Toughest race gets into gear

2012-09-22 20:04

Singapore Singtel F1 event today will thrill spectators with stiff competition on the track

The Singapore Singtel Formula 1 Grand Prix race, which gets under way this afternoon, is probably the toughest on the calendar.

It is run in very warm and humid conditions, while it is the longest race of the year that takes nearly two hours.

However, the race also thrills spectators with its exciting mix of night racing along public roads, combined with live entertainment and unrivalled corporate hospitality services.

The walls are close and this provides a beautiful view of all the tall city buildings right round the track, making for a a beautiful ambiance.

The 2011 version was won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend’s race looking to close the gap on championship leader Fernando Alonso, who won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza two weeks ago.

Forecasts predict heavy rain throughout most of the weekend, which means heat might not be such a hindrance today.

The predicted weather would keep temperatures a bit low, but will make the conditions even more challenging for the drivers.

The Singapore track was widely criticised by F1 drivers for being excessively bumpy, particularly between turns five and seven, resulting in a very unforgiving circuit.

It is twice as hard to negotiate as the more famous Monaco street circuit, and unexpectedly physical requiring double the amount of energy over a single lap compared with the Monaco circuit.

There was also concern about the high and harsh kerbs at the chicane, which is a deceptive corner at turn 10 of the Singapore street circuit.

The teams and drivers are always worried that hitting the bumps could cause suspension damage to their cars.

They also raised concerns that the bumps would pitch them into the wall on the outside of the corner.

In response to the drivers’ concerns, the FIA agreed to lower the kerbs at the turn 10 chicane.

The Singapore race is always full of incidents, so the safety car will most probably come out at a certain point, which will test the teams’ strategy.

During the previous four editions of the race, there has always been a safety car and it is a typical feature of a street race and, without huge run-off areas, there is no other way of taking the retired or damaged cars out of a race.

Alonso has been the only multiple winner at Singapore, although his 2008 victory caused drama and questioned the integrity of the sport when a year later Renault F1 admitted that Nelson Piquet Jr had deliberately crashed to help Alonso win the race using the safety car strategy.

Ferrari is among the frontrunners for the win as the Italians were strong during the rain-plagued British and Malaysian Grand Prix.

McLaren has, however, won the previous three races of the season and is definitely looking to continue its dominance and overpower Red Bull Racing in the constructors’ championship.

They seem like the favourites for the win, despite the track layout, coupled with weather conditions, not playing particularly to McLaren’s strengths.

» Follow me on Twitter: @zwelethunondumo


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