SINGAPORE – As multi-coloured fireworks illuminated the Marina Bay skyline at the 2023 Singapore Airlines Formula One Singapore Grand Prix , for the first time since last November, it was not the red-and-blue livery of a Red Bull car that was first to zoom past the chequered flag.
The 2023 season had been largely predictable till Sunday, with Red Bull winning all 14 races ahead of the Singapore leg. But under the city’s bright lights, the night race delivered thrills and spills with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz getting his first Grand Prix win of the season as the Spaniard led from start to finish.
British pop star Robbie Williams led the celebrations as he kicked off the post-race entertainment at the Padang right after the final lap. And fans lapped it all up, as once again the Singapore Grand Prix proved to be a hit with locals and overseas visitors, attracting a near sell-out crowd of 264,108 over the three-day race weekend.
The turnout was higher than the 250,000 spectators expected by race promoters Singapore GP, though it was lower than the record high of 302,000 in 2022 due to the redevelopment of The Float @ Marina Bay.
But the buzz was back in full force in 2023, with thousands braving the searing heat at the F1 village and Padang to watch high-octane performances from Post Malone, Kings of Leon, as well as a line-up of artistes presented by 88rising including Jackson Wang, Niki, and Rich Brian.
Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events have also been a strong draw with more than 28 held here over the weekend, including the TIME100 Impact Awards, Forbes Global CEO Conference, Token2049 and the Milken Institute Asia Summit.
Amid the festivities, the uncertainty that surrounded the race in July felt a world away, following news then of the ongoing corruption probe involving key figures behind the event.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran and tycoon Ong Beng Seng are being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and both men are known to be key figures in Singapore’s pitch to host the grand prix.
Mr Ong was spotted over the race weekend as he mingled with guests at the paddock and on Sunday, he was out on the track shortly before the drivers’ parade and exchanged handshakes with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
Prominent faces were out and about, with Oscar winning actress Michelle Yeoh, local billionaire and owner of Valencia football club Peter Lim and local singer JJ Lin, among the guests.
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