Singapore Grand Prix 2017 Preview
Momentum? That’s a tough one. Sebastian Vettel has four wins at Marina Bay, but three of them were when he was with Red Bull. And arguably, no one has more “big mo” than Lewis Hamilton with his six victories in 2017. We’re calling it even Steven.
Needs A Good Run? Among drivers, that’s pretty much anyone without a contract for 2018. So cross Ferrari off that list. Maybe.
Sentimental Favorite? Singapore Airlines is the sponsor, so continuing the race will depend on economics, not sentiment. They’re the first street race and the inaugural night competition in Asia, but if there is an extension beyond the current year, we haven’t heard of it.
Challenges? It’s incredibly hot there, even in September at night, and cockpit temperatures can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. So, everyone needs to be in top condition to avoid extreme dehydration. And, it’s under the lights. Each year the race has been run, there has been at least one safety car.
“I’d say Singapore is probably the toughest race on the calendar, not only because of the demands of the circuit itself, but also because of the physical stresses regarding the driver. The physical stress of driving at more than 50 or 60 degrees inside the cockpit due to the heat and humidity is enormous. The air doesn’t flow, as the city skyscrapers don’t allow it and you really feel the hot air inside the car! The track itself is really long, very tight and extremely demanding. There’s no time to rest during the lap and you have to be 100% focussed at all times, as the walls are all very close. We stay on European time while in Singapore, which can sometimes be a bit weird: We wake up at around 2pm every day and leave the track at 3am, which is strange but also makes it more special. As we come from Europe I don’t usually struggle with this unusual timetable. I sometimes find it more difficult to adapt to the Malaysian or Japanese time zones for example. Last year I performed one of my best qualifying sessions of the season, something which is very important to do in Singapore as it’s difficult to overtake during the race. Unfortunately, the good qualifying didn’t count for much in the end, as I had a frustrating start when I got hit as the lights went out… It was a very tough moment, as I was expecting to fight for points. We probably lost a chance of scoring a strong result! Let’s see if we can do it this year…” Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso driver
“We knew the double-header of Spa and Monza would be difficult for us, but three DNFs out of four was still really disappointing. Still, we showed better pace than we anticipated, even though we could convert that into points. We’ve now put the European season behind us and we turn our attention to the fly-aways which signal the final chapter of the season. Singapore is a great place to start, as it’s one of the circuits on the calendar that suits our package better than others, and gives us a real chance for a more positive result. Singapore is a bit like the Monaco of the East. It’s a glamorous street circuit right in the centre of the city and the atmosphere is incredible. It’s tough – hot and humid, and hard on the cars and drivers. It’s really fun though: bumpy, tight and challenging, but exhilarating when you get it right. You need a car with good traction on the slower corners and a high downforce set-up, so we definitely have a better chance there – we just need to make sure we also have the reliability.” Fernando Alonzo, McLaren driver
“I believe Singapore won’t be our only chance but is one of our best chances of a win in the second half of the season. You have to build up speed a little slower in the practice sessions on a street circuit like Singapore. At some point you have to start taking risks but to do that straight away doesn’t make sense. I always prepare for the race with some acclimatization training. You feel the heat when you’re in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases you feel it even more. After the race I will easily sink five litres of water to rehydrate before I go to bed. I’ve started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race.” Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull driver
“As a track, it’s really tough and physically demanding – arguably one of the hardest of the season. The lap is long with lots of corners and some tight and sharp bits. The high temperature and humidity, combined with the fact that it’s a street circuit, makes it quite hard. It’s important to be in top physical shape due to the harsh requirements. Safety cars usually come out which makes strategy hard to call. [Racing under lights] takes a little getting used to, but it’s not so bad. It’s been on the calendar so long that it feels like a normal race. It’s a very special Grand Prix and the only real night race we have. We don’t really see the day there! We sleep until lunchtime, and then it’s off to work, so there isn’t much of a social life for us drivers. The venue is amazing, how they’ve built it all is fantastic, especially as it’s right in the middle of the city.” Nico Hulkenberg, Renault driver
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