The Singapore Grand prix: The night? The rain? No, the pitfalls lie...

The Singapore Grand prix: The night? The rain? No, the pitfalls lie elsewhere


When it first appeared on the calendar in 2008, there was a whole host of questions that needed asking about the Singapore Grand Prix. How would drivers and teams adapt to the time difference while tackling a night race? What about the risk of equatorial storms? Would the artificial light be bright enough? But nine races on, we know that those are not the questions that need answering at Marina Bay. To date, the rain has never halted proceedings, the drivers have never complained about visibility – in fact quite the contrary – and adapting physically and mentally to staying on European time has proved easier than expected, as it’s simply a case of working a night shift over the weekend.

So what then are the pitfalls of Singapore? First of all, it’s a street circuit so the slightest mistake comes at a heavy price: it is over five kilometres long, but, at 520 metres, the main straight is the shortest on the calendar, after which there are no less than 23 corners. Most of them are 90-degree bends, so the main requirement is traction on the exit. Then there’s the mental and physical stress of a race that regularly runs to near the two-hour time limit and the night time humidity makes life unbearable in the cockpit and the garages. The teams always have to take into account the possibility of a safety car period when working out race strategy, because, so far there has been one in every edition of this event.

Force India’s Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, shares his insight about the race under the lights in Singapore

“Singapore is the original Formula One night race and is as different a track from Monza as it can be. It’s an anti-clockwise track and it has the highest number of corners in the calendar – 23 on the official map. The corners are quite evenly balanced between left and right and most of them are tight low-speed turns. Qualifying will be very important as there aren’t many overtaking opportunities. Despite this, races are often very entertaining and the Safety Car is a common sight.”

“It’s a tough weekend for both the drivers and the team members. It’s hot and humid, even at night, meaning hydration is very important. The drivers, in particular, need to be in perfect shape. Singapore is the longest race of the year and one in which they will need to be confident in the car and precise, as the walls are unforgiving and there’s no room for mistakes.”