Howett: Temperature is biggest Singapore challenge

Toyota MonzaToyota chief expects tyres to be a handful in Singapore

Formula One will step into the unknown this week for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix and the first ever night race.

With the landmark event set to start under floodlights at 2000hrs local time, the teams face a huge logistical challenge in adapting to the different timetable and operating under artificial lighting.

But in terms of raw performance, Toyota President John Howett reckons that the biggest challenge will be managing the cooler temperatures and getting heat into the tyres.

Several drivers have already been caught out this season in the cooler temperatures, most notably Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, and with the possibility of rain in Singapore this will be a decisive factor once again.

“The surface temperature of the track will be very low and normally Formula 1 tyres work best in higher temperatures,” said Howett.

“Then of course at that time of year there’s a high probability of rain. So we will face difficulty with temperature, made worse possibly by heavy rain.”

“Night racing is a challenge but we’re a team that has come from Le Mans so we should be able to handle that quite easily.”

In order allow the drivers to become accustomed to the new 5.067km track, the first practice on Friday will take place from 1600-1730 hours, before the second session is run after dark, from 2000-2130 hours. The qualifying sessions on Saturday will also run after sunset.

“I’ve seen the plans and the Grand Prix looks amazing so far, although you always need to drive the track first before having a proper idea of it,” says Jarno Trulli, relishing the prospect of hustling his TF108 around the street track.

“You need to understand the corners and the speeds so you know more about the set-up and the kind of downforce we are going to run. It is a new challenge because we don’t know the track or the conditions so it will be interesting.”