History of the Singapore Grand Prix in Formula 1

Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1


The Singapore Grand Prix has provided Formula 1 with one of the most difficult races on the F1 calendar. Marina Bay Circuit test teams and drivers as they attempt to maneuver their way through the tight streets of the city.

A small error can send you into the walls, ending your race in a heartbeat. Drivers must cope with the extreme heat and keep their focus sharp as they battle twenty-three corners and their rivals to earn a victory.

Safety cars have been deployed in every single race at least once and have been used a total of twenty-two times in twelve races. In 2008 the Singapore Grand Prix made its debut in F1 and here is the history of their Grand Prix.



The maiden race for the Singapore Grand Prix and subsequently all future races are held at night. Singapore was the first GP in F1 history to introduce a race with the sunsetting which consequently led to eventually the GP’s in the Emirates like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi following suit.  


Felipe Massa took the very first pole position in Singapore driving for Ferrari. On race day disaster struck for Massa after leading comfortably for the first sixteen laps and came in for a pitstop while a safety car was on the track. Ferrari’s pit crew deployed Massa with his fuel hose attached forcing Massa to return to the pits standing him in last place.

Fernando Alonso, driving for Renault who pitted prior to the safety car, took the lead and never looked back, leaving Nico Rosberg in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third. Singapore was also the last race where David Coulthard scored the last points of his F1 career.


The opening race of the Singapore Grand Prix was not without controversy because it was revealed one year later that Renault had instructed Alonso’s teammate Nelson Piquet Jr to crash on purpose in order to deploy the safety car.

Renault’s team principal Flavio Briatore and the Chief Engineer were banned from F1 before winning an appeal reinstating them in F1. Renault was also at risk of being banned for two years if they were to break any more rules.  Massa suffered the most from the incident, costing him valuable points that could have helped him become the driver’s champion by season’s end.


The second race in Singapore did not share the same controversy as the last race but it still had plenty of action with drivers trying to catch Lewis Hamilton who was in pole position.

Sebastien Vettel and his Red Bull came closest to beating Hamilton that day, but the stewards got involved, issuing a drive-through penalty to Vettel for speeding in the pit lane ending any hope of catching the Brit.

With the Red Bulls out of the way (Webber spun out) it allowed Timo Glock to finish runner up to Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso once again made it on the podium in third. Timo Glock scored his last podium and points at the Marina Bay Circuit.



Kicking off the new decade at Marina Bay, Fernando Alonso, now driving for Ferrari, took pole position ahead of his rivals Vettel in second and Hamilton in third. The driver’s championship was still very much in contention as four drivers were vying for the title.  

Alonso and Vettel thrilled the crowd as they took turns exchanging the fastest laps throughout the race. Vettel, who was chasing the Spaniard, managed to get within less than a second of Alonso only to have a yellow flag negate any passing opportunities on the last lap.


Alonso won the race by 0.293 seconds ahead of Vettel. The win for Alonso brought him closer to Mark Webber who was currently ranked first in the drivers’ standings.


In 2011 Sebastien Vettel was due for a victory in Singapore, especially after last year’s narrow loss to Alonso. Vettel was well on his way to winning his second driving championship in as many years entering the race with a one-hundred-point lead over his closest rival.

Vettel took pole position on Saturday and on Sunday no one caught the emerging German superstar driver. Jenson Button who was Vettel’s closest mathematical threat finished in second place driving for McLaren and Mark Webber and his red bull finished in third place.

The results of the race also benefited team red bull pulling away even further from McLaren for the Constructors title by one hundred thirty-eight points.


Vettel had just begun his winning streak on the Marina Bay Circuit in 2011 and in 2012 won his second race in Singapore. In this race, Vettel benefited from a little luck when pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire after leading the race for twenty-three laps due to gearbox issues.

Michael Schumacher displayed a rare moment of stupidity when he completely missed the breaking zone, slamming him into the back of a Toro Rosso. Vettel shared the podium with McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Vettel’s win helped him earn some valuable points chasing Alonso for the driver’s title.


In 2013 Vettel was already a three-time world champion and was also on his way to his fourth title by the end of the racing year. Vettel knocked a grand slam out of the park at Marina Bay taking Pole Position, led every single lap, had the fastest lap, and won the race.

Vettel felt no pressure from Alonso who finished over thirty seconds behind the German. Kimi Raikkonen stepped onto the podium for the first time in his career, finishing in third with Lotus. Vettel, even if he had won for a third straight year, was not appreciated by the Singaporean fan base who booed him during the podium trophy presentations.


Lewis Hamilton was the one to stop Vettel’s dominant run of victories at Marina Bay in 2014. Hamilton driving with Mercedes took pole position and on race day team strategies proved to be a key factor in their success on Sunday.  Taking pit stops at key times allowed Hamilton to maintain his position in first for most of the race only ceding his position to other drivers who did not pit.

Hamilton could not solely rely on strategy because on lap 54 he was trailing Vettel, who led the race at that point and had to pass him and was successful in regaining the lead and winning the race six laps later. Hamilton’s win helped him leapfrog over his teammate Rosberg for first place in the driver’s championship.


Mercedes had dominated the season by the time the Singapore GP took place in 2015. Both Mercedes and Hamilton sat in comfortable leads for their respective championships with a handful of races left on the schedule.

Unfortunately for Mercedes, it was not meant to be their best weekend as Vettel returned to the top of the Podium winning pole position and the race for Ferrari. Vettel’s teammate Raikkonen surprised himself with his own performance finishing in third place after struggling with his car’s handling throughout the race. Daniel Ricciardo made his first appearance on the podium in second place driving for Red Bull.


In 2016 Nico Rosberg finally improved his already steady performance on the Marina Bay Circuit, adding his first and only win in Singapore. Rosberg took pole position and led the entire race holding off Ricciardo in second place with half a second to spare. It was also the Aussies’ second straight podium finish in the silver position.

Lewis Hamilton who was battling Rosberg for the driver’s title finished in third place. Rosberg took the lead in the standings with his victory and eventually held off Hamilton for his first and only driver’s championship.


Vettel, who did not finish on the podium, pulled off a remarkable feat of passing seventeen cars after starting the race in last place landing him in fifth. Vettel showed his mastery of a track where passing can be challenging.


Sebastien Vettel helped Ferrari become a contender once again for the driver’s title in 2017 and in Singapore he was trailing Hamilton by three points in the standings. Vettel secured pole position on Saturday and on race day for the first time in F1 history there was a night race with rain in the forecast.

Disaster struck for Ferrari and Vettel when the cars of teammate Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen tangled in the opening corner of the race causing a collision with all three drivers and forcing them out of the race.


The early exit proved costly to Vettel who had to watch Hamilton easily win the race and extend his championship lead over the German. Daniel Ricciardo for the third consecutive time finished in second place with red bull and Valtteri Bottas made his first Singaporean podium appearance in third place for Mercedes.


In 2018 Lewis Hamilton got his second win in a row in Singapore after claiming pole position and leading the race comfortably to the chequered flag. Max Verstappen joined Hamilton on the podium in second place, it was a first for the dutchman at Marina Bay.

Sebastien Vettel who trailed Lewis yet again for the driver’s title finished in third place with Ferrari. Remarkably the fastest lap was set by Kevin Magnussen driving for HAAS, who ended up finishing in eighteenth place.


Sebastien Vettel by 2019 had proved to be the master of Marina Bay, which was one of the most difficult tracks in Formula 1. Even if his teammate at Ferrari Charles Leclerc captured pole position, Vettel managed to win for the fifth time in Singapore.

Vettel took the lead away from Leclerc during his pit stop and was able to resist Leclerc’s efforts to catch him. Leclerc finished in second place with his first podium in Singapore and Verstappen achieved his second podium finish at Marina Bay in third place.

  Vettel, on top of his five wins, made the podium another three times for a total of eight podiums. That is eight podiums out of the twelve races in Singapore’s F1 history.



The 2020 and 2021 races were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. The race is slated to return in 2022 barring any other setbacks.

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