By Jessica Borrell
- Singapore Preview
- F1’s first night race in it’s eighth year
- Track changes offer more overtakes
Marina Bay, Singapore – A visually stunning race to watch with more fireworks promised this year with track alterations.
Formula 1’s first official night race is a feast for the eyes. 1,700 light projectors illuminate every millimetre of the track and surrounding area for the whole race weekend. The sparks created by the low riding planks show up more here than any other track and they are stunning. Even the fireworks that light up the main grandstand as Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line… Sorry for getting a bit ahead of ourselves but this high down force track should suit Mercedes and the ever more confident Hamilton as we enter the final flyaway races of the year.
A safety car is a certainty
All seven previous races in Singapore have included a safety car, an indicator that the tight circuit often trips a few drivers up. Last year it added to the excitement as Hamilton was challenged from the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and had to pass him late in the race in order to get the win. The safety car is a pivotal moment in this race which usually edges the time close to the two-hour time limit.
It’s key to point out that any lead Mercedes have made in other races to give them a free pit stop is at higher risk than in any other race as a safety car will erase any lead. Concentration is crucial. It may be a little harsh to point out, but the Pastor Maldonado crash calculator may be quite busy this weekend.
Although Marina Bay is a slow circuit, second only to Monaco, it has plenty of high braking corners which means fuel consumption is hard to judge for strategists up and down the pitwall. Alongside trying to plan for a probable safety car may mean some teams play it too safe whilst others don’t make it back to the pits.
Track alterations ensure overtakes
Critics have said that although the race has a great atmosphere, it lacks action on the track, with the tight walls of the street circuit limiting any overtakes. This year the middle sector has been widened through the corners to promise some more action takes place.
The circuit is rough and bumpy, and overtaking through those corners before can lead to being taken out and slammed into the walls (See Hamilton on Mark Webber in 2010). Another cause of incidents in Singapore are the high kerbs that ruin a cars floor if hit at high speeds and gives room for a chasing car to drive past. (See the whole 2010 race!)
Who can handle the heat?
The Singapore Grand Prix is physically demanding and draining on all the drivers considering it is a slow circuit. You can tell who the fittest drivers are when Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg are only just breaking a sweat, compared to the buckets you can see dripping out of Nico Rosberg when he lifts off his helmet. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo told the Formula 1 website it is a challenge like no other.
“Well it is hot! And very humid! I think it’s all those tall buildings downtown – the heat doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s the most physical challenge of the year. It’s the only race of the season where you crack open your visor to let in some cool air and instantly wish you hadn’t because it’s hotter outside. By the warm-up lap your chilled drinks bottle is the temperature of a freshly-poured cup of tea. It’s a tough place to race – but I love the challenge. I think most of the drivers do.
I like the track. Street circuits are fun: you’re bouncing off the kerbs, kissing the walls, it’s cool. And the city’s great. Good restaurants, good atmosphere, great nightlife.”
The constant battling through corners is hard work, and this street circuit should give Red Bull a chance of getting a heavy haul of points after they finished fifth and sixth in Monaco, a similar circuit to Singapore. Williams may be in trouble of keeping up with the Ferrari’s as the lack of straights where they usually excel will prove troublesome for them to gain any extra places after qualifying.
It is all up to the Mercedes pairing to make a mistake and the others to take advantage of that. Lotus should see improvement after their double DNF at Monza whilst McLaren can only hope the uncertainty of a street circuit could result in surprise points.
The Singapore Grand Prix starts at 1pm and is live on Sky Sports F1 with highlights on the BBC.