The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix continues to attract international acclaim, with its successful debut on the Formula One calendar being rewarded with the Marina Bay circuit being handed the title of world-wide 'motorsport facility of the year'.
The first floodlit race venue in Formula One history was given the accolade at the Professional Motor Sport World annual awards ceremony in Cologne on Tuesday night [11 November], beating off competition from the new harbour-side circuit which played host to the first European Grand Prix in Valencia, the Toyota Racing Development chassis engineering building in Cologne and a new start-of-the-art motor racing facility at Sturup, near Malmö, in Sweden.
Marina Bay was commended both for the revolutionary track lighting that made racing after dark possible, and the spectacular way in which it wove through the heart of the city. The race attracted a sell-out 100,000 capacity crowd over its three days, while more than 30 million TV viewers are expected to have watched the event in the five main European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK - underlining the wisdom of pushing an Asian event into more palatable hours for the sport's heartland.
"We are delighted that the efforts of the entire team and the invaluable contribution from all our fantastic partners have been recognised by this award,” the event's director of media and communications, Jonathan Hallett, admitted.
“We have received a great many compliments from around the world since the running of the race in September, but this is an award given by our peers, the professionals who work in motorsport. It therefore is especially gratifying.”
Among the other winners on the night was Franz Tost, who claimed the 'team principal of the year' award by seeing off Chip Ganassi - who won the Daytona 24 Hours, Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series during 2008.
Tost guided Scuderia Toro Rosso from being seen as a back-of-the-grid under-achiever into a grand prix winner when Sebastian Vettel led from start to finish to claim the Italian Grand Prix. The former Minardi team built on its relationship with Red Bull Technologies to rise through the F1 ranks in 2008, threatening the drinks brand's 'works' team as well as regularly competing with the likes of Renault, Williams and Toyota during the year.
The Professional Motor Sport World Awards, now in its third year of recognising international motor sports endeavours, are selected by a judging panel from all areas of the sport, including team principals Michael Andretti, Trevor Carlin, Marc van Dalen and Armin Schwarz, track designer Alan Wilson and the directors of Ford Europe and Grand-Am, Mark Deans and Mark Raffauf respectively, as well as member of the media.
The gala ceremony also rewarded the FIA Foundation for its work in improving safety in the World Rally Championship, as well as 'testing technology of the year', 'vehicle development of the year and 'design engineer of the year'. Renault's R28 was nominated in the 'development' category after the team transformed a struggling midfield machine into a race winner by the second half of the year, while Red Bull designer Adrian Newey was among the penmen listed.