Every year since 2008, late September in Singapore has only meant one thing: the Formula One (F1) Singapore Grand Prix. Crazy nightlife, noteworthy concert line-ups, undeniable traffic, and a whole lot of excitement come with it. But there’s an uninvited guest this year — the ongoing haze in Southeast Asia — and it has left the event organisers scrambling to ensure the races at the Marina Bay Circuit this weekend go on.
According to the BBC, F1 bosses are closely monitoring the situation and have come up with a contingency plan in light of the weather conditions.
Reuters reported that the event’s organisers have been stocking up on disposable anti-smog face masks that will be available for attendees. The masks will be for sale at booths if the island’s Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level reaches unhealthy levels. At first aid booths, the masks will be readily available for “vulnerable” groups of people, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
“Race organizers have taken measures to reduce the impact of the haze for the race weekend,” an F1 spokesperson said. “They have put in place a number of measures, including public information at the circuit.”
The haze in Singapore surpassed 100 on Sept. 14, reaching unhealthy levels. Bloomberg reported that some parts of Singapore went up to at least 117. These readings improved yesterday, with the PSI dropping to about 99 by the evening. However, it’s predicted to go up once again this weekend.
The last time Singapore’s PSI reached unhealthy levels was in August 2016, when the northern parts of country experienced a level of 109.
F1 has had to deal with haze in the past, but PSI readings haven’t affected the races to a great extent. In 2015, there were rumours of the haze conditions shutting down F1’s premier night race on the island. The haze, however, ended up improving.
The high PSI levels have prompted Singapore’s National Environment Agency to urge people to “reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.”
F1 drivers, however, seem mostly unfazed. Red Bull’s Dutch star Max Verstappen told The Straits Times, “It’s not a concern at all. Whatever the conditions are, it’ll be the same for everyone.”
Meanwhile, tourists and race-enthusiasts are still traveling to Singapore to take part in the events. Hotels have reported full occupancy, or close to that. JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, located right by the race track, is reportedly at full capacity. Fairmont Singapore, Swissôtel The Stamford, and Pan Pacific Singapore reported being 90 percent occupied.