From the open sweeps of Monza, the teams head to the floodlit confines of the Marina Bay Street Circuit for next weekend’s 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. Those involved look ahead to the event…
“We knew the double-header of Spa and Monza would be difficult for us, but three DNFs out of four was still really disappointing. Still, we showed better pace than we anticipated, even though we could convert that into points.
“We’ve now put the European season behind us and we turn our attention to the fly-aways which signal the final chapter of the season. Singapore is a great place to start, as it’s one of the circuits on the calendar that suits our package better than others, and gives us a real chance for a more positive result.
“Singapore is a bit like the Monaco of the East. It’s a glamorous street circuit right in the centre of the city and the atmosphere is incredible. It’s tough – hot and humid, and hard on the cars and drivers. It’s really fun though: bumpy, tight and challenging, but exhilarating when you get it right. You need a car with good traction on the slower corners and a high downforce set-up, so we definitely have a better chance there – we just need to make sure we also have the reliability.”
“I’ve never raced in Singapore, but I’ve experienced the whole weekend alongside the team over the past couple of years. Living on European time and going to bed at 6am is surreal, and it’s part of what makes this Grand Prix one of the really special ones. Singapore is such a cool place and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the city this year.
“Of the Grands Prix I haven’t yet done, Singapore is one of the races that I’ve been most excited about all year. It’s a completely different experience to the other races and I think the whole atmosphere will feel pretty unique – racing under the floodlights in the middle of the city sounds really cool. The Grands Prix here have been some of the longest on the calendar, so it’ll take a lot of stamina in the high temperatures and humidity, but I feel well prepared.
“We’ve had a tough couple of races as a team, but from my side I’ve also been encouraged by the performances we’ve put in across the course of each weekend. In every session we’ve been able to take away positives – even if we haven’t managed to get the cars to the end of the race or finish with a good result. I’m pretty sure we’re due some better luck, so I hope in Singapore we’ll be able to maximise the strengths of our package over the whole weekend, and finish the all-important race day on a high on Sunday afternoon.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“The whole team looks forward to Singapore each year – it’s a flagship event and an Asian jewel in the crown. The combination of the humidity, operating at unusual times during the day and night while working to the European schedule, the floodlights, high walls and gruelling track layout all makes for a truly unique grand prix, and an epic weekend of racing for fans in the middle of this great city.
“It’s a fantastic spectacle for fans, teams and partners alike, who all love to experience the best of Singapore and enjoy everything the city and grand prix organisers have to offer. It’s also a weekend that produces some of the best racing on the calendar, and never fails to throw up some drama.
“We’re also keen to move on from the last couple of weekends, and focus firmly on the future. Singapore is one of the best chances of the year in terms of matching our package to the characteristics of this gruelling street circuit. We’ve worked hard to try to avoid incurring any penalties which could halt our progress there, and we hope that following Stoffel’s retirement in Monza we won’t have to use any new power unit elements, although this is yet to be officially confirmed.
“Celebrating 10 years of the Singapore Grand Prix is a great achievement and we’d like to congratulate the organisers for reaching this milestone, at what is an incredibly impressive venue that teams and fans alike love returning to each year. For McLaren Honda, this year’s race offers us everything to play for, and we’re looking forward to fighting as close to our front-running competitors as possible.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Although Italy marked the end of the European season, our F1 campaign continues to ramp up as we head to Singapore for the final run of fly-away races.
“With a typically tropical climate, the hot and humid conditions in Singapore are tough for both the drivers and team members. Despite this, the Singapore Grand Prix remains one of the favourites for the F1 paddock, with the city’s skyline providing a spectacular backdrop to the race.
“We had a disappointing result last time out at the Italian Grand Prix, however, it was still positive that we had good pace on such a power-hungry track.
“In stark contrast to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, with so many tight, slow corners, the Marina Bay Street Circuit is less reliant on outright power and plays more to our strengths as we saw at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this season.
“The car’s overall balance between power unit and chassis will be the key to a good weekend, so our engineers are hard at work preparing the ideal set-up. Hopefully we can provide the drivers with a good package so they can be in the hunt for much-needed points.”
Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing
“Singapore is always one of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the year, in which pit stop strategy often plays a crucial role in the outcome: also because of the near certainty of a safety car at some point during the arduous two hours. Having said that, pole position has historically had a strong influence on the race win at Marina Bay, so qualifying will be crucial as well. In order to prepare, teams will have to pay particularly close attention to the free practice data as track temperature at night will evolve in quite a different way than it does at a conventional daytime race. Understanding this will be key to getting a good handle on wear and degradation rates, and so implementing an effective tyre strategy.”
“I believe Singapore won’t be our only chance but is one of our best chances of a win in the second half of the season. You have to build up speed a little slower in the practice sessions on a street circuit like Singapore. At some point you have to start taking risks but to do that straight away doesn’t make sense.
“I always prepare for the race with some acclimatization training. You feel the heat when you’re in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases you feel it even more. After the race I will easily sink five litres of water to rehydrate before I go to bed.
“I’ve started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race.”
“I’m looking forward to getting to Singapore as it’s always a special weekend. The race has been a strong one for us in the past and I think we should be able to challenge for a podium this year.
“The night race and hot temperatures really test you to the limit and for me Singapore is physically the hardest race of the season. I have been preparing already for a few weeks doing heat training in the sauna and getting ready to sweat so I can cope with the heat in both Singapore and Malaysia.
“The track itself has a lot of corners which is why I enjoy driving there and like most street circuits it’s pretty bumpy which makes it even more challenging.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Identifying clearly our strengths and our weaknesses has been a strength of our team in recent seasons. As we have pushed to become better and stronger in every area, we have put the finger in the wound in order to understand the root causes of both our good performances and the bad ones. In 2015, Singapore provided us with one of the most painful experiences in recent seasons, so we rolled up the sleeves, learned from it and managed to bounce back with a great win last year. But notwithstanding that success, this is a circuit we have found difficult to master with its combination of short, sharp corners, relatively short straights and bumpy surface. And we head to Asia this time round with the expectation that we have a big challenge ahead of us.
“So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull. Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more difficult at those places in 2017. Sometimes, characteristics like this are simply in the DNA of a car. Nevertheless we learned a lot from our struggles in Monaco, raised our level of performance significantly in Hungary and we have made good progress in understanding what we need to do in order to get the most from the chassis.
“Singapore is a fantastic showcase for our sport and a unique spectacle under the lights. But it’s a demanding weekend for the teams: the ambient conditions make life in the garage tough, it’s physically demanding for the drivers and challenging for the cars in terms of managing brake and tyre temperatures. Safety Car periods are almost guaranteed, so there are lots of variables to consider on strategy. It’s a weekend when every part of the team needs to be at its best if you wish to score a strong finish. We will aim to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and finish strongly.”