The Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore provides as stark a contrast with Monza as any track on the calendar, with the key performance differentiator being the chassis as opposed to the power unit. This means that the order will almost certainly bear no significant resemblance to that of the last race, something that is enhanced by the fact that this race meeting usually sees the next batch of performance upgrades arrive on the cars.
Downforce vs Drag
- The circuit favours running the highest downforce level available, but this will only be the case if there is a good balance between the front and rear of the car.
- If, for instance, the maximum aero level is lower at the rear relative to at the front of a particular car, then actually reducing front load will be more beneficial to laptime, decreasing oversteer.
Car Strengths Needed
- The requirement of high downforce is often highlighted as the key factor at Singapore, but mechanical grip also plays a significant role, given the number of slow speed corners.
- As mentioned above, a good car balance is critical, giving the driver the confidence to push and use the maximum width of the track, right up to the walls.
- Strong drive-ability – this comes from traction (and therefore rearward aero and mechanical grip) as well as from the power unit. Much work would have gone into PU mapping for Singapore to maximise performance in the multitude of acceleration zones.
- Turn 5 – this corner rewards a responsive front end, followed by good traction, and will be crucial to any potential overtaking manoeuvres on the following DRS straight.
- Turns 13/16 – these both feature blind entries, where drivers must be both on the brakes and turning, making front locking a distinct possibility.
- Turns 22/23 – the only non-flat-out high-speed corners on the circuit place greater emphasis on aerodynamic grip, and will be a key performance differentiator between teams.
Pirelli Tyre Compounds Singapore
- Pirelli is bringing the softest trio of compounds in its range, as was the case last year.
- In 2016, a mixture of two and three stop strategies were preferred, although in theory a SS-S one-stop was a possibility.
- With the more durable compounds for this year, a one or two stop is the likely outcome on strategy. With the possibility of overtaking, together with the vast time spent in the corners, the undercut is very powerful here, favouring two visits to the pits.
- The Soft compound will not feature greatly, being too hard for the circuit, and as such, the maximum number of sets chosen by any driver is only two.
Overtaking & DRS
- Overtaking opportunities are slightly limited, but unlike Monaco, the track layout does feature a couple of decent DRS zones.
- The most popular passing place is into Turn 7, with the series of slow corners preceding this area allowing cars to follow each other closely.
- With a high tyre delta between drivers, close racing is almost guaranteed here, allowing drivers to gamble with a late extra stop and attack their opposition at the end of the race.
- There is always a possibility of rain in Singapore, but any precipitation is usually prior to the session timings.
- Teams and drivers will hope for a completely dry weekend, allowing the track to rubber in and improving the general grip level, the result of which is a more accurate set-up refinement environment for qualifying and the race.
- The Hungaroring order provides the most recent indication of what to expect this weekend.
- Therefore, Ferrari are predicted to be out in front, with Mercedes and Red Bull going for the final podium place – the latter’s race pace is likely to be especially strong, with any qualifying engine mode disadvantage being non-existent.
- Behind the top three, a tight battle between Renault and McLaren should round out the top ten.
- Williams and Force India will experience a much more difficult weekend than in Italy, where points were guaranteed, thanks to the lack of power dependency at the Marina Bay circuit.
- Key Questions
- Will Mercedes take a further step forward on their high downforce set-up, as they did from Monaco to Hungary, allowing the Silver Arrows to fight for pole and the win?
- With further upgrades expected, how will the pecking order have changed from Hungary?
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