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Spectacular Singapore lights the way for F1

  • Story Highlights
  • Leading F1 figures have saluted the job Singapore in preparing first night race
  • Singapore prime minister delighted with how city-state looked on television
  • Asia expected to host more night races, with Malaysia and Japan mooted
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Neale Graham
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Formula One turned to the dark side at the Singapore Grand Prix and judging by how well it was received the sport's first night race will not be its last.

Singapore put on a spectacular show underneath the lights in Formula One's first night race.

Even if it had not thrown up an unlikely winner after a dramatic two hours of racing, Singapore delivered something different.

"It has a good chance of challenging Monaco for being the jewel in the crown of Formula One," Frank Williams told The Guardian newspaper.

With the wildcard element of thunderstorms staying away, the early stages of the race followed a predictably processional pattern as Ferrari's Felipe Massa drove away serenely at the front.

But Nelson Piquet's crash soon after ruined all the best-laid plans and Massa's bungled pitstop, which saw him drive off with the fuel hose still attached, left spectators rubbing their eyes -- and not because it was nearing bed-time.

It swiflty became clear that Singapore could end up with a very different podium and so it proved, with Fernando Alonso winning for the first time in a year and Nico Rosberg achieving his best F1 result.

Singapore at night looked good on television -- and that was the whole point of the exercise as far as the organizers were concerned.

The cameramen had obviously been briefed to pan out from the action and across Marina Bay towards the twinkling, towering city skyline whenever possible.

There were also some spectacular shots of car headlights streaming along the dark flyovers that criss-crossed the early part of the lap, while their floodlit F1 equivalents raced around at treble the speed underneath. Read more about F1 at The Circuit.

It all added to the sense of spectacle, a point not lost on Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong who attended the race.

"I've been watching it on TV the last couple of nights, not watching the cars, but watching the skyline, to see whether the skyline shows up and we see Singapore showing off its best," he told the Straits Times.

"And I think that it's a city we can be proud of, and this is a valuable buzz, publicity for us around the world, which will benefit us in many ways."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis was equally impressed with what the city-state had delivered after months of being left in the dark.

"It is not just a new experience," he said. "It is a real big step in the history of grand prix racing because it has been done so well.

"There are very few places that don't look even better at night because they are beautifully lit and it is the same of this city.

"When you see the shots of the city and the way they have brought the whole atmosphere of Singapore into the event, it is just phenomenal."

The novelty and intrigue generated ahead of the inaugural trip to Singapore may disappear, but the increase in the number of people watching night races will not.

With a lunchtime start in F1's European heartland, the move to night-time starts in Asian races means the sport's money men can milk the international TV market for all its worth.

The Malaysian Grand Prix organizers are looking at running their 2009 race under floodlights and F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone wants the Japanese Grand Prix to go the same way.

"We're going to try to get Japan to do it. I hope when people see Singapore they realize it wasn't a stupid idea," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Dennis, though, is looking at potentially having night races revolutionize F1 closer to home.

"Everything has been proven to work and we can take this model and apply it anywhere. It could be used in Europe to bring us into night and we can change the viewing times," he added.


"It can be used now to glamorize Formula One even more."

Singapore has lit the way to a bright future for F1.

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