F1 family welcomes Singapore GP extension
Glitz and glamour make it a unique event on the racing calendar
To say that the Formula One family is delighted with the announcement of the Singapore Grand Prix's four-year extension yesterday is an understatement.
Many team officials and drivers lavished praise on the 10-year-old race that is now set to continue through to 2021.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: "Singapore is a fantastic showcase for our sport and a unique spectacle under the lights.
"But it's a demanding weekend for the teams - the ambient conditions make life in the garage tough, it's physically demanding for the drivers and challenging for the cars in terms of managing brake and tyre temperatures."
Not that the drivers mind.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit is one of the most gruelling tracks on the F1 calendar, requiring them to perform an average of 4,800 gear changes, compared to 2,000 for Silverstone and 3,100 for Sepang, while losing 4kg of sweat in the stifling humidity as they navigate a season-high 23 corners through 61 laps.
But, they love the challenge.
Force India's Sergio Perez said: "Singapore is definitely one of the toughest races in the season.
"It's so hot and humid; a real test for the driver, but I am well prepared for racing in the heat.
"It's hard to breathe, you are sweating a lot and the sweat goes in your eyes. But it's still a special night and one of the best races of the year.
"I have been in the points every time I have raced in Singapore and I hope I can extend my record. It's hard to single out a specific corner in Marina Bay because I really like them all.
"I love street circuits in general and this is a special lap.
"There's no room for error - the wall is always next to you; one mistake and you're out."
S'PORE GP UNPARALLELED
While others circuits such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have jumped onto the night-race bandwagon, the glitz and glamour of Singapore's on-and-off-track entertainment extravaganza has been unparalleled.
Said Haas' Romain Grosjean: "The atmosphere's pretty cool. Everyone loves it, especially the VIPs, who then go partying after the race."
Force India's Esteban Ocon added: "There's something special about Singapore. You race under the lights and the atmosphere is unique.
"It feels really glamorous and all the fans and guests are partying through the night during the race.
"There are a lot of beautiful buildings next to the track and, when they are all lit up at night, the place looks very beautiful."
In fact, the drivers love the Singapore GP so much that the largely European contingent doesn't seem to mind the time difference.
Some, like Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, even manage to squeeze some time in to help boost the retail industry here.
He said: "Even if I sleep the usual amount of hours, having to wake up at lunchtime gives me the feeling I'm allowed to sleep much more than during any other race weekend but still fit many things in during the day.
"Even if it's difficult, I sometimes try and do some shopping as there are many shopping centres in the city."
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier called the Singapore GP "a flagship event and an Asian jewel in the crown" and anticipates more success for an event that has attracted over 450,000 international visitors to the Republic and about $1.4 billion in tourism receipts.
He said: "The whole team look forward to Singapore each year.
"The combination of the humidity, operating at unusual times during the day and night while working to the European schedule, the floodlights, high walls and gruelling track lay-out all make for a truly unique Grand Prix, and an epic weekend of racing for fans in the middle of this great city.
"It's a fantastic spectacle for fans, teams and partners alike, who all love to experience the best of Singapore and enjoy everything the city and Grand Prix organisers have to offer.
"It's also a weekend that produces some of the best racing on the calendar and never fails to throw up some drama.
"Celebrating 10 years of the Singapore Grand Prix is a great achievement and we'd like to congratulate the organisers for reaching this milestone, at what is an incredibly impressive venue that teams and fans alike love returning to each year."