SINGAPORE: The Grand Prix is held at night adding a magical air to the race which takes place on a street circuit around Marina Bay
With the Formula One season gathering pace nicely, pit lane reporter NATALIE PINKHAM picks out five of her favourite venues from the second half of the season
PEOPLE say to me: "It's all very well jet-setting from one circuit to the next but surely airport lounges and hotels all look the same? I bet you don't get to see the real side of each country you visit."
However in Formula 1 that's just not the case. Being part of the racing community magnifies the cultural experience and provided you tack on a post-race day or two, you get a real sense of each country's character through the contrasting energy, music, colour and smells, not to mention the people.
Click here for amazing Monza deals
Here are my favourites:
Monza, Italy September 7-9
Passions run high in all F1 cities but nowhere more so than in Italy's Cathedral of Speed - Monza.
With its obsessive fans and vibrant energy, it's glorious chaos. The city, only a few miles from Milan, is awash with stunningly attractive women wearing very little and hordes of gesticulating Godfather-like characters admiring them.
It's got a certain endearing craziness but for something less frenetic, head to Monza Cathedral on Piazza del Duomo, three miles south of the circuit.
Dating back to the seventh century, it overlooks the cobbled square dotted with little restaurants and bars. I once spent a lovely evening sipping Prosecco, eating fresh pasta and listening to opera music at the elegant Tearose Cafe, while the local children raced round the square like wannabe F1 drivers.
It was the perfect antidote to the circuit's high-octane intensity.
Citalia (0844 415 1956/ www.citalia.com) offers three nights at Starhotels Anderson Milano from £499pp (two sharing), B&B.
Price includes return flights from Gatwick.
Singapore September 21-23
This street-based, night-time race makes the city look like a giant glow worm.
Taking place in the heart of Singapore, it's easy to explore the attractions on foot such as Chinatown and Little India.
Try the modern Waterfront in the shadow of the city's skyscrapers overlooking the Singapore Strait. As my birthday fa
lls on the race weekend I usually celebrate with some Grand Prix-inspired cocktails on the terrace at the chic, hospital-inspired bar, The Clinic at Clarke Quay.
Last year F1 pundit and former racer John Watson joined me for an aptly titled Injections cocktail, served in a syringe.
Travelbag (0871 703 4240/ www.travelbag.co.uk) offers five nights in Singapore at the Carlton Hotel from £1,439pp (two sharing), room only.
Price includes return flights from Gatwick with Vietnam Airlines.
New Delhi, India October 26-28
Visiting this vibrant city is like an assault on the senses: the colours, sights and sounds.
Take a tuk-tuk into the Paharganj market district with its narrow streets and crumbling mosques.
My pale-skinned, blond fianc© Owain (Walbyoff) stuck out like a Ford Capri at a Grand Prix as we bought pashminas in between dodging the kings of the road, the sacred cows.
The food is excellent. I had a spectacular vegetarian curry at a small, family-run restaurant.
Cox & Kings (0207 873 5000/www.coxandkings.co.uk) offers four nights at The Leela Palace New Delhi from £2,095pp (two sharing),
B&B. Price includes return flights with Jet Airways from Heathrow and private transfers.
Abu Dhabi November 2-4
For ostentatious wealth and movie-set fantasy, set in the sweltering Arabian desert, Abu Dhabi delivers.
Average daily temperatures hit 31C in November so daytime sightseeing is a seriously sweaty business and it's best to cool off in the shade next to your hotel pool.
One must-see attraction, however, is Yas Island's Ferrari World theme park, which is home to the world's fastest rollercoaster Formula Rossa.
The island also has numerous water parks, golf courses and hotels. Abu Dhabi doesn't do understatement and that includes the glitzy Yas Marina Hotel which spans part of the race circuit and changes colour as the race progresses from day to night.
I ate at Origins, one of 12 restaurants at the hotel, which offers everything from sushi to tagines. ? Premier Holidays (0844 493 7542/www.premier holidays.co.uk) offers four nights at the Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi from £1,999pp (two sharing),
B&B. Price includes return Etihad flights from Heathrow.
Sao Paulo, Brazil November 23-25
For a frenzied festival feel and sheer buzz, Sao Paulo's Interlagos is in pole position on the Formula 1 circuit.
The spirit of late Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna lives on through his nephew Bruno, one of the Williams drivers, and that historic zeal gives Interlagos a more intense edge than the other races.
A welcome respite from this frenetic city is the Parque do Ibirapuera, home to the city's Museum of Contemporary Art, a Japanese Pavilion and flying saucer-shaped Planetarium.
Brazilians love their steaks and for a full gaucho experience where the chef slices a selection of 15 meats at the table, head to Fogo De Ch£o, Santo Amaro.
Despite being a vegetarian, the theatre of the occasion and the massive salad bar still made it a memorable visit.
For fantastic Monza deals, click here
British Airways (0844 493 0758/www.ba.com/south america) offers four nights in S£o Paulo at the Comfort Hotel from £1,285pp (two sharing), B&B. Price includes return flights from Heathrow.
All prices for travel during respective Grands Prix.
Natalie Pinkham was talking to NICK MCGRATH