Preview: Singapore set for F1's night fight

Preview: Singapore set for F1's night fight

12 September 2017 – Formula 1 begins its final flyaway sequence of races with this weekend's night-time Singapore Grand Prix, held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. GPUpdate.net previews the event and provides the key statistics.

Marina Bay:

Singapore arrived on the Formula 1 calendar in 2008 and, despite initial concerns over bumps and kerb profiles, it quickly established itself, aided by its unique night-race status.

23 corners continue to challenge the drivers, but year-on-year tweaks have been made to satisfy safety and overtaking demands, with the infamous 'Singapore Sling' removed and replaced in 2013.

Singapore remains Formula 1's only full night-time race, with Abu Dhabi, introduced one year later, and Bahrain, which switched in 2014, beginning at twilight.

"There's something special about Singapore," says Force India's Esteban Ocon.

"You race under the lights and the atmosphere is unique: it feels really glamorous and all the fans and guests are partying through the night during the race.

"On the other hand, it's very hard physically. It's hot and very humid, and you lose a lot of fluids when driving.

"It's one of those places where everything needs to be perfect in the car, because you'll struggle a lot if you're not in the right position or there is something wrong with the seat.

"You try to prepare as best as you can for days like these; you train in hot places and try to maximise the performance of your body.

"The weird schedule doesn't affect me. I like that we stick to European times: we wake up late, the days are shorter and you're able to sleep a lot. It's my favourite weekend schedule – I am someone who sleeps a lot and in Singapore I can get my 12 hours per night!

"The lap has some really interesting sections. For a street circuit, it's very fast, but my favourite part is the twisty part in the middle of the lap, where you're so close to the wall all the time.

"There are a lot of beautiful buildings next to the track and when they are all lit up at night the place looks very beautiful."

Form guide:

Lewis Hamilton moved into the lead of the championship for the first time this season following back-to-back victories in Belgium and Italy, edging three points clear of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.

However, Mercedes is braced for a "big challenge" in Singapore, given the nature of the Marina Bay track, which it has struggled to tame in recent seasons.

Mercedes was unable to get a car on the podium at the venue in 2015 and, although it recovered to win in 2016, Nico Rosberg crossed the line just half a second clear of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

"In 2015, Singapore provided us with one of the most painful experiences in recent seasons, so we rolled up the sleeves, learned from it and managed to bounce back with a great win last year," comments Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, previewing this weekend's event.

"But notwithstanding that success, this is a circuit we have found difficult to master with its combination of short, sharp corners, relatively short straights and bumpy surface.

"And we head to Asia this time round with the expectation that we have a big challenge ahead of us.

"On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull.

"Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more difficult at those places in 2017."

Vettel, restricted to podium finishes over the past two races, will thus be looking to capitalise and secure a fifth win of the season, and fifth around the city-state's streets.

While it is close in the Drivers' standings, Ferrari has fallen 62 points behind Mercedes in the Constructors' battle, with Kimi Räikkönen scoring only four podiums to Vettel's 10.

Red Bull and Force India are secure in third and fourth respectively, while fifth-placed Williams pulled a slight gap at Monza, ahead of Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault.

McLaren, set to announce that it will part ways with Honda for 2018, is a chunk behind in ninth, and will be looking to score big at a more favourable circuit.

Sauber is still cut adrift in terms of performance and points.

Singapore GP results:

Singapore will stage its 10th World Championship Grand Prix in 2017, but only four drivers have triumphed at the event so far, Sebastian Vettel taking an impressive four out of nine wins.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are the other drivers in double figures, with Rosberg the most recent winner, taking a crucial victory last season, before retiring as champion.

Most successful Singapore GP drivers:
4 Sebastian Vettel – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015
2 Fernando Alonso – 2008, 2010
   Lewis Hamilton – 2009, 2014

Factfile:

Venue: Marina Bay
Direction: Anti-clockwise
Turns: 23
Laps: 61
Race date: September 17, 2017
Circuit opened: 2008
First Grand Prix: 2008
Lap record: 1:47.187 (Daniel Ricciardo, 2016)
Circuit length: 5.065 km (3.147 mi)
Race distance: 308.828 km (191.896 mi)

2017 timetable (GMT +8):
Friday, September 15
Practice 1 16:30-18:00 local time
Practice 2 20:30-22:00 local time

Saturday, September 16
Practice 3 18:00-19:00 local time
Qualifying 21:00 local time

Sunday, September 17
Race 20:00 local time

Additional on-track events:
Ferrari Challenge
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia

Driver steward: Emanuele Pirro

DRS zones:
Zone 1 - Raffles Boulevard
Zone 2 - Main straight

Pitlane speed limit:
60 km/h (37.2 mph) for the entire event

Tyre Choice: Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft
Fuel usage: 1.72kg per lap
Top speed: 311 km/h (193 mph)
Full throttle: 47 per cent of lap
Gear changes: 84 per lap

Weather forecast:
Friday - Heavy rain showers, high 29°C / low 27°C
Saturday - Heavy rain showers, high 30°C / low 27°C
Sunday - Heavy rain showers, high 30°C / low 27°C

Next race:
Malaysian Grand Prix

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