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Why the Singapore Grand Prix is F1’s hardest race

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Former world champion Nico Rosberg as soon as described it as like being “in a sauna on a spinning bike for 2 hours” and the unpredictability the distinctive circumstances create provides followers their justifiable share of motion and drama.

Final 12 months, greater than 260,000 individuals flocked to the Marina Bay Road Circuit, which delivered loads of on-track pleasure – however simply what are the important thing issues that make it such a difficult observe for the drivers to race on?

Relentless corners

Initially, Marina Bay is a avenue circuit like no different. It has 19 corners over 4.94km – a median of 1 each 260m – and though that is now 4 shorter than its authentic structure, it nonetheless makes it probably the most intense laps of all of the F1 venues.

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Solely Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and Baku have extra turns, however all have longer laps. The depth for a driver is indicated by the typical race lap occasions, that are second solely to Monaco on the slowest listing, however it’s the drivers’ feedback that make it clear simply how robust it’s.

The endless, corner-after-corner structure implies that they actually haven’t any time to breathe and final 12 months Nico Rosberg defined: “You have got the seatbelts actually tight, so you possibly can hardly breathe correctly. You need to maintain your breath within the corners.”

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Picture by: Alpine

Between the obstacles

The observe is lined with obstacles and drivers get very shut in sure locations. Max Verstappen has admitted to consciously leaving “a bit extra margin” in his driving and it’s straightforward to finish up within the wall, both pushing too arduous in qualifying or dropping focus within the race.

Two examples from final 12 months are Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, who walked away from a giant crash in qualifying, and Mercedes’ George Russell, who made a mistake chasing down McLaren’s Lando Norris and ended up within the obstacles on the ultimate lap of the race.

Even seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton has had the occasional off in Singapore, notably going straight on at Flip 7 in 2022. Extremely, although, he escaped harm and recovered to return to the race and battle on.

Endurance

Not solely is the observe probably the most intense in F1, the race can be the longest. Final 12 months, the marginally shortened observe noticed the quickest race right here but – though that also clocked in at one hour 43 minutes – and the two-hour most time restrict has been reached 5 occasions.

Sustaining full focus at that degree of depth for that size of time, with few moments for a break on the uncommon quick straights, implies that merely getting spherical in any respect is a powerful feat, not to mention having to consider technique and wheel-to-wheel racing.

Regardless of the polesitter profitable 9 of the 14 races to date, the full-on nature of the race results in loads of errors and alternatives all through the sector, creating a better probability of dramatic motion for the spectators.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Picture by: Ferrari

Bumps and kerbs

Being a avenue circuit, the observe is much from clean. Not solely is it a bumpy experience for the drivers – with vibrations making it arduous to focus – lots of the kerbs are additionally excessive. Groups sometimes wish to run the automotive as stiff as attainable, so that may make life very uncomfortable.

It additionally makes it tough within the storage, as automobiles should be arrange with a better experience top than regular, hampering the aerodynamics. This was significantly notable for Pink Bull final 12 months, as their automotive was extra particularly tuned to operating at decrease ranges than these of its rivals.

Warmth and humidity

Till final 12 months’s steaming scorching Qatar Grand Prix, circumstances in Singapore had been deemed essentially the most demanding on the calendar. Drivers danger warmth stress as ambient temperatures can hit greater than 40 levels Celsius, pushing cockpit temperatures as much as as excessive as 60 levels.

Many drivers acclimatise in saunas the week earlier than the race, and the one cooling they get out on observe is supplied by a 1500mm² inlet on the entrance of the automotive, which sends air into the cockpit, and helmet vents that feed air by way of channels and round their head.

It’s not solely the warmth, but additionally the humidity that basically makes it robust. This may attain greater than 70% and drivers sweat intensely, dropping as much as 4kg of their physique weight and likewise experiencing decrease electrolyte ranges, increased coronary heart charges and better core temperatures.

Taking up fluids through the race isn’t straightforward – or nice – because the human capability for liquid absorption is simply over one litre over the course of a race. Final 12 months, Kevin Magnussen stated that the drivers’ in-car drink feed turns into “nearly like tea, too scorching to drink.”

Time-shift

Simply so as to add one other dimension to the problem, Singapore has all the time been run as an evening race. That doesn’t actually have an effect on the visible expertise – the observe is bathed in mild, making it as shiny as day for the drivers – nevertheless it turns race weekend timing fully on its head.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Picture by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

This 12 months’s race comes only one weekend after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – roughly 9 hours flying time away – and when the groups and drivers arrive, they often proceed to function on European time, to make the late night begin appear extra regular.

This implies they should go to mattress simply because the solar is arising, at round 6am, and often rise up for breakfast at 2pm, prepared to go to the observe. All the things is offset – together with media and sponsors commitments – and that makes it a really odd expertise.

The one elusive venue

Regardless of profitable at 26 completely different circuits, Max Verstappen is but to step onto the highest of the rostrum on the Marina Bay Road Circuit – in truth, it’s the solely race on this 12 months’s calendar the place he has not but managed to win.

He first appeared on the rostrum in 2018, ending second to Hamilton, and was third the next 12 months. The race took a break through the COVID-19 pandemic and when it returned, in 2022, a fuelling mistake in qualifying put him eighth on the grid and he completed seventh.

It was even worse for the Dutch driver final 12 months, as his Pink Bull staff struggled with set-up points and he was knocked out of qualifying in Q2. He began eleventh and ended up fifth, the one time he didn’t make it onto the rostrum in all the season.

Watch the Components 1 Singapore Airways Singapore Grand Prix 2024 dwell this 20 to 22 September, the place nothing else comes shut. E-book now at www.singaporegp.sg

The F1 FORMULA 1 emblem, F1 emblem, FORMULA 1, F1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX and associated marks are emblems of Components One Licensing BV, a Components 1 firm. All rights reserved



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