Singapore GP chief Syn says upcoming Grand Prix could be even hotter than usual
If you ask Colin Syn how the new rules in Formula 1 will affect the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2014, he will tell you it will make the race more exciting.
As deputy chairman of race organisers Singapore GP Pte Ltd, one would expect him to express such optimism.
Formula 1 cars experienced significant changes before the season got underway, foremost of which was the change from the loud, naturally aspirated 2.4-litre V8 engines to the quieter, more efficient 1.6-litre V6.
That change has drawn loud criticism from race fans all over the world, many of whom feel the sport isn't the same without the ear-shattering engine roar.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Syn, 67, explained in detail why he holds a contrary position - suggesting that the lighter engines could lead to more overtaking on the Marina Bay street circuit.
"The quieter engines were a surprise to everyone at first, but if you are a technically-inclined race fan, you'd find that the power they obtain from the smaller V6 is quite incredible," he said.
"And look at the racing. The last few races were very exciting because there were lots of overtaking... It bodes well for the Singapore circuit, because the cars are more nimble and agile.
"And I think further developments could make the cars even faster."
What should also make the Singapore night race more thrilling this year is the ongoing feud between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who are battling for the world drivers' crown this year.
At the Belgian Grand Prix last week, German driver Rosberg came under fire after a collision with team-mate Hamilton, causing the Briton to retire after four laps.
Rosberg currently sits atop the drivers' standings, 29 points ahead of Hamilton.
The Formula 1 circus moves to Monza on Sept 7, before the big tent arrives here from Sept 19 to 21.
Syn said: "I think the incident (in Belgium) was an accident, to be honest. But (the rift) was bound to happen, given their different personalities.
"We're very fortunate that the Singapore race is at such a crucial juncture of the F1 calendar (the 14th of 19 races).
"You make a mistake in Singapore and you may not be able to catch up after that. So, it's very exciting for Singapore."
Syn was part of the local consortium led by property tycoon Ong Beng Seng that negotiated with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management to bring the Formula 1 race to Singapore.
Since its inception in 2008, the event has consistently featured a world-class entertainment line-up to go with the racing along downtown Singapore, with the likes of Beyonce, Linkin Park, Maroon 5 and Justin Bieber thrilling the crowds in past editions.
While the nature of the Marina Bay street circuit makes significant track changes near impossible, the Singapore Grand Prix has benefited from an evolving skyline which has seen the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay sprouting up in recent years.
Showcased in front of sell-out crowds of 80,000 every year, Syn said Singapore GP are not resting on their laurels, and are always pushing hard to make the night race the "people's race".
"Overall, the event has tried to cater to everyone, in terms of sport, music, sights and sounds," said Syn, referring to the annual Rev Up Singapore! campaign, which includes school visits and behind-the-scenes tours for the public.
"Every year, we try to do better, not just different. The main aim is to improve; it's a working process."
As Singapore gears up for its 50th year of independence, Syn revealed that Singapore GP are looking into doing something special for the 2015 edition of the Grand Prix.
He said: "My favourite moments (of the Singapore Grand Prix) over the years have been the surprises, like in 2010 when we had fireworks go off as the winning car crossed the finish line.
"It was the first time fireworks were used in Formula 1, and the FOM (Formula One Management) were upset because we didn't inform them about it.
"Now, others have followed us - the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix uses fireworks as well.
"That was our moment. We did it, no one knew, and everyone was wow... For next year, we're going to keep it a surprise again. That's the best way."
While the Singapore Grand Prix continues to thrill audiences and grow in stature, Syn believes the Republic is a long way off from producing a local driver for Formula 1.
"It's a long shot. The sacrifices needed are enormous," said Syn, who used to race in the Singapore Grand Prix held at the old Upper Thomson Road circuit from 1961 to 1973.
"It's so competitive. Today, everyone in the world wants to be an F1 driver. And, to get into Formula 3 or 4, it would require at least a million dollars. You have to pay for it, you can't rely on skill alone.
"I don't think a Singaporean owning a team would help, either. (Malaysian) Tony Fernandes had a Formula 3 and GP2 team but they weren't very successful. And Caterham (which Fernandes previously owned) is gone now.
"The problem is Singapore doesn't' have a proper race track for drivers to prove themselves... But, at least, the new karting track (in Kranji) is a good start. There's a silver lining there."
"Many people don’t realise this, but with the new (V6) engines, you can hear everything the car does; the gear box, the wheels spinning and the squeaks as it drifts. That’s a nice difference from before (with the V8)."
- Colin Syn
COLIN SYN SAYS...
"I’m rooting for (Red Bull’s) Daniel Ricciardo to win in Singapore. He’s done such a good job for a young boy, winning three races. The other up-andcoming driver is (Williams’) Valtteri Bottas. The young ones are very good now."
"How do I measure success? When people I don’t know come up to me and congratulate me for a great race. Some of them have said it’s the best F1 ever, and that gives you real satisfaction."
TNP READERS GO-KART CONTEST
Win a go-kart slot at The Rev Up Singapore! Kartnival on Saturday by answering the following question:
Many professional Formula 1 racers got their start behind the go-kart wheel. Name two.
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