The Marina Bay City Circuit cuts straight through the bustling heart of Singapore with it’s harbourside circuit making it very similar to the popular Circuit de Monaco. However what puts the Marina Bay City Circuit apart from the other city circuits of the world is it’s extensive cast of unique features across the entire course and how it is one of the most physically demanding tracks out of all the Formula 1 races.
Before the Marina Bay City Circuit the original track for Singapore in Formula 1 races was based in the northern half of the island, surrounded by woodland and called the Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit. The Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit was in use from 1961 to 1973 and was originally built to attract tourists during the ‘Visit Singapore - The Orient Year’ campaign. At the time, Singapore lacked a real race track to host racing events such as Formula 1, the initial plan was to make a city circuit, however that idea was quickly abandoned due to the amount of traffic disturbance the race would cause to local residents. They settled instead on building the new circuit along the Upper Thomson Road.
The Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit was not used in the 1974 Grand Prix due to major safety concerns as 7 lives were lost during the 11 years the track was used for racing. The challenging and dangerous nature of the course with 2 sharp hairpin turns and ‘The Hump’ along the mile long stretch that often lifted drivers off the ground if they were going too fast.
Singapore has kept it’s challenging and demanding nature for it’s racing circuits and the Marina Bay City Circuit is no exception as it returned to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2008 with it’s unique circuit crossing 2 bridges (the Anderson and Jubilee Bridge) as well as drivers having to combat the bumpy roads and humid climate. However, as spectators we get a fantastic view of the dramatic race as the cars drive under the grandstands after turn 18, a spectacularly unique feature for the circuit and witness the brilliant lights of the city as the race takes place after sunset making the circuit the first to host a nighttime race in Formula 1.
However, despite how wonderful looking this city circuit is, there has been numerous alterations to the track based on driver feedback. Most notably the chicane at turn 10 which bends at almost a 90° turn which was reprofiled in 2010 to make it a more gradual turn. In response to this change, Lewis Hamilton said during an interview this turn is ‘the worst corner in F1’.
In 2013 the chicane was replaced with a left turn ultimately resulting in faster lap times, notably during the 2017 Grand Prix with the revised circuit Lewis Hamilton held the title for fastest lap, completing the lap in just 1 minute 45 seconds.