Formula One is out of Europe and moves on to the glorious streets of Singapore, radically switching from the low downforce Monza to Marina Bay that demands nearly the maximum downforce teams can achieve.
Singapore is a very different challenge to the high power tracks of Spa and Monza. Most obviously, it is a street track, winding its way round some of the city’s most famous landmarks in a series of low speed, low rev turns. In sharp contrast to Belgium and Italy, power sensitivity is amongst the lowest of the season as less than 45% of the lap is spent at full throttle and the average speed is around 170kph. Even more so, due to the start stop nature of the track, this is one of the least fuel efficient of the Formula One season.
Just like other years, teams and drivers work on European time, sleeping through the day and working in the evening and at night. To enable night running, during the event, 108,423 metres of power cables, 240 steel pylons and around 1,600 light projectors with a total power requirement of 3,180,000 watts will be used. With an illumination measurement of around 3,000 lux, the lighting will be four times brighter than that of most sports stadiums.
On top of the timezone difficulty, the Singapore Grand Prix has always ran close to the two-hour maximum race time. The shortest Singapore Grand Prix to date was the 2009 race, won by Lewis Hamilton for McLaren in a time of 1:56:06.337. Fernando Alonso’s victories in 2008 and 2010 were both completed in 1h57m and Sebastian Vettel’s triumph in 2011 pushed that out to 1h59m. The 2012 race was the slowest to date with Vettel’s winning time recorded as 2:00:26.144. Having gone beyond the two-hour cut-off point, the chequered flag was waved after 59 laps on this occasion instead of the scheduled 61. This was the first time since 2008 a grand prix had been completed by duration rather than distance.
The circuit again features 2 DRS zones, just like in 2012. There is one major change though as the chicane at turn 10, aka Singapore Sling, was removed and replaced by a sweeping left hand corner. The views of cars jumping over the kerbs will therefore be history. The change of corners also means that the total laptime will reduce slightly, helping to stay within the 2 hour race limit.
Track highlightsApproaching Turn 1 The second fastest part of the track, with speeds of around 290kph reached before Sheares corner.
Turn 3 The Marina Bay circuit has 23 corners, of which 10 are taken in second or first, 7 in third and only 1 in fourth gear. Corner 3 is a good example of a ‘typical’ Singapore corner. The driver brakes down from around 290kph at the end of the pit straight, shifting down the gears before a quick blip of the throttle for turn 2. He then brakes even further, shifting down to second gear for turn 3. The speed at this point will be under 100kph and the engine will be working at around 13,000rpm, the lower end of the rev range. Engineers will work on the overrun settings to give increased rear stability under braking. They will also look at using shorter gear ratios to maximise acceleration for the short bursts of power between the corners.
Approaching Turn 7 The fastest part of the track, with speeds of around 298kph reached before the sharp left hander of Memorial Corner. This curved straight shoots down Raffles Boulevard with its luxury hotels and boutiques. This short straight – only 700m – will see the driver engage seventh gear and touch the 300kph mark, giving the engine a chance to breathe. With the ambient temperatures generally over 30°C, even at night, it’s a welcome opportunity, particularly as after turn 7 the track goes into a series of low speed, low rev right angled corners for the remainder of the lap.
Turns 13 + 18 Two of the slowest parts of the track, with speeds of around 80km/h and extensive kerb usage for the quickest line.
Turn 14 Another slow corner taken at just 85km/h.
Kerbs Although kerbs are used extensively here, the majority are relatively flat. The exception to this in the past has been Turn 10, however this corner has been be modified for the coming weekend.
Car setupRear Wing Maximum downforce is required here, especially with so many low speed corners and frequent traction demands.
Front Wing Maximum downforce once again, as understeer could prove costly with the walls so close.
Suspension There are several high kerbs around the circuit requiring good suspension compliance, although Turn 10 has been re-profiled for this year, meaning the very high kerbs previously in place through that particular corner will be different. Continual braking demands also call for a softer car; a requirement balanced against wanting to run the car as low as possible without wearing the plank too much.
Brakes Brakes are under constant use here. Although none of the braking demands are individually severe, the relentless nature of continual braking gives scarce opportunity for cooling. This affects the discs, pads and even the brake callipers themselves.
Engine With an average speed of under 170km/h, engine maps are designed to target driveability through the lower revs. Of the 23 corners 10 are taken in second or first, 7 in third and only 1 is taken in fourth gear, meaning the engine is working at between 8,000 and 13,000rpm for the majority of the corner apexes and exits.
Tyres Pirelli’s supersoft compound makes a return alongside the medium, which is a change from the 2012 allocation of soft and supersoft. With 23 corners, the tyres have to perform very well under traction and braking. One of the biggest causes of tyre wear is wheelspin, so rear suspension will be set up to give maximum longitudinal grip. Singapore is a long race – normally running right up to the 2 hour limit – which puts further stress on the tyres; particularly as the cars carry one of the heaviest fuel loads of the year. One factor in favour of the tyres is that – being a night race – the track temperature drops from a peak of around 50°C in the day to closer to 30°C during running times.
Quick factsLength of lap: 5.073km
Lap record: 1:45.599 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2008)
Total number of race laps: 61
Total race distance: 309.316km
Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h throughout the entire event weekend.
Pit-lane length under speed-limit control: 411 m
Pit-lane time at 60 km/h: 24.7 s
Number of corners: 23 (14 left, 9 right)
Maximum speed (no DRS): 300 km/h
Minimum speed: 75 km/h
Corners below 100 km/h: 6
Corners above 250 km/h: 1
Average lap speed (qualifying): 166 km/h
Distance from pole to apex of T1: 200 m
Braking events: 15 (4 heavy)
Full throttle per lap (% lap distance): 48%
Full throttle per lap (% lap time): 39%
Longest period at full throttle: 9.0s
Average gear changes per race lap: 80 (4880/race)
Braking energy: high