The Singapore Grand Prix is the fourteenth round of the championship and marks the start of an incredibly hectic few weeks, which will see the titles decided over the remaining six races, all of them far from Scuderia Toro Rosso’s and the other ten teams’ bases in Europe, as the Formula One circus crosses the globe, heading East then West and back to the Middle East. For the past six years, since it was first staged in 2008, the Marina Bay event held a unique spot on the calendar as the only night race on the calendar, but since this year’s Bahrain GP, the seventh Singapore race will now be one of two races held entirely after sunset. However, it can claim to be the firstand definitely the most spectacular in terms of the views.
As a street circuit, it has a few points in common with its more famous fellow venue Monaco, in that cars will run in high‑downforce configuration, the race will run for almost the full two hour maximum time limit and the barriers are close to the track, throughout its five kilometres and 23 corners, punishing the slightest mistake. The usual stop‑start characteristics of a street circuit will also test the ERS management and see high fuel consumption, although the arrival of the Safety Car (it hasn’t missed an appointment at any of the Singapore GPs held to date!) means that drivers will be able to save fuel significantly for as many laps as it stays out.
Brakes will have to work very hard, not specifically because of the high ambient temperatures in the tropics, but because the lack of any significant straights means the braking system gets little time to cool down.
Singapore is possibly the most difficult Grand Prix for the driver, a really long race on a tricky track, in hot conditions. The track surface is quite bumpy and demanding for the driver, but that makes it challenging which is why it’s a track that I love. We will have some performance updates for this race and I hope that means we can make a step forward and get a good result. The fact it’s a night race has no real effect on how we tackle the race as visibility is good, in fact the lights are so bright that you don’t even use a clear visor, instead I choose a medium tint. Racing at night is fun, it’s quite cool to go to bed at five in the morning and get up at two in the afternoon and just stay on French time. Physical preparation is important as it is such a hot race, so we train in very hot conditions wherever possible during the European summer to prepare and I don’t expect any problems on that front.
I have actually driven the Singapore track back in 2010. It was in Formula BMW but of course I only had 140 horsepower then and this year I will have a few times more than that! (What Daniil is too modest to tell us is that he won the race that day!) Therefore it’s going to be a very different experience this time and one I am looking forward to. I do like the track a lot, because although it’s a street circuit, it’s much quicker than Monaco for example. Recently I was able to drive it again, although only on the simulator and the feeling I had was good. Although the walls are very close to you, the track itself is quite wide. I enjoy the aspect of racing at night and actually, after this year’s Bahrain GP I said we should have more night races because the atmosphere is really cool. I’m sure it’s going to be quite tough physically, but I am prepared for that. In terms of our performance, the fact that absolute power is not the most important part of the package, means we can expect the STR9 to be more competitive than, for example, down the long straights at the last race in Monza. Let’s wait and see but on paper it looks more promising, even though we were still able to put up a fight in Italy.