Inner Circle

Get Set, Go!

Yeoh Siew Hoon joins in the excitement of the annual Formula 1 weekend.

Get Set, Go!
As you hear and see these superfast monsters whizzing by, giving you a newfound appreciation of what “adrenalin-pumping” means.

I still remember the first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore seven years ago. From where I lived, I could see the build-up at work. I could hear the cars as they were put through the paces. I could see the city lit up like it’d never been before. 

However, no one can ever be prepared for their first F1 race. The deafening noise of the cars makes earplugs an essential part of the safety kit. The excitement feels almost visceral as you hear and see these superfast monsters whizzing by, giving you a newfound appreciation of what “adrenalin-pumping” means and why the race attracts legions of fans from around the world.

That first year was a bit of a bumpy ride, with people in the cities having to deal with a lot of unknowns. Taxi drivers complained about the disruption to traffic; retailers in the closed-off area lamented the loss of business. No one knew exactly how to get to the area or how to leave it – I recall having to walk miles and miles on a Saturday night to an area where we could finally hail a taxi.

The only certainty was that “failure is not an option” when I interviewed the organisers back then.

Seven years on, and it’s almost like F1 has become part of the Singapore landscape, and vice versa. Each year, millions of F1 fans see the city with its dramatic skyline lit up as the cars race more than 60 laps a night around the track.

Fans familiar with the world’s only F1 night race now know where to get the best views, which hotels to book, what tickets to buy, where the side events and parties are being held and which acts are coming to town. Residents, on the other hand, have got used to the fact that, come every September, the build-up begins and the town starts to buzz with pre-F1 excitement. 

This year was no exception. While there was some concern that the lingering haze from forest fires in Indonesia would affect the race, everyone was optimistic and, in the end, this year’s F1 was the biggest and most successful yet.

It was also the most fun, as far as I am concerned. While I do enjoy keeping up with the race and who the fastest racers are and the favourites tipped to win – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won for the third year in a row – I look forward to the concerts more.

In the early years, the concerts were the side attractions, almost an afterthought, but in the last couple of years, they’ve become events in their own right, attracting non-F1 fans to the weekend.

This year, three big names – Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi – were fielded for the Padang Main Stage, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Adam Levine proved his star power with the biggest crowds ever seen at an F1 concert.

The fact that we were all packed in like sardines didn’t stop the fans from enjoying themselves. It struck me that smartphones, while having an enormous impact on our daily lives, also have changed the face of concert-going – we seem to be busier taking photos and recording videos than just enjoying the live music.

Even Adam Levine was taken aback by the crowd, saying at one point, “There must be 17 million of you out there.”

Then it was up to Bon Jovi to close the F1 weekend after the fireworks had gone off to celebrate Vettel’s victory and the end of another successful race. Jon Bon Jovi proved he still had it in him – even at the age of 53 – to get everyone to sing Living On A Prayer with him.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience Singapore’s F1 weekend, be sure to watch out for next year’s event – it has once again proven to be the event of the year in Singapore.

 

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