Ferrari ramp up development push – Technical news from the Singapore GP

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuitsg

After the last two grands prix were dominated by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the pecking order was expected to change for the Singapore Grand Prix. The Marina Bay Circuit poses a different set of challenges to the cars which usually rewards cars with good aerodynamic downforce in slow-speed corners.

No time for rest – At Singapore, Ferrari continued its development push, unveiling a set of big upgrades as the team chases low-speed performance. The Scuderia’s SF90 has been a benchmark in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and straight-line performance, but has been no match to Red Bull and Mercedes when it came to cornering speed especially in low- and medium-speed bends. As the Technical Regulation remains stable for next year, Ferrari did not abandon its development and unveiled a new nose design at Singapore. The fresh concept features a cape section underneath the nose. To install the cape, the huge elongated mounting pylons had to disappear. These elements played a big part in controlling the air flowing underneath the nose, but the team felt that the cape design was the right path to find remedy to the persistent lack of front-end downforce.

Next to the new nose, the team also made modifications to the floor and introduced track-specific changes including using its high-downforce rear wing and its double-element T-Wing.

Last push – Similar to Ferrari, Alfa Romeo has also brought new parts to Singapore to enhance its cornering speed. The team introduced a new double-element T-wing to increase rear downforce around the slow Marina Bay Circuit. The front wing endplates were also modified, which now feature Mercedes-like upwashing strakes. These five fins will help to control the way the airflows come off the rear wing.

Rare mistake – After making a rare mistake during the first free practice session, Mercedes was fined by the Singapore Grand Prix stewards. The temperature of the fuel intended for immediate use in Lewis Hamilton’s car was more than eleven degrees centigrade below the ambient temperature recorded by the FIA appointed weather service provider one hour before the first practice session. According to the 6.5.2 of the 2019 Formula One Technical Regulations, no fuel intended for immediate use in a car may be more than ten degrees centigrade below the ambient temperature. The Stewards took the same decision as in the similar case with Antonio Giovinazzi’s car during the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and as a result of this Mercedes were fined EUR5000.

New gearbox – After a heavy shunt during the third and final free practice session, the gearbox in Sergio Perez’ car had to be replaced for the qualifying session. As the change was before the six consecutive events expired, the Mexican will need to serve a five-place grid drop penalty for tomorrow’s 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix.

Next to the Racing Point driver, Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Räikkönen started their race weekend with a fresh gearbox. As the Russian did not finish the previous race and the Finn used a spare unit at Monza, they both escaped the penalty for the change.

Unsurprising – It is probably less surprising that no driver has received any new power unit elements for the Singapore Grand Prix. Only the Racing Points drivers and Robert Kubica could have got a fresh control electronics and a new energy store as all of them have only used one of the two units permitted for this season. Every other change would have triggered a grid drop penalty which teams are desperate to avoid at Singapore where overtaking is rather difficult. Most of the drivers who were limited on engine components like the ones driving Honda- and Renault-powered cars took penalties for adding fresh elements to their pool of engines at the previous two rounds at Spa and Monza where overtaking was less complicated.