Strategy guide for the Singapore Grand Prix

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuitsg

While interruptions often happen at the Singapore Grand Prix, making the strategy difficult to predict, Formula One's tyre supplier Pirelli estimates that the one-stop strategy is the fastest approach in today's race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó delivers his strategy guide.

As has been the case for all the other street circuits this year, Pirelli has brought the trio of softest compounds to Singapore: C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft.

Tyre stress is relatively low at the Marina Bay Circuit with the focus placed on traction while lateral forces are low due to the lack of high-speed corners. Given the fact that the Singapore track is a street circuit, it usually goes through a significant track evolution during the weekend which often means that drivers find huge improvements between the opening two practices and qualifying.

That was the case even more this year as several parts of the track went through resurfacing. The circuit has been resurfaced from the start of the pit straight until the exit of Turn 6 and from the entry of Turn 14 until the exit of the new Turn 16.

While overheating could be a problem and drivers need to look after the rear tyres, tyre stress has become slightly lower with modification to the track layout. The previous Turns 16, 17, 18 and 19 have been removed and the walls have been realigned from Turn 15 until what was Turn 20. It means that the longitudinal load going through the rear tyres is slightly less with the elimination of the slow section underneath the 'old' tunnel-like section that hosted a grandstand.

When it comes to race strategy, the one-stop strategy is usually the way to go given the length of the pit lane and the tyre wear. The pit stop loss time of around 27 seconds is the highest of the season, together with Imola. The hardest compound available is normally the main race tyre if it stays dry.

However, interruptions could have a significant impact on race strategy. Since 2014, the safety car or the virtual safety car was deployed at least once in every race. In 2022, there were three Virtual Safety Car deployments. Their deployment could have huge influence on race strategies as pitting in normal conditions takes 27 seconds while that time drops to only 16 seconds under safety car conditions and 20 seconds under virtual safety car conditions.

Based on Friday's race simulations, the one-stop strategy is deemed the fastest way to the finish this weekend, with the medium tyre the compound to start on. With incidents very much possible during the race, this compound might allow drivers to extend their first stint and make use of any safety car or virtual safety car interruptions.

While the soft compound has also shown fairly good consistency, allowing multiple hot laps in practice, the best way to finish the Singapore Grand Prix is to switch to the hard compound on Lap 26-30.

Another variation is to start the race on the soft compound before completing the race on the white-walled hards. It might help drivers get off the line and thrive for position gains at the start, it would force them to an early stop which might limit their chances of exploiting a faster stop during a possible SC or VSC interruption.

There is also an aggressive option of the two-stop strategy that could come into play. It would see drivers start on the softs before completing a long middle stint on the hards while the last stint would incorporate a run on the softs again.

Tyre allocation

Right after qualifying second and jumping out of his Mercedes W14, George Russell indicated that he has every chance to win today's Singapore Grand Prix. The British driver thinks that Ferrari will suffer from severe tyre degradation in the heat, and he also thinks that Mercedes will enjoy a strategic advantage by having two sets of fresh medium tyres compared to Ferrari's one set of the yellow-banded tyres.

“So, we've got an extra set of medium tyres which nobody around us has, so to get to Q3 and to be on the front row with a strategic advantage tomorrow is an exciting place to be.”

“The tyre degradation on Friday looked pretty bad, so I think it's going to be very close between a one and a two-stop. With our mediums, we can put Ferrari in a difficult position and try and force them into an error, and get the upper hand, so that's what we're looking for," Russell said.

Going by the long runs performed on Friday, the medium compound appeared to be the best race tyre this weekend. It could indicate that Williams and Mercedes drivers could enjoy a strategic advantage as they are the only ones to have two sets of fresh medium available coming into the 62-lap race.

However, given the rule that drivers need to use two different compounds during the race and the predicted one-stop strategy, they might not even be able to make use of their second set of new C4 tyres. Interestingly, even if someone opts for a two-stopper, Pirelli thinks that the medium compound might not even come into play. The Milan-based manufacturer thinks that the variation of soft-hard-soft would be the fastest approach should someone commit himself to a two-stop strategy in today's Singapore race.