The 2022 Formula One race in Singapore was set to e a thrilling event. Heavy rain had fallen an hour before the scheduled start and fans were expecting a full wet tyre ‘lights out’ and watching the most skilful single seater drivers in the world battle against the conditions.
However, the FIA revised the scheduled start to almost 90 minutes after the rain ceased to fall and by the time the lights went green the teams only required the Pirelli intermediate tyres.
However, the cars negotiated the opening laps reasonably well and race became fairly processional with the exception of Max Verstappen making it back from P12 after lap 1 to P5 just before the safety car half way through the race.
Russell struggles to overtake
George Russell who started from the pit lane had a less successful experience of moving through the field. The Mercedes driver struggled to progress and his move on Valterri Bottas saw him hit the left front-wing endplate of the Alfa Romeo and head off down the escape road.
“I lunged from a long way back,” admitted Russell. “If it had paid off, then great, but it didn’t.
“Nevertheless, we caught him back up in two laps. It goes to show the pace we had.”
Despite having “great pace” Russell struggled to make an impression on the race and following the chequered flag called on Formula One to consider changing the Singapore track layout.
Teams too cautious
Part of the problem was following the damp start, the teams were reluctant to switch from the wearing intermediate tyres because the cars had not achieved the lap times where in qualifying the crossover to dry weather tyres had been proven successful.
Danial Ricciardo took a punt, but for 3 or 4 laps his times on the new yellow tyre were worse than his previous times on slick tyres.
Then the lap before the first safety car, Ricciardo went purple [fastest] in two of the three sectors.
There was some overtaking completed during the pit stops. This time running longer than your competitor, staying on the used intermediates proved to be advantageous as the new dry tyres took several laps to warm up and deliver the lap time.
Russell says circuit ,must change
Yet once again the race settled down into a fairly processional event except for Max Verstappen coming through the field from last after he locked his tyres trying to make a pass for 4th and was forced to replace them with another new set.
Verstappen finished P7 and probably completed half of the race passes made during the entire event.
George Russell believes it is the high apex speeds at certain corners which are making it difficult to overtake.
“You have to be incredibly audacious in these conditions and without DRS, on a circuit like this, these F1 cars are nigh-on impossible to overtake.”
“I feel like F1 has something to learn about these kinds of circuits – here and Barcelona – the only overtaking opportunities, the corners are too quick.
“Here, you are braking just after the 100m board into that 90-degree left-hander, there is enough space there to make it a tighter corner to make for better racing and better overtaking.”
In fact stewards were to blame
While Russell makes a good point, Singapore had a tradition for being processional with just a handful of overtakes until 2019.
Then a third DRS zone was added and suddenly the pass count when from single digits the year before to 46 during the Grand Prix.
The problem at the 2022 Formula One Singapore GP was again down to the inexperience of the race director, Neils Wittich.
He refused to deploy DRS for most of the race presumably under safety grounds because the circuit was wetter off the racing. Thus overtaking would be too dangerous out there was his view.
Yet4 Max Verstopfen completed around 15 passes and made one mistake which saw him disappear down a run off area, but with no damage to his car.
FIA needs to look hard at itself
It was the nervousness of F1’s race director to deploy DRS which made the Singapore GP processional for most of the race.
Had DRS been employed, teams are more likely to vary pit stop strategy knowing the offset from a newer tyre to a competitor on an older one with DRS will see them regain track position.
Once again Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s all new FIA is demonstrating how little it knows about Formula One. Safety is key, but unlike WEC and DTM racing Formula Oe has the third biggest audience of any sport in the world.
The fan’s experience should be more heavily weighted in the considerations the FIA, race control and the stewards make. Delaying the start until all standing water was removed is an example of this.
Formula One has extreme wet weather tyres that shift 60 litres of water a second, yet so cautious were race control that none of the competitors were forced to use them despite the circuit being flooded an hour before the start.
Below…. Max almost overtakes under SC
Sieht schon ein bisschen so aus, als wäre #Verstappen unter VSC an #LandoNorris vorbeigefahren. Dann hätte es eine Strafe geben müssen. Die FIA sagt auf meine Anfrage hin: Er war nicht vorbei, daher keine Untersuchung. #SingaporeGP #F12022 #F1 #Formel1 pic.twitter.com/a8P4Jeh2S8
— Christian Nimmervoll (@NimmervollF1) October 3, 2022