Sleep, heat, and light. F1’s stars look ahead to the latest addition to the show: the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix and the first ever night race!
What are you looking forward to in Singapore?
Lewis Hamilton: I m looking forward to visiting the country, trying the food, seeing what the track is like, seeing what it will be like to race on. It is going to be an exciting weekend. The race will be quite a fun challenge, and I like a challenge! I ve never raced at night before, but I don t think it is going to be a problem.
It doesn t seem to be a problem in other sports and there have been huge preparations for this, so I think it will be great. We are racing on another street circuit, which are a particular favourite of mine. From what I understand it is wide and fairly flowing in nature, which is not what you usually expect from a street circuit, but it sounds like it will be pretty spectacular.
Nick Heidfeld: The floodlights should ensure it is actually as bright as during the day, but nobody has yet experienced how these light conditions will feel at Formula One speeds. I would have welcomed the chance to test on the track, especially in the rain.
Rain combined with the artificial light is the great unknown for me with this race. The climate should be similar to that in nearby Kuala Lumpur, and from experience it rains frequently there, especially in the early evening.
Robert Kubica: Racing on new tracks is always interesting I enjoy it very much and I am very excited. Beyond that, I am extremely happy to race on another street circuit as I am a big fan of street circuits. Lots of people consider it interesting that the race will start at night.
But from a driver s perspective I think it does not make a big difference whether we race in the daylight or at night. There are still some question-marks regarding weather conditions and related to the chance of rain the light situation. I am sure the FIA have done everything to make it a safe race.
How do you prepare for the challenge?
Nick Heidfeld: It s a question of adjustment. It s important to eat and sleep at the right times in order to ensure you re really on the button when you need to be. I doubt we ll have much free time, but as the race is taking place in the middle of the city I imagine we ll be able to absorb a fair amount and sense the atmosphere. I ve never been to Singapore, apart from sitting in the airport, and am expecting it to be a vibrant and interesting Asian metropolis.
Lewis Hamilton: Our doctor has prepared a very precise schedule for the drivers to stick to because all the sessions are so late in the day. Essentially we must not acclimatise to the local time, which is totally different to how we normally operate. Our training programmes ensure that over a race weekend we are at peak performance during the afternoons and as a result we are going to be staying in European time so this doesn t get disrupted.
Apparently not acclimatising is much harder than adapting, because your body naturally wants to change. For the drivers, our meal, waking and sleeping rhythms will all be in European time, for example we will get up early afternoon for breakfast, have supper at 1am and go to bed at around 3am. It will be very different preparation to any other race but we ll try and do the best job we can.”
Heikki Kovalainen: The main thing to consider is that we remain sharp at a later time in the day. We need to keep the rhythm correct and sleep well. This is all taken care of by the team, but it s still a big challenge. The team is taking every measure possible to ensure the timings of the weekend have no impact on our performance, to make sure we are physically ready.
For example, the hotel rooms will be blacked out so we can sleep late into the day, special arrangements will be put in place to make sure the cleaners don t come into the room, as they would not expect people to be sleeping until early afternoon. The telephones will not ring, all those kind of things.
We will essentially be isolated from the normal workings of the hotel. It is a much more demanding task to make sure you don t switch to the local time, because your body automatically wants to change, external factors such as light, temperature, humidity are all encouraging it. As with any flyaway race, the process will start from when we land in Singapore, we will stay up until early morning on the day we land.”