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31 MAR - 03 APR 2016

• Seeking to make Singapore a travel destination rather than a staging-post and a commercial hub, the city-state looked no further than Formula One. Their first event in 2008 was the 800th race in World Championship history; it changed the face of the city and added a breathtaking new dimension to Grand Prix racing.

• It was F1’s first night race – but you would never have believed it. No sooner had Valerio Maioli’s brilliant lighting system illuminated the sinuous city-centre track than everyone, sceptics included, was converted. The setting, with light gleaming on the colourful cars and the Singapore cityscape as its backdrop, was electrifying. ‘The Monaco of the East’ was born and is now the jewel in F1’s global crown.

• The circuit is centred on the Marina Bay precinct with its brilliant new additions to the Singapore skyline; it boasts no fewer than 24 turns, winding its way past a number of key landmarks like the Anderson Bridge, first used for bullock carts crossing the river a century earlier, the old law courts and of course the popular Singapore Flyer that overlooks pit straight.

• Felipe Massa’s Ferrari was on pole for the first race, but victory went to Fernando Alonso – with a little help, it transpired, from his Renault teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. The Brazilian’s crash on lap 14 at Turn 17 was later revealed to be part of a deliberate ploy to help Alonso, who had qualified down the back, recover ground. He did it so well that he won the race that has gone down in history as ‘Crashgate’ and cost two prominent paddock figures, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, their positions and their reputations.

• Lewis Hamilton loved Singapore from the start and went on to win the second Marina Bay race for McLaren. He also played a key part in the 2010 race, won by Fernando Alonso for Ferrari, when he clashed with Mark Webber’s Red Bull and retired but the Australian soldiered on for a podium that kept his title ambitions alive.

• In 2010 Sebastian Vettel owned Singapore as he did most tracks that year and left the Lion City needing just one more point to clinch his second straight drivers’ title, with Webber third as Jenson Button’s McLaren played the meat in a Red Bull sandwich on the podium. Last year Vettel launched his successful title bid with a four-race winning streak that began in Singapore, where he shared the podium with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

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