SINGAPORE – Formula 1 returns to the streets of Singapore this weekend – but the race coincides with the city’s worst air quality in three years.
The haze, as it is called, is caused by fires in nearby Indonesia and Malaysia and is an annual problem in the region.
So just as Singapore gets ready for the F1 glitz, the usually clear blue sky has turned a foggy, faded grey.
The skyline is shrouded – and the air, officially classed as unhealthy this week, carries a burnt smell.
But Singapore and F1 officials are doing their best to try to reassure fans that it’s safe to come – and that the race is on.
How will the haze affect the race?
The Singapore night race is already considered one of the most demanding of the season. If the haze persists, and visibility is poor, things will be even harder.
“It’s not just a safety consideration for the drivers,” meteorology expert Professor Koh Tieh Yong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences told the BBC.
“It’s also about whether they can do their best. As they are going very fast, they have to look far ahead. So for the drivers, visibility would be a bigger factor than for the spectators.
“It would affect their performance even before it affects their safety.”
The temperature in Singapore often exceeds 30C (86F) and drivers have to endure about 50C in the cockpit.
Add to that a sweat-inducing 80% humidity, and you can imagine why the race is dubbed the Singapore Sauna.
“If you’re going to have a race where the performances of your drivers are all compromised and they can not perform as normal, then what is the point of having the race?” Mr Koh said.
“Are they really competing to the best of the their abilities – or is it just a lucky one who drove through a patch of clearer air and won?”
If visibility gets very bad, the race could even be called off. But Singapore has experienced haze during previous F1 races without any cancellations. -BBC