As part of Johnnie Walker’s Step Inside The Circuit series of films, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button join a cast of locals in describing what the Singapore Grand Prix is really like.

The Republic of Singapore is a city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with a population of just 5.1 million and yet a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 240 billion.  That’s around a tenth of the UK’s output from a twelth of the population.

In fact, Singapore ranks third after Hong Kong and Ireland on Ernst & Young’s Globalization Index 2011, which measures the world’s 60 largest economies according to their degree of globalization relative to their GDP.  Not bad for a country that’s only a third of the size of London.

In the video, Lewis and Jenson talk about their unusual working hours while in Singapore – staying on European time – working out in the gym at 2:00am while all the cool people are out partying.

Nightclub owner, Michael Ault, who has owned more than 25 clubs around the world, talks about the tremendous disposable income he witnesses at Pangaea Singapore – 90% of reservations being made by Black Amex card holders and a third of his guests being billionaires. It’s no wonder McLaren Automotive were so keen to open a retailer there last year.

So, it’s refreshing to hear Lewis say that despite all the glitz and glamour “..(he) gets to do the coolest part of it”.

“You can see the brake discs glowing at night, can see the flames coming out of the exhausts” says Jenson “It’s a really good atmosphere.”

It’s also interesting to hear from Jenson that while most of the time he tries to contact on the circuit, at Singapore it’s different “ see every single flash on every single camera in the grandstand.”

“When we go past this massive grandstand on the left, I remember looking up and seeing every single person had their camera.. it seemed like they were taking a picture at the same time. There was just a massive flash on the left hand side.”, Jenson Button.

It’s clearly a unique and special experience, and one that both Lewis and Jenson enjoy.

But it’s not all work and no play, after the race everyone likes to enjoy themselves a little bit, as Jenson clearly demonstrates with girlfriend Jessica Michibata, as they head out for a night on the town.

Local celebrity blogger, Dawn Yang, describes Singapore as “..the Monaco of the East”, which explains why it’s become one of the most popular races on the grand prix calendar.

READ: Lewis Hamilton makes his mark in Singapore with a McLaren 12C (w/VIDEO)

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Last weekend, Singapore’s Trade and Industry minister S. Iswaran announced that a 5-year extension of the race had been agreed with Formula One commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone.

The event is one of the most expensive on the calendar, costing $122.32 million per race, with the government directly contributing 60% of the bill.  But Iswaran said the race has attracted more than 150,000 visitors during the past four years, spending over $456.8 million.

Ecclestone said after the announcement on Saturday, “He’s not easy to deal with and I can’t understand why he was complaining about us using the streets and wearing out the streets,” he joked. “But we eventually got there and I’m very, very happy. We’re all here for another five years.”

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