Woke up around midday (Singapore time) as I’d planned to spend some time in the gym and in the rooftop swimming pool before I headed to the Marina Bay street circuit. I did spend an hour in the gym but then thought: “I’m on holiday, why am I killing myself?” so skipped the swimming session. “I will worry about the extra kilos gained when I get back to England” I thought. Coffee, then a shower and change and it was back down to the MRT station underneath the hotel to the circuit.
One thing had already struck me in the short time we had been in Singapore: The people. Friendly, helpful and most had a good grasp of English so it made everything fairly painless.
I arrived at the circuit during the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia qualifying session, the noise of their highly tuned flat-sixes reverberating around the confines of this street circuit. They sounded even better than the F1 cars. Ahhhhhh, Bliss! Then the Ferrari Challenge cars had their first 10-lap race just before the big boys emerged for their final practice sessions and their final chance to fine-tune their cars before the especially crucial qualifying session.
I never pass on an opportunity to watch F1 cars live, and even though I have been watching them up close for nigh on 3 decades, their performance still shocks. The way they effortlessly attain speed and seemingly shed it in a heartbeat never ceases to amaze me.
P3 done, it was time to wander around the circuit which wound its way around Singapore’s Marina Bay, winding around some of Singapore’s most iconic buildings such as the Marina Bay Sands and the ultra luxurious ‘olde worlde’ Fullerton Hotel. Truly a stunning circuit and location…….and it was even more gobsmacking at night.
Near the center of it all was the appropriately-named Makansutra Gluttons Bay. Never has a place been so aptly named, and never have I had food at a public event as tasty as I did here. Lovely street food, the like which I have never encountered at a Grand Prix with its usual fare of dry burgers, soggy chips and exorbitantly priced drinks.
As the qualifying hour approached and dusk turned to night, the humidity levels reached a staggering 70%! and the air temperature was a strong 29 degrees.
The Marina Bay street circuit was supposed to favour the Ferraris and the Red Bulls as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team has traditionally and strangely suffered from a lack of pace at this and other street tracks, but Lewis Hamilton seemed determined to tear up that script as he flew around the circuit to post a staggering time and set a new absolute track record of 1.36.015. It was an awesome lap, no, a perfect lap and for me, certainly one of his best.
The Tifosi were stunned into silence and a hush descended on the track.
Lewis Hamilton once again reminded us why he is considered one of the best-ever F1 drivers and I actually dread the day he decides to hang up his balaclava and helmet to focus on something else.