Following an incident-packed Italian Grand Prix, Formula One leaves Europe behind and embarks on a championship end-game that will see the teams and drivers take on seven long-haul ‘flyaway’ races in 10 action-packed weeks. And first on that list is the Singapore Grand Prix – the sport’s only true night race.
Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit is the antithesis of high-speed, low downforce Monza. Here, on the winding roads of the Lion City, average speeds are some of the lowest in Formula One and the teams employ their highest downforce settings in an effort to ensure maximum grip around the 23 corners of the floodlit track.
In keeping with its street-circuit nature, grip is at a premium in the early practice sessions. The bumpy surface does ‘rubber in’ over the course of the event but, as the track is constantly evolving, teams are often left chasing the perfect set-up across the race weekend.
The night-race schedule presents its own challenges too, and in a bid to keep personnel at optimum performance levels at the right times, teams opt to keep everyone, including their drivers, on European time to cope with the demands of racing at 8pm. It’s also a long and demanding race, with all four of the races staged so far stretching to within five minutes of the two-hour mark. With temperatures and humidity still high despite the late start, it all adds up to one the toughest races of the year.
As the 2012 Formula One season heads into its final third, Fernando Alonso still leads the Drivers’ Championship. The Ferrari driver now has 179 points, 37 clear of Italian GP winner Lewis Hamilton, who has 142. Meanwhile, dark horse Kimi Raikkonen has snuck up on the rails and sits in third place, just a point behind Hamilton. In the Constructors’ battle, leaders Red Bull Racing, on 272 points, go to Singapore just 29 points clear of McLaren, while Ferrari have 226 points, nine ahead of Lotus.
MARINA BAY STREET CIRCUIT
Length of lap:
5.073km Lap record:
1:45.599 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2008) Start line/finish line offset:
0.137km Total number of race laps:
61 Total race distance:
309.316km Pitlane speed limits:
60km/h during practice, qualifying and the race
Changes to the circuit since 2011
► The track has been resurfaced on the approach to, and at the apex of, Turn 13.
► The outer pit lane has been resurfaced.
► All rubber kerbs have been replaced by fabricated steel sections anchored securely to the ground with 24mm diamter bolts.
► The single DRS zone here remains unchanged from 2011. The detection point is at Turn 4 and the activation point is after Turn 5.