The Sepang Circuit (SIC) has been toying with the idea of lighting up the entire facility for the longest time, especially since 2009 when the Abu Dhabi F1 race joined Singapore in having the race at night (to be precise, the Abu Dhabi race flagged off late evening, and finished at night). Such a move (to install flood lights) would have made the race far more comfortable for spectators and racing teams/drivers. It would have been more TV-friendly too as the live broadcast to Europe and North America happens at a more palatable time.
Alas, now that the Sepang Circuit is lighted up, Malaysia no longer hosts F1. And let’s put one thing straight – this does not mean that Malaysia/SIC is interested to bring it back. The truth is, hosting F1 still requires major capital investment; the type which is hardly recouped with ticket sales and sponsorship, if at all. Also, let’s not forget about the important programmes which SIC has been able to implement since there is more financial room to play with.
Even if we decide to try and entice F1 back, the current lighting facility does not make the cut. Not for safety reasons but because it’s still not quite up there for broadcasting needs, especially in HD. As it is, the quality of lighting is good enough for national championship series. The current lighting system already has approval from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and International Motorcycling Federation (FIM).
The lighting system is from Musco Lights, an American firm which has extensive experience in illuminating various motorsports venues, football stadiums and airports all around the world (to name a few). It is the same company which installed the lights at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and the Losail International Circuit in Bahrain.
The Circuit Lights are made up of 64 light poles that goes as high up as 43 metres and brightens the circuit with a consistent illumination level of 150 lux throughout the circuit’s 5.543km length. As many have found out, it provides very even, strong lighting. Equally important is that there are no points where there is glare, something critical for those on two- or four-wheels.
With this new addition, SIC have the potential to create more revenue by selling more track time, particularly on weekends when the circuit operator has often had to turn people down due to a packed schedule. Apparently, the calendar for Sepang is 98 per cent filled. The Circuit Night lights will open more available time for utilisation.
* The lighting system for the Singapore F1 GP were designed to meet high definition television (HDTV) broadcast standards. This includes a more intense, yet uniform illumination by having more lighting projectors (totalling almost 1,500 that are placed 4 metres apart) that are fixed just 10 metres above ground level. The result is a lighting system with 3,000 lux, which is four times brighter than what you’ll get in a typical stadium.