Formula One is set to return to Singapore for the first time since the global Covid pandemic hit. The Asian race is traditionally one of the most physically demanding for the drivers and due to the frequency of safety cars often runs close to the 2 hour time limit.
The teams have struggled to understand the tyre data at all the circuits this season with the all new Pirelli 18 inch wheels and the different low profile of the tyres. Singapore will be no different.
This means the FP1 and FP2 sessions are not representative of the pecking order that will emerge on Saturday after the teams analysts back at base crunch the data through Friday night.
Sleep Science in F1
Humidity levels are again set to be high and the drivers will lose around 3kg of body weight during the Grand Prix.
Qualifying is set for 21:00 local time and the race under the lights on Sunday begins an hour earlier. This means the F1 track personnel stay on British Summer Time to ensure their body clocks can cope with the time differences.
Dr. Luke Bennet, the Mercedes AMG F1 team physician notes:
“There’s some very unique sleep and physiological stresses about that event,” says Bennett. “It’s notionally conducted on European time, but we have all of this incredibly bright artificial lighting. We have mid-afternoon wake-ups, we have a couple of finishes after sunrise. So it’s not as simple as staying on European time.
“It’s an incredibly disruptive week for sleep. We then have a one-day turnaround and a flight to Japan, where we go immediately onto a day schedule. It’s easily the most brutal back-to-back that we see on the calendar.
Singapore 2023 “a totally new race”
Pirelli Motorsports Director Mario Isola reveals that F1 fans are in store for a “totally new race” due to the Marina Bay Circuit having been laid with “new asphalt”.
“We’ve missed the spectacular night action of Singapore’s streets! With 18-inch tyres that have a completely different compound and structure compared to the ones used three years ago – as well as new asphalt this year – it’s almost like a totally new race,” says Pirelli’s Motorsports Director.
“Singapore is all about slow corners – all 23 of them – and maximising traction.
One of those (few) lucky scapes in a Pit Lane🙏 https://t.co/LAC7MvlgyQ
— Pedro de la Rosa (@PedrodelaRosa1) September 26, 2022
High weather uncertainty
“We’ve got the three softest compounds for maximum speed and grip but looking after the rear tyres in order to ensure the drive needed will be key.
With the tendency of the latest cars to understeer, it will be even more important to find the right set-up balance to ensure a strong front end without compromising acceleration at the rear.”
The weather at this time of year in this part of Asia is often unpredictable and the air pollution is high due to the nearby seasonal Indonesian forrest fires. To compensate for this Singapore regularly ‘seed the clouds’ to make rain in the run up to the GP which douses the pollution.
F1 tyre allocation will be stretched
However with the weather front expected this year the ‘cloud seeding’ is pointless as the forecast is for thunderstorms and heavy rain. It could become a real challenge for the teams if they get no dry weather running as they will have to stretch their allocation of wet and intermediate tyres like never before.
The virgin asphalt will improve the uneven nature of the circuit somewhat, however because the track is a combination of roads, the joins will still create uneven sections which will be challenging for the new breed of F1 cars.
There are few support races so even if the odd session is wet-dry, little rubber will be laid on the track.
Wolff and Russell disagree
Toto Wolff believes the Marina Bay circuit “should suit” the Mercedes W13 car but George Russell disagrees.
“Singapore could be interesting, but historically it’s a circuit where Mercedes have struggled a little bit, and we know at street circuits this year we haven’t fared so well,” said the British driver in Monza.
Russell believes Mercedes best hope of a win comes later in the schedule.
“I’d probably say maybe Austin; I think Austin could be a circuit that suits us better – but I truly don’t know.
“I think as a team we’re making a huge amount of progress at the moment and [we’re] understanding the car more and more,” he said.“Hopefully as we develop the car further, we can take some further gains.”
Given the new 2022 car designs, the lack of data the teams have, the relayed asphalt and poor weather conditions expected, Singapore may well be a feast for the F1 fans eyes when the cars hit the circuit.
Last time out in Singapore, Seb and Ferrari came away happy 😀🔙 pic.twitter.com/lUvrl2s457
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) September 26, 2022