Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted September 19, 2012 18:49
This next race marks the start of the 'last' third of the F1 season as we leave Europe for good and start with Singapore this weekend.
The Singapore GP is one of the favorite races on the calendar and with this one being the first 'fly away' races, the teams and drivers will be arriving very fresh and keen. The night race and the fact that teams stick to a European time zone, lends to the atmosphere and its usual to see mechanics in race gear mingling in the bars for a beer after work.
Aside from the buzz that this night race brings to the F1 village, the Singapore GP also throws up a unique technical race that is not seen anywhere else. The drivers soon get used to driving around in the 'dark' at the limit, but the awe of actually racing when the sun is down, never leaves you throughout the whole weekend.
Along with Monaco it is the only true street track, with no margin for error and absolute concentration a must. Where it differs, is that it is more physically demanding due to the intense heat that builds up between the concrete barriers despite it being at night.
The 90% humidity means that the temperature at night is not much different to the temperature during the day.
For previous performance guides, we should actually look at Valencia for Singapore where slow speed traction is important and so we know that Red Bull and Lotus will be strong. But with McLaren leading the development war lately, and you would have to say that they would be a favorite coming into this weekend.
Hamilton and Button have both proved themselves on street tracks and with the bits between their teeth (McLaren have won the last three races), it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this team battle.
As for Ferrari, Alonso knows that McLaren and Red Bull will not impose team orders, so there is a very good chance that the respective team mates will take points off each other. So he will aim for another efficient race where he races into the top 3 or 4 with a good chance of still increasing his championship lead.
Fernando knows the pressure is on his rivals and that they will need perfect weekends, if they want to close the gap to him.
I'm actually keen to see how Lotus and Mercedes do this weekend. Lotus will be keen for their first win and will realistically think that they have a good chance with super consistent Kimi and the returning Grosean.
Mercedes also need to turn round their season after starting so strong and they bring a good amount of updates to ensure that happens.
Whatever happens, we should see an exciting race. There have been safety cars at every Singapore GP, so expect that this year too.
Also, Pirelli bring their two softest compounds of tires, which should lead to higher degradation than we have seen at the last couple of races. This will mean some different tire strategies, that amount to teams with 2 to 3 stops being the most regular choice.