The ING Renault F1 Team began its preparations for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix today as Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet completed their free practice programmes on the Marina Bay street circuit.
Sunday’s race will be the first Grand Prix to be staged at night and so today’s two free practice sessions were held in the evening to give the drivers their first taste of driving under the artificial lighting.
Weather conditions were ideal for both sessions, allowing the team to get straight down to learning the track and dialling the car into the circuit. Along with set-up work, the team also completed its usual evaluation of the two compounds of Bridgestone tyres in preparation for qualifying and the race.
Both drivers were competitive during the day, with Fernando topping the time sheets during the second session. Having collected some valuable information the team now looks forward to a strong qualifying session tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso: “The first day of work has gone well. The circuit is interesting, very bumpy in places, especially into turn number 7, and we have to keep an eye on that because it can become a problem. In terms of the lighting, when I walked the track I was impressed, but behind the wheel at 300 km/h some parts of the track are a bit dark. But despite that, this is an amazing opportunity for the spectators to attend a night race and I am satisfied with my day.”
Nelson Piquet: “It was an interesting experience to drive today during the night and the organisers have done a remarkable job to make this possible. The behaviour of the car felt good and it reacted well to the different set-up options that we tried. However, we still have a bit of work to do ahead of qualifying tomorrow, but the first signs are encouraging.”
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: “It is always exciting to come to a new track and the spectacle in Singapore is even better than I imagined. It is a really exciting new era for Formula 1 and I’d like to congratulate all of those who make it possible. The circuit itself is almost as we expected, although much bumpier than what we have experienced before. It reminds me of the North American circuits in the 1980’s. Having said that, our cars and drivers seemed to be pretty competitive this evening. Let’s see what tomorrow brings us.”
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: “Our first day has gone smoothly, which proves that we were well prepared coming here. We made the most of the track time available to evaluate some different settings and, as for any new circuit, we have concentrated on cooling, fuel consumption and the gear ratios. The results from the two sessions are therefore encouraging and we hope to continue in the same way tomorrow.”