Built around the city state’s Marina Bay ,this is the venue for the Singapore Grand Prix.It is 5.1 kilometres long in a harbourside location similar in style to the Monaco Grand Prix and the new circuit in Valencia. The track layout is unique in many ways ,one of which is that in between turns 18 and 19, the cars race underneath a section of grandstand of the floating Platform.
The circuit is very tight, twisty and lacks breadth in many spots and so it has to be even slower than Monaco. All ofMonaco’s traditional challenges come complimentary to Singapore street circuit as well. For the teams, this is tough circuit for keeping the brakes cool and managing the engine, since this is a region of high air temperatures.
The track was criticized last year by F1 drivers to be excessively bumpy, resulting in a very unforgiving circuit. Given the hot and humid conditions of the Singapore climate, it is almost twice as hard to negotiate a turn compared to theMonaco street circuit and unexpectedly demanding on the driver’s physical strength.
Many drivers also expressed their concern about the harsh kerbs at the turn 13 hairpin and the chicane at turn 10 of street circuit. Year 2008 Drivers’ title runners up man Felipe Massa says – “little tortoises that would wreck the car if you get something wrong.” Yup – hitting the bumps could cause suspension damage or even pitch the car into the wall on the outside of the corner. Immediately responding to the drivers’ feedback, the kerbs were reasonably reduced in height for the eventual night race.
The entry of the pit lane was deemed to be dangerous by several drivers due to the fast nature of the corners where they were situated. The controversial pit entry & exits have been modified further for 2009 to avoid minimum exposure to the incredibly dangerous & fast penultimate corner of the 23-turn layout at Singapore.
The set up of the cars’ aerodynamics is unique too. This circuit demands the highest levels of wing of the season on the car to give as much down force as possible. Assuming that the Bridgestone tires for this race are the soft and super-soft compounds, the unique challenge here is that the track temperatures & the air temperatures & quite the same which fall as the race progresses into the night.
For the drivers-they need to remain sharp as the race happens way beyond normal race times in the day. We need to keep the rhythm correct and sleep well. It is a much more of a job to make sure you don’t switch to the local time, because your body automatically wants to change, external factors such as light, temperature, humidity are all encouraging it – right from the moment the drivers and teams land in Singapore. All of them therefore stay up working until early morning on the day they land.
And you obviously don’t want to play Rugby with the tire barriers on any circuit. To minimize the risk, the helmets for this night race have a variety of visors with high-contrast, different colourations, as with artificial light you will not have natural shadow and depth perception can be reduced.
In 2008, Fernando Alonso won the first ever F1 night race here, thanks to our unemployed friend – Nelson Piquet Junior. A short one to silence the critics: Lets keep it real guys – the type of crash that Piquet ran was no danger to anyone, exception perhaps to that grasshopper on the track. Only if he hadn’t tried hopping across the track, he too would have made it home to his kids to tell one helluva story!
In 2009, my money is on Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello.It would be best to qualify here on a medium heavy fuel load…I feel this is a relatively difficult circuit to overtake, being a street circuit & also that a safety car in the 1st lap or so remains a 90% possibility. So when others dive in for nose wing & tire changes, you put the hammer down and build up further on that 25 second pit advantage & keep going till lap 25 or so.
It is currently raining in Singapore and it will do so for the next 2-3 days, if BBC weather is to be trusted. If it rains on the Friday practice & I do have the time to notice, get ready for another boring scenario of the race strategy permutations from my desk..
Until then.. Let’s keep redlining the RPM dials!
Singapore GP Circuit Map Image Courtesy: www.F1.com