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Singapore GB Preview
F1 ready for the Singapore nightshift
The night-time slot for the fourth Singapore Grand Prix presents its own unique challenges for drivers’preparation
Throughout the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, Formula 1 lives a bizarre nocturnal existence. While night races are not unusual in other categories, racing under floodlights once a year provides its own unique challenges. And itnot just about the challenges of drivers having to adjust their body clocks to cope with night-time action.
While Singapore is seven hours ahead of Britain, Fi sticks on European time. This means that Friday practice and qualifying finish at 11 oat night, with all of the post – session engineering debriefs and media activities stretching well beyond midnight.
For elite athletes, routines based on time are vital to ensure they are in their peak operating windows at the key moments, meaning that a huge amount of work goes into fooling their bodies that they are, indeed, existing in a normal time zone. Ahead of the inaugural race in 2008, then – Tovota doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli, now overseeing Robert Kubicarehabilitation, explained the problems best.
“The production of hormones such as cortisone and melatonin is related to daylight, so their bodies will start to adapt to local time,”Ceccarelli said.
But this is only one of the challenges. While the lighting itself is outstanding, it still doesnmatch up to the level that drivers experience on a bright, sunny afternoon at Monza or Sepang. Rubens Barrichello has described the experience as being the difference between watching an HD TV and a normal one. Because of that, you can have a bit of a headache after the race.”
Inevitably, drivers also talk about there being the odd parts of the track that are shrouded in shadow —albeit nothing that creates issues.
The third challenge, and it has only been a theoretical one in the three previous runningof the Singapore GP, is rain.
Rain is forecast for the weekend, albeit most likely to fall when the track isnactive. Last year, the opening free practice session was held on a damp track, but not wet enough to produce spray. Drivers have speculated about how difficult it might be with either with glare off standing water on the track or light refracting through raindrops or spray. But until they actually experience it, no one knows for sure.
ALONSO DENIES VETTEL
Fernando Alonso needed an inch – perfect performance to defeat Sebastian Vettel in Singapore, and that is exactly what he delivered. On pole by 0.067s, he chopped the German at the start and then controlled the race throughout, despite having the Red Bull driver breathing down his neck the whole time. The victory closed Alonsogap to world championship leader Mark Webber, who finished third, to just 11 points. But the Australian, who had to fight his way through the field after pitting u nder an early safety car, was fortu nate to survive a collision with Lewis Hamilton as they battled after a restart later in the race. The clash put the McLaren man out, seriously damaging his title hopes. The late race star was Robert Kubica, who charged from 10th to seventh in the closing stages. RESULTS:
1 Fernando Alonso; 2 Sebastian Vettel; 3 Mark Webber; 4 Jenson Button; 5 Nico Rosberg;
6 Rubens Barrichello; 7 Robert Kubica; 8 Felipe Massa; 9 Adrian SutU; 10 Nico Hulkenberg.
The high percentage of slow – speed 90 – degree corners and quick changes of direction required mean that a softer overall set-up will be used here. The fact that the track is made up of city roads, which will be very slippery, add to this requirement, especially in the early sessions of the weekend. This type of set-up does not work the tyres so hard, so some teams could have warm-up problems, which will be a particular issue in qualifying.
This track requires the opposite aerodynamic approach to Monza, so we ll see high – downforce wings similar to those used at the Hungaroring.
With no really long straights it will be difficult to get enough out of the DRS to overtake on the run to Memorial Corner, where Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber came together last year.
With the super – soft compound returning to action, qualifying will be a one – lap banzai run and the race will be a multiple – stop affair. I would imagine some of the top teams will try to save some new sets of soft tyres for the race, so they re going to have to think on their feet during the weekend.
at evens looks pretty generous following his record of late, but at 9/2 Fernando Alonso is good value, given that he defeated the German here last year. Better value could be offered by potential points scorers. Watch out for the likes of Rubens Barrichello or Jaime Alguersuari to score, as well as Pastor Maldonado, who shone in Monaco.
LUCAS DI GRASSI
THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX IS ONE OF MY
favourites of the whole season. Other people have lots of reasons for liking this race, but from the driverpoint of view the race feels different for the whole week and it develops in a different shape to what younormally used to.
This and Abu Dhabi are the only events where Formula 1 cars are allowed to race at night, but for the driver it feels like the day time because theydone such a good job with the circuit lighting. When I raced in Singapore last year I was expecting to have some difficulty adapting. But everything feels natural, so finding reference points and track positioning was no problem.
As a spectator, itamazing to see the details that donnormally appear when the cars are racing in sunlight. The way the brakes and the exhausts glow, the sparks as the cars bottom out, everything is much more evident and it makes for a wonderful show.
This is usually the longest race of the season because of the low average speed, so even in good conditions it lasts almost the two – hour maximum.
This track has more corners than any other, and together with the intense temperatures it becomes a real challenge. The humidity makes it even worse – it becomes a real sauna. I remember joking last year to my physio that he should put some Earl Grey in my drinks bottle – it was almost impossible to drink anything after 30 minutes because everything in the car warms up so much.