SUNDAY night’s Singapore F1 Grand Prix poses opportunities for some teams, problems for others.
The first Singapore Grand Prix actually dates back to 1961, when it was a Formula Libre race called the Orient Year Grand Prix, and it was run on public roads in the Thomson Road area.
The city state also hosted the Malaysian Grand Prix for some years until abandoned in 1973 because the circuit was deemed too dangerous, especially the aptly named Devil’s Bend.
It returned as part of the Formula 1 World Championship in 2008, but on the spectacular 5.06km Marina Bay street circuit.
Sunday’s race is over 61 laps, totalling 308.7km, and is one of the toughest on drivers in terms of physicality and humidity.
Daniel Ricciardo, however, regards it as one of his favourite circuits.
“I do relish the physical and mental challenge in Singapore,” he said.
“It’s an intense race weekend and one you have to be ready for, more so than other races.
“I learnt a lot from my first race there in 2011 and realised the need for being ready for the challenge.
“The circuit is long and busy. You have to get close to the exit walls and sometimes you’re there holding your breath a bit.
“I have always enjoyed racing at street circuits. It’s a feeling of being absolutely on it, close to the edge and it’s an awesome feeling.
“We deserved the double top five finish in Italy. We know now there will be eyes on us to repeat that, but I can see no reason why we can’t string together more solid results and really chase down fourth place.
“The challenge excites me.”
Teammate Nico Hülkenberg seemed equally determined.
“Singapore is the only real night race on the calendar, so that makes it really unique,” the German ace said.
“It’s probably the most physical race of the season. A lap is very busy at the wheel, extremely physical and tiring.
“It’s a long circuit with corners coming thick and fast without many straights to have a rest.
“The team left Italy on a real high. The whole weekend was a super effort from everyone, starting with a solid qualifying result and then a strong race to move up a position.
“We’ve made a big swing in the Constructors’ Championship and the race for fourth is on.
“We have to develop this now and aim to pick up these kinds of results more regularly. It’s certainly possible and we won’t be letting up.”
Charles Leclerc, who won for Ferrari in Italy a fortnight ago, wasn’t all that optimistic of another win for the prancing horse team.
“After two positive weekends in Belgium and Italy, the race in Singapore doesn’t look as good on paper for us, because of the very different circuit layout, featuring lots of of slow corners and fewer straights.
“It might be a more difficult weekend, but we will give our all to have a good result.”
“It’s always a special place to go, because it’s a night race. I really enjoy driving at night and somehow, it feels a lot quicker than it does during the day.
“It’s just a unique weekend and I am really looking forward to being there.”
Teammate Sebastian Vettel, who is having a rather torrid season, summed it up thus:
“We have seen before that anything can happen in this race, so the final result is hard to predict.
“Off the track, there will also be a lot of pressure on the teams as this race is back to back with Russia.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said that for a long time Singapore was one of the team’s weakest tracks.
“But we’ve made some inroads into that and performed well last year,” he said.
“However, there are no home runs at a track like Singapore: we need to understand this car and this year’s tyres on a very particular track layout and take absolutely nothing for granted in our approach to the weekend.
“We are looking forward to a tough battle under the lights in Singapore.”
Question: Who holds the lap record for the Marina Bat circuit?
The answer is . . . Haas.
This season has been a tough one for the young US team, with no points on the board since late July, when Romain Grosjean ran 7th in Germany and teammate Kevin Magnussen 8th.
Magnussen is in fact the lap record holder at Singapore.
He put in the scorcher towards the end of last year’s race — and finished 18th.
“It was a long day at the office,” the Dane said.
“Obviously, it was a tough day for the team. I guess a slight highlight was getting the track record.
“It’s not really worth anything but perhaps a smile. Let’s move on, reset, and get ready to attack again.”
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