By Chia Han Keong
When asked what track improvements should be made to the SingTel Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, now that the nation has clinched a five-year extension until 2017, two-time winner Sebastian Vettel practically jumped in with his answer last Saturday.
Turn 10, dubbed the Singapore Sling, has been the bane of all F1 drivers since the inaugural 2008 Singapore race.
Vettel is not the first to speak up about making the sharp chicane safer to negotiate but, when the 25-year-old suggested widening the turn by carving out some more land from - in his very words - the "SCC", most local journalists did a double take.
After racing here for just five years, not only does the young German know the Singapore Cricket Club, but he also referred to it by its abbreviation, a sign of his familiarity with the landmark.
Perhaps this is what five years of racing on one of F1's most iconic circuits can do.
Drivers, like most competitive athletes, will discuss endlessly among themselves the toughest aspects of their races: the sharp corners, the brushes with disaster and the techniques needed to zip through such obstacles without damaging their cars.
From inaugural winner Fernando Alonso to last night's victor Vettel, the five years of racing on the Marina Bay street circuit have not only offered high-octane thrills for spectators, but also given drivers plenty of stern tests to prove themselves as leaders of the pack.
It would not be a stretch to think that - despite their frequently aired worries about rain - the drivers secretly wished for some precipitation, something that has not happened during the past five Singapore GPs.
The winner of that rain-hit race would have negotiated a tough, twisting and bumpy street circuit.
He would have adjusted well to the artificial lighting. And, by virtue of his brilliant handling under the adverse weather conditions, he can have bragging rights over all his rivals. Not even a rainy night can stop this speed demon.
Which is why it was imperative that Singapore should extend its hosting tenure. By stretching it to at least 10 years of racing, the Marina Bay race can be allowed to mature into a circuit every driver wants to win on.
The novelty of it being the only night race has, surprisingly, not worn off yet. But if more hosts switch to night racing, then Singapore must ensure that it remains the race that comes right after the European leg of the F1 races.
As British newspaper The Guardian's recent preview mentioned, it is only at this juncture that this season's narrative has become clear - that it is Alonso's title to lose despite facing strong challenges from Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel.
Singapore's exotic location and challenging circuit make it ideal to kick off the final stretch of international F1 races. It is like ramping up the title-chase tension with a monster of a race that tests drivers to their limits.
It can be a race that separates the greatest drivers from the pretenders, one that weeds out the limp challengers from those with the will to sustain their title assaults.
It can be all those and more, as long as it is impeccably organised and the relationship between Singapore and Bernie Ecclestone's F1 franchise does not sour.
Singapore will see at least a decade of elite-level racing - enough time, probably, to see the final retirement of Michael Schumacher, and to see whether Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel will become the top driver of this generation.
Much like the Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix, which usually end the gruelling F1 season, Singapore can become a vital stop that shapes the finale of every title race.
If it does, then Vettel will surely become familiar with more landmarks, such as Suntec, the Flyer and, of course, the Durian.
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