Leonard Thomas: Singapore's F1 race sets a world standard
Singapore's Formula 1 street race is celebrated for its unique mix of sport, entertainment and business
For about a week in September every year, it is a little tricky to negotiate the roads in the heart of the city and a number of shops in the area grumble at the decline in foot traffic.
Squashed in between the week is a three-day race weekend, when every night is hot and humid and train stations downtown are jammed with fans from early evening.
There are crowds to weave through, temporary no-entry and no-exit signs, barricades and barking volunteers to contend with and a maddening dash for many thousands to catch the headline act at a heaving, sweaty Padang.
Leaving thousands drained at the end of it all.
It is why Singapore's Formula 1 Grand Prix is one of the most celebrated races on motorsports' annual calendar.
Ahead of the 12th edition of Singapore's Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, the spectre of haze clouds the race and the prayer is for winds to blow right over the next few days.
If they do, then this will once again be special.
I know there are many who still wonder at the fuss over men in machines racing against one another for about two hours.
They are not into Lewis Hamilton, nor are they excited by Charles Leclerc's potential, they will throw you a blank stare at the mention of chicanes, or the Drag Reduction System, medium-soft tyres and a safety car.
But no one can argue that the blueprint for this Grand Prix was audacious, and it was given life by gifted planners and technicians.
And that Singapore pulled off a stunning feat of engineering and organisation that is exciting enough to repeat itself every year.
Where the heart of the city, with its key financial district and array of hotels, restaurants, businesses and other amenities continue to hum as its roads morph into a race track consistently run over by Mercedes machines, Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens, lit up by extra powerful temporary street lamps under the night sky.
The Singapore Grand Prix is where the trinity of sport, entertainment and business mesh beautifully every year, offering something for so many, and decision-makers around the world very quickly took notice.
I know the top executives at the Women's Tennis Association watched and realised that this island could successfully stage its biggest and most lucrative event.
Conferences and business meetings are scheduled around the Grand Prix.
The race's prestige convinced groups like Queen, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Killers, and singers like Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande and Missy Elliot, among many others, it was worth thrilling fans on the sidelines of the street joust.
Singapore rocks and rolls with close to 300,000 people every race weekend, it is what a young city with energy and ambition must do.
There is always the worry over security, and of late the haze, and this is an expensive exercise, costing the Government $135 million every year, with promoter Singapore GP Pte Ltd footing 40 per cent of the bill.
But this Grand Prix has also rung the tourism till to the tune of $1.4 billion since the inaugural race in 2008.
It is watched on TV by more than 840 million people worldwide every year.
It set a new standard in Formula 1 that South Korea, India, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Abu Dhabi and Russia all itched to be the latest members in the elite pool of hosts.
Today, the races in Korea and India are no more, and Sepang in Malaysia decided not to renew its Formula 1 rights as it could not compete with its neighbours across the Causeway.
It is tough to pull this off, but Singapore did and Singaporeans should be proud.
Monaco's old-school glamour and its longevity - it has held a race there since 1955 - ensures it remains the crown jewel of Formula 1, but Singapore also has motorsports history.
An average 100,000 people of all races and walks of life turned up for the Singapore Grand Prix every year from 1961 to 1973 at the street circuit at Upper Thomson Road.
They lined the roads, sat on the grass slopes, picnicked with family at open spaces, watching drivers from Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Singapore and the region, roar round the fabled loop in the all-powerful cars of the time.
Thirty-five years later, motorsports' most prestigious event landed on our shores. Today, it is still the only night race run on a city's streets.
The end to the year could be something Singapore has rarely witnessed.
Hamilton versus Leclerc, before U2 brings the house down at the National Stadium.
Singapore, let's rock and roll.