Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix Preview: Tyres, DRS, Weather and Session Times
The Formula One Singapore Grand Prix will take place on Sunday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. First held in 2008, this is F1's only night race, taking place under 1,600 light projectors which line the entire course.
Their combined energy usage is 3,180,000 watts and the circuit is illuminated four times brighter than an average sports stadium under floodlights.
Maybe Greenpeace should have turned up here instead of Spa?
The humidity and constant stream of corners makes this one of the most challenging races of the year for the drivers, and the circuit itself isn't the most thrilling on the calendar.
But one rarely reads a negative review written by a fan who has attended the event. The spectacle is probably matched only by Monaco.
Just make sure you have a good exit strategy after the race if you're going. There's a Justin Bieber concert starting not long after the podium celebration.
Read on for a track guide, tyre and DRS information and the all-important weather forecast.
As It Stands
Sebastian Vettel has a 53-point lead in the drivers' championship with seven races (and a maximum of 175 points) to go. He also has the best car, so it's highly unlikely anyone can catch him.
But Fernando Alonso in second and Lewis Hamilton in third haven't given up. Good results for them and a non-finish for Vettel could put them right back in the hunt.
Kimi Raikkonen is 88 points down in fourth and probably out of it now. Full standings are available here, and the current Top 10 are:
|1||Sebastian Vettel||German||Red Bull Racing-Renault||222|
|5||Mark Webber||Australian||Red Bull Racing-Renault||130|
|10||Paul di Resta||British||Force India-Mercedes||36|
In the constructors' standings, Red Bull's lead over Ferrari is now 104 points. Like Vettel's lead, that gap appears to be too great for their rivals to close.
Mercedes are third, a further three points down.
The teams with at least one point are:
|1||Red Bull Racing-Renault||352|
Marina Bay Street Circuit
The Marina Bay Street Circuit sits on public roads that wind around the waterfront area on the southern coast of Singapore's main island. Some of the roads were designed and built specifically for the circuit, others are genuine street circuit fare.
It was initially designed by Hermann Tilke, then for whatever reason modified by a company called KBR. They're an American engineering and private military contractor with no known expertise in F1 circuit design.
It's bumpy and slow with few overtaking opportunities, and there's little evidence it's particularly popular with the drivers. The heat, humidity and never-ending series of corners makes it one of the toughest races of the season.
On the bright side it looks like a great race to attend if you're a fan. And the race is held at night under floodlights, which makes the place look rather beautiful.
Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4
A lap begins with a decent-length run down to Turns 1 and 2, a medium-speed left-right combination. There's plenty of run-off on the outside of the first corner, so expect some drivers to risk a punt around the outside on the opening lap.
Turn 3 is a slower left-hand hairpin which follows immediately after Turn 2, and Turn 4 is one of those barely-perceptable left-hand kinks which always get a corner number on Tilke circuits.
Turns 5 and 6
After a short straight, the circuit drifts ever-so-slightly to the right for the tricky braking zone of Turn 5. This is a tight right-hander and one of the most important corners to get right because it leads onto the circuit's longest full-throttle zone.
Turn 6 is the right-hand kink halfway down, taken flat-out. The section of straight after this is the circuit's best overtaking spot.
At the end of the two halves of the straight comes Turn 7. It's a standard 90-degree left, and the scene of several overtakes down the years.
There's plenty of space to run wide, and most drivers will put at least two wheels well over the kerb (which appears to just be planted in the middle of nowhere) on the exit.
Turns 8 and 9
Turn 8 follows after a tiny straight, a standard 90-degree right, and Turn 9 is a slightly more open (but still 90-degree) left which leads onto a decent-length straight.
Ah, the Singapore Sling. The horrible, fiddly little chicane described by Lewis Hamilton as "ridiculous" and "pretty much the worst corner I've ever driven in Formula One."
He (and the entire grid, along with a few dozen suspension engineers and several million fans) will be relieved to learn it's gone. In its place is a single, medium-speed left-hander.
It was originally created as a slow chicane because there's no space for run-off at the exit, but there'll now be an extra layer of TecPro barriers in place.
The Sling was horrible, I'll kind of miss it.
Turns 11, 12 and 13
With the higher speed through Turn 10, the chicane which makes up Turns 11 and 12 will come at the drivers a little bit quicker, so earlier braking will be required.
The chicane is a left-right combo which slows the cars before the Anderson Bridge.
It's extremely narrow, and fortunately it's not a tempting overtaking spot.
Turn 13 is a tight, hairpin left which comes just after the cars drive off the bridge.
A straight follows, directing the cars up Esplanade Drive and over the second bridge of the lap. It's only a short straight before braking for Turn 14, which is on the same road junction as Turn 8. This one's another near-90-degree corner.
Overtaking may occur into here, but it'll be tough.
Turns 15, 16 and 17
The next section seems like someone decided there just weren't enough corners. But they keep the drivers nice and busy.
Turn 15 is a flat-out left kink just before braking for Turn 16, which is a slow right-hander leading into a slightly quicker left (Turn 17).
This is where Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally crashed in 2008, letting teammate Fernando Alonso take advantage of the safety car deployment to win from 15th on the grid.
Turns 18 and 19
After a tiny straight comes one of the circuit's more interesting corners, Turn 18. It's a very tight 90-degree left-hander which steers the cars through a pseudo-tunnel under the grandstand.
The barriers on the outside have been known to collect the odd car or two over the course of the weekend, so expect to see at least one shunt before the race is over on Sunday.
The tunnel is very short and at the exit is Turn 19, yet another 90-degree right.
Turns 20 and 21
Turns 20 and 21 are a slightly more open, reversed copy of 18 and 19—right-left instead of left-right. There's also a little bit more run-off here, and no tunnel.
Turns 22 and 23
The cars then head down a short straight towards the fast left-handers of Turn 22 and 23. These two are the final (and probably the most fun to drive) corners of the lap. The first requires a touch of the brakes before turn-in, the second is flat out.
We're now back on the pit straight, and the start-finish line is only a short distance along.
The pit lane entry is on the inside just before Turn 22, and the exit feeds into the outside of Turn 2.
Tyres and DRS
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
The Singapore Grand Prix is run on public roads. A year of general traffic, dust and grime builds up and, though the track does get grippier as the weekend progresses, it's always quite slippery.
Add in the road markings and manhole covers, and you've got a bit of a traction nightmare.
Pirelli are bringing the red-marked supersoft and white-marked medium compounds to the event. This is different to last year (supersoft and soft), but as the 2013 compounds are softer overall, it's not too different.
Singapore is a very "busy" circuit and the tyres spend a lot of the lap in corners. There are 18 braking events and a lot of traction zones out of the corners. While more action usually means more wear, the low speeds involved mean it isn't too severe.
The race taking place at night also aids tyre management somewhat. Though the air temperature remains very high, the track temperature falls away quicker.
Safety cars are a common sight in Singapore (eight in the five races here so far) and any appearance could play havoc with strategies—as could rain.
But two stops was the winning approach in 2012 and the same should be expected this time around.
There will be two DRS zones at Marina Bay this year.
The first will have a detection point just after the kink of Turn 4, and will run the length of Raffles Boulevard between Turns 5 and 7. Turn 6, in the middle, is flat even with DRS active.
The detection point of the second zone will be next to the pit lane entrance before Turn 22, and will run the length of the pit straight. It's probably not long enough to be of much use, though.
Singapore lies one degree north of the equator and has a tropical rainforest climate—meaning it's a very warm, very humid place. Rainfall occurs on average 178 days of the year, and it tends to be heavy with frequent thunderstorms.
It's safe to say that it will rain at some point during the weekend, but difficult to say exactly when.
Making people subscribe to be told "hot, humid and it might rain" 365 days of the year seems a little harsh.
As always, the Singapore Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race.
Normally I'd provide you with a nice table here, but it's in the picture above this week.
All times shown are Singapore local time. Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool to convert them to your own timezone.
Enjoy the weekend!