Works on the pit building complex for the Singapore Grand Prix officially started on Friday with a ceremony to break the ground at the site off Raffles Boulevard.

Measuring some 350 metres, the 'Pit Building' is a key piece of infrastructure for the Singapore Grand Prix, which will make its debut on FIA Formula 1 World Championship calendar on September 28, 2008.

The building, adjacent to Singapore's waterfront, will cost around S$33 million to complete and will hold 36 garages for 12 racing teams on the ground floor with race control facilities, winners' podium, media centre and commentary booths on the second floor.

Paddock Club hospitality lounges for 4,000 guests are on the second and third floors, while an open rooftop terrace caters for additional viewing opportunities.

In a simple ceremony, the event's guest-of-honour, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, minister for Trade & Industry, together with minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, deputy chairman and chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board Lim Neo Chian and Mr Ong Beng Seng, dug into the site to mark the start of works to construct the three-storey high building.

Calling the event 'an important milestone' in the development of a landmark tourism project, Minister Lim said the F1 race is already attracting 'an air of anticipation and excitement'.

"About three months ago, on 11 May, Mr Ong Beng Seng's Singapore GP Pte Ltd won the rights to stage one leg of the Formula 1 World Championships in Singapore, starting from next year," he continued.

"The working teams face the daunting task of building 20 per cent of the circuit and this Pit building from ground up. But Singapore is a 'City of Possibilities', so I have full confidence we will be ready for the 28 September 2008 race date.

"The F1 Singapore Grand Prix will be a mega event. Already, there is an air of anticipation and excitement surrounding the Singapore street race, and possibly the first night race on the F1 race calendar.

"For the Singapore Grand Prix, we have about a year from now until the race. The infrastructure required, however, needs to be ready in about nine months' time. The Pit Building that will rise from this piece of land we now stand on will be one significant milestone that all will watch closely.

"We look forward to next September, and the sound of race engines roaring to life and filling our city centre with much excitement for the first time. We must be prepared for the global audience that will see our beautiful city skyline right in their living rooms. Together, we will make the Singapore Grand Prix a success."

Getting the pit building off the drawing board was one of the first tasks for the race promoter, Singapore GP Pte Ltd, and the F1 inter-government agency working committee, chaired by STB's Mr Lim.

In his remarks this morning, Mr Lim gave an update on the project to date: "Next month, we hope to receive confirmation of the final circuit layout by the FIA, the international governing body for motorsports. Then it will be all systems go as the Land Transport Authority commences work on the construction and widening of road sections that will form the circuit," he explained.

"The FIA will also confirm soon whether Singapore will stage a race at night, and in so doing, become the first venue in the F1 calendar to do so. Preliminary lighting trials conducted in France last month. Another series of trials is scheduled for next month before the decision is taken by FIA.

"Obviously, there is still a lot more work to be done but we can all look forward with some excitement that in a little over a year, we can come back here to this very same spot to witness the thrills of F1 racing and the crowning of the first ever champion of the F1 Singapore Grand Prix."

"The Pit Building is at the very heart of Singapore's F1 action," added Mr Colin Syn, deputy chairman of the Singapore GP. "It not only technically supports all race-related activities but it is also home to the exclusive Paddock Club. We're very happy to be given the opportunity to be involved in the design and construction of the pit building. It's going to be very exciting seeing it take shape."

The 'Pit Building' is scheduled to be completed in nine months, by the end of May, well in time for the race in September.