Preview: Formula 1 gears up for night fever
Formula 1 jets out of Europe for the start of the end-of-season ‘flyaway’ races, beginning with the Singapore Grand Prix. Motorsport Week previews the event and provides the key statistics.
The Singapore Grand Prix was initially held on the Thomson Road street circuit in the late 1960s/early 1970s, with the races run to Formula Libre rules.
After an absence of over 40 years the event was revived and became part of the Formula 1 World Championship for the first time.
The 2008 running of the event marked the first time a Formula 1 Grand Prix had been run beneath floodlights, establishing itself as the championship’s night race.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of that event – now synonymous with the ‘Crashgate’ scandal – and the race will continue through at least 2021.
The high ambient temperatures and humidity make Singapore one of the biggest challenges of the year for drivers – and that’s before taking into account the tortuous, bumpy 23-turn circuit.
Several of the corners at the Marina Bay Street Circuit are low-medium speed 90-degree bends, with a low average speed meaning the 61-lap distance often creeps up to the two-hour race time limit.
The best overtaking opportunities are typically into Turns 7 and 14, at the end of Raffles Boulevard and Esplanade Drive respectively.
“The race is a big test for the body,” says Force India’s Sergio Perez. “When you're in the car, it is hard to breathe and you're sweating a lot. In the days leading up to the race I train in the toughest conditions I can to get used to it. The race is also the longest of the year in terms of time in the cockpit, so fitness is important. The best preparation is to sleep well and keep hydrated. The weird schedule makes it a bit strange, especially at the beginning of the week, but after a couple of days in Singapore it’s not a problem anymore.”
What happened in 2017?
A heavy shower pre-race resulted in the first wet Singapore Grand Prix – and had a dramatic impact on the outcome of not only the event but the title.
Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen all strived for the lead off the line but their trajectories converged and they collided in spectacular fashion.
Verstappen and Raikkonen endured a secondary collision as their out-of-control cars slithered towards Turn 1, in turn taking out Fernando Alonso, while Vettel spun on his own hydraulic fluid two corners later and retired.
Lewis Hamilton jumped Daniel Ricciardo at the start and inherited the lead as his rivals clashed before going on to control the race, which was reduced to 58 laps due to hitting the time limit.
Hamilton’s win was his third around the streets of Marina Bay, having also triumphed in 2009 and 2014, though he remains shy of Singapore leader Vettel, who won from 2011-13 and in 2015.
Alonso (2008, 2010) and Nico Rosberg (2016) are the only two other drivers to have won the night race.
It’s also 4-3 to Vettel (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017) over Hamilton (2009, 2012, 2014) in the pole position stakes, while Alonso (2010) is the only other polesitter on the current grid.
Hamilton heads to Singapore 30 points clear in the standings, having overhauled both Ferrari drivers to win at Monza, while Vettel recovered from the first-lap spin to take fourth.
It is the largest advantage either has enjoyed over the other at any stage this year.
In the Constructors’ battle Mercedes holds a 25-point advantage over Ferrari.
Tyre supplier Pirelli has nominated the Hypersoft (pink), Ultrasoft (purple) and Supersoft (red) compounds for a race that typically tests rear degradation.
Either the Ultrasoft or Supersoft tyres must be run for one stint of the Grand Prix, assuming dry conditions prevail.
There will be two DRS zones, each with their own detection point, with one located along Raffles Boulevard and the other along the pit straight.
Friday: Sunny spells/clear, 29°c
Saturday: Sunny spells/clear, 29°c
Sunday: Sunny spells/clear, 29°c
Friday 14 September
FP1: 16:30 – 18:00
FP2: 20:30 – 22:00
Saturday 15 September
FP3: 18:00 – 19:00
Qualifying: 21:00 – 22:00
Sunday 18 September
Race: 20:10 (61 laps or two hours)
Sochi Autodrom will host the 16th round of the season, the Russian Grand Prix, from September 28 to 30.