how it's going to come out on television,' he acknowledged.

    Europe accounts for a substantial proportion of the 500 million F1 viewers. As such, the time difference between Singapore and Europe makes the night race ideal for European fans.

    The 1,500 floodlights that line the 5.067 km track will create illumination that meets standards for high-definition television broadcast and ensures driver safety.

    'The first races are prototypes. You'll find things you want to do better next time,' Mr Ecclestone pointed out.

    One suggestion for improvement that he raised was pushing back road closures to Thursday, instead of implementing them earlier. The closures began from midnight on Tuesday to facilitate the final stages of track work as well as the race itself, and remain closed in different phases until Oct 2.

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    Published September 27, 2008

    Money spinner

    Formula 1 rakes in more than all EPL clubs combined


    IF you care to whiz around the high-speed empire that Bernie Ecclestone has built, it shouldn't surprise you to note that its tracks are paved with gold. Big numbers - always whispered but rarely confirmed - are routinely tossed about while discussing Formula One riches. It's only when you heap them atop each other that the true size of the monster emerges.

    One hot machine rounding a corner last night in a practice run opposite the Singapore Cricket Club, with the stunning City Hall in the background

    Here's a simple fact to chew on. Last year, according to Formula Money, a publication which monitors the motor-racing industry's key performance data, F1's global revenues touched US$3.9 billion. In comparison, it was reported that the combined revenues for all the English Premier League clubs combined were just US$3 billion.

    What's more, these numbers are poised to rise as new circuits such as Singapore come onstream. According to Formula Money, total revenue from all F1 businesses this year will hit a record US$4.7 billion. Of this, the biggest component is the US$1.6 billion spent by the team owners - up from US$1.47 billion in 2007 - thanks to the arrival of the Force India team owned by billionaire Vijay Mallya.

    And here's another milestone that has just flown by. For the first time, the amount of F1 race fees collected has exceeded television rights. These so-called sanction fees have to be paid to Formula One Management for the right to stage a race. The UK-based Formula Money says race-hosting fees now bring in more money to F1's commercial rights holder than broadcasting rights.

    It says that the two new races this year - Valencia and Singapore - have driven up the total to US$403.5 million, or US$23 million more than the income from TV.

    Singapore is said to have paid a sanction fee of about US$35 million to US$40 million, higher than what other countries which joined the franchise earlier coughed up. There are 18 Grand Prixes for the 2008 Formula One season.

    So ushering in new circuits while phasing out older ones is profitable by itself. In contrast, revenue from ticketing is said to represent less than 10 per cent of F1's kitty. The 11 teams that are part of the 2008 season are responsible for most of F1's wealth - but they are not doing too poorly themselves.

    Toyota is the world's biggest car maker, so it is no surprise to learn that its racing team has the biggest budget in Formula One. According to Formula Money, Toyota Motorsports GmbH can fall back on about US$445 million in resources this season.

    This includes everything from sponsorship and supplier deals to prize money and team-owner contributions. In second place is McLaren with US$433 million and Ferrari at US$415 million.

    Officially, Toyota and the others refuse to confirm these numbers - for reasons of competition. 'We spend a lot on F1 - as much as Ferrari, McLaren or BMW - but we never speak about the exact value,' says Tadashi Yamashina, chairman and team principal of Panasonic Toyota Racing, the official name of Toyota's F1 unit.

    Overall, team sponsorship is estimated to have increased to US$836.9 million, with Ferrari leading this increase by becoming the first team with over US$200 million in sponsorship in a single year.

    Sponsorship is the biggest source of revenue for an F1 team. Those logos plastered all over a Formula One car have earned the right to be there.

    For example, tobacco company Marlboro reportedly pays US$50 million a year to have its name associated with a pair of scarlet cars from Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

    Meanwhile, Dutch financial services giant ING shells out US$35 million annually to be the title sponsor of the Renault F1 team.

    Add advertising and other costs and ING's tie-up with the French team since last year is at least double that figure, making it the biggest non-tobacco sponsorship deal of its kind in F1 history. The benefits are clear. An ING spokeswoman explains that F1 allows it to showcase the breadth and depth of its global presence as the No. 1 global financial services provider in the world, ranked by Fortune 500 in August 2008. Together with the 'very visible branding opportunities', F1 offers the perfect opportunity to treat ING's VIP guests to a 'seamless brand experience' that mixes business with pleasure.

    Hence, the numerous high-profile corporate partnerships in F1. They include Vodafone (with McLaren), Panasonic (Toyota), Petronas (BMW), AT&T (Williams) and Red Bull (Toro Rosso), among others. Only the Honda F1 team does not have the name of a title sponsor anywhere, preferring instead to sport a livery of soothing greenery for its 'Earth Cars'.

    Along with other income from merchandising and profit-sharing (teams get a performance-based share of the fees collected by the F1 administration), these sponsorship deals provide the F1 teams with big budgets to spend on their cars, drivers and staff.

    Between them, the teams competing this season weigh in at just over US$3 billion in total resources. But when you consider that Formula One is the most-watched motor sport with an estimated 500 million viewers per race, it sounds like a fair price to pay.

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    Default The greatest F1 show on earth,00.html?

    Published September 29, 2008

    The greatest F1 show on earth

    Atmospheric city nightscape offers magical backdrop for the glamour and the thrills


    (SINGAPORE) Renault's Fernando Alonso won the 2008 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix last night, but there was another big winner - the Republic.

    As Singapore's inaugural Grand Prix, it was a historic event - it was the first F1 night race, run on a street circuit (an Asian first), and anti-clockwise (one of only three such tracks this season). But more than those milestones, it was simply a brilliant performance.

    Singapore's debut race produced non-stop excitement despite those who said that a street race would be a procession, because of the lack of overtaking opportunities.

    Rain did not mix things up because it didn't happen despite a 50 per cent chance. Instead, the safety car came out twice to produce last night's unusual results. Previously uncompetitive Alonso started the race from 15th on the grid, but got a fillip from teammate Nelson Piquet Jr when the latter's crash brought out the safety car. Other highlights included Ferrari's Felipe Massa - who was in pole position - ripping off the fuel hose during a refuelling stop, and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen smashing his car into the wall.

    Williams' Nico Rosberg came in second, and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was third. The latter now leads in the drivers' championship.

    All the thrills and spills took place just 16 months after it was announced that property tycoon Ong Beng Seng would be the race promoter. His company Singapore GP and the government agencies involved have since spearheaded what has arguably been the greatest F1 show on earth. The glamour and sounds of Formula One, set against the atmospheric backdrop of a modern city nightscape, was a magical combination. What the majority of Singaporeans used to watch only on television was actually in their town and for the 100,000 ticket holders, it couldn't have been more thrilling.

    The frenetic preparations culminated at 8pm last night when the five red lights went out and the 20 cars on the grid, with Massa in pole position, zoomed off with their tyres smoking. The 1,500 light projectors supplied by Philips lit the circuit so well that no one even thought about anything else except the speeding cars. With 3.2 million watts of electricity, they were four times as bright as the usual lighting in a sports stadium. Raikkonen said that it was 'like racing in daytime'.

    As a street circuit, Singapore's is the second slowest on the calendar, after Monaco. The maximum speed is 280 kmh and only one-fifth of the 5.067 km track - in front of the pit building - is new. The $40 million pit building itself is also the only permanent structure and the three-storey building housing the race facilities took only 10 months to build.

    The pit building also houses the paddock club, which boasts the most expensive of the 180 corporate hospitality suites available. The hospitality there was impressive, with a special lifestyle area not found at other circuits. This alfresco section provided live music by a band to entertain guests enjoying facilities such as a champagne bar, hawker stalls serving roti prata and teh tarik, a merchandising outlet and even a spa.

    But the rest of the infrastructure seemed like it was completed at the last minute. One Honda race engineer commented that upon his team's arrival last Tuesday, the place looked like a 'building site'. Little wonder because the landscaping was unfinished, there were muddy pools of water along the pathways, and construction materials littered the sites below the grandstands. As late as last Thursday - a day before practice sessions began - some toilets at the paddock club did not have running water yet.

    Even over the weekend, some spectators heading to the pit building on foot from Marina Square had to cut across flower beds and construction sites.

    But as the Honda race engineer concluded, the finishing touches were quickly put in place and he was impressed by the 'great circuit'.

    The track winding around the Marina Bay area has visual assets too. It shows off the Singapore skyline to perfection. The F1 cars zipped by landmarks both old (such as the Old Supreme Court and Fullerton Hotel) as well as new (the Esplanade and Singapore Flyer).

    With 500 million television viewers per race, the debut race has given Singapore's image a tremendous boost. On television though, the concrete barriers and high fencing that completely ring the track do not show off the landmarks well from the driver's point of view, unlike Monaco's more recognisable images. Only from a higher camera angle do TV viewers get more attractive glimpses of Singapore.

    And unlike Monaco, the Marina Bay circuit is flat as a runway, although it is as bumpy and twisty as the principality's.

    However, a street circuit also meant that there were extensive road closures and large swathes of fenced off areas. Those working in the vicinity complained of poor access, while shopkeepers faced dwindling numbers of customers. But there are also happy merchants. Team members were seen loading up on food and drink supplies at the Carrefour hypermart. At least one helped himself or herself to a supermarket trolley too, which was wheeled back to the paddock area.

    After the race though, it was clear the surrounding infrastructure could not cope with the crush of departing spectators. Access to the Raffles City MRT station, for example, was relatively easy when walking through the Marina Square shopping mall. But where the crowds converged on One Raffles Link's narrow escalators designed for tenants of an office building, there was massive and potentially dangerous congestion.

    However, the large number of security personnel and other event staff ensured that the general safety of all racegoers was taken care off. But one thing is certain - the many lessons from this first year's events will be learned and carefully applied for next year's race.

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    Default Rich & famous out in full force for S'pore's inaugural F1,00.html?

    Published September 29, 2008


    Rich & famous out in full force for S'pore's inaugural F1

    Historic race draws royalty, celebrities, millionaires from Asia and beyond


    THE rich and famous were all out in full force over the weekend as the lure of being a part of history in the making proved too great to ignore.

    Celebrities all: (from left) Francis Yeoh, chairman of YTL Group, actress Michelle Yeoh with her nephew, Vertu CEO Alberto Torres, renowned flautist Andrea Griminelli and Indochine boss Michael Ma at the Vertu launch event at Indochine

    From royalty to high ranking government officials, celebrities to multi-millionaires, Singapore's inaugural Formula One Grand Prix boasted a veritable list of who's who, hailing from Asia and beyond.

    Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew attended the Grand Prix yesterday evening. Upon arrival, MM Lee was received by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, and greeted the latter by saying, 'It's come true.' Mr Ecclestone had first broached the idea of bringing the F1 here to property tycoon Ong Beng Seng some 20 years ago.

    Other dignitaries present at the race included Malaysia's head of state, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin as well as Brunei Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah.

    Bollywood stars Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta and Imran Khan were at the Force India suite - the racing team is co-owned by Vijay Mallya - while renowned actress Michelle Yeoh and Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela were also in town for the race.

    Sukowati Sosrodjojo, CEO of Rekso Group - which owns Raffles Jimbaran Bali and has majority shareholding in tea manufacturing company PT Gunung Slamat - flew down to Singapore with his family to watch the F1. Last year, the Sosrodjojo family was ranked 21 on Forbes' 40 richest Indonesians list with a net worth of US$355 million.

    Of course, any F1 Grand Prix would not be complete without the accompanying glitz and glamour.

    The Queen of Malaysia, Tuanku Nur Zahirah, attended Stylo Fashion Grand Prix on Friday night, an invite only gala event at the Mercedes-Benz Centre that was also attended by local celebrities and socialites. Dubbed the Scarlet Mansion, the event was said to have cost over $500,000.

    Taiwanese actress Hsu Dee His as well as Indian stars Mahima Chaudhury and Mandira Bedi made an appearance at Johnnie Walker's private party at Amber Lounge on Friday night.

    The MillionaireAsia Private Aviation Show, which was held for the first time, clearly benefited from coinciding with the Grand Prix weekend as it saw an influx of 300 high net worth individuals from Singapore and the region over the two days (Sept 26 and 27).

    'We have four buyers in the process of signing,' said organiser MillionaireAsia's managing editor Brian Yim, who added that the various aircraft - two helicopters, a private jet and a propeller plane - had a combined value of some U$18.4 million. The buyers, mostly businessmen, included one Indonesian who was looking to pick up a helicopter for about US$4 million. 'We also had a lot of interest in private jet chartering,' added Mr Yim.

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    Default PM: The buzz will be valuable for Team Singapore,00.html?

    Published September 29, 2008

    PM: The buzz will be valuable for Team Singapore

    Nation has shown its best, feedback so far has been positive


    (SINGAPORE) Singapore's successful hosting of its inaugural Formula One Grand Prix will generate a great deal of valuable buzz that will prove beneficial for the country, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

    Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the event last night, he highlighted that Singapore had shown its best and feedback so far has been positive. 'It turned out well. The stands are full, people are enjoying . . . visitors are impressed,' he commented.

    The race also gave Singapore a platform to network with investors as the Economic Development Board (EDB) hosted a lunch for its corporate clients over the weekend. 'It was a chance for us to meet them, network and renew relationships,' PM Lee said.

    However, pointing to traffic congestion and poor retail sales for some businesses, the prime minister also said that the government would work on ironing out the kinks for future races. 'We will see how we can minimise inconveniences,' he said, suggesting implementing road closures at most two days before the race. Road closures kicked in as early as Sept 20 in different phases and will continue until this Thursday.

    While Orchard Road retailers seem to have benefited from the 40,000 plus tourists who are in town for the race, business for some stores within the Marina Bay circuit dipped in the earlier part of the week.

    The Land Transport Authority had previously warned that traffic capacity on major roads connected to those that are closed off will see capacity drop by 30 per cent and give rise to delays and congestion.

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    Default Historic night race wows world

    Sep 29, 2008 Monday

    Historic night race wows world

    Thrills and spills mark Fl's debut in Singapore

    By Leonard Lim

    The race yesterday, ending in a surprising win by Renault's Alonso, was electrifying. The crowd jumped to its feet at the start and remained standing for most of the event. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

    ON A night when sporting history was made, the big winners were Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Formula One and its fans, and Singapore.

    Over 100,000 spectators, close to half of them tourists, turned up in the heart of the city to witness the world's first F1 night race yesterday.

    Thousands more watched it on TV at home, at parties, and at nightspots. Many others who were downtown did not catch sight of the cars, but heard the howl of F1 engines and said it was something not soon forgotten.

    And after an incident-packed two hours which saw several crashes and a horribly botched pit-stop involving pre-race favourite Felipe Massa of Ferrari, they were left hungry for more.

    The race, won by Alonso - who had written off his own chances barely 24 hours earlier after developing an engine problem in qualifying - served up plenty of thrills for spectators and a worldwide TV audience estimated at 500 million.

    There were three crashes, several lead changes and wheel to wheel action.

    But while locals and foreigners alike said the race was quite the treat, they reserved the bulk of their praise for Singapore.

    Many agreed the $150 million tab for staging it was worth it.

    Said bank executive Joanne Lim, 27: 'To actually prepare to host the F1 in just over a year was amazing. Our successful staging shows the world the Singapore brand of efficiency.'

    Foreigners vowed to return next year - Singapore has a five-year contract to host the race - charmed by what they had seen.

    Said Briton Simon Crosse, 44: 'This is my first visit, and I've been overwhelmed. I've been to about 15 other Grands Prix, and this is the best.

    'The night atmosphere, the organisation, it was just fantastic.'

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave the event the thumbs-up from the Pit Building yesterday, after watching part of the proceedings on track.

    'The race itself is one thing. I think the audience, we've got the stands full, people are enjoying themselves and we've got a lot of publicity from this for Singapore.

    'I've been watching it on TV the last couple of nights, not watching the cars, but watching the skyline, to see whether the skyline shows up and we see Singapore showing off its best.

    'And I think that it's a city we can be proud of, and this is a valuable buzz, publicity for us around the world, which will benefit us in many ways.'

    The praise flowed from many other quarters.

    The sport's supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, called Singapore the 'jewel in the crown of F1'.

    Across the world, newspaper and TV reports hailed the event as a stunning success. Writing in London's Sunday Times yesterday, for example, columnist and former race driver Martin Brundle called the Republic a 'world-class venue'.

    Of night racing, he added, 'all of the senses are heightened, and the atmosphere...was electrifying'.

    The accolades mean that two of the main aims of hosting the race - global exposure for Singapore and bolstering the Republic's reputation as an entertainment and events capital - have been met.

    It is early days yet to tell if the other aim - boosting tourist receipts - has been met as spectacularly, but several entertainment and food outlets said business was definitely up over the weekend.

    Indochine chief executive Michael Ma said: 'We've been extremely busy, roughly doubling our business over the weekend. It was a boon, especially for our Orchard and Clarke Quay outlets.'

    Many Orchard Road retailers also said business was up by about 20 per cent over the weekend, thanks to the big influx of tourists.

    To be sure, not everything went off without a hitch.

    Despite an extensive business continuity plan, for instance, stores in the Marina area were hit by road closures which left many tenants twiddling their thumbs over the weekend.

    Parts of the Marina Bay circuit also got the thumbs-down after Friday's practice sessions, especially the bumps in some parts and the high kerbing after St Andrews' Road.

    But after organisers fixed the problems, drivers were effusive in their praise.

    Said championship leader Lewis Hamilton: 'The most impressive thing for me is what an amazing job they have done here in Singapore to prepare the circuit.

    'I think they did a tremendous job.'

    The race itself? It was practically consigned to second place behind the praise for Singapore, but for the record: Nico Rosberg of the BMW team followed Alonso home in second place, with Hamilton finishing third.

    Massa ended 13th out of 15 finishers, after he roared out of the pit lane with a fuel line still attached to his Ferrari.

    The result leaves Hamilton on 84 points, seven ahead of Massa in the world championship standings with three races left.

    [email protected]


    'The race is lost. You can't overtake here and I'm starting from 15th, so I will be going out just to lap the track, but it's over already.' - Race winner Fernando Alonso, after his car developed mechanical problems during qualifying on Saturday night

    'Fantastic. The first podium of the season and the first victory. I can't believe it right now, I need a couple of days to realise that we could win a race this year...' - Alonso, after claiming his first win of the season last night

  12. #12
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    Sep 29, 2008 Monday

    And the winner is...Singapore!

    Republic hosted a great F1, rivalling Monaco's - let's do better next year

    By Sandra Davie, Senior Writer

    IT WAS an unexpected but nonetheless stunning victory for Formula One's two-time champion Fernando Alonso and his Renault team on the racetrack on Sunday, but the real winners were Formula One and Singapore in pulling off a race that was action-packed and equalled the glamour of the yearly spectacles at Monaco.

    Singapore had wanted to join the Formula One race circuit for over two decades now, but only set the date last year.

    The Government had agreed to foot 60 per cent of the $150 million annual bill to host the race for the next five years in the hope that it will showcase the Republic as a global player in the 21st-century economic landscape and will boost tourist arrivals.

    Did it work? Was it money well spent?

    Briton Jamie Symmonds, an ardent F1 fan and now a Singapore convert, summed up the sentiments of many a visitor when he said: 'Wow, Singapore... Wow. I am blown away.'

    As the 38-year-old bank manager said, the three-day races and the activities wrapped around them had all the ingredients that makes F1 one of the most watched sport - that heady mix of danger, glamour and exclusivity.

    For hard-core F1 fans, Singapore's debut on a racing calendar could not have been better scripted. With one point separating McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa, the championship shootout battle was highly anticipated.

    There was also the element of the unknown as F1 organisers took a shot in the dark and decided to move the race start to 8pm, instead of the usual 2pm.

    Add to that the fact that the drivers had to manoeuvre on a new track and the weathermen had predicted a high chance of the track being lashed by a thunderstorm. Fans were fired up by the possibility of crashes or drivers making crucial driving mistakes.

    No wonder then, that Singaporeans, who were initially tepid about the race, clamoured for race tickets closer to the weekend. Some like sales supervisor Lim Teh Jin paid $1,000 for a $298 ticket. Never mind that he can't tell the pit from the paddock. He wanted to witness Singapore make history.

    The race for pole position on Saturday and the final shootout on Sunday did not disappoint.

    On Saturday, with Massa grabbing the pole position, Hamilton coming in a close second and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in third position, Singapore could not have asked for a better front trio on the starting grid.

    The race proper on Sunday was even better. From the word go, it was a race packed with action and drama, both on track and in the pits and it ended with Spaniard Alonso gaining from the shift in the balance of power after a crash by his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr on lap 15.

    The 100,000 spectators leapt to their feet at the start and remained standing for much of the two hours.

    The cars battling for lead position as they streaked past distinctive landmarks like the Singapore Flyer, City Hall and the Esplanade at 300kmh, were a stunning spectacle.

    F1 officials like Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug gave the Singapore setting a glowing review, calling it the 'best pictures ever seen in in a movie'.

    It was enough to make any Singaporean's heart swell with pride. F1 fans who had come from overseas vowed to return.

    Singapore also shed its staid city-state image off the track and showed how to throw a great party. There were lavish soirees for the rich and famous and for the rest there were massive dance parties, where an army of top DJs, such as Johan Gielen from the Netherlands and Britain's Rob Wilder and Carl Cox, worked the decks at clubs.

    Americans Janine Tindle, 27, and Carly Verdane, 28, who had stationed themselves at the Ministry of Sound to do some celebrity-spotting, declared Singapore the 'Cannes of the East'.

    No doubt it was a big, big step forward for F1 and Singapore's ambition to become as a 'global city with buzz'.

    What remains to be seen though is whether Singapore will be able to repeat the feat and draw in the accolades and even more tourist dollars that will be much more needed next year.

    For many Singaporeans, all the praise and festivities of the race weekend did not completely chase away the economic storm clouds that had gathered in the last few weeks.

    The Government had already warned that economic growth is expected to fall below 4 per cent this year against 7.7 per cent last year, and Singapore is on the verge of slipping into a technical recession, with two consecutive quarters of contraction.

    Some took comfort in a report released this week by ING and Formula Money, an industry publication, which claimed that nations that held F1 events had a return of 553 per cent on their costs because of higher retail and tourist revenues.

    Hotels that have rooms with a vantage view of the race circuit such as Swissotel The Stamford, are encouraged by the advance bookings which poured in. Some 350 rooms have already been snapped up at the Swissotel.

    Still, some remain less buoyant about the future of F1 in Singapore. Like Mr Michael Ma, group chief executive of the IndoChine Group, who complained of excessive road closures and businesses such as hotels being too opportunistic and not giving F1 fans value for money.

    He warned: 'Next year, Singapore will no longer be the newest venue on the racing calendar. Singapore has to do much, much better next year.'

    He has a point. The novelty of Singapore being a new race circuit and hosting a night race will not be there next year, as Abu Dhabi will host its first race next year and countries like China and Australia are also looking at making the switch to hold their annual races under the floodlights, instead of daylight.

    Race organisers and businesses must also remember that by September next year, the economic downturn would be felt much more deeply. They have to price things just right to lure back the 50,000 F1 spectators who flew in from as far as Europe and the United States for the weekend.

    F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone heaped high praise on Singapore on Saturday when he put it on par with the Monaco and declared it 'the other jewel on the Formula One crown'.

    Singapore must pull out all stops to put on a bigger, better, bolder show next year, if it wants its F1 future to sparkle.

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    Sep 29, 2008 Monday

    F1 race: A valuable buzz for Singapore

    Race televised worldwide showcased Singapore to the world, says PM Lee

    By Terrence Voon

    THE Singapore skyline all aglow, that was beamed across the world last night, was a picture that brought a proud smile to the face of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

    It depicts a vibrant city, 'a city we can be proud of', he said, drawing reporters' attention to the TV images of the history-making Formula One night race held here over the weekend.

    'I've been watching it on TV the last couple of nights, not watching the cars, but watching the skyline, to see whether the skyline shows up and we see Singapore showing off its best,' he said on the sidelines of the race before he handed the trophy to winner Fernando Alonso.

    One image especially struck him: a lit-up Benjamin Sheares Bridge with regular traffic on it and F1 cars racing underneath. 'It's a quite a unique scene and there are very few places in the world where that would happen.'

    PM Lee added: 'It is is a valuable buzz, publicity for us around the world, which will benefit us in many ways.'

    F1 racing is reportedly a money-spinning sport event, ranked among the top three with the Olympics and World Cup soccer in raking in millions in tourism.

    However, for Mr Lee, the impact on business leaders is as significant.

    He cited a lunch on Saturday that the Economic Development Board had with 'some of their corporate clients who are investing in Singapore big time'.

    Pointing out that they had gathered here because of the F1, he added: 'It's a chance for us to meet them, network, and renew our relationship with them.

    'You'd be surprised how many of them have a special interest in F1. And they were telling me how impressed they were with the arrangements and with the race. It was something different, a night race, and it adds something to the sport, and would put Singapore on the map.'

    However, the inconveniences were not lost on him. He noted the traffic jams, workers having to leave their cars at home and take the train to work plus lousy sales suffered by some retailers.

    'We will see how we can minimise these inconveniences,' he said.

    One area of improvement he highlighted is the duration of the road closures.

    'Because this year we didn't know how long it would take us to put the equipment up and to set up the circuit, so I think they started closing some roads even last weekend. That's a long time to be disrupted.'

    One idea the organisers are toying with, he said, is to see if it was possible to do it a day or two before the race.

    Mr Lee also alluded to the view among some that the event, touted as the biggest held here in recent years, had left out the man in the street.

    On the contrary, the sport has a strong following among Singaporeans, he said.

    'For example, there're 1,000 Singaporeans who have volunteered to help to run this race...many are enthusiasts.'

    Among them, he discovered, was a member of his staff, whom he asked 'to 'educate me on what this race is about'.

    'I got a five-minute crash course as to how the race is run and what the scores are, what the rules are,' he said, adding with a laugh: 'So today, I'm a bit less ignorant than otherwise I'd be.'

    [email protected]

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    Published September 30, 2008


    High-octane glitz and glamour


    CHAMPAGNE and deep-cushioned seats were a reminder last weekend that the Formula One experience goes beyond the race. Luxury trackside amenities and exclusive parties showed that if you had the money to spend, you could have quite a different F1 experience than entry-level ticket-holders.

    Bold and the beautiful: Esplanade CEO Benson Puah, HPL's Ong Beng Seng and F1's Bernie Ecclestone at the President's Challenge F1 Charity Luncheon

    While last Friday's practice sessions were still under way, an ultra-exclusive party at Amber Lounge kicked off outside Millenia Tower. The glamorous lounge, which follows F1 to selected races, and is an object lesson in how to set up a tent as luxurious inside as any club, with chandeliers and a startlingly high-fidelity sound system.

    Partygoers arrived at Amber Lounge tables to find buckets of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Tiger beer waiting for them, along with free-flowing drinks all night from an extensive menu. Amber Lounge security had to turn away people from the post-race party on Sunday after selling out tickets, which cost as much as 7,250 euros ($15,000) for a table of eight.

    Last Friday's party highlights also included Stylo, thrown by Mercedes-Benz at its Alexandra showroom. 'There were so many people that even if the F1 drivers had turned up, no one would have noticed them,' joked local singer-composer Dick Lee. But Euan Shand, co-owner of Scottish whisky company Duncan Taylor, was unimpressed by the small bar, which quickly ran dry, leaving attendees incredulous and thirsty.

    While revellers were busy making sure they were at the hippest parties, the faces conspicuously missing from most of the festivities were those of the F1 drivers themselves. Other than making scheduled appearances at news conferences and public events, few of them turned up at the night-time parties.

    Two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen was the only race celebrity to turn up at Amber Lounge on Friday night, which probably reflects how tiring it was on the track. After Sunday's race, however, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, David Coulthard and Jenson Button were seen at Amber Lounge, though second-place winner Rosberg had more to celebrate than Raikkonen, who finished 15th after a crash.

    Although the Ferrari team RSVP-ed for an invitation-only party at Keppel Bay Marina's Prive, only Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr showed up, sullen from having crashed out early in the race. But even without the F1 VIPs, Prive's waterside location was a refreshing breather from the mad rush to leave the race area.

    The Paddock Club was clearly the place to be if you wanted to stay close to the action while still being sufficiently insulated by creature comforts. Located directly above the team garages, Paddock Club members had bird's eye views of the race cars when they pulled in for pit stops.

    All of the air-conditioned Paddock Club suites boasted full catering. Not every suite had food of equal quality, but the best selections included luxury items such as lobster laksa and roasted ribeye steak. For some spectators, the best part was the free-flow of such drinks as champagne and wine.

    The Paddock Club hospitality suite sponsored by Philip Morris stood out with its plush sofas, which allowed the company's trade partners to lounge in style while watching the race through floor-to-ceiling windows.

    For those who wanted to get closer to the action, there was a VIP grandstand area accessible only from the Paddock Club, with a bar at the top and clean toilets nearby - in stark contrast to the portable toilets most of the other spectators had to contend with.

    The only blemish on the otherwise slick Paddock Club experience were inadequate transport arrangements. The same fleet of shuttle buses serviced both the Paddock Club and general grandstand crowds, which meant you either had to leave before the end of the race, linger until the crowd dispersed or wade into the throng with everyone else.

    Race celebrity Mika and company at Amber Lounge party

    Nelson Piquet Jr arriving at Prive with ITV presenter Charlie Webster

  15. #15
    Today Guest

    Default More 300+km/h Roar For Singapore

    More roar for Singapore
    Ian De Cotta
    Thursday, 31 October 2008, 0836 hrs

    Spanish MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo

    Now that Singapore has established itself as a premier venue for Formula 1™, get ready for the biggest and fastest thing on two wheels.

    MotoGP, the motorbike equivalent of F1™, is set to make its debut here as early as 2011 when Singapore’s first permanent race track is completed. Speaking from his Madrid office in Spain, MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta told TODAY that his company Dorna Sports, which holds the commercial rights to MotoGP, has signed an agreement with a Singaporean company to stage a round of the 18-leg world championships here, when the planned track is completed.

    The 61-year-old Spaniard, who is to Moto-GP what Bernie Ecclestone is to Formula 1™, also said that Singapore is an important part of the sport’s growth plans, as it is a key financial centre in the middle of an important region of the world.

    Although TODAY is unable to name the Singapore promoter, who sealed the deal in Madrid about two months ago, due to contractual sensitivities, Ezpeleta said: “Yes, I can confirm that we have signed an agreement with a promoter to stage a round of the motorbike world championships in Singapore.

    “But it depends when the permanent track you are going to build will be completed. I understand it will be up in three years’ time, so you can have a race there as early as 2011, if not 2012.”

    Matching Formula 1™

    MotoGP motorbikes can reach top speeds of about 340kmh, compared to 370kmh for F1™ cars, and Dorna claim they have an average television audience of about 350 million viewers across 200 countries for each race.

    In terms of economic impact, organisers of the MotoGP event at Laguna Seca, California, say the annual event there contributes about US$100 million (S$146 milion) into the Monterey area surrounding the track, which is on par with spill-off revenues generated by F1™ races.

    But unlike F1™ - with some Grands Prix held on street circuits, including Singapore - MotoGP hold all their races on purpose-built racing circuits.

    Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, said at last month’s F1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix that the permanent circuit in Changi is on track to be completed in 2011. Although 20 hectares have been allocated for the project, he also said the Government is willing to consider releasing more land should there be a need.

    And despite the difficult economic climate, Singapore Sports Council chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik said that plans for the track will go ahead. “The Changi racetrack is a major component of SSC’s overall motor sports industry development plan in Singapore and it is intended to be funded by the private sector,” said Oon.

    “The current financial climate will have an impact on the types and number of bidders that we will be able to attract. Nonetheless, it can only serve to improve their quality and proposals. Weaker players are unlikely to participate while stronger ones will need to put together even better proposals that will enable them to secure financial backing. Based on the feedback we’re receiving, potential investors are still upbeat about the project.”

    Friendlier Ticket Prices

    In their regulations for 2008, the sport’s world governing body, the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), has stipulated that tracks hosting MotoGP races must be at least 3.5km long.

    But Ezpeleta would like to see them longer than that. “We prefer a race track with a length of at least 4km to 4.5km, but safety is our top priority,” he said.

    “It would be good also if the track could hold at least 70,000 people, but I am leaving that to the promoter in Singapore to decide.

    “Asia is important to MotoGP’s growth and Singapore is at the centre of it, that is why we want to hold a round there. But like I said, my agreement with the promoter in Singapore is subject to the track being built.”

    There is an added attraction to MotoGP, as ticket prices are far more affordable. At the Malaysian MotoGP race earlier this month, a seat at the main grandstand cost about RM230 (S$95), compared to about RM1,800 for the same seat at the Formula 1™ race there in April this year.

    But Ezpeleta, who has an “unwritten agreement” with Ecclestone to ensure their events don’t clash, said: “If Singapore’s F1™ race is in September, we will have no choice but to plan a MotoGP race to be held there in early 2011.”

  16. #16
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    Default F1 In The Air By 2010?

    F1 in the air by 2010?
    Singapore could be the first Asian country to host the Red Bull Air Race

    Jermyn Chow
    The Straits Times
    Tuesday, 4 November 2008

    The world-famous Red Bull Air Race pits the world's ace pilots flying agile and lightweight racing planes through a maze of inflated conical air gates, called pylons. -- Photo: Reuters

    The world-famous Red Bull Air Race pits the world's ace pilots flying agile and lightweight racing planes through a maze of inflated conical air gates, called pylons. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

    PERTH: Singapore is close to staging a leg of the world-famous Red Bull Air Race in 2010.

    Race organisers, who currently are in talks with Singapore tourism officials, said the prospect of Singapore hosting one round of the eight-leg world championships 'looks very promising'.

    A likely staging ground would be the Marina Bay area. The time-based air race pits the world's ace pilots flying agile and lightweight racing planes through a maze of inflated conical air gates, called pylons.

    The 1,200m by 800m aerial track can span land and water. The eight races this year were in in Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, San Diego and Detroit in the United States, and London, Rotterdam, Porto and Budapest in Europe.

    Britain's Paul Bonhomme won the final race in Perth on Sunday, while Austria's Hannes Arch was crowned 2008 champion.

    If both sides should sign on the dotted line, Singapore would be the first Asian country to host a leg of race, dubbed the Formula One race in the air.

    Mr Stefan Lehrmayer, director of international relations and acquisitions at the Austrian-based organiser Red Bull Air Race GmbH, told The Straits Times that the Singapore race would fall between April and June in the eight-month race calendar. He said that both sides were working to iron out location and safety issues.

    'We are looking for a perfect backdrop to frame the race, as well as ensuring that planes fly safely,' said Mr Lehrmayer, speaking on the sidelines of the race in Perth on Sunday.

    Responding to media queries, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) officials said that 'nothing was confirmed'.

    'The Red Bull Air Race has potential to showcase Singapore's beautiful skyline and would be a nice fit in our events calendar,' said STB's director for cluster development (events and entertainment) Lynette Pang.

    She was here with senior tourism officials, including STB's incoming chief executive Aw Kah Peng.

    If given the green light, the island would get to witness pilots Mike Mangold, Peter Besenyei and Kirby Chambliss burn up the skies here.

    'Ultimately, it must be a win-win situation and an event that will put Singapore on the map as a leading sporting and entertainment capital in Asia,' said Ms Pang.

    The optimism is backed by the success of the inaugural Formula One night race two months ago, which pulled in 50,000 visitors.

    Another crowd-pulling event is the 10-month-long Volvo Ocean Race that will sail into Singapore come January.

    Just last week, it was announced that Singapore will host one leg of the Moto GP from as early as 2011.

    In Perth, more than 50,000 people flocked to the shores of the Swan River on Sunday to witness the high jinks.

    The air race organisers are hopeful that the familiar green light to start the race, 'smoke on', will soon be heard from Singapore shores to thrill adrenalin junkies.

    Said Mr Lehrmayer: 'Singapore already has F1 on the road and in the sea. It's a good time to include one in the air.'

  17. #17
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    Default Singapore F1 Track Scoops Award

    Singapore F1 track scoops award
    Thursday, 13 November 2008

    The Singapore Marina Bay street circuit has come into the limelight again after winning international praise with its inaugural night race on Sept 28.

    The street circuit has won the title of world-wide Motor Sport Facility of the Year at the Professional Motor Sport World annual awards ceremony, held in Cologne, Germany on Nov 11.

    The Singapore Grand Prix venue was commended both for the revolutionary track lighting and the spectacular way in which it wove the track through the heart of the city.

    The Singapore Grand Prix venue went up against other candidates such as the European Grand Prix venue at Valencia in Spain, the new Toyota Racing Development chassis engineering building in Cologne and a new start-of-the-art motor racing facility at Sturup, near Malmo in Sweden.

    Jonathan Hallett, Director of Media and Communications for Singapore GP, praised the entire team involved in the event.

    'We are delighted that the efforts of the entire team, the invaluable contribution from all our fantastic partners, and the strong collaborative efforts from the government agencies and businesses, particularly those around the circuit, have been recognised by this award,' he said.

    The Professional Motor Sport World Awards, which are in their third year of recognising international motor sports endeavours, were selected by a distinguished judging panel from all areas of the sport.

    Other awards given out at the gala Award show in Cologne included Safety Innovation of the Year (awarded to the FIA Foundation for their work in improving safety in the World Rally Championship), and Team Principal of the Year (awarded to Franz Tost of Scuderia Toro Rosso).

  18. #18
    mr funny is offline Any complaints please PM me
    Join Date
    May 2006


    Published November 13, 2008

    S'pore Grand Prix, circuit roar off with top award

    They clinch title of Motor Sport Facility of the Year worldwide


    (SINGAPORE) Validating the recent success of Singapore's inaugural street and night Formula One race, the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and its circuit were awarded the title of Motor Sport Facility of the Year worldwide.

    Winning formula: The F1 venue here was lauded for its revolutionary lighting and its track in the heart of the city

    The venue was lauded for its revolutionary lighting and its track in the heart of the city, at the third Professional Motor Sport World Awards held in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday. It beat other short-listed candidates such as the European Grand Prix venue at Valencia and a new state-of-the-art motor racing facility in Sweden to clinch the award.

    However, hosting both a street and night race did not come easy.

    To achieve near-daylight conditions at night, organiser Singapore GP (SGP) commissioned Philips to create 1,500 custom-made lighting projectors that were installed along the 5.067km street circuit and pit lane. Each lamp has a luminosity of 3,000 lux - a hundred times that of normal street lighting - to ensure that the F1 drivers could race safely at night and also to meet high-definition television broadcast standards as some 30 million viewers tuned in worldwide to catch the live coverage.

    An elaborate traffic and transport management plan had to be hatched to facilitate both the setting up and dismantling of race infrastructure as well as the actual race itself. Road closures took place in a series of phases over a near two-week period, all the while working to ensure business continuity within the Marina Bay circuit.

    In addition, Singapore's $40 million F1 pit building was completed in some 10 months.

    'We are delighted that the efforts of the entire team, the contribution from all our partners, and the strong collaborative efforts from the government agencies and businesses have been recognised,' said Jonathan Hallett, director of media and communications for SGP.

    'We have received many compliments from around the world but this is an award given by the professionals who work in motor sports,' he emphasised, adding that this made it especially gratifying.

    SGP holds the rights to stage the Singapore Grand Prix for four more years. Next year's race is slated for Sept 25-27.

  19. #19
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    Apr 2008


    Button and Brawn celebrate title double in Brazil
    Alan Baldwin
    São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
    Sunday, 18 October 2009

    Brawn GP Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates becoming the 2009 Formula One World Champion after finishing fifth in the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo October 18, 2009. - Photo: Bruno Domingos, Reuters

    Jenson Button and his Brawn GP team were crowned Formula One™ champions with a race to spare in an action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix won by Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber on Sunday.

    Button finished fifth to become Britain's 10th world champion, with closest rival and team mate Rubens Barrichello suffering a late puncture and crossing the line eighth after starting his home race on pole position.

    Button, who belted out an off-tune "We Are The Champions, My Friends" over the team radio on his slowing down lap, was ecstatic after a rain-hit qualifying session had left him starting 14th.

    "Oh what a race. I am world champion, I am world champion. It's been such an interesting season," he said, embracing his mechanics before a congratulatory hug from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

    "It is really amazing. Today was such an awesome race and I am world champion. I never expected to be world champion in Formula One.

    Webber celebrated the second won of his career.

    "I think he (Button) can sleep better now because he's been absolutely bricking it after the last few races," Webber said with a smile. "He can enjoy (the last race in) Abu Dhabi."

    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, the 22-year-old German who had needed to finish in the top two to have a chance of staying in contention for the title, took fourth place on a hot and humid afternoon at Interlagos.

    Button, winner of six of the first seven races, now has 89 points to Vettel's 74 and Barrichello's 72.

    Brawn, who had needed only a point to be sure of the constructors' championship, become the first team to take the crown in their first full season.

    Third Place

    Poland's Robert Kubica was second for BMW-Sauber with McLaren's outgoing world champion Lewis Hamilton taking third place from 17th on the grid at the circuit where he clinched the title in a 2008 thriller.

    The safety car was deployed for four laps after chaos on the opening lap when Force India's Adrian Sutil, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Renault's Fernando Alonso crashed out.

    Trulli and Sutil, who had been third on the grid, then had a heated argument on the run off with the Italian clearly feeling more aggrieved.

    McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen finished the race with a stewards' investigation still pending after he left the pits with the fuel hose still attached, spraying fuel over Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

    The fuel then ignited, causing a flash fire near the pit lane wall.

    Button, who had prayed for dry conditions after the deluge on Saturday, was by then on a charge and putting it all on the line, overtaking Renault's Romain Grosjean, Williams's Kazuki Nakajima and Toyota's Kamui Kobayashi.

    Nakajima crashed spectacularly on lap 31 after touching Kobayashi's rear wheels.

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