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Formula One Comes to Singapore

19 Oct 2010

Late last month Singapore pulled off another successful weekend of Formula 1 racing, hosting the 2010 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix for the third consecutive time since it was resurrected in 2008 after being discontinued in the 1970s. The race through the city streets of the central business district is the only one of its kind to be held entirely at night and took place over three days, September 23 – 25.

There were a total of 24 drivers in contention who made it past the qualifying round. The top spot went to Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, of Spain, who also won in 2008. Sebastian Vittel (of Germany) and Mark Webber (of Australia) were second and third, respectively, both from the highly hyped Red Bull Racing-Renault team. With 61 laps behind them, the ending was one of the closest of the season with an already very close field based on F1 points. Alonso’s final time was 1:57:53.579 and Vittel followed by only +0.2 secs.

There were only a minor number of accidents and technical difficulties – both for the drivers and entertainers. During her Friday night performance, Missy Elliot was silenced half-way through her performance when all the sound suddenly cut out. Within 15 minutes, the problem had been resolved and she restarted the song for her atypical group of fans.

On the same stage two nights later, Mariah Carey tripped and twisted her ankle during the Sunday evening closing concert.

The performances chosen for this year’s race struck many expats as being too “risqué” for Singapore. One British participant expressed such sentiments when he saw a Brazilian-style dance group in carnivalesque costumes.

With Missy Elliot’s lyrics, Adam Lambert‘s stage antics, and Mariah Carey‘s outfits as all items that would potentially be frowned upon by the People’s Action Party (PAP), the events which transpired seemed to contradict some of Singapore’s strict social laws or at least family friendly atmosphere. Could the higher-ups be that illiterate in popular culture? Or, was this just a textbook example of panem et circensis?

Nathan Bullock is a Fulbright Fellow based in Singapore, researching human and cultural geography, urbanization, and critical studies. You can find accounts of his adventures at East Coast Elitist.

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