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Singapore GP: Track notes, DRS, tyres, stats and more

NEWS STORY
19/09/2019

Ahead of this year's Singapore Grand Prix, five domed kerb sections 50mm high have been installed approximately 1.5m from the track edge behind the exit of Turn 7. In addition, the entire pitlane working lane has been ground back and resurfaced, while the track also has been resurfaced extensively, in various sections all around the circuit.

As previously reported, there will be three DRS zones.

The first detection point is at the exit of T4 with activation 53m after T5. The detection point for the second (new) zone is 102m before T13 with activation 78m after T13. Finally, the third detection point is 180m before the apex of T22, with activation 48m after apex of T23.

For the season's only full night race, on a circuit with the most corners of the year, the three softest compounds in the range have been chosen: C3 as the hard, C4 as the medium and C5 as the soft.

The stop-start Marina Bay layout is renowned for its low-grip conditions, with teams running high downforce to help increase cornering speeds on the second-slowest lap of the year after Monaco.

The nomination is broadly the same as last year, when soft, ultrasoft and hypersoft were chosen. These were well-suited to a demanding race, which Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won with a single-stop hypersoft-soft strategy - although a number of other strategies were seen as well.

Singapore has a 100% safety car record thanks to its tight confines and unforgiving barriers, meaning that strategies have to be flexible to capitalise on any opportunities that arise.

With the circuit used just once a year, on public roads, there is a high degree of track evolution as well as the usual street furniture as manholes and white lines that can alter grip levels.

It is a tough race mechanically due to the heat and humidity, with very little ventilation and cooling due to the track characteristics.

With the race taking place at night, the usual patterns of rising and falling track temperatures during the afternoon are not seen. With some practice sessions taking place earlier, it is not always easy to get an accurate read on the likely race conditions.

"It is hard to think of a bigger contrast to Monza than Singapore," says Pirelli's Mario Isola, "so the teams will have a significant reset as we head into the final long-haul leg of the season. The unique challenges of Singapore are quite well known to them though, so they will have a good idea what to expect as they dial themselves into the track on Friday.

"We've seen in the past that there is scope to vary the strategy, and with overtaking quite tricky at Marina Bay, teams will be carefully assessing the ways in which they could potentially take advantage of strategy to move up the order. Especially considering the very high likelihood of safety cars there, which can change the complexion of a race. It is going to be interesting to see if anyone tries to qualify on the medium rather than the soft, to add flexibility to the strategy, given all the variables.

"There are some quite different tyre choices among the drivers, so we might see some alternative approaches."

Online Betting Sites unsurprisingly have Lewis Hamilton favourite to win this weekend, with Max Verstappen also strongly fancied. Indeed, with Red Bull expected to shine, Alex Albon is quoted not far behind Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas.

The Marina Bay circuit has two short straights: the 500m pit straight and the curved straight between turns five and seven, which shoots down Raffles Boulevard. This 700m straight is the only time the driver will hit the 300kph mark.

The long lap and the high chance of a safety car makes Singapore one of the longest races on the calendar. The 2009 race was the shortest so far, at one hour and 56 minutes.

Fuel consumption is high due to the stop-start nature of the track layout. Using the ICE alone, the engine would consume around 150kg of fuel over the race, but energy harvesting and employment has brought this down to under 105kg.

The drivers can lose up to 3kg of fluid during the race in the hot and humid atmosphere. This needs to be taken into account when setting the car weight before the race.

Singapore is one of the slowest circuits on the calendar, rating just above Monaco and Hungary in terms of the lowest average speed. With 23 corners, the average speed is around 175 km/h.

There are 82 gear changes per lap as opposed to just 52 in Monaco and just 44 in Monza. Due to the short bursts of power, eighth gear will only be engaged two times per lap. Only Monaco has a lower usage.

The ambient humidity can be well over 80%. In the past, these conditions would have had a big impact on the power output, which decreases as less oxygen is available to burn. With the turbo engines, however, the turbo compensates for the lack of oxygen by spinning at a higher rate. In fact, it will spin considerably faster than a comparable race run in dry conditions.

The big stops on the lap are Turn 7 and 14 where the driver will brake from 300 to 110kph.

There are few long straights and lots of opportunities to recover energy on braking via the MGU-K. The K may actually be used to propel the car to a higher torque level than usual allowing us to save fuel at this circuit, which is notoriously difficult on fuel consumption.

Running in the evening will see the relative humidity reduce as the sun goes down. The electrical components of the PU will therefore be insulated against moisture and, in case of rain, the water will be diverted away using special ducts.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel share the record for most wins in Singapore with four each. Hamilton won in 2009 for McLaren and then in 2014, 2017 and 2018 for Mercedes.

Vettel won three in a row for Red Bull Racing in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and took victory in 2015 for Ferrari. These are also the only drivers in the 2019 field to have contested every Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes is the leading constructor in Singapore, having taken four victories. Alongside Hamilton's wins, Nico Rosberg won the race in 2016 on his way to winning the Drivers' Championship. Rosberg is the only driver to win the Singapore Grand Prix without already having won a World Championship. The only other winner in Singapore is Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard won in 2008 for Renault and 2010 for Ferrari.

Pole position is critical with eight of the 11 winners having started from P1. The three drivers to take pole and not win have all suffered some kind of incident that has prevented them scoring. Felipe Massa finished 13th in the inaugural race after departing his pit-box with the fuel hose attached. Hamilton retired with a gearbox issue in 2012 while leading and Sebastian Vettel was involved in a collision with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen on the run to the first corner in 2017.

Red Bull have an unenviable record of finishing second in the last five editions of the Singapore Grand Prix. Vettel was runner-up in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and Verstappen finished in P2 last year. Vettel was also second in 2010 for Red Bull. Added to three third places, they have a record number of podium finishes in Singapore with 12.

The only driver to make a Formula One race debut in Singapore is Alexander Rossi. The American contested five grands prix towards the tail-end of the 2015 season, racing for the Manor-Marussia team.

Of the four drivers contesting a first full season in F1, only Antonio Giovinazzi has prior experience in Singapore. The Alfa Romeo driver appeared for Haas in 2017, completing 27 laps in FP1, substituting for Kevin Magnussen. The circuit will be a new experience for George Russell, Lando Norris and Alex Albon.

The lap record was set last year by Magnussen, it was the first - and so far only - fastest lap for either Magnussen or the Haas team.

At 1hr 51m 11.611s, last year's race was comfortably the fastest Singapore Grand Prix on record, beating the previous best by over four and three-quarter minutes. The race is the only one on the calendar at which the two-hour limit racing limit is regularly tested, with four of the 11 races to date finishing after the two hour maximum. Three of those were halted on time rather than distance and had a reduced lap count: 59 laps in 2012, 60 laps in 2014 and 58 laps in 2017.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Marina Bay, here.

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