With the European leg of the season complete, teams head east this week to the Marina Bay Street Circuit and the 2017 FIA Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, informally regarded as the beginning of the Championship run—in.
Singapore is perhaps the season’s most testing venue, where a demanding layout and difficult ambient conditions combine to ensure a tough weekend for both car and driver. Despite being a night race, temperatures are high, though the critical factor for drivers is the energy—sapping humidity preventing them cooling efﬁciently. Against this backdrop they face the formidable 23-corner Marina Bay Street Circuit, offering very little in the way of respite in a race that has traditionally pushed the two— hour maximum time limit.
The layout contains all the traditional challenges of a street circuit: the track lacks the even surface of a permanent course and is very dirty at the start of the weekend. At other circuits this would suggest high track evolution but this is more of a lottery at Marina Bay, with heavy rain frequently washing away any rubber that has been laid down. Low speed turns proliferate as the track negotiates many 90″ corners linking the city’s streets — though the width of Singapore’s boulevards has allowed track designers to incorporate several brutal chicanes.
Riding the kerbs through these is key to a fast lap.
As would be expected, Pirelli arrive in Singapore with their three softest compounds: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft.
Lewis Hamilton comes to Singapore leading the Drivers‘ Championship by the slender margin of three points from Sebastian Vettel. The Briton hit the front for the ﬁrst time this year, courtesy back-to-back victories at Spa and Monza. His Mercedes team have a rather more comfortable advantage over Ferrari, their lead now up to 62 points — but every indication is that the high-downforce nature of Marina Bay will favour the chasing pack.
MARINA BAY STREET CIRCUIT
Length of lap: 5.065km
Lap record: 1:47.187 (Daniel
Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 2016)
Start line/ﬁnish line offset: 0.137km
Total number of race laps: 61
Total race distance: 308.828km