From one of Formula Ones racings oldest venues, the paddock moves to one of its newest, as the teams and drivers depart Europe for the heady nightlife of Singapore. With its spectacular backdrop and challenging layout, the Marina Bay Street Circuit has quickly established itself as one of the most popular venues on the calendar. Those involved in the 2012 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix discuss their prospects
Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 3rd, 2011 Race - 2nd
I didnt spend too much time looking back at my non-finish in Monza. Obviously, it was disappointing not to be able to help the team to a one-two finish, but these things happen. Whats more encouraging is that we have strong pace on a range of very different circuits - and, hopefully, we can continue to push that momentum in Singapore next weekend.
The Marina Bay track is unique - there are a couple of long straights, so its very fast, but all the corners are generally taken in second or third gear, so youre trying to find the best set-up compromise - particularly as you need good end-of-straight speed for overtaking into Turn Seven. Thats the best opportunity for passing as it also comes at the end of the DRS zone.
Every lap is a great challenge: I had a really enjoyable race at Singapore last year. My car was completely dialled in and I was able to push to chase down Sebastian [Vettel] during the closing laps. This year, I hope well once again have a package that will enable us to fight at the front.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 4th, 2011 Race - 5th
Were now inching closer to the finishing line - and this is where it starts to get exciting! After winning the last three races of the European season, the whole team starts the long haul around the world for the final series of flyaways that will determine the outcome of this years world championship.
After winning in Hungary and Monza, I head to Singapore full of positivity and optimism that we can take the title fight to Fernando [Alonso]. I enjoy the Marina Bay circuit in the same way that I like racing at the Hungaroring - its a darty track that requires you to really be on top of the car to get the best from it. It requires more finesse, though: most of the braking zones are approached at very high speed, and the walls are never far away. Factor in the heat and humidity and its a very challenging weekend.
Although I had a fantastic win there back in 2009, Ive not had the greatest of results in Singapore recently. I got a puncture and retired after tangling with Mark Webber in 2010 and I was delayed after touching wheels with Felipe [Massa] last year. Both those races were unlucky for me - I think I need a better roll of the dice this time around!
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Since its arrival on the Formula One calendar back in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has become one of the seasons destination races - one of the most important events of the year for fans, guests and teams alike. The Marina Bay circuits unique night-time atmosphere, and the crackling tension that comes from staging a Grand Prix on the edge of darkness, makes it one of the best races of the season. Its a showcase event for our sport. And its a race that race perfectly symbolises modern Formula One: its a brave departure from tradition that boldly works. It manages to retain all the traditional elements that make a Grand Prix so magical, but the fusion of its oriental setting, glittering skyline and demanding high-speed course make it feel more like youre watching a Hollywood movie than an international sport. And thats fantastic.
We at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes travel to Singapore with considerable momentum after winning the last three Grands Prix. Both Jenson and Lewiss recent performances have given our engineers and designers the conviction to keep pushing development through the season. And, make no mistake, therell be no let-up with the aggressive development of MP4-27 until the end of the year. This season is far from over. We are continuing to refine and improve our car and have both the drivers and constructors championships within our sights. Every race from now on will be an important marker, and Im optimistic that we can once again score good points in Singapore next weekend.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Personally speaking I love the Singapore Grand Prix: it makes for an amazing spectacle at night with a great atmosphere and a fantastic challenge for our tyres. Due to the unusual circumstances in which the race is run, under more than a thousand spotlights, the teams and drivers have to think very hard about strategy - as track conditions and evolution are somewhat different than you would find in a normal daytime race. One factor that could certainly come into play is safety cars: during every single Singapore Grand Prix that has been held so far since 2008 the safety car has come out at some point. This means that strategies have to be flexible as well as effective in order to quickly take advantage of any potential neutralisation. While the humidity is constantly high, it hasnt yet rained in any Singapore Grand Prix so this should be the same again this year and we are likely to see the ultimate performance offered by the two softest slick compounds in our Formula One range. Last years race was won with a three-stop strategy by Sebastian Vettel, but Lewis Hamilton finished fifth after stopping four times and taking a drive-through penalty as well. As average speeds are not very high, degradation should not be an issue if wheelspin is controlled out of the slower corners, which can lead to overheating.
Jaime Alguersuari, Pirelli test driver
Singapore has high thermal degradation because of the high temperatures, but the main thing that everyone notices is the humidity, which is one of the factors that makes it such a tough race for the drivers. Soft and super soft is a very good choice for this track: its nice to get back to the softer compounds after the recent races on the harder ones, as you get so much performance from them. The feeling in Singapore is a little bit like Monte Carlo but actually more fun as there are more opportunities to overtake. I dont think you could try a one-stop strategy like Monaco though: instead I think we will see two stops. Having said that, the actual tyre degradation itself is low and that is because there is not so much energy going through them, because while there are lot of corners they are all quite slow.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2011 Qualifying - 13th, 2011 Race - 11th
This is my second time at Singapore which is a great city with a great atmosphere. The race is unique because it takes place at night and you have to adapt to the temperature change and of course the time difference because we stay on European time all week. The track requires high downforce which is good for us and its similar to Barcelona in terms of aerodynamics so this should be a track where we can show the potential of our car.
Bruno Senna, Williams
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Singapore should suit our car because its a high downforce and load circuit and thats where the car feels at home the most. Of course its hard to judge where we will be as others teams are improving all the time, but if we can score points in Monza then we should be looking to get further into the top ten in Singapore. I had a good performance there last year as well so that always gives you a boost before a race.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
The night race through the streets of Singapore is a special event and one that the team looks forward to. Its a long and physically demanding race for both driver and car. As overtaking is difficult qualifying position becomes even more important. With the longest pit lane of the season, which is taken at 60km/h, as opposed to the normal 100km/h, one tends to perform the least pit stops possible. Pirelli are bringing the soft and super-soft tyres to this race, a combination that was last used in both Monaco and Canada. The circuit is extremely severe on brakes and due to the hot ambient temperatures we will be required to open the bodywork for engine cooling. Aero wise we run near the maximum down-force level and from a set-up perspective you have to be mindful of the harsh kerbs. Finally the weather is difficult to track in Singapore and heavy rain is always a possibility.
Remi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
The Marina Bay circuit has a low average speed of just 170km/h due to the high amount of corners so the emphasis is on giving the drivers driveability through the lower rev ranges (between 8,000rpm and 13,000rpm) and a responsive engine on the short links between the right-angled turns. Engine maps need to give good traction, so this is a race well work particularly closely with the chassis engineers to get a neutral set up.
Paul di Resta, Force India
2011 Qualifying - 10th, 2011 Race - 6th
I had a good race there last year and weve seen already that the car has been strong on street circuits this year. So Im hoping that we will go well there, optimise the set-up and pick up some good points. I think its a track everybody enjoys and its an interesting race because of the unusual schedule.
(The lights) do such a good job that you dont really notice. Its almost better than if you are driving during the day with cloud cover. Its just something you get used to really quickly. The other thing is you arrive there and stay on European time, and the night becomes your day so you dont really suffer with jet lag.
Its not something I find difficult. The important thing is making sure you choose the right flight to arrive in Singapore at the right time of day. You also have to make sure the hotel staff dont tap on your door in the morning at 9am because you need to be sleeping for another five hours! I always go to bed at 6am and wake up at 2pm, thats my routine.
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
I took part in the 2010 race and thought it was a mega experience. The whole atmosphere in the paddock and working at night is fun because it makes a nice change. We stay on European time so the body keeps its rhythm, although it does feel strange to be going to bed when the sun is rising.
Its a very long lap with some tricky bumps and kerbs, and you need to get close to the walls if you want to be quick. So getting the perfect lap is not easy. Its anti-clockwise, too, although its not as demanding on the neck as somewhere like Interlagos because most of the corners are low to medium speed.
For me Singapore is the toughest race of the year - physically and mentally. I think its because there are 23 corners on the track and its one of the longest races of the year - always close to the two hour limit. So you certainly feel it after the race because of the high temperatures and humidity.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
In Singapore the atmosphere is brilliant. Its a night race, of course, and more significantly for me there are a lot of people of Indian origin in Singapore, so they relate a lot to Sahara Force India, which is always nice. When I was living there, Singapore was very different to what it is now. Its a lot more exciting, there are a lot more things to do, and its a lot more tourist friendly. Singapore should be a strong race for us because the track has always suited our car.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
I really like going to Singapore. Its a great place to be, I love the local food and I dont mind the unusual times we run in the car. I have some unfinished business after my two GPs there so far, as I have never scored a point. That doesnt mean Im not quick there as Ive been told I still hold the lap record from 2008. I crashed while fighting for fifth place that year and finished down in 10th in 2009, so I want better this time.
In the first two years of this GP, I was a little bit surprised by how people were talking so much about the different timing. When they switch on the lights, its exactly the same as racing in the day time. I think everybody in F1 enjoys the night race in Singapore. Its worked out really well as its a buzzing city and lots of people turn up. Apart from one or two dark spots in the run-off areas the circuit is very well lit, so there is not a big difference to racing in the day.
Monaco was not that good for us, but Valencia was one of the best weekends so far. Obviously, there is no reason why Singapore should be any different compared to Valencia. Like at every street circuit, its very difficult to pass other cars there, so starting the race as high as possible on the grid is a very important factor to get a good result.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Singapore is a pretty special race with it being held at night; it makes a great show for the fans. Its a pretty cool city. I havent got much experience of the circuit so far; my first race here was back in 2009 and that was a difficult weekend, but Im looking forward to getting back in the car, learning the track a bit better and putting everything in place for the rest of the season. Its another circuit, another race and a chance for me to get back out there and do my best. I want to qualify well, be as close to possible to Kimi in terms of performance and score points for the team in the constructors championship. Its a very high-downforce track and that seems to suit us best as we saw in Budapest. In terms of the tyres I think we should be looking good too; its always an interesting race, so Im looking forward to it.
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
Theres no reason to think that a podium will be out of reach. Weve been quite competitive on twisty circuits this year and Singapore shares a lot of Monaco and Valencias characteristics. Romain loves that type of circuit, while Kimi has always been quick in Singapore; even if he hasnt had the best of luck during the races themselves. It will be an interesting weekend. We have a few upgrades scheduled for Singapore and they should bring some extra performance.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
Singapore really is an entirely different kettle of fish (after Monza). We go from minimum downforce to maximum downforce in two weeks, we use the soft and super soft instead of hard and medium, the track has low power dependency and is high downforce. It couldnt be more different. The E20 is pretty good over the bumps and kerbs; it has been all year so were quite lucky in that respect. At a bumpy circuit you make more of a compromise towards the mechanical set-up over the aero set-up of the car than you do at a smooth circuit. Singapores bumpiness was extreme in the initial years, but it has been considerably improved in subsequent seasons.
We have a new floor and a new rear wing. The new rear wing operates at the same downforce level as our Monaco-spec rear wing, but with a better DRS delta. This means that this wing has better DRS switching from its maximum drag to its reduced drag settings. We believe weve been able to produce a rear wing which is at the higher end of the downforce spectrum but still able to allow the lions share of the DRS potential which is more difficult to achieve at high downforce levels. It will be interesting to see how it works on track.
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 17th, 2011 Race - 14th
After our great result in Monza, everybody in the team is very motivated. Singapore is a truly special event. As a night race it has established itself as a real highlight. Personally I like the place. Also its not too far from my home country, and there are always a lot of Japanese fans. The track is quite demanding with a lot of corners, and mostly slow ones. In the past this kind of track didnt really suit our car, but with this years Sauber C31 things have changed. I dont see any reason why we shouldnt be competitive there.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 11th, 2011 Race - 10th
The Singapore Grand Prix is a very special race on an extraordinary track with a unique schedule. You race at night and you live at night. Also it will be the first round back in Asia after quite a while. The amount of travelling is increasing a lot now. I generally like street circuits and the one in Singapore is physically quite demanding, but I feel prepared for that. Also for our car it should be an okay track to race on. I am very much looking forward to it and I want to get in another good result for the team at that very prestigious race.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Singapore is a street circuit with lots of corners and short straights. Therefore overtaking is difficult, which makes qualifying particularly important. Good traction is crucial on this stop-and-go track with mainly low speed and just a couple of medium speed corners. In some places the surface is very bumpy - something to bear in mind when setting up the car. You have to keep an eye on the brakes, because they have very little time to cool down between corners. The track surface is not very rough. Pirelli will allocate the super-soft and the soft compounds, which should work well in qualifying, but I dont expect any chance of a one-stop strategy in the race. Concerning strategy, one thing we have to consider is that the chance of a safety-car period is very high on this track. This means we have to bear in mind the tyre requirements and, at the same time, be ready at any moment to change our strategy in case of a safety car deployment. Out of the seven upcoming races I expect this one to be the most difficult for our C31, but we will have our next aero update in Singapore, which should help to compensate for this and still put us in a position for a strong race.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 8th, 2011 Race - DNF
Singapore is a one-off in lots of ways, with the city, racing at night and the circuit itself. It's a brilliantly unusual race. At first sight, everything seems more relaxed because the action happens at night, but of course it's not like that at all. The reality is that you have to work hard to stay on European time and in the right bio-rhythms, so that you can perform perfectly in the race - because it's unusual to be competing at this time of day. The nice thing is that the circuit is very technically demanding and it's very tricky to get a perfect lap. After a reasonably encouraging weekend in Monza, we have good expectations for another promising performance. I'm looking forward to the night race.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 7th, 2011 Race - 7th
The Singapore Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the season and it's such a fun weekend. The city is fantastic, and I finished second in the race here in 2008 which was a great experience and has given me some really nice memories of this event. It's always seems strange to be driving at night, going to bed at 5am and then waking up in the afternoon but it's surprising how easy it is to adapt. I really enjoy the Marina Bay track, it's a street circuit with a difference and with the intense heat and humidity, the sheer number of corners and racing under the lights, it really is a challenge.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
With the conclusion of the European races, we now enter a very intense countdown to the end of the season with seven flyaway races in just two and a half months. The first of these weekends is in Singapore for one of our favourite races of the season in the unique conditions that a night race brings. Now in its fifth year, the routine of the weekend with working late at night and on a European schedule has become well-practiced and everyone at the team loves visiting the lively city of Singapore. On track, we concluded our successful Young Driver Test at Magny-Cours yesterday, and we have a lot of useful information which is now being studied at our factories at Brackley and Brixworth to help bring improvements to the car for the final seven races of the season.
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
This year's Singapore Grand Prix marks the beginning of the final 'flyaway' phase of the 2012 season, which will comprise seven races in nine weeks. This will be the fifth edition of the Singapore Grand Prix, which embodies the attractions of modern Formula One in a very special way: a spectacular city-centre race, where fans can get close to the action and which is run at night in a unique atmosphere for Formula One. In spite of relatively slow speeds, the circuit is a tough challenge for the drivers and cars. There are a total of 23 corners, including 10 in the final sector alone, and the drivers will change gear almost 5,000 times during the race. At over 100 seconds, the lap time is the longest of the year and only Monaco has a lower average speed. However, last year's race in Singapore featured nearly three times as many overtaking moves as the race in Monaco. The demands of Singapore, with a lot of relatively slow corners, are completely different to those of Monza, with its straights and selection of high-speed curves. We have been hard at work since the last race, with Sam Bird and Brendon Hartley testing developments over three days at the Young Driver Test in Magny-Cours in order to further improve our car performance.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 1st, 2011 Race - 1st
Singapore is one of the highlights on the calendar, because the atmosphere of a night race is amazing. I also like it because the track is really great to race on - which is partly to do with the fact that we race anticlockwise there. Singapore is a fascinating city to visit and everything seems to be extremely clean and tidy. We all stay on European time for the weekend and because the race doesn't start until 8pm, most of the drivers tend to get up around 2pm - its pretty unusual.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 2nd, 2011 Race - 3rd
Weve had some good results in Singapore. Its a very, very challenging circuit and one that the car should work well on. Weve been solid on street circuits this year, so that gives us some confidence that the car will be towards the sharp end again. I like going to Singapore, its clean and its safe. Everyone embraces the event, but I also love the fact that we have a lot of Australians attending, especially from the West Coast as its an easy flight from there. Thats quite unique.
Timo Glock, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - 21st, 2011 Race - DNF
Singapore is a very special circuit, as the only night race on the calendar. I have great memories from this race as I finished on the points in the first year and on the podium in 2009. Every year its great to come back and without doubt it is my favourite race on the calendar. Over the last races we had some real potential in our package, so Im looking forward to showing more of that and hopefully we can have a good result there. The next part of the season will be a tough challenge for the team, so I hope we can continue to make good progress to reward all the hard work throughout the team.
Charles Pic, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
I am really looking forward to my first night race at this fantastic circuit, and actually, my first visit to Singapore. I have heard so many great things about this race, from the experience of racing under the lights to the fantastic city, so Im arriving nice and early to get the measure of everything. We are back into unknown territory for me, which Im really excited about. The early part of the season and Canada were the same for me, but I am happy with the way I have been acclimatising to new circuits and getting up to speed quite quickly. Singapore adds another dimension due to the transition to European hours, but its all part of the learning experience, which has been going very well for me. It will be a busy phase for us now and I am really looking forward to the challenge of continuing to make good progress at this later stage of the season.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
It is sad to leave the European venues behind for another season, however we are embarking on a very exciting and challenging period in the calendar. Never before has the sport had so many races in so many continents in such a short space of time and there are even three more back to back races amongst them. Singapore is a very special race and the atmosphere and spectacle are truly unique. The whole team looks forward to going there, even though the conditions are quite challenging for the race team and drivers with the fierce heat and humidity. Timo loves this race and it will be Charles first experience of it, so it will be quite interesting to see what they each bring to it after our recent steps forward, which will be aided by further developments for this race. Far from running out of time in this final phase, we are encouraged by our current level of progress at this stage of the season and optimistic about what we can go on to achieve from here in terms of our targets.
Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
"Ive never raced at Singapore but I know the circuit because of my simulator work as a test driver for McLaren. Its a spectacular track and probably the toughest circuit on the brakes in the entire championship besides being a very physically demanding race because of the heat and humidity. We should have a good performance as there are many slow corners and it is quite similar to Monaco. Besides, weve got an aero upgrade which should help us to cut down the gap to our rivals. I have to make the most of the practice session to adapt to the circuit but Im up for the challenge.
Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
"Singapore has a spectacular atmosphere as the race takes place under artificial lighting. The Marina Bay Street Circuit is bumpy and very complicated. You cant make any mistakes as it is a street circuit. Besides, its also very demanding physically because of the high temperatures and humidity. I arrive here extremely motivated and in good form after a good weekend in Italy and weve also brought upgrades which we hope will help us improve our race pace a little bit more.
Ma Qing Hua, HRT test driver
"I'm very happy to drive the F112 for a second time in a row [in FP1 on Friday] and I really appreciate the opportunity HRT is giving me. It will be very exciting to drive a F1 around the streets of Singapore. It's a very demanding track for all of us, but it will be even more of a challenge for me as this is only the second time I will be driving the car at a race weekend. But I am looking forward to it and the laps that I added to my tally at the last Grand Prix in Monza have given me plenty of confidence. I have prepared myself in the simulator as well as doing some specific exercises to be used to driving at night. This is yet again another step in my career and I look forward to getting more experience at the wheel of a Formula One car as well as doing my best to help the team to prepare for the race."
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"I dont personally know the Marina Bay Street Circuit but Im really looking forward to getting to know it since everyone says its one of the most beautiful races in the championship. But also because in Singapore were incorporating the second major upgrade to the car of the season which we hope will help us take another step forward. Ma will step into the car once more for the first free practice session and the objective is for him to continue learning and improving as he did in Monza, where we were very happy with his work and performance. Pedro and Narain come on the back of a good race in Italy and we hope that with the upgrades they can get even closer to our rivals.
More to follow.