Looking ahead to Round 15 of the 2019 Formula 1 season, racing under the lights for the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit, Mercedes team boss talks Singapore.
Toto Wolff: “We came back from the summer break knowing that the first two races would be difficult for us. We ended up with two double podiums and 67 points which was a strong form of damage limitation and more than we expected. However, you could tell in the debriefs that Spa and Monza left us not satisfied and everyone in Brixworth and Brackley is pushing hard for more victories.
“The next race takes us to Singapore, a spectacular night race set and a great showcase for our sport. The offset schedule and the climate make it a demanding weekend for the team; temperatures in the garage can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius or more with high humidity levels as well. It’s a tough environment to work in and it’s equally challenging for the drivers and the car itself.
“For a long time, Singapore used to be one of our weakest tracks, but we’ve made some inroads into that and performed well last year. However, there are no home runs at a track like Singapore: we need to understand this car and this year’s tyres on a very particular track layout and take absolutely nothing for granted in our approach to the weekend. We are looking forward to a tough battle under the lights in Singapore”
Singapore Grand Prix: Fact File
No team has ever scored a 1-2 finish in the history of the Singapore Grand Prix, showcasing the challenging nature of the circuit.
Track evolution is incredibly high in Singapore because it’s a street circuit. The surface ramps up by up to three seconds between first practice on Friday afternoon and Qualifying on Saturday evening.
The Safety Car has featured at least once in all eleven of the previous F1 races in Singapore.
The steel beams underpinning the concrete of the Esplanade Bridge are magnetised and the magnetic fields involved are strong enough to interfere with some sensors on the cars. Therefore, teams replace some sensors with special sensors that are less susceptible to interference. In order to prevent the magnetic field impacting the hydraulic valves in the gearbox, they are shielded with what’s called “mu metal” – a special nickel alloy which is effective at directing magnetic fields, only run in Singapore.
The night race is made possible by 1,600 lighting projectors illuminating the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Drivers can lose around 3kg of weight through sweating over the course of the race, due to the incredibly high temperatures and humidity.
Fluid loss is also a factor for team members, so keeping hydrated is crucial. The recommended amount of fluid intake on a hot day ranges from three to five litres.
Drivers run clear visors in Singapore in order to improve visibility under the floodlights.
The Singapore Grand Prix venue has 23 corners, the most of any track in F1 – split between 14 left-handers and nine right-handers.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit has only a few heavy braking zones, but the lack of straights and frequency of corners mean the brakes are kept very busy. Therefore, Singapore is one of the highest-duty races for brakes and we have to run the cooling as open as possible as a result.
Drivers change gear about 62 times over the course of a lap, the second highest number of gear changes on the calendar.
During the course of the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis completed 3,100 gear changes and Valtteri 4,140. Valtteri’s figure is higher because he was in traffic for most of the race.
With F1 working on European time in Singapore, the schedule is very unusual. Teams typically have breakfast at midday, with lunch served at around 6pm. Dinner times vary depending on the day and workload but are usually from 1am onwards.
Teams make sure their accommodation in Singapore includes blackout curtains or blinds and have specific breakfast times suitable for the schedule. They also block out floors, to avoid disruption and to allow housekeeping staff to delay cleaning until the afternoon.
Last year’s race was the longest of the season, lasting 1 hour, 51 minutes and 11 seconds. The race often runs close to the two-hour limit.