Part Two

'Uniquely Singapore' is the strap-line on the country's tourism website, and that mentality is exactly what the organisers of the first Singapore Grand Prix hope to apply to the Formula One experience when it touches down next September.

Despite being billed as 'the Monaco of the East', the track layout will ensure that Singapore stands apart from F1's most famous event. Just minutes from exclusive five-star hotels, transport links and a vibrant entertainment scene, the circuit promises to be one of the fastest street circuits yet graced by F1 as it will be much wider and feature fewer tight turns than its Mediterranean counterpart. At ten metres, the narrowest and slowest parts of the Singapore track - at the Anderson Bridge and the National Day grandstand - are equivalent to the widest parts of Monaco.

Designed to give the drivers technical challenges and challenge their bravery to the full, the layout passes some of Singapore's most distinctive landmarks, as foreseen in the original plans back in 2005. That first layout has been closely traced by Kellogg, Brown and Root, the Melbourne-based architectural practice responsible for the Adelaide circuit which once hosted the Australian GP, and then expanded to make more of the surroundings.

Incorporating 24 turns of various radii, 14 left and ten right, the circuit includes Raffles Boulevard - complete with 300km/h kink - before the equally high-speed St Andrews Road takes the cars to the Anderson Bridge, a 100-year old feature of the city. Like Monaco, the circuit also features a sea-front section, with the more modern Esplanade Bridge taking the field past contemporary icons such as the Theatres on the Bay and the Singapore Flyer as it runs parallel to Marina Bay.

The layout is designed to have more obvious passing spots than Monaco too, with the end of Raffles Boulevard and the right-hander after Esplanade Bridge already earmarked as candidates for action.

The circuit also restores F1's complement of anti-clockwise venues to three after the demise of Imola, joining Turkey and Brazil as alternatives to the more common clockwise layouts.

In all, 1.2km of new roads are being built to accommodate F1, while a permanent state-of-the art pit building is being erected on the start-finish straight. Impressively, however, the construction work is being completed within a very tight timescale, as the organisers and co-operating government agencies are working to achieve in 18 months what many grands prix take two years to create.

Perhaps the most complex aspect of the entire project, however, is the lighting, which needs to satisfy not only safety criteria for the drivers, but also provide the right conditions for spectators, both at the track and watching, around the world, on television.

To that end, the organisers have contracted Valerio Maioli SpA, an Italian company that brings experience spanning more than 40 years, to install a bespoke lighting system with requirements specific to a street circuit.

As well as delivering optimal visibility for night race conditions, the system must also minimise glare and reflection from a wet surface or spray thrown up by the cars. Maioli plans to achieve this by using lighting projectors strategically positioned around the circuit, illuminating the action from one side of the road only to enhance the televisual aspect of the event, but being careful that the direction of the beam does not impair visibility should a driver spin and be facing the wrong way.

The logistical set up is vast, requiring 108,423m of power cables, 240 steel pylons, approximately 1600 light projectors with a total power requirement of 3,180,000 watts. At 3000lux levels, the lighting will be four times brighter than the lights at most modern sports stadiums.

As the light system is a temporary one, the set-up and dismantling needs to be as easy as possible to minimise disruption to everyday life. Because of the limited time-frame, it is be impossible to place the cables in underground ducts, so aluminium trusses - similar to those seen at rock and pop concerts - will be used to house the cables.

Power will come from a dozen generators, with back-ups in place should any fail. As a precaution, engineers will also be assigned to each generator, which can be quickly interchanged in the event of a problem. In an effort to minimise disruption should lights fail, neighbouring projectors will be powered by different sources in order to keep the track illuminated at all times.

Environmental concerns are also being addressed, with the lights set to be lower than the tree canopy to prevent unnecessary uprooting of trackside greenery.

The deal to stage the grand prix is currently for five years, with an option to extend the arrangement to twice that duration should the event prove to be a success.

With title sponsor SingTel coming on board in November to add one final piece to the jigsaw, corporate hospitality beginning to be snapped up and general admission tickets due to go on sale in the middle of January, it is hard to see how the Singapore can fail to set Formula One alight.



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