With my passport fresh from the embassy for my visa, we flew from Manila to Singapore to witness the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. It had been six years (my last was 2011) since I covered the only night race in the F1 calendar, so to say I was hyped would be an understatement.
Taking an Uber upon landing at the award-winning Changi Airport, we dropped our bags, rested a little, and headed out to the Singapore Tourism Board’s office near Orchard Road. We were pleased to find out that we were allocated sets of Padang Grandstand tickets, which cost 598 SGD (~22,400 PHP) each; these gave us access to Zone 4, as well as allocated seating on the Padang Grandstand.
We wanted to get to the circuit ASAP, so we opted to take a GrabCar. One of the best things about the event was that transportation was so organized. Aside from the MRT and the buses, which were extended later into the night to cater to racegoers, the organizers also coordinated with Uber and Grab in such a way that the passengers of both companies would conveniently have designated drop-off points.
The circuit looked all too familiar—as if nothing had changed since I last went six years ago. The energy and excitement were still palpable—people moving merrily about; racegoers cheering whenever a car would pass them. It was surely good to be back.
We headed straight to the Padang Grandstand and looked for our seats. We were just in time for the second practice session. According to F1 rules, practices are comprised of three sessions that are not mandatory for drivers to join, but they do provide an outlook of what the qualifying and the race proper would be like.
Reigning supreme on the first two practice sessions was Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing, who was betted early on to cinch the Singapore title. In the first practice, Ricciardo, who has won podium spots in the last three years in Singapore, finished the fastest lap for the track with 1:42.489, which is 0.095 less than the record previously set by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes in his 2016 win.
Ricciardo outdid himself on the second practice session though, timing an even faster 1:40.852. His teammate, Max Verstappen, was only half a second behind, making racegoers believe that Red Bull Racing was the most well-suited for the night race.
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who was with Red Bull Racing when I last saw him race in 2011, only placed 11th on the practice sessions, sadly. Filling in the third and fourth spots were Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, respectively, surprising the crowd somewhat.
After the practice sessions, we descended from the bleachers and eagerly awaited at the Padang for OneRepublic’s performance. We just saw them last year at the MTV Music Evolution Manila, and we were amazed how talented they were, so we really wanted to watch them perform live again.
And they didn’t disappoint! They played a power-packed set that included their classics like Apologize, Love Runs Out, Counting Stars, I Lived, Secrets, Good Life, and If I Lose Myself, as well as their newer hits like Kids and Wherever I Go. Their super talented frontman Ryan Tedder also performed awesome covers of Adele’s Rumour Has It, Beyonce’s Halo, and for the first time live, Ed Sheeran’s Happier.
It was an electrifying opening day to this year’s night race in Singapore, and we weren’t able to hold our excitement on what was to come next on-track and off-track.
Most photos courtesy of Singapore GP Pte. Ltd.