Life in the fast lane: meet one of the project managers who prepares for the Singapore Grand Prix

Hsieh-Min Loy
Formula 1 organisers took the bold decision to stage F1’s first ever night race on the streets of Singapore just over a decade ago. Since then, the city’s Grand Prix has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the highlights on the racing calendar.

An experienced team works all year round to turn the downtown area into a world-class sporting and lifestyle venue. We go behind the scenes with Hsieh-Min Loy from SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business, which oversees the planning, construction and removal of the temporary racing circuit and supporting facilities.

In mid-September, the hustle and bustle of this global financial centre was replaced by the spectacle and excitement of Formula 1® racing. The Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix was held over three days.

Faithful+Gould works with race promoter, Singapore GP Pte Ltd (Singapore GP), to transform urban infrastructure built for the day-to-day into the setting for this extraordinary event. ‘We plan and oversee the installation of the temporary facilities, ensuring they’re in line with Singapore GP’s requirements, and we manage the removal of the structures after the event,’ says Hsieh-Min Loy, who is a project director at Faithful+Gould. ‘That includes the track barriers and fences, utilities, hospitality suites and even the food and beverage marquees.’

To build the event from the ground up the team works to a precise schedule. There is a fixed deadline, budget constraints and regulatory requirements to follow. The five-kilometre street circuit takes in some of the city’s most famous sites: from Singapore’s National Gallery; to its striking performing arts centre; the Singapore Flyer observation wheel; and the iconic ‘Merlion’ - a half fish, half lion statue that represents the city’s past. While drivers weave their way through this mix of the old and the new at hundreds of kilometres an hour, Faithful+Gould’s role is to ensure no detail is overlooked in the race to the finish line.

As Hsieh-Min explains: ‘We work closely with Singapore GP to understand the requirements of the organisations and individuals who own and operate properties in the downtown area. We then aim to ensure a positive experience for them in the lead-up to the race, during the event and when we reach the dismantling stage.’

‘For example, if we know what people’s concerns are we’re able to propose installation and dismantling schedules that take everyone’s needs into consideration and plan construction activity on Circuit Park in line with the specifications set out by authorities. Of course, we also monitor progress, so we know the approach we agreed with all interested parties is what’s being delivered.’

Faithful+Gould has been working in partnership with Singapore GP for many races. In that time, their approach has evolved. ‘The changes may appear to be minor,’ says Hsieh-Min. ‘But they’re the result of the entire team learning year-on-year and bringing fresh thinking and an innovative approach to every event.’

That includes working with the race promoter to fine tune the planning process to improve scheduling and logistics, as well as the function of facilities.

‘But I believe one of the biggest differences relates to people’s expectations,’ says Hsieh-Min. ‘Singapore GP enhances the experience for patrons every year and from working closely with our client we understand that what happens before and after the race can be just as important to them as the action on the track.’

For example, Faithful+Gould is responsible for installing, maintaining and dismantling the network of essential services that powers the Circuit Park, and keeps the water and data flowing. One of its toughest and most important roles is ensuring people don’t notice the infrastructure.

The team also manages an engineering ‘help desk’ to address any issues that are raised on race day. For example, if there is a temporary power failure or water shortage, a manager will assess the problem and refer it to the appropriate contractor who will attend to the matter immediately. The Park has been divided into zones to make this job easier. It is a five-kilometre circuit, so there is a lot of ground for the team to cover.

So how hard is it to keep up the pace during this international event? ‘Things move quickly in the lead up to and during the Grand Prix - we know that all eyes are on us on race day,’ says Hsieh-Min. ‘But when the event runs smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves we all breathe a sigh of relief. Our long involvement in the Singapore Grand Prix is something we’re all immensely proud of. It’s nice to take the time to reflect on that before we start planning for the next event.’

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