Following two fast and historic circuits in the heartland of Europe, Spa and Monza, Formula One is now headed for a complete contrast: the ultra-modern Singapore street circuit, which is the only race on the calendar run at night under street lamps.
To suit the stop-start nature of the track, Pirelli has selected the P Zero Red supersoft tyre – the softest tyre in the range – and the P Zero White medium.
As well as the fact that the race is run at night, with the teams all sticking to a European time schedule, there are a number of other factors that make the Marina Bay circuit unique. In terms of duration, this is usually the longest race of the year as it often comes close to the two-hour time limit, which means that the cars carry the heaviest fuel load of the season. It’s also one of the most humid races of the year, and statistically there’s a high chance of a safety car intervention. All these elements affect tyre wear and degradation as well as strategy.
Paul Hembery: “The tyres we are bringing to Singapore this year represent a change from last year, when we went for supersoft and soft. This is because the tyres are generally softer across the board this year in order to maximise performance and grip. Singapore is quite bumpy – a typical feature of street circuits – and there’s lots of street furniture such as painted white lines and manholes that compromise grip and traction. We’re racing at night, which presents a unique set of parameters for the tyres to deal with when it comes to the way that track and ambient temperatures evolve. The cars also carry the heaviest fuel load of the year, which again has a direct effect on tyre wear and degradation. It’s a long race, and that gives the teams plenty of scope to come up with some interesting strategies at what is a truly spectacular event in every sense. We’ve always been made to feel incredibly welcome at Singapore, which is probably the most spectacular event of the year in terms of the whole show that is put on for the public. Our aim as always is to contribute to that show by providing tyres with exactly the right compromise between performance and degradation in order to guarantee close racing.”
Jean Alesi: “I’ve never raced at Singapore but I went over there to watch the grand prix two years ago. I can only describe it as an amazing sight: what the organisers have achieved takes your breath away. And it’s fantastic to watch on TV too as a pure visual spectacle. From what I could see it’s a race that is hard on the drivers and cars but maybe less so on the tyres: the average speed is not so high and there’s a lot of stop and start with quite low grip, which are all conditions that generally do not punish the tyres too much. For the drivers though it’s a different story: the high temperatures, humidity, and the sheer length of the race demand a lot physically. Spa and Monza, which we’ve just had, are two tracks that are very hard on tyres. Now we go to something that’s completely different and I think it’s going to be interesting to see what sort of strategies the teams can formulate in Singapore. With the supersoft and medium tyres, there is plenty of opportunity to try something different, and that’s a fascinating part of modern grand prix racing.”