Singapore Grand Prix - Preview

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Formula One has just completed its European tour and is ready to kick-off closing stage of the 2018 Championship. Next on the stage is the Singapore Grand Prix, providing a stunning backdrop of lights and skyscrapers.

In 2007, it was announced that Singapore GP Pte Ltd reached an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, securing a five-year deal to host Formula One races. It was also confirmed that the telecommunications company Singtel would sponsor the event. The race was co-funded by the Government of Singapore, footing 60% of the total bill, or $90 million, out of a total tab of $150 million.

The first race held in 2008 was dominated by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The Brazilian went on to claim pole position in a dominant fashion despite to a heavier car than his rivals Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton. The Brazilian was easily controlling the race when a safety car interrupted the proceedings and a fatal pit stop error by Ferrari ruined his race. In the end, Fernando Alonso became the first winner of the Singapore GP history after his then team-mate Nelson Piquet was asked to crash into the barriers to induce a safety car period. Over 100,000 spectators, a sell-out, capacity crowd, watched the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix trackside.

The 2008 event marked the very first artificially-lit race in the F1 World Championship. Back then, it was a huge talking point whether the lights would generate enough brightness for drivers and for cameras. The entire track was fitted with nearly 1,500 lighting projectors and was powered by 12 twin-power generators. An overall average of about 3000lux levels was required to illuminate the circuit, which was enough to meet High Definition Television broadcast standards. As a result, the track was almost four times brighter than a typical stadium.

The race has been held 10 times since 2008 and has enjoyed a huge attendance since. The first year saw 300000 people flocking to the track. The total attendance has decreased after that record-setting inaugural year, but it still a favourite destination of fans, last year’s GP was witnessed by over 260000 fans live from around the track.

Most successful drivers and teams

Sebastian Vettel holds the rein in Singapore. The four-time world champion dominated the proceedings in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull and was the fastest in 2015 driving for Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton claimed victory on three occasions while Fernando Alonso won with Ferrari in 2010 after he was the very first Singapore GP winner back in the inaugural year in 2008.
Two of the the current three top teams are neck on neck in terms of race wins. Mercedes and Red Bull are both three-times victors of the race on the Marina Bay Circuit. Ferrari won the event in 2010 and 2015 while McLaren claimed the triumph in 2009.

The fast street circuit

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is 5.063km long. Drivers cover the track 61 times during the Grand Prix to complete the total race distance of 308.706km.

The length of the track has been reduced for this year by two metres as the result of alterations to two corners. Turn 16 and 17 have been realigned before this weekend. Next to these minor tweaks, new asphalt has been laid down around Turn 1, between Turn 5 and 7, Turn 15, 17 and 23.

The track consists of 23 turns of which 14 are left-handed ones. Most of the corners are slow- and medium-speed turns, featuring high kerbs. However, drivers speed up without a moment of hesitation in the last two corners, reaching a maximum lateral force of 4.5 G in Turn 22.

Drivers have to adhere to the pit lane speed limit of 60kph over a 403-metre-long section. The distance from the pole position to the apex of the first turn is 301.2m.

Only 49 per cent of the lap is completed at full throttle which is a fresh change after the power-sensitive Spa and Monza race courses. Fuel consumption is relatively low while braked are put under huge pressure due to three heavy braking zones.

The fastest ever race lap was recorded by Lewis Hamilton who clocked a 1:45.008 during the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix.