Singapore Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
In just eight years, the Singapore night race has established itself as an integral part of the F1 calendar. The "Monaco of the East," where the teams work all night and sleep all day, is run on a floodlit street circuit through the city.
With back-to-back wins, Nico Rosberg now trails Lewis Hamilton by just two points in the drivers' championship, setting up a thrilling fight to the finish between the Mercedes team-mates.
Mercedes struggled last year in Singapore, allowing Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to snatch his fourth victory at the Marina Bay circuit, the most of any driver. Hamilton has won there twice, in 2009 and 2014, while Rosberg has just a single Singapore podium to his name, back at the inaugural race in 2008.
The Red Bulls should also be dangerous this weekend, as the track shares many characteristics with Monaco, where Daniel Ricciardo scored the only non-Mercedes pole of 2016 and would have won the race but for an error by his team in the pits.
Keep reading for a full race-weekend preview, including TV times, championship standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and session times.
With seven races remaining last season, Hamilton already had a 52-point lead over Rosberg. This year, the gap between Mercedes team-mates is just two points in a battle that will hopefully continue to the final race.
There could be a shake-up among the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers this weekend, depending who among them can turn in the best performance at Marina Bay.
Here are the top-10 drivers heading into the Singapore Grand Prix:
Mercedes extended their lead in the constructors' championship with a one-two finish in Italy. Theoretically, the team could clinch their third straight constructors' title as early as the next race after Singapore, in Malaysia.
The battles for second and fourth places are where all the action is, though. Ferrari closed within 11 points of Red Bull after a strong performance at their home race, while Williams retook fourth place from Force India but are just three points ahead.
Here is the table for the constructors' championship:
Marina Bay Street Circuit
The 5.065-kilometre Marina Bay circuit winds and bumps its way through the Singapore streets with barriers close on all sides.
It has 23 corners—the most of any current F1 circuit—which, along with the omnipresent heat and humidity, provide a tough challenge for the drivers.
"You need to put a lot of work into the car to get a good lap—I'd say it requires double the energy of Monaco over a single lap," said Lewis Hamilton, per the official F1 website. One lap around here is like two laps of Monaco!"
As in Monaco and Montreal, pushing the limits and brushing the barriers is the key to a quick time in Singapore. "You pretty much have to hold your breath and hope for the best, especially when you’re pushing in qualifying, as you run so close to the walls," explained Romain Grosjean in Haas' race preview.
Check out the F1 circuit guide video to see a lap from a driver's perspective.
Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4
After picking up speed on the start/finish straight, the drivers brake hard for Turn 1, a sharp left-hander taken at 155 km/h. This is followed immediately by the right-hand Turn 2, with the awkward pit-lane exit on the outside. It was here that Nico Hulkenberg collided with Felipe Massa last year, earning a three-place grid penalty at the following race.
Turn 3 is a slow, 80 km/h hairpin, followed by a short straight. Turn 4 is a fast kink as the cars are accelerating away to Turn 5.
Turns 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Turn 5 is a quick right-hander, taken at about 185 km/h, spitting the cars out onto the back straight, which is also the first DRS zone. Turn 6 is another flat-out kink, with the cars traveling more than 300 km/h by this point before a heavy-braking zone for Turn 7, taken at just 130 km/h.
Turn 8 is a very tight right-hander, followed by the 140 km/h, left-hand Turn 9.
Turns 10, 11, 12 and 13
After another relatively short straight, the cars reach Turn 10, the old Singapore Sling. This used to be a bumpy chicane, but it is now a quick right-hander taken at approximately 140 km/h.
Turns 11 and 12 form a slow right-left chicane before the cars cross a short bridge leading to Turn 13, another tight, 80 km/h hairpin.
Turns 14, 15, 16 and 17
The cars cross the wide Anderson Bridge before being funnelled into the 95 km/h, right-hand Turn 14. Turn 15 is a sweeping left-hander on the run to the long right-left chicane of Turns 16 and 17.
Turns 18, 19, 20 and 21
The cars pass under the grandstand at Turn 18, taken at about 95 km/h, which forms a left-right chicane with Turn 19.
Turns 20 and 21 form yet another chicane, this time a right-left configuration.
Turns 22 and 23
From there, the cars pick up speed before braking slightly for the 190 km/h Turn 22 and accelerate through Turn 23, back-to-back left-handers leading back onto the start/finish straight.
Singapore Grand Prix Tyres and DRS Zones
Pirelli are bringing their softest tyres to Singapore—ultrasoft, supersoft and soft—the fourth time that combination has been used this season, after Monaco, Canada and Austria.
"This is one of the most unpredictable races of the year—it's the only track with a 100 per cent safety car record—so all the complex variables inevitably throw up opportunities for teams to do something creative with strategy," said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, per the Italian company's race preview.
Ferrari, Haas and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson have nine sets of ultrasoft tyres available for the weekend, the most of any teams. Meanwhile, Manor and Force India selected just six sets of the ultrasoft tyres. The Force India drivers and Rosberg each have four sets of soft tyres available, while many drivers, including Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, have just one set of the hardest compound available.
There are two DRS zones with two separate detection points in Singapore. The first detection point is at the exit of Turn 4, with activation after Turn 5 for the long, flat-out run through the Turn 6 kink before the heavy-braking zone at Turn 7.
The second detection point comes at the end of the lap, just before Turn 22, with the activation point after the exit of Turn 23, on the start/finish straight.
Singapore Grand Prix Weather
Hot, hot, hot—that is the typical forecast for the Singapore Grand Prix and this year is no exception. Even though qualifying and the race take place at night, the temperatures will still be in excess of 25 degrees Celsius, according to UBIMET, the FIA's official weather service.
Rain usually comes in the afternoon in Singapore, meaning the track should be dry for the race. In fact, despite the high humidity, all eight Singapore Grands Prix so far have been dry.
Singapore Grand Prix Odds
Despite Mercedes' struggles in Singapore last year, Hamilton is the oddsmakers' favourite this weekend. Ricciardo is the second choice, ahead of Rosberg, after his strong performance in Monaco.
Interestingly, the McLaren drivers have the shortest odds after the big three of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari—but they are still 225-1 long-shots.
The best odds available for the top-10 favourites in Singapore are:
Bad news for Rosberg: According to the oddsmakers, he has the same chances of winning as there not being a safety car in the race, with 17-4 odds for either result. And there has never been a Singapore Grand Prix without a safety car.
Ricciardo is 3-1 to take his second pole position of the season, while his team-mate, Verstappen, is 7-1 to nab the first pole of his career.
Ferrari are 7-1 to be the highest scoring team in Singapore, despite Vettel's win in 2015 and his historic success at Marina Bay.
All odds are taken from Oddschecker and correct at the time of publication.
Singapore Grand Prix Session and TV Times
Here are the times for the three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race:
|Practice 1||Friday||6 p.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||9:30 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||6 p.m.|
The above times are in local Singapore time (SGT, UTC+8). You can convert the times to your local time zone using the helpful tool on the official F1 website.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 will have live coverage of all the sessions. The programming start times are as follows (all times BST):
|Practice 1||Friday||10:45 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||2:15 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||10:45 a.m.|
Channel 4 will have free-to-air highlights of qualifying and the race.
In the United States, NBC has live coverage of all the sessions on NBCSN, CNBC and the NBC Sports app, with programming start times as follows (all times EDT):
|Practice 1||Friday||6 a.m. (NBC Sports app)|
|Practice 2||Friday||9:30 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Practice 3||Saturday||6 a.m. (NBC Sports app)|
|Qualifying||Saturday||9 a.m. (CNBC)|
|Race||Sunday||7 a.m. (NBCSN)|
Enjoy the race and the rest of the weekend!
Matthew Walthert is an F1 columnist for Bleacher Report UK. He has also written for VICE, FourFourTwo and the Globe and Mail. Follow him on Twitter: