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Singapore GP: Preview - Honda

NEWS STORY
22/09/2008

Round fifteen of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to south-east Asia for the inaugural Singapore
Grand Prix. The 61-lap race will take place on a 5.067km (3.149-mile) street circuit around the city-state's picturesque Marina Bay. For the
first time in Formula One history, the race will be staged at night.

The 20:00 (12:00 GMT) start time will provide the race organisers and teams with a unique challenge. The track and pitlane will be lit by 1,500 light projectors with 2,000-watt halide lights, which will be spaced four metres apart and situated 10 metres above the ground. They will generate a luminosity of 3,000 lux, which is four times brighter than a sports stadium.

Singapore is the fifth and final street circuit on this year's calendar and while the venue is new to the FIA Formula One World Championship, this region of Asia isn't new to motorsport. In the 1960s and early 1970s a Formula Libre event was staged at Singapore's Thomson Road circuit and, more recently, motorsport fans have been able to enjoy Formula One at Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix, 300 kilometres (185 miles) to the north.

The Singapore track is made up entirely of public roads; it has 23 corners and is one of only three circuits on this year's calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction. The abundance of first and second-gear bends will result in an average lap speed of just 175kph (108mph), which
is similar to Monaco, and will result in the cars running with maximum levels of aerodynamic downforce.

As at the new Valencia Street Circuit last month, the Honda Racing F1 Team has left nothing to chance ahead of the inaugural Singapore Grand
Prix. The team did a 3D track scan of the circuit several months ago, which provided the engineers with data about the track surface and the
corner profiles, and was added to the simulation programmes at the factory.

With the race taking place at night, the team also faces the prospect of the track temperature being cooler than the air temperature. This could create slippery conditions for the drivers and with the circuit's unforgiving barriers just inches away, the Singapore Grand Prix is sure
to be an enthralling and exciting contest.

What challenges does the Singapore Grand Prix present?
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "The first Formula One night race, and of course a brand new circuit, presents a number of unique and exciting challenges for the team and we have greatly enjoyed working on these. First and foremost, it will be the first time that a Formula One race has been run under lights. We have done a great deal of research into this, particularly at the Moto GP race earlier this year, and our Sporting Director visited the Singapore track for the lighting test and was very impressed with the facilities. Talking to our Test and Reserve Driver Alex Wurz about his experience of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race has also been invaluable.

"The weather will be a key factor in the weekend. It will be hot, wet and very humid and local statistics tell us that there is a 50% chance of rain on any given day in September. These are difficult conditions to work in for both the team and the drivers; however it could lead to some very exciting on-track moments on a circuit which is lined with barriers.

"To prepare for the new track, both our drivers have been working on the simulator at our Brackley headquarters which assists with learning the track layout, gears and downforce levels. The circuit itself is tight, twisty and very narrow in places and it will be even slower than Monaco, with all of Monaco's traditional challenges. It will be a tough circuit for keeping the brakes cool and managing the engine, even more so in the high temperatures that we are expecting. With regards to aerodynamics, we will run the highest levels of wing of the season on the RA108 to give as much downforce as possible. The tyres are the soft and super soft compounds, the same specification as Monaco, and the unique challenge here is that the track temperatures will be more or less the same as the air temperatures and likely to fall as the evening
progresses."

How have you prepared for the first night race in Formula One?
Jenson Button: "For a flyaway race, it is always better to arrive as early as possible to acclimatise to the time zone, however for the night race in Singapore the situation is quite the opposite. I have spent some time on our simulator at the factory this week to familiarise myself as much as possible with the track layout before we get there. Then I plan to arrive into Singapore just prior to the start of the race weekend to
give myself a better chance of ensuring that I don't become accustomed to the time zone. We will be operating to a European timeframe which
will be tough as it means staying awake throughout the night and sleeping for practically the whole day before starting the engineering and running schedule from 1700. We have approached the race weekend timing very carefully for this race and will concentrate on getting our rest and nutrition right to ensure the body is ready to react in the right way when required. The first night race is very exciting for the sport and I can't wait to see what conditions the floodlighting will present. It's going to be quite a challenge but one that I'm really looking forward to."

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