Being F1’s only night race, the Singapore Grand Prix has a completely different ambience to other day time races. The 8pm start forces the F1 paddock to live a nocturnal lifestyle for the weekend, starting work at 3pm and finishing in the early hours of the following morning.
Visibility is only made possible by the 1,500 halogen lamps that line one side of the circuit, providing the drivers with a light reading of 3,000 lux. Some even wear tinted visors to reduce the glare.
The track is unusually wide for a street circuit, resulting in a couple of genuine overtaking places. It’s worth noting that this is the longest grand prix of the year; the 61 lap race comes in close to the two-hour time limit, which, when combined with the heat and humidity of the Tropics, makes this one of the most gruelling races of the year.
Sam Michael, Technical Director: Singapore has all the challenges, for both the drivers and engineers, of a classic street race, but with the addition of it also being held at night. There is a large improvement in track grip as the race weekend progresses. There are also more bumps and kerbs to deal with compared to normal and downforce is set to a maximum. Good traction with minimal understeer are always the focus of the car set-up here. We have an upgraded diffuser and a new front wing assembly for the first of the flyaways. We'll test both of them on Friday.
Rubens Barrichello: I love Singapore and I think the night race has been a great success. I don't really have a favourite corner as all of them are very challenging. Turn 4, for example, is a medium speed corner with some bumps on the way in that makes you double your attention but you can gain a lot of time there. As it is a long lap you need to keep the car and tyres in good shape as the last corner is a high speed one that determines your speed onto the straight. Williams has always done well there and I hope this time it is no different.
Pastor Maldonado: Marina Bay is a new track for me so I will need to work hard to learn it ready for qualifying. It will be my first time in Singapore and my first time racing at night as well. Everyone has told me it is the most beautiful place so I’m looking forward to getting there. I really like street circuits so I think I can be quick there. We have some upgrades for this race that we hope will be a big improvement and help us better our last result. It has been nice to be back in Venezuela since racing in Italy, especially visiting Canaima National Park last week as it was a great experience. I’m now feeling very relaxed and ready to get back to work in Singapore.
From Cosworth’s perspective: From two of the toughest race tracks on the F1 calendar for engines, Spa and Monza, Formula One heads to Marina Bay in Singapore, one of the least demanding circuits for outright engine power. The circuit’s composition of 23 mainly slow corners means that engines are still given a continuous workout with little breathing room over the 5km lap. As a result of the lack of straights, engine cooling can be an issue, particularly when coupled with the region’s hot and humid conditions.
Engine responsiveness at low speed will be crucial to a good lap time. Gear ratios will be adjusted to allow drivers to quick shift at the lower end of the rev scale. The track is similar in some ways to the rigours of Monaco or Valencia, demanding a high downforce aerodynamics package, but has its own unique character by being a night race.
From Pirelli’s perspective: At the Singapore Grand Prix we’ll be bringing the supersoft and soft compounds, a combination that we used on the street circuits of Monaco and Canada. Singapore presents us with a different challenge though as the temperatures are hotter and conditions will be more humid, even though the race is held at night. We have actually had experience of running in the dark in wet conditions before – before the start of the season we tested on an artificially-dampened track at night in Abu Dhabi – so we’re prepared for a very wide range of circumstances.