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Valtteri Bottas excited to be back at Singapore GP -- "the original F1 night race"

Despite his reputation for being a man of few words, Valtteri Bottas exuded an understated warmth and intelligence while speaking to ESPN ahead of this weekend's Singapore GP. PUMA

Following a two-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Singapore Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 calendar this weekend for the first time since 2019.

Since then, glamorous new venues have been introduced, threatening to usurp what was once called "the crown jewel" of the F1 calendar but also a race that has faced some flak for not exactly being a racing spectacle -- given overtaking on the Marina Bay Street Circuit is notoriously difficult.

But one man who is a fan of Singapore -- both the city and the grand prix -- is veteran driver Valtteri Bottas, who is currently in his maiden campaign at Alfa Romeo after five seasons with Mercedes -- where he combined with a certain Lewis Hamilton to help the team win the constructors championship each year.

"It's definitely nice to be back," said the 33-year-old. "When I arrived and saw the scenery of the city with the lights and the buildings, it's a cool place to be: the original F1 night race.

"And then, seeing all the fans who are very excited to have us back, I'm very excited too.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's a tough one -- an extremely difficult track -- you feel the pain at the end of the race. I've only been on the podium once before but I look forward to it. It's always quite an unpredictable race with safety cars and stuff.

"It is important (to have a race like the Singapore GP). It's always nice to have certain standard tracks on the calendar but also something different like this. Also visually, it's a beautiful place. For the cameras, it's a dream place.

"So yes, it has its place on the calendar."