We’re here in the Lion City to catch Formula 1’s only night race this weekend, and we’re seeing some familiar sights at Singapore’s Clarke Quay. Proton and its subsidiary Group Lotus, which is of course the title sponsor of Lotus-Renault GP, is making its presence felt in Singapore with a showcase amidst the trendy bars and restaurants of the riverside area.

The showcase features the main star – a Lotus-Renault GP F1 car – flanked by a white Lotus Evora and the sportiest production Proton, the R3 Satria Neo. Besides the machines, there’s a stall selling official LRGP merchandise as well as a Batak Machine.

The latter is a fun activity that tests and trains reflexes and is used as an F1 training simulator as well. Basically, the lights pop up and you hit the button – who hits more in one minute wins. The Batak duel was a big crowd puller among the Clake Quay crowd – I gave it a try as well and realised that my reflexes needed a lot of training!

We missed her, but Miss Universe Australia Scherri-Lee Biggs, Proton’s brand ambassador Down Under, made an appearance as well.

If you’re wondering why Proton is at an F1 race, it’s to support Group Lotus and to benefit from the association with the sports car brand. “It’s not Proton in F1, it’s Lotus. Proton has no business being in F1,” said Proton MD Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin.

Both him and Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar revealed that the gold “Lotus” name is in among the top 10 most visible brands in Formula 1 (among the many names and sponsors) as tracked by two UK based agencies used by the sport.

They said that brand awareness is what Group Lotus is chasing after, and this brand awareness is crucial to support Lotus’ upcoming new gen of cars, starting with the Esprit in 2013. According to the plan, “when the Esprit comes out, it will come out in a very good environment, says Syed Zainal. “We want to bring the (brand) awareness back to the level seen 25 years ago,” added Bahar, who sounds consistent with his Paris 2010 speech.

As for LRGP, they’re not expecting too much from this weekend, as the R31 is not suited to Singapore’s layout. Team boss Eric Boullier also revealed that they’ve abandoned the updates brought in for this race, namely tighter bodywork and sidepods. It wasn’t a problem with the new stuff, but a problem with water flow for the radiators. Better not to risk it, so it was back to default. The updates will debut in Japan.

Will Sebastian Vettel be crowned world champion for the second time tomorrow? No one dares to bet against that happening, but Alonso and the McLaren boys will be all out to spoil the party, that’s for sure. Enjoy the race!