And The Lights Go Out : Formula One’s Romance With Cities (Part 3)

Here it is! The last leg of our Formula One cities series.


14: Singapore Grand Prix

Circuit : Marina Bay Street
Schedule : September 18 – 20, 2015

The Singapore Grand Prix became part of the Formula One World Championship races in 2008. The races are held on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the first street circuit in Asia. The Singapore Grand Prix also holds the honour of hosting the first night-time event in Formula One history.

Fireworks over Marina Bay.
Fireworks over Marina Bay.

Back in 1961, there were motor races in Singapore initially known as the Orient Year Grand Prix. This was renamed the Malaysian Grand Prix, Singapore was part of Malaysia then. When Singapore became an independent nation, it was renamed the Singapore Grand Prix. The races were discontinued in 1973. An agreement among the F1 management, Singapore Tourism Board and Singaporean entrepreneur Mr. Ong Beng Seng was made in 2007 to bring the F1 Championships in the city-state. The night schedule also provides a convenient broadcast time for European audiences as well as local fans.

Marina Bay Street Circuit

The Marina Bay Street Circuit boasts a 5.0732 km (3.152 mile) track that twists its way at the heart of this vibrant city-state. It was designed by KBR, Inc., a modification of the original design initially proposed by Hermann Tilke. It uses the public roads around the Marina Bay area. It is one of the most challenging circuits, almost at par with the famed circuit of Monaco. Add to that the tropical Singaporean weather and it really challenges the best of drivers. The races are held at night and the circuit is brightly illuminated with floodlights it seems like its daytime. The most strict safety protocols ensure the safety of the drivers and spectators which can reach around 80,000. The spectacular skyline of Singapore provides an enchanting backdrop of the races making it a truly unique experience.

The F1 races in Singapore is more than just a motor race. “We envision it to be a national festival, and one that presents many opportunities for participation for everyone, both visitors and Singaporeans alike,” said Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr S. Iswaran.


15: Japanese Grand Prix

Circuit : Suzuka Circuit
Schedule : September 25 – 27, 2015

The first Japanese Grand Prix (日本グランプリ) was held at the Suzuka Circuit in 1963 as a non-championship F1 race. This marked the beginning of a fervent love for motor racing in Japan. The other track used for the races are the Fuji Speedway located 66 miles (106 km) west of the capital city of Tokyo.

The famous big wheel of Suzuka.

In 1976, the Japanese Grand Prix became part of the F1 World Championship races. The 1976 championship was held at the Fuji Speedway and it is famous in F1 history as the title-deciding race between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Historically, Japan is the venue for the nail-biting, end-of-season deciders, with 13 World Champions being crowned there.

Suzuka Circuit
Suzuka Circuit

For the 2015 season, the Suzuka Circuit will be the venue. The circuit is located in Ino, Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture. A theme park is also constructed at the track including the famous big wheel that dominates the Suzuka skyline. The circuit is designed by Dutchman John “Hans” Hugenholtz. It is characterised by its ‘figure 8’ layout, the one and only in the F1 calendar, and an overpass. It is operated by Mobilityland Corporation, a Honda Motor Co. subsidiary and can accommodate 155,000 spectators. Due to its layout and complexity, the circuit is a massive test of car and driver expertise as well as the site for many accidents. Japan is one of the most exotic destinations in the F1 calendar; with its unique blend of urban and rural setting, old and new traditions.

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16: Russian Grand Prix

Circuit : Sochi Autodrom
Schedule : October 09 – 11, 2015

After several decades of attempting to re-establish the race, the new Russian Grand Prix was formally announced on October 14, 2010 for a debut in 2014. The inaugural World Championship Russian Grand Prix of 2014 was staged on the resort city of Sochi, also the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics, with the Sochi Autodrom as the circuit.

Sochi Autodrom

The Sochi Autodrom (Russian: Автодром Сочи) is a Formula One racing street circuit located in Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It has a capacity of 55,000 and it is the first purpose-built F1 facility in Russia. The Sochi Autodrom runs around the Sochi Olympic Park which is the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. At 5.848 km (3.634 mi), the circuit is the third-longest circuit on the F1 calendar after Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Silverstone in the UK. The circuit is designed by renowned circuit architect Hermann Tilke.

Sochi, the Summer Capital Of Russia

The track is integrated well with the railways, roads and Sochi International Airport. It winds its way around many impressive and striking venues around the city which will also host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Sochi is also nicknamed ‘the Summer Capital of Russia’. It characterised by its unique blend of alluring sceneries; the waters of the Black Sea and the mountains of the Caucasus which makes this a unique host city for the F1 races.


17: United States Grand Prix

Circuit : Circuit Of The Americas
Schedule October 23 – 25, 2015

The United States Grand Prix (USGP) is a motor racing which has been run on and off since 1908. It became part of the Formula One World Championships and during its long history, it had 44 editions and 10 different venues. Since 2012, the races are held the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. It is also the circuit for the 2015 season.

Circuit Of The Americas (COTA)

The Circuit Of The Americas is a 5.5 km (3.4 mile) purpose-built track designed by Hermann Tilke, Tavo Hellmund and 1993 Motorcycle World Champion Kevin Schwantz. It is located on 800 acres (320 ha) of land in Wandering Creek southeast of Austin. The circuit is desigend for any and all racing classes and was officially opened on October 21, 2012. It is also characterised by its dramatic elevation changes which can reach up to 40 meters. Circuit Of The Americas consists of 20 turns and is run counter-clockwise which place greater physical demands on drivers who are more adapted to the lateral g-forces of clockwise circuits.



18: Mexican Grand Prix

Circuit : Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
Schedule : October 30 – November 01, 2015

The Mexican Grand Prix (Gran Premio de México) began its races way back in 1962. It became part of the F1 World Championships in 1963. It held the championship events from 1962 – 1970 and 1986 – 1992. After a long interlude in the calendar, it will host the races again again this 2015.

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

The races for this year will be held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, a 4.484 km (2.786 mi) F1 circuit. The circuit is located within the public Magdalena Mixhuca park east of Mexico City, Mexico. As the name implies, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is named after the famous brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez, both racing drivers. The success of the brothers in racing also sparked a passionate support from the Mexicans. The circuit has been renovated many times during its long history. It is characterised by an extremely fast final corner, called the peraltada, and a long start / finish straight.

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An aerial view of Guanajuato, Mexico.
An aerial view of Guanajuato, Mexico.

Mexico City is located on high altitude. The thin air presents a unique challenge for both the drivers and on the cars’ engines. Located also in one of the world’s most populous and vibrant Latin American cities, fans and spectators alike will find many cultural delights in Mexico particularly the ancient Aztec ruins.


19: Brazilian Grand Prix

Circuit : Autódromo José Carlos Pace (formerly Interlagos)
Schedule : November 13 – 15, 2015

The Brazilian Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prêmio do Brasil) Formula One World Championship race for 2015 will be held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos neighborhood, Socorro district, São Paulo.

Autódromo José Carlos Pace
Autódromo José Carlos Pace

In 1938, a huge plot of land was bought in São Paulo by two local property developers who wanted to build a housing development. However, one part of the land was not suitable for housing so they decided to construct a racing circuit instead. The circuit was initially named Interlagos, which literally means ‘between the lakes’, due to the swampy nature of the infield. Non-championship races were held in the Interlagos which gained popularity among the Brazilians.

São Paulo skyline at night.

In the 1970s, following the international success of the São Paulo native Emerson Fittipaldi, the Brazilians refurbished the Interlagos to F1 racing standards. In 1973, Interlagos hosted its first F1 championship race. The Brazilian Grand Prix was also staged for some time in Rio due to São Paulo’s slums or favelas being in sharp contrast with the glamorous image that F1 wanted to portray. The track was later renamed after Carlos Pace, a popular Brazilian F1 driver who died in a plane crash.

The circuit is 16 km and can only accommodate about 80,000 spectators. It is also run on an anti-clockwise direction at a high altitude and a bumpy and hilly terrain making it a challenge for the drivers.


20: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Circuit : Yas Marina Circuit
Schedule : November 27 – 29, 2015

Abu Dhabi is a city on the rise. The region has seen an immense growth and modernisation in the past few years. Numerous development projects are underway along with a lot more planned. As a city on the global centre stage, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held its first F1 championship race on November 01, 2009 in the electrifying Yas Marina Circuit. Abu Dhabi also boasts the honour of having the first ever twilight races. The circuit is bathed in powerful lights ensuring a seamless transition from day to night.

Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit

The Yas Marina Circuit is a 5.55 km track located on the Yas Island within a glamorous waterfront complex that includes a 5-star hotel, theme park, water park, residential areas and beaches. It is designed by renowed architect Hermann Tilke. The design of the track includes 20 turns and runs in an anti-clockwise direction. The circuit is designed to provide the spectators with luxury and comfort. All grandstands are covered to protect the race goers from the desert sun. The pit buildings also boasts 40 air-conditioned garages.

Yas Marina at night.
Yas Marina at night.

Abu Dhabi is a very cosmopolitan city but it has not lost its local traditions and middle eastern charm.

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