Lion City About To Roar

The sun drifts and rests beyond the darkness, lighting the other side of the world as the bay is reanimated. The winding streets becoming near luminescent under the lights. At once the flavour of Singapore comes alive with the beating drum of excitement, flavours only matched by its sought after diverse cuisine. As restaurants fill and glasses empty the thoughts of this empire of trading turn to the present and not of the distant past of tragedy and mournful loss. This is a time to celebrate.

An island city state, a sovereign of the east with its diamond shaped mainland and peaceful inlets of blissful heaven. The Lion City, The Garden City – the city that comes alive. Away from the flourishing nature reserves and tropical flora beats a strong heart of this experienced trading post. From ships that sailed far and wide to feast on the reaches of its land, the world devouring the oil refineries and the global technology giants who gather to build a successful economy, the stage is set for a scintillating weekend of raw power. Singapore once again is a beautiful host, welcoming its guests.

There are no seasons here in this humid corner of the globe, a land which sees consistent rainfall and a haze they drifts across its broken land masses from neighbouring wildfires. The air is heavy and hot in the streets, yet in the bustling casinos that clamp themselves to Marina Bay the players remain cool, taking risks as they play.

Outside there is a different gamble with even more risk. The stakes are high, the table is ready to be laid. In the distance the rumble of a wild animal, a mechanical animal that can only be tamed by those who know it best.

The winding course of the Marina Bay street circuit, its busily worn tarmac a constant feature of the Formula One calendar since 2008 when a Spaniard controversially tamed the snarling dragon with its concrete barriers and tight chicanes. Run-off areas stand open mouthed, ready and waiting for its victims to be swallowed from the illuminating glow. There is no room for error. One mistake and it could spell the end, this far eastern mixture of Monaco meets Macau. Unforgiving.

From the panic of the first turn, where to put the car and how to deal with the ever closing gap that shrinks so fast there is no alternative but to escape to the side and hope that there is space to rejoin and not finish the race with a car broken and hurt. Through Republic Boulevard an inter-junction curve by day that leads to Raffles and the sound of screaming engines in the night passing the hotels, casinos and restaurants announcing their arrival.

Crazy tight chicanes and walls passing by in a blur, the driver fixed on one spot in the distance. Too early and the apex is missed, rear view mirror full of a snarling carbon fibre enemy ready to take advantage of this misfortune. Too late and the tight walls will embrace the car and crush it without mercy. It has to be perfect, on every corner of every lap until turn twenty-two quickly becomes twenty-three and the challenge begins again, lap after lap.

The Marina Bay street circuit of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix is seen illuminated at dusk September 21, 2009. The Singapore F1 night race will take place on September 27. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE SPORT MOTOR RACING CITYSCAPE)

Singapore, with its hunger for success, demands that within the confines of its tight, twisting grasp the drivers will deliver on a street circuit that will take no prisoners.

Heart beating, the heat within the monocoque multiplied by the humid air that drifts across the bay in contrast to the viewing audience on their balconies in air conditioned rooms with drinks on ice. The champagne will flow for three drivers but not until they have stretched every limb and sweat every single piece of determination from their body to conquer The Lion City.

Once the engines subside and the champagne stops flowing, Singapore’s travelling guests of Formula One will move on to their next conquest.

This weekend the heat will rise from the island and only the strong will withstand the temperature.

The Singapore Grand Prix. The Lion City is about to roar.

Neil Simmons

@world_racing

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