The night? The rain? No, the pitfalls lie elsewhere
When it first appeared on the calendar in 2008, there was a whole host of questions that needed asking about the Singapore Grand Prix. How would drivers and teams adapt to the time difference while tackling a night race? What about the risk of equatorial storms? Would the artificial light be bright enough? But nine races on, we know that those are not the questions that need answering at Marina Bay. To date, the rain has never halted proceedings, the drivers have never complained about visibility – in fact quite the contrary – and adapting physically and mentally to staying on European time has proved easier than expected, as it’s simply a case of working a nightshift over the weekend.
So what then are the pitfalls of Singapore? First of all, it’s a street circuit so the slightest mistake comes at a heavy price: it is over five kilometres long, but, at 520 metres, the main straight is the shortest on the calendar, after which there are no less than 23 corners. Most of them are 90 degree bends, so the main requirement is traction on the exit. Then there’s the mental and physical stress of a race that regularly runs to near the two hour time limit and the night time humidity makes life unbearable in the cockpit and the garages. The teams always have to take into account the possibility of a safety car period when working out race strategy, because, so far there has been one in every edition of this event.
One way or another, Scuderia Ferrari has played a key role on this circuit in the tiny Asian republic. From Felipe Massa’s dreams of victory evaporating in its first year, to Alonso’s victorious resistance against Vettel in 2010, to the very same Sebastian’s win in Scuderia colours two years ago and his great fight through the field after qualifying problems in 2016. In Singapore, nothing can be taken for granted and there is no clear favourite until the chequered flag falls…