Singapore: What You need to Know

Fact File: Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore

Laps 61
Lap Length 5.073 km (3.15 miles)
Race Length 309.316 km (192.20 miles)
First Race 2008
Fastest Lap K Raikkonen 1:45.599 (Ferrari, 2008)
2010 Winner F Alonso (Ferrari)

Overview:

The first thing that should catch your eye is the sheer number of corners the drivers will have to negotiate for nearly two hours, Marina Bay has a total of 23 turns which leaves it only second to Valencia which has the most at 25. However two more corners is the only advantage Valencia has over the delights of Singapore, it shares a street circuit similarity but that’s where it ends. Singapore is fairly new to the calendar but it’s been no slouch in making an impact, a hot and humid climate coupled with a harsh and unforgiving track makes it a huge physical challenge regardless of the driver’s prowess in the gym. Then, on top of a bumpy track with one of the ‘worst corners in Formula One’ (Lewis Hamilton referring to the Singapore Sling chicane) the drivers have to pick their way through the narrow circuit at night. Okay, they had a few lights dotted about, approximately 108km of cabling helps to illuminate the streets.

The Lap:

The drivers have a fairly long straight before the first turn which is takes them left leading them into turns 2 (right) and 3, the latter being a tight left. Keeping themselves away from the barriers turn 4 is left handed kink which brings them into the DRS detection zone. Sweeping right for turn 5 they must get a good exit to ensure they can make the most the DRS activation zone, and take advantage of the overtaking opportunity at turn 7, a 90º left (turn 6 is a right kink taken flat out). A short sprint to the right turn 8, quickly leads into the left of turn 9. Next up is the tricky Singapore Sling chicane, careful over the kerbs they’ve got to get it right to stay on track.

Taking turns 11 and 12 at 180 km/h they then have to tackle the tight left of turn 13, a small reprieve in a shirt straight sends the drivers into a heavy braking zone and an equally tight turn 14. 15 is a left kink which feeds into a 16/17 right/left, a short dash and they’re into a quick succession of four corners. 18/19/20/21 runs as left/right/right/left which sees driver with two more corners before they on back on the home straight. Turn 22 and 23 are both left, and even with a large run off areas they still have to be careful with the high kerbs.

Overtaking and Strategy:

For the last three years qualifying has been an important part of a successful race day result as overtaking can be difficult. However with the addition of DRS and KERS we shall see just how successful they are in boosting the number of passes on Sunday. Although turn 7 (Memorial Corner) is a common overtaking spot, getting the exit from turn 5 right improves the chances of shooting down the inside of the driver in front. Strategy wise, with the track grip improves throughout the weekend and so towards the end of the race those who have pitted later will be able to take advantage of the improved surface.

Tyres:

Prime compound: Soft (yellow)

Option compound: Super soft (red)

DRS:

We’re back to a single DRS zone again in Singapore. The detection zone will be 230m before turn 5, around the 4th turn, and the subsequent activation zone is 35m after turn 5 leading into the straight.

Why Marina Bay Rocks:

Nicknamed the ‘Monaco of the East’ for it’s twisty, slow speed corners and glamour, it’s hard not to be impressed and equally excited by the circuit that in its short history has had its fair share of controversies. It’s impossible to forget the 2008 ‘crashgate’ scandal that played out in the Renault team when Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to dump his car into the wall to give Fernando Alonso an advantage. Alonso went on to win the inaugural race but after Piquet Jr. was dropped by the team in 2009 he revealed his ‘mistake’ was in fact a result of team orders. Team principal Flavio Briatore was banned from further involvement in Formula One and director of engineering Pat Symonds was handed a 5 year ban. Controversy aside, it’s night race where teams actively include a safety car period into their strategy, it’s expected and why? The proximity of the barriers to the circuit punishes mistakes or a lapse in judgement or concentration. Fuel up, it’s going to be  a bumpy ride.

5 Key Points:

  • Something always happens
  • Tough physical and mental challenge
  • Mistakes are punished
  • Night race
  • We could see Vettel crowned the youngest double world champion

How Vettel can do it this weekend:

Firstly he needs to finish on the podium, and considering he’s done that at every race bar one, it’s looks like the other contenders will have to be relied upon to take this title chase to another country. So to become champion the following scenarios are valid:

If Vettel wins: Alonso must finish off the podium, Button/Webber finish P3+, Hamilton can’t stop him.

If Vettel’s 2nd: Alonso finishes P8+, Button/Webber finish P5+, Hamilton doesn’t win.

If Vettel’s 3rd: Alonso finishes P9+, Button/Webber finish P7+, Hamilton finishes P4+.

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