Tuesday, September 21, 2010

4 more days to Singapore Grand prix

The containers started streaming into the F1 paddock at Marina Bay yesterday morning, with Force India, Williams and Renault ahead of the queue and the first to get their cars unpacked and parked in their garages.

By mid-afternoon, the pitlane was a hive of activity, with cranes unloading the crates of equipment and cars under the direction of Formula 1 logistics handlers, DHL.
The crew of the 12 teams can expect things to be in order when they take over their respective garages to prepare for Formula 1's only global night race at the Marina Bay street circuit from Friday to Sunday.
On the circuit, it was a picture of calm as workers put the finishing touches, giving curbs a new coat of paint and washing the track along the start-finish straight.

In and out of the paddock, there was a noticeable absence of the tension that marked the week leading to the inaugural SingTel Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 and last year's race.
"We have definitely worked out most of the teething issues after staging two successful rounds of the Formula 1 Championship. Everything is much more smooth-sailing now," Jonathan Hallett, Singapore GP's media and communications director, told MediaCorp.
"Everything this year is proceeding according to plan. Similarly, the teams have also grown accustomed to adapting to the special logistics a street circuit like ours presents."

But the lack of frenzy belies an explosive order of business that will ignite when the cars start roaring around the track.
Arriving in Singapore for the 15th stop of the 19-leg season, only 24 points separate championship leader Mark Webber and Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and defending champion Jenson Button in the other Mclaren are between the Red Bull pair and with the five drivers desperate to be at the top step of the podium at the end of 61 laps on Sunday night, tempers threaten to be paper thin.
This is in part reflected in ticket sales, which have been brisk, selling out in 10 of the 16 categories and organisers anticipate a full house for all three days of the Grand Prix.

Justin Chew, Singapore Tourism Board's executive director for hospitality, F1 and sports, is also expecting a huge contingent of overseas fans to be at the Marina Bay street circuit.
"From what we can see of the take-up rate from overseas, the European crowd is returning in force after skipping last year's edition because of the economic

slowdown," Chew told MediaCorp.
"But we won't know the exact numbers until after the race."
Unlike previous years, hotels, too, around the circuit expect to be close to capacity during the weekend despite the high room rates of $1,000 and above.
Ernawati Setijo, Marina Mandarin's director of marketing communications, said they are nearing 80 per cent occupancy and expect to pass that figure in the next few days.
Said Setijo: "Without prior experience with Formula 1 in 2008, I think everyone entered the F1 weekend blind, trying to find what package worked.

"But all of us are wiser now. For example, we used to sell a minimum of four nights' stay, but we've rebundled it to two and it is working."

Ian dacotta - todaypaper

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