The F1 leaves Europe and heads to Asia: teams arrive in Singapore, one of the highlights of the calendar. Marina Bay was the first GP ever to be hold at night. It’s an urban circuit, the one with the highest number of corners, 23, in all season and it is raced counterclockwise.
The circuit was announced on 2007 and appeared for the first time in the F1 calendar in 2008; it will always be remembered for the “Crash Gate”, when Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately to make his teammate Fernando Alonso win.
The track is 5.065 km long in a harbor-side location similar in style to the Monaco Grand Prix and it’s known for being one of the most physical circuits on the calendar since Marina Bay doesn’t have many straights and Singapore’s climate worsens it because of the heat and humidity. The GP is 308.828 km, made in 61 laps around the beautiful lightened circuit.
After the start straight, with speeds about 310 km/h, comes the Sheares corner to the left, a fast open corner number 2 to the right and then drivers get to the corner number 3 where they brake until 90km/h. Right after, there is the first DRS detection point, followed by a very fast turn and a short straight which gets to the corner number five to the right. Here comes the DRS activation to be used in a medium-length straight divided by turn 6, a very open and fast turn to the right. In that sector, drivers accelerate from 135km/h to 305km/h and then brake until 110km/h at the time they negotiate corner number 7, a 90º called “The memorial”. This is a good overtaking point. Sector number two starts just before that corner. It follows a short straight ending in another 90 degrees corner to the right, short straight again and yet another kind of 90 degrees corner to the left, taken at 120 km/h. Here it is time to accelerate until 240km/h before arriving to the next corner, the Singapore Sling.
In 2010, several drivers expressed their concern about the high and harsh kerbs at the chicane at turn 10 of the street circuit. That way, corner number 10 was changed to make it safer and more gradual by moving the kerbs. In 2013 the Singapore Sling was removed and replaced with a single-apex left turn, resulting in faster lap times. As the organizers of the Singapore F1 GP confirmed in July, the track in that sector has been modified to favor the overtaking moves for the third time in 7 years. Curves 11, 12 and 13 have been reconfigured so drivers can now get a better arrival at the hairpin (corner number 13) since it brings them to one of the fastest sections of the circuit. The turn 11 has been tightened up so it becomes a little bit slower but it takes directly without transition to the turn 12, while before there was a chicane. Drivers will use the opposite part of the bridge that they did before so the arrival to the hairpin is straighter. The access to that corner has also been widened to smooth up the entrance.
At the exit of the hairpin they accelerate again as they go through the long straight that gives end to the second sector. Sector number three starts with a right hander where drivers need to brake late and it is a succession of 90 degree corners and short straights where a high downforce will be needed. Speeds gotten are between 90 and 120 km/h. The second DRS detection point is just before corner number 22, taken at full throttle, about 180 km/h, and then drivers can activate DRS at the same time the start straight comes again.
Tires and technical requirements
The constant succession of slow corners in second or third gear makes the engine to deliver full power for less than half of the lap (43%). If for the engine is the least tough race, it does not apply for the brakes, which have little rest between curve and curve.
The settings for this urban circuit are similar to those for Monaco, with a lot of downforce and mechanical grip. This is very important to pull in out of the corners, so the suspensions tend to be soft. The tire wear is medium.
Pirelli is bringing the super soft and soft compounds to Marina Bay. Paul Hembery explained why: “As this is a street circuit, we’ve nominated the two softest and fastest tyres in the range: they offer the maximum mechanical grip and a rapid warm-up, which are two keys to success in Singapore. There are lots of factors for the teams and drivers to consider when planning strategy: the unusual track temperature evolution, a big performance gap between the two compounds, the need to save fuel over the long and demanding race distance, as well as the high likelihood of a safety car, which has featured at every race in Singapore so far”.
History and current situation
Sebastian Vettel is the driver in the current grid who has the largest number of wins in Marina Bay circuit, with 3 in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Fernando Alonso took the victory in 2 occasions, in 2008 and 2011. Hamilton also won the race twice, in 2009 and 2014. The Heppenheim driver also holds the fastest lap in the night Grand Prix with a 1:48.574 since 2013.
The situation in the championship makes Nico Rosberg having to do whatever it takes to win here. His teammate is 53 points ahead of him and he is only 21 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel. As he said: “Obviously, Monza didn’t go to plan. It was gutting to miss out on a good result so close to the end but now I approach the final seven races with the attitude that there’s nothing to lose. It’s maximum attack and I won’t be giving up the fight, no way. Singapore is one of my favourite races, so that’s a good place to start. It’s so tough on everyone - physically and mentally - and I love that challenge. I was only a few thousandths off pole last year and feeling good for the race until a problem with the steering wheel ended my weekend. I know I’ve got the pace to win there, so I’m hoping for a clean weekend and a chance to unleash this silver beast under the lights.”
The German Ferrari driver comes motivated to Singapore after a great second place in Monza’s podium and knowing that he is close to get the second place of the 2015 championship in his first year with Ferrari.
Race local times
FP1 Friday 18 18.00h
FP2 Friday 19 21.30h
FP3 Saturday 20 18.00h
Qualifying Saturday 20 21.00h
Race Sunday 21 20.00h
by Cristina DeLarge