• September 30, 2016
    Last updated 8 minutes ago

abu dhabi grand prix

Singapore GP a glam event par excellence

Event compares to showbiz for its dramatic full-out action and picturesque backdrop

Ted Macauley, Special to Gulf News
15:12 September 17, 2016

If ever a Formula One race scene could be likened to showbiz for both dramatic full-out action and a picturesque backdrop, then the Singapore Grand Prix would surely top the ratings.

It is a glam event par excellence, raced under floodlights with an eye-catching skyline of silhouetted spectacular edifices towering over the street circuit designed and destined to thrill.

And, suitably,with perfect timing the stage is set for a showpiece clash to enliven an ever-increasing dramatic championship chase, a double-header featuring star performers Lewis Hamilton, the title pacemaker, but only two points clear, and Nico Rosberg, his relentless pursuer, Mercedes teammate and biggest foe.

Hollywood’s finest would be hard-pressed to script a more intruiging plot than the issue building up around Sunday’s 61-lap race with current champion Hamilton and Rosberg, the nuisance in his life, going hammer and tongs in a confrontation to restart the countdown on the 2016 world crown.

German Rosberg is on a high after two successive wins — Belgium and Italy — while Hamilton flopped. Each now has his own extra-special and desperate reason to romp to victory in Singapore. Hamilton to compensate for the embarrassment he endured at Monza and Rosberg to underpin his winning ways .

In stark contrast, the two drivers differed in their build-up to what could be the crucial turning point in the season: domestically minded daddy Rosberg embraced the break with his family in Monaco.

Meantime, Hamilton, ceaseless party-goer that he is, mingled with the glitterati, at the New York fashion week and kept company with his firm friend, movie mega-star Tom Hanks.

Now they are all set to give full value for money for the fans who will hugely throng the circuit over a weekend of expectation and one, I guarantee, that will be just as thrilling. Just to add to whatever problems are thrown up in the preparations for the grand prix, the rather bizarre event starts at 8pm and everything over the weekend is switched around to keep the body clocks of drivers and their back-up crews on European time. So, as an outcome, lunch is served at around 7pm, just before qualifying, dinner is 3am, and sleep is all day long with breakfast at four in the afternoon, a couple of hours short of sunset. Work that out!!!

“I just love it all,” grins Hamilton, relaxed and ready for the duel,” and I am raring to go. Monza, last time out, didn’t go to plan. But when I look at how far we have come as a team this season, from the position we were in, then I am in a phenomenal position.

“We are still in the lead in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships and there are still a great many things for me to achieve. Being here in Singapore is always a great event and a tremendous challenge with the heat and humidity.

“But it is a street circuit which I love. I know I’ve got a big fight on my hands witjh Nico and now Ferrari and Red Bull who will be on the pace I’m sure. I’ve been a winner here twice and I know my round.

“But I love a battle and I can’t explain how excited I am to see how it all works out on Sunday. One thing is sure: it is not going to be an easy, breezy drive.”

Rosberg, a winner seven times to Hamilton’s six this season, said: “The place will be buzzing. It always is. The atmosphere is terrific. Singapore has been an up and down circuit for me. I got my second ever podium here — in 2008 — but nothing since. And my target is to change that run of nowheres on Sunday.”

Their boss Toto Wolff can’t wait for the flag-off. And said: “This championship is going go all the way down to the final grand prix in Abu Dhabi. And we as a team will be putting in all our effort into ensuring both drivers get the preparation, backing and equipment to match their skills… in equal measure. No favourites.”

“I believe Sunday will give us a race to remember,” he promises.

I say, bring it on!!!!

— The writer is a motor racing expert.