Considering that the nature of the track layout puts overtaking at a premium, it’s safe to say the Singapore Grand Prix has had its fair share of memorable moments in the relatively short time that the Marina Bay Circuit has been on the Formula 1 calendar.
Celebrating its tenth edition this year, here is a selection of the biggest moments from the past nine races.
2008 – “Crash Gate”
What list such as this would be complete without, the original – and still the biggest – incident in Singapore GP history? Taking place just 14 laps into the inaugural race, Renault’s Nelson Piquet crashed into the barriers at turn 17, necessitating a safety car which allowed his freshly-pitted teammate Fernando Alonso to leapfrog most of the field and eventually seal his only win of the season. Only after Piquet was let go from the team in 2009 did rumours of a fix start to circulate, which quickly escalated when the Brazilian admitted managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds had ordered him to crash. Soon after Symonds and Briatore departed the team, the former with a five year ban from F1, the latter suspended indefinitely.
2008 – Massa drives off with the fuel hose
In F1, every tenth matters, but sometimes that can be taken a little too far, as when Massa was mistakenly signalled to leave his pit-stop with the fuel hose still attached. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensued, with several Ferrari mechanics taking spills and the Brazilian forced to pull-over at the pit exit and wait for it to be removed. The most notable in a series of incidents that night, his P13 finish arguably cost-him the 2008 title.
2010 – Vettel and Alonso duel with title in the balance
In what is one of the greatest performances of Fernando Alonso’s career, the Spaniard bested Red Bull’s Vettel by just 0.293s, despite having a car that was widely considered inferior. Both firmly ensconced in the 2010 title fight, the two were locked in an epic chess match from the first lap, and managed to stay together throughout the traffic and safety cars. Ending somewhat controversially, Vettel was denied an attempt to pass Alonso into the final corner, as the smouldering wreck of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus had brought out the yellow flags.
2011 – Massa v Hamilton beef
They may have duked it out for the 2008 title, but the Massa-Hamilton rivalry didn’t really heat-up until 2011, when the pair collided no less than five times. The third of their clashes, Hamilton managed to puncture Massa’s right-rear tyre as the two battled for fourth, with the Brit being handed a drive-through penalty. However the real flare-up was post-race, as Massa got handsy with Hamilton during a TV interview to express his displeasure.
2011 – Kobayashi gets airborne
Well-known for his seat-of-the-pants, “Leeroy Jenkins” approach to driving, Kamui Kobayashi took things a little too far in 2011 qualifying. Going through the notorious “Singapore Sling” chicane at turn 10, the Japanese managed to catch air as he ran over the kerbs, and while the move certainly earned him some style points, he immediately lost them as his Sauber plowed uncontrollably into the wall. Widely considered the “worst corner in F1”, the corner was altered in time for the 2013 race.
2012 – Schumi’s strange swansong
With Michael Schumacher’s second stint in F1 coming to an end, everyone was hoping for as much classic Schumi as possible. Unfortunately Singapore delivered the opposite, as the seven-time world champion bowed-out of his final race in the country under embarrassing circumstances, clumsily locking-up and running right into the rear of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. It was a move as unbecoming of Schumacher as any in his storied career, and signalled to his legions of fans that it was indeed the right time to hang up the boots.
2013 – Webber hitches a ride
Following in the footsteps of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell at Silverstone, 2013 also gave us the endearing scene of Mark Webber getting a ride back to the pits from Fernando Alonso. Having broken down on the last lap of the race, Webber managed to catch Alonso on the cool-down lap, giving us a scene that was well-received by everyone… except the stewards, with both drivers receiving reprimands – the Aussie got an additional ten place grid penalty for the next race.
2013 – Vettel makes it a hat-trick
The most successful driver in Singapore with four victories, none were better than his one in 2013. So dominant was the Red Bull driver that he didn’t even need to do a second lap to take pole, and he finished the race 32.627s up on his closest competitor, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. No, such a performance didn’t make for the most scintillating racing, but it stands out as the apex of one of the most successful driver-team partnerships.
2014 – Magnussen feels the heat
With averages of 30 degree heat and 80% humidity, Singapore is inhospitable to an F1 driver at the best of times. That made Magnussen’s 2014 outing all the more impressive, as the then-McLaren driver managed a P10 finish despite a broken radiator seal having caused his seat and drinks bottle to overheat. Treated after the race for minor burns, it was about as gutty a performance as you’ll see in any sport.
2015 – Man interprets “street” circuit a little too literally
Look, we get it, not every race is an absolute corker. Sometimes you want a bit more excitement, but taking matters into your own hands as one fan did in 2015 is bound to end badly. The man, seen taking a casual stroll down turn 13 as the cars whizzed by, was eventually given sixth weeks in prison.
2015 – Mercedes have a shocker
Having been essentially all-conquering since the start of the V6 era in 2014, Mercedes started every race knowing the result was in that hands – except that year at Marina Bay. A strong but finicky beast, the W06 was never at home in the conditions, qualifying well off the pace, and only managing a single-car finish, with Nico Rosberg down 24.720s on winner Sebastian Vettel. Back to their dominant ways next race at Suzuka, it was a strange blip on the inexorable march to the 2015 constructor’s title.