Formula One Singapore brings $70,000 tables to nightclubs

FORMULA One leaders Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc, and Sergio Perez will have their work cut out for them when they return to the Singapore Grand Prix Oct. 2 for the first time since 2019.

The bumpy F1 circuit is especially punishing because it follows a route that swirls through Singapore’s city streets. This will be the first road-going course race drivers encounter since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June. What’s more, Singapore’s GP will run 61 laps over that uneven asphalt and through 23 slow corners at night, making it even more precarious for the ultra-stiff suspensions of Formula One race cars.

Racing fans, on the other hand, will have a much smoother time in Singapore—especially if they are ready to splash out.

“You may have heard about how Singapore is boring, so the Grand Prix adds a bit of spark and buzz to the island,” says Gary Ng, a lifelong Singapore resident. “It is great for petrol-heads and those who want to have fun. Singapore rarely lets its hair down.”

Indeed, after Covid-19 restrictions iced F1 over the past two years, there is a lot of partying to make up for—and plenty of ways to do it. Green Day, the Black Eyed Peas, Marshmello, Kid Laroi, and Westlife will be performing. F1-branded nightclubs that travel the globe to each race will set up shop. Nearby, the Singapore Zoo will offer nighttime safaris, and yacht charters will run nonstop in Marina Bay.

Marc Richardson, who has attended previous Singapore GPs, says his favorite aspect of the event is the overall “glitz of the Monaco-type atmosphere”—not just the race but also sponsored parties and events. “F1 is popular in Singapore, and there are many diehard fans, but it definitely trends toward more of a social event, weeklong party.”

Package It Up

A single ticket to watch Sunday’s race from the grandstands can be had for $208, but that’s just the start—and they are already sold out. Three-day grandstand tickets cost $1,288 if you buy them straight from F1, which many enthusiasts opt to do.

If want to go big at the race, you want the packages. Edge Global, the F1 Paddock Club official distributor, offers a three-day pass to the Red Bull F1 Team Paddock Club for $10,750 per person, or a three-day Upper Deck Paddock Club package for $9,500. It also presents a two-day F1 Paddock Club package for $8,500. (Paddock Clubs are couch-laden VIP suites at the track, where open bars and catering—pasta, steak, and sushi—reign supreme.)

The Twenty3 package from Seat Unique, a ticket-selling platform, includes access to all zones in the circuit park and entertainment venues, plus alfresco dining at the Bay Terrace; access to specialty bars; two-way ferry service; and entry to the Apex Lounge, with live DJ sets. It costs £6,900 ($7,774) per person.

Many area hotels also sell packages that include exclusive access. Swissôtel Stamford sells a £3,199 per-person package that includes three days of grandstand race seats, concerts on all three GP nights, six nights at the hotel with breakfast included, and the ever-essential airport transfer. Hilton Garden Inn Serangoon Hotel offers a similar, slightly pared-back package for £1,999 per person. The centrally located Pan Pacific offers race room-entertainment packages for S$3,100 ($2,185).

An F1 travel hack is appropriate: Many of Singapore’s best hotels, such as the Pan Pacific, the Mandarin Oriental, and the Marina Bay Sands (which boasts a big new casino) are located around the race course. If you book a room at one, request a balcony room—or at least one with a view of the action. Then you won’t need to buy race tickets. (Keep in mind that you are likely to hear concerts from your hotel room, too, whether you want to or not.)

Some hotels are offering special menus to celebrate the race. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore is offering a “Fuel Up Brunch” in its scenic Town Restaurant; the S$268 meal includes seafood, charcuterie and a black truffle cage-free egg “croffle” (a cross between a croissant and a waffle). The Ritz-Carlton will present live telecasts of the race on its Republic Terrace and offer themed cocktails, including one called Ford v Ferrari; guest DJs will perform.

You will be hard-pressed to find a decent luxury room. Basic rooms at Swissôtel Stamford, conveniently located at Turn 9, are sold out. Mostly sold out is the Intercontinental Singapore, which lists its a few rooms at no less than $1,429 per night. At the historic Raffles Hotel, rooms start at $2,000 nightly.

Party Time

Perhaps the biggest draw for dedicated revelers during Grand Prix weekend will be the nightlife scene before and after the race. Level33, the world’s tallest microbrewery, will offer a “winners podium” menu with wagyu and marron (crayfish) for $248; it will also offer an F1 themed, pre-game weekend roast, says a spokesperson.

Set on the 51st floor of the CapitaSpring skyscraper and overlooking the F1 race course, 1-Arden will host the “PR1X” opening party on Sept. 29, featuring cocktails created by the Orientalist and Silverleaf, a popular new bar in London. Then, on racing days Oct. 1 and 2, 1-Arden will host the official Heineken Silver after-party in its 30,000-square-foot rooftop garden. Naturally, free drinks and DJs will abound. Ticket prices for entry range from $200 for general admission to $12,000 for a platinum VIP table.

Amber Lounge, located in the Fullerton Heritage precinct at Fullerton Bay Hotel’s Clifford Pier, is perhaps the best-known part of the traveling F1 circus that mixes drivers, stars, and onlookers at each race location, from Miami to Monaco. In 2018, it hosted Fernando Alonso’s retirement farewell party; in 2016, Nico Rosberg celebrated his World Drivers’ Championship title at the Amber Lounge in Abu Dhabi.

This year’s party will include Oliver Heldens, the DJ and electronic music producer; John Martin, the Swedish singer-songwriter best-known for his collaborations with the Swedish House Mafia; and Fatman Scoop, an American rapper and DJ. Organizers promise immersive theatrical cabaret, with cirque-themed performances set against panoramic views of Marina Bay.

The word expensive doesn’t begin to describe what it will take to get inside. A table package for 10 people, called the Amber Suite, starts at S$45,000—almost as much as the limited-to-250 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1 wristwatch currently on sale for $34,415. The package includes unlimited table service in the club, with Perrier-Jouët Champagne and Belvedere vodka; premium caviar; and special presentations of Royal Salute whisky 21, sherry cask añejo tequila, the Orientalist’s Gunpowder Gin, and Nomad Caviar.

A little too rich for your taste? For S$38,500, the Platinum option includes a table for 10 in front of the main stage with jeroboams of Champagne, vodka, unlimited table service, and selected house pours.

Most expensive of all is the Noir Suite, a private bespoke space limited to one group per night, with dedicated staff and VIP service including, presumably, all the treats listed above. It costs a cool S$100,000 ($70,499).

If that’s too much, you can buy a pass to stand near the expensive tables. Single passes to the Amber Lounge will cost S$800 on Saturday night and S$1,200 on Sunday. Attractive onlookers might be invited for a drink. If not, try offering to trade the watch. – BLOOMBERG