That’s exactly the case with night races: Bernie Ecclestone was already talking about these back in the 1990s. The idea of races under the lights, giving a new dimension to the cars and crucially allowing Far Eastern venues to host grands prix at television times that were acceptable to Europe – rather than at dawn as had been the case previously – was something that clearly intrigued him. To make the miracle possible, when it came to lighting at least, an Italian firm was called upon: owned by Valerio Maioli, from Ravenna, who was a huge F1® fan but sadly died at the beginning of this year. Millions of watts were needed to turn more than five kilometres of Marina Bay street circuit into daytime by night. Not only were there plenty of 90-degree corners – standard for a street circuit – but also some straights that immediately allowed an average speed of more than 170kph (as opposed to 160kph around the streets of Monte Carlo; an eternal reference for F1® street venues).
So F1® night racing got underway in 2008: the same year that night racing also came to MotoGP, in Qatar. The bikes actually beat F1® to it, with their race having taken place in springtime, as opposed to autumn for the Singapore Grand Prix. But what a race that turned out to be… Felipe Massa, for one, will never forget it. The Brazilian got underway from pole position and set a scorching pace, but he was to be stopped in his tracks by an incident that has never been seen in F1® since. The external fuel line became trapped in the fuel filler of his Ferrari, and when the blameless Massa set off again, the whole thing was ripped off the rig, sending fuel spraying down the pit lane. Massa was leading the race and missed out on the precious points that could have taken him to the world championship title that year, which eluded him at the final race of the season, by one solitary point to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.