Marina Bay Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

The Marina Bay Circuit holds one of Formula 1’s most spectacular weekends as the cars glisten under the streetlights in Singapore, the home of the sport’s original night race.


FIRST F1 RACE2008
TRACK LENGTH3.152 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS61
NUMBER OF TURNS23
MOST POLESSebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton (4)
MOST WINSSebastian Vettel (5)

Marina Bay Circuit was one of two new street tracks introduced as part of the 2008 Formula 1 season. Whereas Valencia was ditched from the calendar after the 2012 event, Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore remains on the calendar and the challenge of competing here is much loved by drivers, teams and fans alike.

The 23-turn track was originally designed by Herman Tilke before being modified by KBR Inc., an American engineering company. The area of land which Marina Bay Circuit occupies is 799,000 square metres, which is the equivalent of 80 football pitches.

Marina Bay Circuit in 2022
Image: © Andrew Balfour

The Marina Bay Circuit passes by many of Singapore’s landmarks such as the Fullerton Hotel, the Anderson Bridge and, of course, the striking Singapore Flyer which opened in the same year as the first Grand Prix here. Marina Bay Circuit has numerous unique features, including the fact that it is the only track which goes under a section of grandstand – between Turns 18 and 19.

The corners are referred to by number at Marina Bay Circuit, though some do have names. Turn 1 is named ‘Sheares’ and Turn 7 is named ‘Memorial’. The names were given to the corners as part of a local competition in March 2009, but they are rarely used.

There have been minor changes to Marina Bay Circuit since Formula 1 was first in Singapore in 2008. One of the most compelling elements of the track was the ‘Singapore Sling’. In the early years of the Singapore Grand Prix, Turn 10 comprised a section of track which was fast, narrow and unforgiving. Kimi Raikkonen crashed during the inaugural race here at this part of the track.

In 2009, the kerbing was reduced so the corner became less of a challenge, however Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi fell victim to the chicane in later years. In 2013 the section of track was re-profiled entirely and the Marina Bay Circuit lost one of the iconic sections of its layout. For 2015, there were also minor changes between Turns 11 and 13, which saw the drivers use the other side of the Anderson Bridge.

The top three on the Marina Bay Circuit podium after the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix
Image: © Andrew Balfour

The Marina Bay Circuit holds a contract to hold the Singapore Grand Prix until 2028. The 2020 Singapore Grand Prix was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event attracted a record weekend crowd of 302,000 in 2022. The Singapore Tourism Board remains open to the idea of completely relocating the track to elsewhere in the city in the future.


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MARINA BAY CIRCUIT: FAST FACTS

  • Every single running of the Singapore Grand Prix has featured a Safety Car at some point in the race.
  • After the first practice session at Marina Bay Circuit in 2008, the kerbs had to be reduced in size due to safety concerns. Felipe Massa likened them them to ‘small tortoises’.
  • The 2015 Singapore Grand Prix was placed under Safety Car conditions on Lap 37 due to a British spectator making their way on to the track. The man, who was 27, was later arrested.
  • With 23 corners, Marina Bay Circuit has the second-most turns of any circuit on the current calendar, beaten only by Jeddah Corniche Circuit. It is questionable, however, how many of these bends can be classed as real corners.
  • Races at Marina Bay Circuit often runs near to the two-hour time limit due to the length of the track, as well as the high likelihood of a Safety Car appearance.
  • The 2008 Grand Prix at Marin Bay Circuit was one of the most controversial Formula 1 races ever held. A year after the event, Nelson Piquet Jnr. revealed that he was told to crash on purpose in order to help his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, take the win.
  • 108,423 metres of power cables supply over three million watts of lighting at Marina Bay Circuit.
  • An electrical current runs underneath the section of track at the Anderson Bridge. This current sometimes has an effect on the cars. In 2015, both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa were forced into retirement from the Grand Prix because of such issues.
  • Members of the Formula 1 paddock stay on European time whilst they are in Singapore. They sleep through the day so their schedule is the same as it is for European races – just with a slightly different backdrop!
  • The polesitter has won the majority of races at Marina Bay Circuit. Fernando Alonso’s win from 15th on the grid remains the furthest back win at the track – and only one other race here has been won from outside of the top three.
  • 2,608 concrete barriers line Marina Bay Circuit along with 10,000 metres of catch fencing.
  • Marina Bay Circuit runs anti-clockwise.
  • 2015 was the longest race here, clocking in at two hours, one minute and twenty two seconds, while the shortest was in 2009 at one hour, fifty six minutes and six seconds.
  • As it is not a permanent race track, it is often difficult for the drivers to find grip at Marina Bay Circuit – especially on the first day of practice.
  • Cockpit temperatures soar to 60 degrees Celsius during the Grand Prix.
  • The drivers lose three to four kilograms of weight in the race and around two to three litres in sweat, so it is the worst possible time for a drinks bottle failure during the Grand Prix. That didn’t stop Sebastian Vettel on his way to victory in 2015, though.
  • The drivers will make, on average, 4,880 gear changes over the duration of the Grand Prix.
  • Alex Wurz drove the medical car in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix after the usual driver fell ill. As he and Gary Hartstein rushed to the scene of Piquet Jnr.’s accident, a second local doctor in the back seat couldn’t handle the speed of the car and threw up en-route.

2022 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RECAP

At the first Singapore Grand Prix in three years, rain made for an interesting race weekend, with Perez taking victory in a weather-shortened Grand Prix. 

There were red flags, wall taps and even an airbox fire (for Pierre Gasly) during Free Practice for the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix. Drivers soon got back into the flow on the first race weekend at Marina Bay Street Circuit in three years, despite wet weather conditions taking away 30 minutes of running in the final practice session. 

The track had not quite dried in time for qualifying, with drivers opting to run on intermediate tyres in Q1. George Russell was a surprise exit in Q2, qualifying only 11th. The drivers switched to slick tyres for Q3 but Max Verstappen’s session came to an early end with the Red Bull team telling him to abort his final lap time due to running low on fuel. That left Charles Leclerc to take a second consecutive pole at the circuit and Sergio Perez joining him on the front row.

Further rain on Sunday saw the start of the Grand Prix delayed by more than an hour. As the starting lights finally faded, Fernando Alonso set a new record for most Formula 1 starts. This was his 350th appearance, overtaking Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the list. Perez made the better start, snatching the lead from Leclerc at Turn 1. 

Verstappen started eighth as a result of his Saturday issues and dropped down the order at the start. He made it back into the top ten by passing Sebastian Vettel on Lap 2. Zhou Guanyu became the first driver to retire from the race after making contact with Nicholas Latifi, who also retired, bringing out the Safety Car. 

The yellow flags came out again 13 laps later as Alonso stopped with engine issues, while Alex Albon made contact with the barriers at low speed a few laps later. On Lap 33, Lewis Hamilton made a similar mistake and lost a position to Lando Norris. Yuki Tsunoda retired after hitting the barriers at the same spot three laps later, bringing out another Safety Car. 

At the restart, Norris was almost taken out of the race by Verstappen who locked up behind him and went into the run off area. Russell picked up a puncture as a result of contact with Mick Schumacher. Both Verstappen and Russell needed to pit after their misdemeanours. While Russell was unable to make progress, Verstappen fought his way back into the points, passing Vettel for seventh on the final lap.

Perez took victory in the shortened race, winning by finishing eight seconds ahead of Leclerc. Carlos Sainz completed the podium, while both McLaren drivers finished in the top five.

2019 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RECAP

Charles Leclerc took a third consecutive pole position, but it was Sebastian Vettel who took a record-breaking fifth Singapore Grand Prix victory.

Charles Leclerc dominated in qualifying, securing a third consecutive pole position and starting alongside Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton came under pressure from Sebastian Vettel on the first lap, but was able to stay ahead. Further back, Carlos Sainz picked up a puncture following contact with Nico Hulkenberg. Vettel and Max Verstappen were first of the front runners to pit, with Leclerc pitting from the lead on the next lap. But Vettel’s pace advantage saw him pull off the undercut, much to Leclerc’s dismay. As the two Mercedes pitted, Antonio Giovinazzi found himself in the lead of the race for Alfa Romeo, but Vettel soon found a way past the Italian. Another Renault made contact, this time Daniel Ricciardo on former race leader Giovinazzi. The Australian picked up a puncture as a result. The Safety Car came out following contact between Romain Grosjean and George Russell, with the Williams driver recording the first retirement of his career. Lance Stroll picked up a puncture after the restart, while Sergio Perez pulled off in the other Racing Point after being ordered to stop by the team. Kimi Raikkonen was then forced out of the race following a collision with Daniil Kvayt, bringing out the Safety Car once more. Vettel was unphased by the restarts, keeping his cool to claim his first win of the season. Leclerc and Verstappen completed the podium, while Kevin Magnussen picked up the Fastest Lap at the event for the second year in a row.

2018 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RECAP

Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable in Singapore in 2018 as he took the pole and won dominantly, further extending his championship lead.

A mistake in Free Practice Two saw Sebastian Vettel scraping the wall and put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. Lewis Hamilton took pole with what Toto Wolff described as one of the best laps he’d ever seen. Verstappen lined up alongside Hamilton on the front row, but was challenged on the first lap by Sebastian Vettel. The pair avoided contact at the first corner, and Vettel made it by later on in the lap. The Ferrari driver’s move was well-timed, as it came seconds before a Safety Car was called due to the two Force India drivers colliding with one another. Esteban Ocon was out of the race. Vettel opted to pit first but Verstappen would re-pass him as a result, Verstappen emerging on the harder compound of tyre. The remaining Force India continued causing damage out on track, picking up a puncture after a questionable defensive move on Sergey Sirotkin. As Sirotkin got into his next battle, this time with Romain Grosjean, the pair got in the way of race leader Hamilton, who they were being lapped by. This allowed Verstappen to close up to the back of the Mercedes, but there was no way by for the Red Bull. Grosjean was handed a five second penalty for ignoring blue flags, while Sirotkin picked up a penalty for forcing Brendon Hartley off the track. Hamilton won comfortably ahead of Verstappen as Vettel finished third.


MARINA BAY CIRCUIT WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
2008Felipe MassaFerrariFernando AlonsoRenault
2009Lewis HamiltonMcLarenLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2010Fernando AlonsoFerrariFernando AlonsoFerrari
2011Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2012Lewis HamiltonMcLarenSebastian VettelRed Bull
2013Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2014Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Sebastian VettelFerrariSebastian VettelFerrari
2016Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2017Sebastian VettelFerrariLewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2019Charles LeclercFerrariSebastian VettelFerrari
2022Charles LeclercFerrariSergio PerezRed Bull
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