Starting at 8pm (local time), two hours after darkness has fallen over the city-state, the Singapore Grand Prix is the only night race on the 2013 Formula 1 calendar. To enable visibility, the 5.073km Marina Bay circuit is lit up by 1,500 halogen lamps, giving a luminosity of 3,000 lux – as bright as daylight.
The track is the second street circuit of the year, following on from Monaco, and runs in an anti-clockwise direction. The cars negotiate its tight and twisty confines – 14 left-handers, nine right-handers – in maximum downforce trim and the key to a quick lap is to have good traction and a neutral car balance.
The Singapore Grand Prix is the longest race of the year, taking close to two hours to complete its 61 laps. That makes it physically tough for the drivers, who have to cope with the 30-degree heat and 70 per cent tropical humidity while wrestling their cars around the busy, stop-start layout. As a result, they expect to lose up to three kilos’ fluid loss during the race. With low pit lane speed limits (60km/h) and a 400 metre pit lane, it is one of the slowest pitstops of the year, so teams try to do the minimum number of stops here.
Track length : 5.073 kilometres
Race distance : 61 laps (309.316 kilometres)
Corners : 23 corners in total
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce
Top speed 305km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 290km/h without
Full throttle : 45.5% of the lap time (low)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 155 kilos (average/high)
Fuel consumption : 2.26 kg per lap (average)
Time spent braking : 21% of lap
Number of brake zones : 16
Brake wear : Very high. Toughest race of season for brakes as no cooling opportunities.
Total time needed for pit stop : 29 seconds (very high)
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.37 seconds (high)
The Chicane at Turn 10 also called the Singapore Sling, which has seen numerous incidents over the years, has now been removed and replaced with a single-apex left-hand turn. In simulations carried out by the FIA, the approach speed to the corner is now around 25 mph (40 kph) quicker meaning lap times should be around a second quicker than in 2012, as confirmed by Fernando Alonso on Twitter.
"These days working in the simulator," the Spaniard tweeted. "New turn 10 in Singapore this year, without the chicane of before. The lap is around 1sec faster."In light of the increased speed into the corner, a new layer of TecPro barriers is to be installed at the end of the turn.
The weather forecast for the weekend is for high temperatures, around 31 degrees, with the possibility of rain. It has rained most evenings in the week before the event. However in five previous events rain hasn’t affected the actual race, so we must surely be due a wet race soon, given the nature of the weather in Singapore. The chances of rain is very high as Malaysia has reported rain everyday for the past 2 weeks and weather has been cloudy and cool.
Pirelli tyre choice for Singapore: medium (white markings) and supersoft (red markings). This is the first time this combination of tyres has been seen since Pirelli switched the compounds from the Hungarian GP onwards.
Also, Pirelli have announced their choices of tyre compounds for the forthcoming races in Korea, Japan and India. Unlike in 2012, the Italian firm have opted for a step between the compounds at the Korea International Circuit bringing the red-marked supersoft tyre and the white-banded mediums.
As the venue is rarely used, grip tends to be at a premium and Pirelli hope that "the supersoft is capable of generating the highest possible levels of traction on the slippery surface," whilst the medium has been chosen due to the "wide variety of corners and some heavy braking areas."
Pirelli will bring the two hardest compounds in their range - the medium and the orange-marked hard to Japan. They say this is to "soak up the high-energy demands of rapid corners such as 130R and Spoon." This is a more conservative choice than in 2012 when the soft compound was coupled with the hard.
In India, the prime tyre has been moved a step softer this year with Pirelli pairing the medium compound tyre with the yellow-banded softs. The firm explained "this combination has been selected to provide the best possible compromise between performance and durability at the Buddh International circuit, which is well-known for its big elevation changes and technically demanding corners."
2013 tyre choices
Australia - Supersoft, Medium
Malaysia - Medium, Hard
China - Soft, Medium
Bahrain - Medium, Hard
Spain - Medium, Hard
Monaco - Supersoft, Soft
Canada - Supersoft, Medium
Great Britain - Medium, Hard
Germany - Soft, Medium
Hungary - Soft, Medium
Belgium - Medium, Hard
Italy - Medium, Hard
Singapore - Supersoft, Medium
Korea - Supersoft, Medium
Japan - Medium, Hard
India - Soft, Medium.
The chance of a Safety Car at Singapore is very high. There has been at least one Safety Car at every Singapore GP so far with an average of 6 laps spent under Safety Car. Last year there were two safety car periods.
The FIA has confirmed that this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix will feature two DRS zones, continuing a trend set throughout the 2013 season.
As in earlier events, the overtake-aiding device will come into action on the long stretch running from Turn 5 to Turn 7, known as Raffles Boulevard. The activation point for the first zone will be placed at Turn 4. However, marking a departure from previous races at the Marina Bay circuit, the governing body has added a second zone along the main straight, with the activation point coming just after the apex of Turn 23.
However Lotus’s trackside operations director Alan Permane expects the extra DRS zone will do little to make it easier for drivers to pass each other.
“The additional DRS zone along the pit straight is very short so we wouldn’t expect that to have much of a bearing on overtaking. It may help a driver close up to the car in front through the opening sequence of corners, but even the original section from turn five to seven is quite a tricky place to make a move so it’s unlikely to have a major influence.”So there you have it. Another great race shaping up providing everybody does their job and Vettel doesn't run away with it.
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