Formula 1 has finished its trek around Europe and now stops at Singapore. Known to be the most physically demanding race on the calendar, the Marina Bay street circuit will push the drivers to their physical edge.
The drivers will feel temperatures upwards of 60 degrees in the cockpit so staying hydrated throughout the two hour marathon is vital. Lewis Hamilton exercises in a sauna to prepare for such heats – a typically F1 way of doing things.
Indeed, Hamilton has one victory from 2009 to his name. Only Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have also claimed victories here. Nico Hulkenberg secured a fastest lap during last year’s race at the helm of the Force India. Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari has the overall lap record from 2008. It is hard to look beyond the top teams for podium honours however Force India and possibly Sauber could surprise this weekend.
Debuting in 2008, Singapore is the first night race to grace Formula 1. The attraction was there as tickets sold out prior to the race weekend. A fan spectacle, Singapore offers a unique layout; turns 18 and 19 pull the drivers under the grandstand. Supposedly more challenging than Monaco, the Marina Bay street circuit is unforgiving.
The ‘Singapore Sling’ has been removed in favour of a single-apex, left-hand bend. This should increase the speed by 40kmh each lap. Safety barriers and a run-off zone have been added to compensate safety wise for this measure.
Despite its popularity building year on year, the Singapore Grand Prix will be known as the place of a truly unconventional scandal. It was the place of Nelson Piquet Jr’s controversial crash in his Renault. Later found to be a team order, the crash forced the safety car to finish the race, gifting their champion driver, Fernando Alonso, with the victory in 2008.
With Asia’s influence in Motorsport increasing, the Singapore Grand Prix will remain on the racing calendar until at least 2017. It may be the second slowest circuit on the calendar, behind Monaco, but few Grands Prix offer such a physically and mentally exhausting challenge.
As Sebastian Vettel’s four consecutive championship victory looms ever closer, the drivers behind him will have the toughest task this weekend as they attempt to close the gap. The focus now turns to McLaren and Lotus and the decision they will soon make regarding their 2014 line up.
So begins the toughest weekend of 2013.