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Start your engines: F1 destinations

Hanna Marton
You've seen the new Ayrton Senna documentary, now get whiplash watching the real thing. Here's the lowdown on five of the most exciting cities marked on the Formula One calendar.

Singapore September 23-25

Come for the race, stay for the nosh and nightlife. The Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is Formula One's only night race, which is cool. Even cooler is the eclectic entertainment line-up: Shakira, Shaggy, Boy George, Linkin Park and Rick "Never Gonna Give You Up" Astley. WTF?

STAY Marina Bay Sands is a hotel from another planet. On steroids. Three glittering skyscrapers are joined at the top by SkyPark, a 1.2-hectare garden that's longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. The 629-square-metre, two-floor Chairman Suite (with baby grand piano) is probably booked out until the next Ice Age, but there are 2560 more rooms for you to choose from.

EAT Waku Ghin is Sydney chef Tetsuya's only restaurant outside of Australia (and probably easier to get into). For posh dim sum, go to Golden Peony; for an authentic Singaporean hawker experience, cab it to the recently renovated Old Airport Road Food Centre.

DRINK Singapore has more rooftop bars than Lindsay Lohan's got problems, such as the quirky-but-sophisticated Loof Bar. A Singapore Sling in Raffles' Long Bar is a tradition. New Asia Bar on level 71 of the Swissotel is a crowd favourite, while elite ultra-lounge Pangaea — of the London and New York variety — opens on Sept 22 at Marina Bay Sands.

FOR THE LADIES The overwhelming monster mall ION Orchard boasts eight floors of clobber, from Bally to Zara. Singapore's first Banyan Tree Spa soars at 200m above sea level at Marina Bay Sands.

New Delhi October 28-30

One of India's richest companies, the Jaypee Group, has built Delhi's first grand prix track – the Buddh International Circuit – and a sprawling resort next to it. Convenient! It's also building an expressway that will shave hours off the route from New Delhi to the Taj Mahal. Delhi good.

STAY India's newest five-star digs, Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort, will be home to drivers, politicians, celebs and at least one of the daughters of the Sultan of Brunei during the F1. Rumour has it she demanded her room be renovated to suit her needs. It was. In the city, you can't overlook The Imperial hotel.

EAT Delhi's reigning champ is Bukhara in ITC Maurya Hotel, a surprisingly meat-heavy restaurant for a Hindu country. Bill and Hillary Clinton dined there in 2009, while Vladimir Putin reportedly asked to eat there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Blue Ginger at the Taj Palace Hotel offers delightful Vietnamese dishes.

DRINK Join Delhi's 'it' crowd at Agni at The Park Hotel in Connaught Place for a "Love Junk" cocktail.

FOR THE LADIES Whisk her off to the Taj Mahal — the world's biggest, most beautiful testament to love. Back at the ranch, Jaypee Greens just opened the country's first Six Senses Spa.

Melbourne March 15-18

The Qantas Australian Grand Prix moved from Adelaide to Albert Park in 1996, after what F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone alleged was 10 minutes of negotiating. The motto for that first controversial Grand Prix around the lake was "Melbourne: what a great place for the race". Mmm, inventive.

STAY If you need a place to store your bags, go to a Best Western. Need a place to unwind after the race? The Langham on Southbank is stylish, cosy and rates start from $491 during race weekend.

EAT The Point at Albert Park delivers steak and views, while up-and-comer the Huxtable Restaurant, Collingwood, is great for sharing plates. Floor it to Izakaya Den for chic Japanese dining.

DRINK Railway-themed The Toff boasts live music, a rooftop bar and private booths. Secret Garden and Pretty Please are two of St Kilda's newest bars and worth a look.

FOR THE LADIES Book a three-hour couples treatment at Chuan Spa, which includes a soak in a private geisha tub. (Excludes private geisha.)

Kuala Lumpur March 30-April 1*

An easy eight-hour flight away — and costing peanuts on AirAsia — is the Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, which boasts the scariest-looking hair-pin bend on the Formula One circuit. Pack a spare stomach: with a combo of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures, KL is a foodie' Mecca.

STAY Close to the track on the Sepang Coast, 70km from KL, Golden Palm Tree Resort & Spa sports eco-friendly, five-star, overwater villas. In the city, bunk down at Malaysia's first certified green hotel, G-Tower for about $120 per night.

EAT Although most Aussies consider it naff, the best restaurants in KL are found in hotels or malls, such as Enak KL in Starhill Gallery, Chynna in The Hilton and Li Yen in the Ritz Carlton. One exception is Bijan, often touted as the best Malay restaurant in KL. Wander through China Town for cheap n' cheerful fare.

DRINK For unparalleled views of the Petronas Twin Towers, sip cocktails on the sunken lounges next to the pool at SkyBar, level 33 of the Trader's Hotel. The newest and sexiest al fresco bar is View Rooftop Bar at GTower Hotel.

FOR THE LADIES Bukit Bintang is KL's shopping hub and the place to find bargain massages. Beneath the Twin Towers is Suria KLCC — a megamall bursting with lavish stores like Hermes and Coach (and a Boost Juice).

*We've been told by Tourism Malaysia that while it almost never happens, this F1 date is subject to change.

Monaco May 24-27

If the Monte Carlo track was a woman, it would be Angelina Jolie: beautiful, challenging and skinny. How they fit a race track in that tiny municipality is beyond us. Mark Webber was the first Aussie to win the Grand Prix de Monaco in 50 years, in 2010. Can he do it again?

STAY If you're a gazillionaire, watch the race from a chartered yacht. The "next best" place to sleep in Monte Carlo is Hotel de Paris — next to that casino — but you can stay in Nice and can catch a 15-minute train to Monaco. Le Palais de la Mediterranee is TripAdvisor's top-ranked five-star hotel in Nice, but it's the Cote d'Azur we're talking about. A skip bin is going to be pleasant.

EAT If money's no object, dine at Le Louis XV (three Michelin stars). For a very un-French experience, burgers and a laugh, go to Stars n' Bars — the place is decked out with racing paraphernalia.

DRINK In Monte Carlo, chilled-out Blue Gin sports 17 different types of — you guessed it — gin, and serves up an incredible view of the (blue) sea. High-octane club Jimmy'z is a must-do but may require a second mortgage per round of drinks.

FOR THE LADIES It's the French Riviera — she's happy. But romantics will appreciate St Nicholas Cathedral, where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier in 1956 (it's also where they were buried), not to mention the State Apartments at the Princes Palace.

Have you been to a Formula One event before? Do you have any tips to add? Enter your comments below

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