Round fourteen of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship sees the Formula One circus return to the venue at the centre of the race-fixing row currently engulfing Formula One.
The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix and the first ever night race is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons amid allegations by Nelson Piquet that he was instructed to crash deliberately to help his then teammate Fernando Alonso win the race.
The race-fixing scandal will dominate in Singapore ahead of the World Motor Sport Council meeting on Monday to decide the fate of Renault, but in the meantime there is a championship battle to play out at the city’s Marina Bay.
Jenson Button arrives at the city’s picturesque Marina Bay with a reduced 14 point lead over teammate and title rival Rubens Barrichello, while Sebastian Vettel, who is 26 points adrift of Button, will be hoping that the Brawn drivers slip up.
McLaren-Mercedes will introduce their last major upgrade package of the year and the circuit should suit the MP4-24 as Lewis Hamilton targets his second win of the season.
The 61-lap race will take place on a 5.067km (3.149-mile) street circuit around the city-state’s picturesque Marina Bay. The race will again be staged at night providing the organisers with a huge logistical challenge.
The track and pitlane will be lit by 1,500 light projectors with 2,000-watt halide lights, which will be spaced four metres apart and situated 10 metres above the ground. They will generate a luminosity of 3,000 lux, which is four times brighter than a sports stadium.
While the venue is relatively new to the FIA Formula One World Championship, this region of Asia isn’t new to motorsport. In the 1960s and early 1970s a Formula Libre event was staged at Singapore’s Thomson Road circuit and, more recently, motorsport fans have been able to enjoy Formula One at Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix, 300 kilometres (185 miles) to the north.
- Date: 27/09/09
- Circuit Length: 5.067km
- Race Distance: 309.087km (61 laps)
- Winner 2008: Fernando Alonso Renault
What the drivers say:
Lewis Hamilton: “Last year s inaugural Singapore Grand Prix was a real example of how to host a new Formula 1 race fantastic facilities, slick organisation and a unique and interesting track that was not only fun and demanding but also really forced you to push to the limit and take a few risks to get the best from the car.
Robert Kubica: “I am very much looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix. Everybody knows I am a big fan of street circuits. The track is very challenging; especially the last sector is very twisty with a lot of corners. As the circuit is not a permanent track, the grip level is very poor at the beginning of the weekend but improves from day to day. Drivers and engineers have to anticipate how the track s grip level evolves set-up-wise and balance-wise.
“Last year the surface was very bumpy, maybe a little too bumpy at some places. Before the initial night session, there were lots of concerns among us drivers regarding visibility which did not prove right. Actually I was very surprised how well the light situation was managed.â€
Heikki Kovalainen: Racing at night is what really makes this event unique, but the lighting system is so fantastic that you tend to forget that you are even racing in the dark! Singapore is the sort of circuit that should suit our package there are lots of slower corners and we ll be able to use KERS to our advantage. Overall, the city is also a fantastic backdrop to what has already become one of the best circuits on the Formula 1 calendar.â€
Nick Heidfeld: “As I found out last year, it s practically impossible to overtake in Singapore. After a penalty I had to start from ninth on the grid rather than sixth and, although I had the speed, sixth at the finish was the best I could hope for. Grid position is equally as critical in Singapore as it is in Monaco.
“Last year the special nature of this GP and the atmosphere around it made the race weekend very much the highlight of the season for me. It was something new and genuinely exciting for everybody. And it was great to see the TV pictures and photos afterwards as well; the artificial light changed everything.
“It wasn t difficult for me to keep in tune with European time so that I would be in good shape for qualifying and the race actually it was quite fun. It s a bit weird to find the whole team still out and about up to three in the morning to keep their body clocks ticking over, but also very entertaining.â€
SINGAPORE – THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
The Singapore track is made up entirely of public roads; it has 23
corners and is one of only three circuits on this year’s calendar to run
in an anti-clockwise direction. The abundance of first and second-gear
bends will result in an average lap speed of just 175kph (108mph), which
is similar to Monaco, and will result in the cars running with maximum
levels of aerodynamic downforce.
With the race taking place at night, the teams also faces the prospect of
the track temperature being cooler than the air temperature. This could
create slippery conditions for the drivers and with the circuit’s
unforgiving barriers just inches away, the Singapore Grand Prix is sure
to be an enthralling and exciting contest.
Full throttle: 50%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: High – 10/10
Tyre compounds: Soft / Super Soft
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 175kph (108mph)
Technical Insight with BMW Sauber’s Willy Rampf: “Singapore was a highlight in the truest sense of the word in 2008. It was the first ever Formula One night race and turned out to be a truly special event. The circuit has an unusually high corner count, so the drivers have no time to relax.
“Added to which, it is extremely bumpy in places, to the point where some drivers complained of getting headaches. The predominantly slow corners place severe demands in particular on the cars traction.â€