Friday night, on the eve of the Singapore grand prix, I was indeed enjoying a ‘Singapore Sling’, the compulsory when-in-Singapore cocktail. Tradition dictates this should be savoured at the Long bar inside Raffles hotel. However I honoured that tradition on my last visit and a newer tradition says that when you’re invited to a pre-race party at the top of the world’s highest al fresco bar you say yes! http://www.1-altitude.com/#gallery_bar
We touched down at Changi International Airport on Wednesday night. As always, in this part of the world, the first thing to greet me was the heat; 30-32 degrees and 200% humidity. The last time I was in this neighbourhood I was visiting our factory in Hanoi, Vietnam. I distinctly remember having a word to someone about the heat then, but they still don’t seem to have fixed the problem.
I’d shared a flight with former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert and a gaggle of formula one’s entourage and fans. I was also there for the race, but having not quite secured a place on the starting grid, had a little bit of time to get reacquainted with the Lion city.
I’ve long been a fan of Singapore. It’s generally known as a transport hub; somewhere to stop off for a few hours or even a night or two before carrying on to more exotic regions. While its location does mean this makes sense, it also has a great deal of its own charm.
For one thing the food is miraculous. I’ve done a fair bit of backpacking around East Asia and can confidently say that the best grub is all here. Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian - all on offer on every street, often in the same restaurant or collection of street stalls. Singapore also has its own specialties - the greatly acclaimed, frightening looking and oddly expensive fish head soup being the pride of many restaurants in the area.
A tour of the historic district gave a quick reminder of Britain’s colonial past: back when moustaches were compulsory, as was dressing up for dinner, even at the equator. While there were a few comfortably dressed tourists sloping around, it was impressive to see how many locals stuck (literally) to collared shirts and blazers in the evening. If they can do smart-casual that well then us Brits really have no excuse.
I was staying at Quincy hotel in the Orchard shopping district. If you’re doing the Singapore stopover and only have a day, then Orchard road is all you need to know. They take their shopping seriously here and apparently dress for the occasion. Seeing so many statuesque women treating Orchard road as a mile and a half long catwalk, it was like I’d never left London fashion week.
The race is held on the streets of the city, rather than on a track, and starts after dark, both of which add to the excitement. Although the Singapore track is the second slowest on the F1 calendar (just slightly faster than Monaco) – it has captivated the drivers and fans alike. When it came to the racing, the 2013 edition wasn’t the most exciting race that’s ever been, quickly becoming something of a one-man show. Sadly for me that man wasn’t my favourite driver, Lewis Hamilton who came home in fifth place. It was clear from the practice sessions and qualifying that Sebastian Vettel was a class apart from the rest of the field. In the RedBull he seemed to have more down force than the other cars and was able to get the power down much sooner on the exit of the slow corners and, with Singapore having the most corners of all the F1 circuits, this advantage was always going to tell. On race day, unless you are a RedBull or Vettel fan, you would have wanted Nico Rosberg (who qualified alongside in 2nd) to overtake off the start so we could have a slightly more exciting race. Turn 1, Rosberg was ahead on the inside, turn 2 Rosberg goes a little wide and by turn 3 Vettel asserts his dominance and then, as he so often does, just ran away with it.
For those not so enamoured with the racing, the organisers had performers throughout the weekend and the day after. Rihanna, The Killers and Bob Geldof all took to the stage; Sir Tom Jones was up to his usual tricks, dodging wave after wave of knicker elastic…and that was just the first pair! By Monday it was the turn of Justin Bieber…and time for us to leave.
Thanks for a great week Singapore. Lewis and I will be back.
Above: Lewis Hamilton being shadowed (and by the looks of this picture mocked) by one of his race engineers.
Above: Three time world champion, Nikki Lauda, subject of the recent hit movie Rush dispensing unwanted sartorial advice to Niko Rosberg of team Mercedes
Above: A little impromptu modelling of ‘Pin Collar Shirts’’ casual range on Sentosa Island.
Above: Just casually walking along the beach, look what the tide washed in!!
As always, please remember to follow/like us on our social channels below: