The Singapore race weekend is a very bizarre one for the teams and drivers to work at, because of the time schedule of the night race, we essentially stay on Euro time which means going to bed at 4 or 5 am and then waking up at 2pm before going to the track around 4. It sounds ridiculous and it kind of is. F1 being F1, teams work to the finest detail to ensure that everyone is comfortable and everything is considered.
Our logistics people go out early to ensure that the hotels have thick enough curtains for the light not to come through and wake everyone up in the mornings. The catering teams serve us our meals as if we were in Europe as well, so at 2 pm we get breakfast with eggs, toast, cereal, at 8 pm we get lunch and then at 2 am we get dinner!
The former F1 race winner John Watson was down for the race and staying in my hotel. I saw him in the restaurant at 4 am and he was just perplexed because around us were Paul di Resta, Heikki Kovaleinnen, Timo Glock and plenty of team personnel.
‘Wattie’ came from an era before night races and before the attention to detail in terms of driver care and fitness that we have today. We had a fantastic debate on why we all felt it was important to work on these strange timings and sleep patterns so that the personnel are all on top form come the middle of the night.
The Singapore race has quickly turned into a favourite for drivers though, because of this unique schedule. For me, the strangest thing was to take my cycle out at 1am and go cycling under lights till 3 am. It’s weird, but at the same time, special experience to be out training hard while around you the rest of the city is asleep!
The organisers fortunately kept the lights on at the track so there were plenty of others running or cycling and making use of this unique opportunity.
The Singapore GP has hit the nail on the head as a business model — crucially they have managed to get the government on board and justify the race as a tourism expense. They chose to run at night which means that it’s held at a time that is convenient for the western world to watch on TV and also benefits the locals who can spend their entire days at home with their families and then head out for some entertainment in the evening, as you would if going to a movie or concert.
Having the race on the streets going past all of the beautiful architecture makes a great advertisement for the city and there is no doubt about it, when watching on television it truly makes the best spectacle on the planet.
I know so many people around the planet who watched the race on TV and said to themselves, “If we save up money to go to a race next year, Singapore will be high on our list of choices.”