With the European leg of the season completed, Formula 1 now heads for Asia, which provides the backdrop to the next two races, before heading for Qatar in the Middle East at the start of October. The action starts this week in Singapore, before moving to Japan the following weekend. The Marina Bay circuit in the city state that borders Malaysia is now something of a modern classic on the calendar. It was first held in 2008, when it was the very first race run entirely at night, since when it has been a permanent fixture apart from 2020 and 2021 when the pandemic led to its cancellation.
The Singapore track almost always produces exciting racing, but because of its twisty layout, overtaking has always been very difficult and the many Safety Car appearances mean that the race has sometimes gone to the two hour time limit before the full race distance has been completed. There was only one real overtaking opportunity at the end of the straight in the first sector. However, for this year, the section between turns 16 and 19 has been radically modified, with these four corners replaced with an additional straight where overtaking should be possible. The change has shortened the track's overall length to 4.940 kilometres, so the race will be run over 62 laps rather than the previous 61. However, lap times should be between 12 and 15 seconds quicker, making it less likely for the race to end before going the full distance.
Even with the quicker layout, Singapore is still a high downforce track and the cars have to withstand extreme conditions when it comes to cooling of components, starting with the internal combustion engine, even if it is only used at its maximum for just over 50% of the lap. The braking system also comes under a lot of stress, given it is required for almost 20 seconds per lap. The race gets underway on Sunday at 20 local time, 14 CET.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "We go racing again at a circuit that could not be more different to Monza. The Marina Bay track requires a high level of aerodynamic downforce, a particularly efficient car in terms of traction and one that is well balanced, to give the drivers the confidence required to race between the walls in Singapore.
"Like all street circuits, the driver can really make a big difference here. We have done plenty of preparation work in the simulator and now the key will be for Carlos and Charles to do as many laps as possible in free practice, to extract all the potential from the SF-23.
"In Monza, we had a really exciting and positive race and we want to continue that trend this weekend in Singapore, aiming to once again pick up plenty of points."
Ferrari at the Singapore GP
GP entered 13
Debut 2008 (F. Massa 13th; K. Raikkonen 15th)
Wins 3 (23.08%)
Pole positions 6 (46.15%)
Fastest race laps 2 (15.38%)
Total podiums 10 (25.64%)
Three questions to... Fred Fernando, Health Manager.
The climatic conditions make the Singapore race one of the most demanding. How does the team deal with this event?
Fred Fernando, Health Manager: The weather in Singapore in September is quite extreme, given that it is in the Southwest Monsoon season, with very high humidity and frequent rain. Daily temperatures can vary from 27°C to 31°C, with humidity levels above 80%. As a company, Ferrari always puts the health of its workforce first, through its Formula Benessere (Formula Wellbeing) programme, which includes annual health checks, promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging physical activity, therefore we believe that all team members will be able to cope with the conditions without any difficulty.
The Singapore timetable is unusual in that the track day runs on European time, whereas in Japan, the weekend will operate on conventional local time. What advice do you offer the team to ensure performance doesn't suffer?
FF: Singapore is unusual, with a night time schedule running pretty much to European time, but then in Japan it's more conventional, with daytime track action and so the time difference is felt even more. We advise gradually adjusting sleep patterns in the days prior to the trip, moving one's bedtime and meal times closer to those of the destination country. It's important to drink a lot of water, because dehydration can compound the effect of jetlag, while alcohol and coffee are definitely not a good idea as they can disturb sleep. We also suggest taking power naps of between 20 to 30 minutes which can boost one's energy level when needed. In addition, you should avoid the use of smartphones, TV or other light-emitting devices in the hour before going to sleep as the white light can suppress the production of melatonin. To tackle the heat and humidity, it's always best to maintain a good hydro-saline intake and to eat light meals. On this latter point, the catering team at the track has worked with us to come up with a specially formulated menu.
What are the most frequent problems you team doctors have to deal with in Singapore?
FF: The most common complaints are the usual musculoskeletal pain, for example, aching muscles, lumbago, neck pain, which at this race can be aggravated by the powerful air conditioning in use, after people have sweated a lot. The aircon can also cause respiratory problems, such as colds and flu symptoms, and have an effect on digestion, with gastroenteritis and constipation. The sleep cycle can also be disturbed by the long journey, the environment and food purchased outside the track that might not have been prepared very hygienically. That's why a doctor and a physio attend every Grand Prix with the Scuderia.
Singapore Grand Prix: Facts & Figures
1. The number of Olympic gold medals won by Singapore. A large number of the population is involved in sport with around 60% of persons under 50 taking part in at least one discipline. However, with such a small population, international sporting success is rare. The only Olympic gold medal was won at Rio de Janeiro by Joseph Schooling in the 100 metres butterfly swim. The country has four other medals: two silver in table tennis and weight lifting and two bronze, both at table tennis.
6. The different Marina Bay track layouts used in the 14 Singapore Grand Prix held to date. The first, in 2008, was run over 5.067 kilometres, extended to 5.073 the following year. In 2013 the Sling chicane was removed and the length dropped to 5.065. That was still the length in 2015, even though turns 11 and 13 were altered, while thanks to small changes in 2018 to turns 16 and 17, the length dropped to 5.063 kilometres. This year sees the biggest change yet, with the disappearance of turns 16, 17, 18 and 19 so that the section is now a straight, bringing the length down to under 5 kilometres at precisely 4.940.
17. The position, on Lonely Planet's guide to the twenty best dishes in the world, of Singapore's national dish, the chili crab. It is very complicated to prepare and is much loved by fans of spicy shellfish. The list of ingredients says it all: the crab of course and shallots, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, fish soup, tomato paste, chili sauce, salt, sugar, cornflour, egg, spring onion and Chinese parsley. Good luck if you try to make it at home...
30. The number of international race wins for Singapore's most successful race driver. Mok Weng Sun is a three-time GT Asia champion and winner of a round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone in 2017, at the wheel of the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE.
152. The length in meters of the swimming pool on the Marina Bay Sands sky deck, making it the longest elevated pool in the world. It is also the largest infinity pool on a rooftop, with peerless views of the city from the 57th floor. It is very exclusive, open only to hotel guests who need their room key to access it.