AT&T Williams Singapore GP Preview

Formula One travels east this week for the first of three races to be held in Asia before the season finale in Brazil in just over a month’s time. The eagerly anticipated Singapore Grand Prix is the second of two new tracks to make their debut on the calendar this year and takes the tally of Formula One street circuits to four.

Round 15 of the 2008 season heralds a new era in the sport as, for the first time ever, a Grand Prix, together with its qualifying and practice sessions, will all be contested at night under a floodlit track. AT&T Williams partner, Philips, is the official supplier of the 1,500 lighting projectors that will illuminate the complete length of the 5.067km circuit, which has been built through the vibrant Marina Bay area of the city. A new venue, a new format and just four point-scoring opportunities remaining this season can only culminate in this weekend’s race being a dramatic spectacle for all concerned.

Nico RosbergIt should be a good race for us as the track looks like it should suit our car pretty well and personally I always really enjoy racing on street circuits. New tracks are often quite demanding and take a bit of time during practice to get used to. Racing at night will add to that challenge, but the whole concept of night racing is fantastic. It will be a great show for the fans, and an interesting experience for all the teams. Singapore itself is a great new venue for Formula One and for all of our partners as well. I’m flying out quite late this week and will stay on European time while there. This weekend gives us another opportunity to claim some points which is certainly our aim.

Kazuki NakajimaI’m quite looking forward to the race in Singapore. It’s going to be very interesting as it’s the first time at a new destination for everybody. We’ve been doing quite a bit of work in our simulator in preparation for this race and it looks like Singapore could be quite a complex circuit with lots of corners, but it should still suit our car. I don’t think driving at night will be a problem if it’s dry but, if it’s wet which it looks like it will be, it could be quite difficult with the reflection. I’ll be staying on European time which will be a real challenge as we’ll be staying awake until the early hours of the morning but then sleeping until the middle of the afternoon! Let’s hope all the extra effort is worth it!

Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1Singapore is a new circuit on the Formula One calendar that promises lots of action, even if only for the fact that it’s our first ever night race. Running at night will bring new challenges for all the teams, from the driver having to adjust himself to different levels of visibility to team personnel having unusual sleeping and eating patterns!

The circuit itself has over 20 corners within its layout, only two of which will be taken at speeds in excess of 100mph, so lap times will be dictated by the grip achieved during the slow speed sections. Because of this, we’ll run a similar rear wing level to Monaco, i.e. the maximum available. Bridgestone will bring the soft and super soft Potenza tyres to this race which will give the maximum amount of grip available on what we expect to be a slippery street surface.

To add to the excitement of the night race, there is also a strong possibility of rain during the evening, which is normal in such a humid climate. At this stage, a likely strategy scenario is unknown. Although we have some data from our work on the simulator, we will have to wait until we get circuit data for tyre degradation and pitlane loss time.

SingaporeSingapore’s all new street circuit weaves through the Marina Bay area of the city in an anti-clockwise direction. Similar to Monaco in its layout, the 5.067km lap of Singapore is dominated by slow speed corners (24 in total, 14 left and 10 right and six of which will be taken at speeds under 100mph) and has only a handful of higher speed connecting stretches, the highest of which being Raffles Boulevard on which the drivers will reach 190mph. Despite so many braking events, the average lap speed is still expected to be around the 110mph mark with 50% of the lap spent at full throttle.

Over and above the clear demands provided by a night race, Singapore’s creative layout will bring its own challenge in that four fifths of the track takes in the city’s streets, while the remaining one fifth has been built specifically for the Grand Prix. The combination of cambers and bumps characteristic of a street track and the smooth asphalt of a designated racing circuit could therefore complicate set-up direction over the weekend. With the region notoriously humid, rain is expected most evenings which will further exaggerate the set-up conundrum this weekend. Despite the obvious challenges, expectation surrounding the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix will surely be met with such a dramatic new destination for Formula One.

Online this week at attwilliams.comA lap of Singapore with Nico Rosberg on the Williams F1 Simulator, the Singapore GP Flyby, the Italian GP podcast, Nico Rosberg’s Italian GP Column, Kazuki’s GP Blogs, iWitness and another exclusive new video “The Williams F1 Raceday Experience.”

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