This event can trace its origins back to 1961, when as a non-championship race was held known as the Orient Year Grand Prix, before being renamed the Malaysian Grand Prix the following year. When Singapore gained independence in 1965 the event at the Thomson Road circuit was renamed the Singapore Grand Prix. The event ran until 1973 but was axed after fatal accidents in the 1972 and 1973 races. The huge increase in oil prices due to the Suez Crisis may have also been a contributing factor.

In 2007 it was announced that Singapore entrepreneur Ong Beng Seng and the Singapore Tourism Board had signed a five-year deal to host a race on a road circuit in the Marina Bay area of the city. The event would also be F1's first night race.

The first race took place on September 28, 2008 as the 15th round of that year's championship. The race was won by Renault's Fernando Alonso, but, just before the first anniversary of the race, the real truth behind the race emerged.

Recently-sacked Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jnr gave a statement to the FIA saying he was asked to crash deliberately in order to deploy the safety car, which would help Alonso who was on an unusually light fuel load, win the race.

At the ensuing hearing, dubbed "Crashgate", both drivers escaped prosecution, and the team received a two-year suspended ban. It was team boss Flavio Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds who took the brunt of the punishment - Symonds was banned from motorsport for five years, Briatore for life.

The 2009 race, won by Lewis Hamilton, managed to avoid controversy. However, eyebrows were raised when new Renault driver Romain Grosjean crashed in practice, in exactly the same place Piquet had done the previous year.