By the time “Gentlemen, start your engines” is roared at this year’s Singapore Grand Prix (GP) next weekend, at least a year’s worth of blood and sweat will have been put in behind the scenes.
In fact, tickets for the 2019 race are already for sale even before this year’s edition – from 14 to 16 September at the Marina Bay Street Circuit – kicks off.
The race brings in an average of 240,000 visitors each year, which equates to approximately SG$150 million (US$109 million) in tourism receipts. About 40% of visitors are from overseas, and other hospitality offerings such as hotels and restaurants milk the numbers just as well.
But these numbers don’t make themselves – the team is constantly on its toes to make sure the experiences, entertainment, food and beverage, and marketing are fresh each year. Because not all patrons who attend are passionate about motorsports, fringe activities must remain relevant and exciting for both returning and first-time visitors.
“The most important thing is to make sure we stay innovative,” says Seah Yan Ling, operations assistant director for Singapore GP. “This year, we have curated a family-centric base with interesting activities like workshops and old-school games where the young and old can come together to enjoy themselves besides watching the race.”
On top of that, a new entertainment area was created in the grandstand area with a DJ and performers. There’s also plenty of thought that goes into the now-famed off-track concert where The Killers and Dua Lipa will headline this year.
“Our audience is made up of different backgrounds and ages, so we try to see how we can diversify our entertainment or artists coming in. If you look at this year’s line-up, we have all sorts of genres from pop-rock to oldies to world music, and we even have acrobatics,” says Seah.
Because the circuit is in the heart of the city and considered a ‘city within a city’, another challenge is the ever-changing landscape in Singapore that could affect the physical circuit space. “We are always trying to see how best we can work around that,” Seah says. “There’s a lot of coordination that needs to be done with stakeholders or government agencies. We’re very fortunate that we get good support from them.”
While the Singapore GP team acts as event organiser and promoter to ensure the race runs smoothly, the managing of racers and sponsors falls under the purview of the Formula 1 management team.
Fun fact: Race cars are brought in as cargo via seven jumbo jets. Take that, event logistics.