Singapore GP: Technical Insight with Williams

The sport s only floodlit event suffers, like other street circuits, from a shortage of overtaking opportunities, although Nico Rosberg proved that it can be done with the right blend of confidence and bravado at last year s event. The venue also has perhaps the most demanding combination of environmental and physical factors for the drivers to contend with; the threat of rain, high humidity levels and potentially blinding smog hovering over the city caused by the recent deforestation fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Combine the elements with a high downforce track consisting of 23 low speed corners and you have one of the most demanding races of the season.

Car dynamics
Average turn angle indicates the average angle of a circuit s corners expressed in degrees. The higher the average turn angle, the more acute the corners in the circuit s configuration and the greater propensity for understeer to compromise lap time. Average turn angle at Singapore is 940 – which is below the average for the Championship. The circuit layout threads its way through the Singapore streets and comprises 23 corners. Good car stability will allow the driver to run even closer to the walls.
The end of straight (EOS) speed at Singapore was 291kp/h in 2008. The Singapore track ranks as having the 2nd slowest EOS speed on the 2009 calendar, and this is one indicator of the wing level typically selected to optimise the downforce/drag ratio. Meanwhile, Singapore also has the 2nd slowest average lap speed of any of the tracks on the calendar.

Pitlane & refuelling strategy
The pitlane length and profile contribute to the determination of the optimum fuel strategy. The pitlane loss at Singapore is approximately 19.5 seconds, which is the 13th most penalising pitlane in the Championship. To complete a normalised distance of 5km around Singapore requires 2.50kg of fuel against an average of 2.42kg per 5km across all circuits this season, ranking the circuit as the 3rd most demanding in terms of fuel consumption.

Safety car
Another key contributor to the determination of race strategy is the likelihood of safety car deployments, which are influenced by weather considerations, the availability of clear run-off areas that allow racing to continue while recovery takes place and the circuit profile, especially the character of the entry and exit into turn one at the start of the race. There were 2 safety car deployments in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. The street circuit layout and lack of circuit run-off areas make it highly possible that there will be a safety car period again this year.

Temperature, pressure & humidity
As an example, it is a long observed tradition that drivers arriving at Interlagos complain about a lack of grip and an absence of engine power. Having become acquainted with a baseline of engine and aerodynamic performance during the season, the climb to 750 metres above sea level for one of the final races can, courtesy of the reduction in air density, rob a Formula One car of engine power, aerodynamic performance and cooling.

The losses can come close to double digit percentages and thus have a very real impact on car performance. Air density is a factor of the prevailing ambient temperature, which varies most significantly by season, air pressure which is closely linked to altitude and, to a much smaller degree, by humidity. Thus if races are run at the same time each year, the factor that tends to have the greatest bearing on air density is elevation. Singapore is at sea level and has an average pressure of 1,010mbar. As a consequence, the circuit s ambient characteristics will have little effect on engine power.

What the drivers say

About the Singapore Grand Prix
Nico “It was a great weekend last year, I really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was just fantastic and the fact that it was a night race worked really well. The actual track was good fun to drive and a real challenge.”
Kazuki “The whole event is great and this is one of my favourite trips of the year. The circuit is very challenging, the location is really glamorous, as Formula One should be, and it s an interesting place to visit. I don t tend to go out much over a race weekend, but last year I went out for a few nice dinners and hope to do the same this year.”

What we ve been up to between races
Kazuki “In the week after Monza I spent lots of time in the factory on the simulator, preparing for Singapore and Japan because of the back-to-back. I continued my usual training and then caught up with everything I needed to at home. I arrived in Singapore on Sunday, so I am in the city for the whole week leading up to the Grand Prix.
This will give me a chance to acclimatise to the temperatures and humidity and, although we stay on European time, it will help me get used to staying up late! I ll also be carrying out some marketing work for our partner, Randstad, on the Wednesday, when I ll be making sushi!”
Nico “I spent a few days in Monaco after Monza and then went to Grove to complete some preparation runs on the simulator and to catch up with the guys in the factory. I came out to Singapore on Sunday as I have a driver day for AT&T on Wednesday during which I ll be meeting some of their clients and doing some media work.”

Singapore from a technical perspective

“Singapore is a very technical track because of all the different elements you have to contend with. It s a night race so you have to make sure you are accustomed to the different light; it s a street circuit so it s quite slippery at the start of the weekend; it has few run-off areas and minimal overtaking opportunities. It is also really bumpy, particularly between turns 5 and 7. Combined with the high temperatures and humidity, it s going to be a very challenging race for the drivers and the cars. Because of the number of low speed corners, it is a very high downforce circuit, but that is good for us as our car works well on this kind of track.”

“The toughest thing about Singapore is the heat and the number of corners. There are 23, so there s never an opportunity to relax. The circuit is challenging, but it s a high downforce track which suits our car, so I m hoping that we will have a better result there than we had in Monza.”

How difficult is driving at night?
Kazuki “Once you get used to the light and you ve sorted out your visor, it really feels like normal. There were some corners where it was a little bit too dark last year, but I m sure they will have sorted that out for this year.”
Nico “It is just a little more difficult because the visibility is generally comprised a little bit as it is darker, but you get used to it quite quickly and there are obviously masses of light. I think it would become really challenging if it rains though. The only thing that was a bit hard last year was seeing so little daylight as we stay on European time.”