Reports

Singapore F1 Grand Prix

2016 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – PREVIEW

Circuit stats
2015 winner Sebastian Vettel. 61 laps, 2:01:22.118s
2015 pole position Sebastian Vettel, 1m43.885s
2015 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, 1m50.041s (lap 52)
Name Marina Bay Circuit
First race 2008
Circuit length 5.065km/3.147 miles (13th longest of the season)
Distance to Turn One 200m/0.124 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
Longest straight 832m/0.5176 miles, on the approach to Turn Seven
Top speed 305km/h/190mph, on the approach to Turn One
Pitlane length 420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 24s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)
Full throttle 45 per cent, with the longest period of full throttle being just 9s
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 17
Key corner Turn Five, a 90-degree right-hander. The exit is bumpy and it’s vital to get the power down cleanly because the second DRS zone follows
Fastest corner 200km/h (124mph), Turn 23
Slowest corner 80km/h (50mph), Turn 13
Major changes for 2016 No changes planned
Fuel consumption 1.65 per lap, which is average
ERS demands Medium. The short bursts of acceleration from low speed make this track quite demanding on the ERS, but there are plenty of opportunities to harvest energy under braking
Brake wear High. There are 16 braking events around the lap, with few cooling opportunities between each one
Gear changes 80 per lap/4,880 per race

Circuit facts
History lesson There have been two iterations of the Singapore Grand Prix. Between 1961 and ’73 the race was held for Formula Libre cars on the Thomson Road circuit, in a northern suburb of the city-state. The Marina Bay circuit has more of a downtown location and has hosted a world championship grand prix every year since 2008.
What makes the track unique The entire event. This is the original F1 night race; it starts at 20:00 local time, two hours after sunset, and the cars look spectacular under the glare of the 1,500 lamps that line the circuit.
Grip levels Low. The asphalt is slippery and the average speed – just 170km/h (106mph) – is the second-slowest of the year.
Run-off Good. For a street circuit, there is plenty of run-off. In the places where the cars are at their fastest – into Turns One and Seven – there is ample room between the track and the barrier.
Watch out for… Turn 21. It’s a fairly non-descript left-hander, but it’s vitally important. Turns 22 and 23 are taken flat-out, so exit speed from Turn 21 determines a car’s pace along the pit straight, where the first DRS zone is located.

The drivers on: the circuit

#14 Fernando Alonso

“We knew Spa and Monza would be among the two most difficult races on the calendar for us. Now we move to the end-of-season fly-aways and we’re optimistic that we can continue pushing for more points and more positive results. Singapore is a really fun track, very bumpy and challenging, but it’s a quirky layout with a lot of stop-start sections and really fast straights, so you need a car that works well in high downforce set-up and has good traction out of the slower corners. I’ve won there twice before, and the floodlights and energetic fans give it a really exciting atmosphere.”

#22 Jenson Button

“The Marina Bay circuit is a challenge unlike any other that we face during the season – even when you compare it to the other street races on the calendar. It’s twisty, extremely fast, the barriers are high and close, and the bumpy surface is unforgiving, which sometimes means losing grip is something you can’t get away with, without seeing flying debris all over the track and the possibility of a Safety Car. That’s part of what makes racing in Singapore so special, and its characteristics pose a tough test for even the strongest chassis and power unit. It’s gruelling for car and driver, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding to drive.”

Event stats
Start time 20:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 61 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/45 laps)
Safety Car likelihood High. There has been at least one Safety Car period in every Singapore Grand Prix
When to press record The start. The novelty of seeing 22 F1 cars racing at night never wanes, and the left-right flick at Turns One and Two usually throws up some controversy on the opening lap
Don’t put the kettle on The top seven cars made two pitstops last year. The first stops occurred from lap 10 onwards, with the second stops from lap 30. The appearance of the Utrasoft tyre this year could force shorter stints, with the possibility of a three-stop strategy more likely
Weather conditions now 30 degrees and stormy
Race forecast 29 degrees
Tyre choices Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, a combination that has been used three times already this year: in Monaco, Canada and Austria

Event facts
First Singapore Grand Prix 2008
Slogan “Nothing Comes Close”
Singapore’s F1 heritage This is the ninth Singapore Grand Prix, which means the Marina Bay Circuit has hosted more F1 races than Sochi, Austin, Abu Dhabi and Baku on the current calendar. Interest in F1 has been growing in this area of south east Asia since the Malaysian GP first appeared on the calendar in 1999.
Smallest winning margin 0.293s, in 2010. This race was a private duel between eventual winner Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel; they started on the front row of the grid and despite the best efforts of Vettel to pass in the first corner, Alonso was never headed.
Sporting legacy To quote Fernando Alonso, the Singapore Grand Prix has become a “modern-day classic”. It’s the only true night race on the F1 calendar and it’s become one of the sport’s Blue Riband events. It’s also the longest race of the year in terms of time; in three of the last four years it has exceeded the FIA’s two-hour time limit.
Did you know? An underground electrical current near the Anderson Bridge is one of the quirks of the track. Without careful preparation by the teams, this current can play havoc with the cars’ electrics.
Don’t forget McLaren has won the Singapore Grand Prix once before, in 2009. Fernando Alonso has won the race twice, in 2008 and 2010, and Jenson Button has finished second on two occasions.
Fan zone: Jono, aged 42, from Hong Kong, asks: “Everyone talks about the F1 teams remaining on European time at the race. What does that actually mean?”
McLaren’s answer: “It means there’s no jet-lag! All of the on-track action is off-set by six hours at this race, due to the 20:00 start time on Sunday evening. That means going to bed and getting up six hours later than normal, so lights out at 05:00 local time and getting up at lunchtime. That’s similar to the people working back at the MTC on European time.”

The drivers on: the event

#14 Fernando Alonso

“Singapore is a great race – it’s always an enjoyable weekend and definitely one of the halo races on the calendar each year. It’s a really long race – usually almost two hours – so a lot can happen. It’s tough on the cars too, especially with the current that runs underneath the asphalt near the Anderson Bridge towards Turn 13, which can play tricks on the electronics systems. It’s definitely a race of attrition, so I hope we can have a smooth weekend with good reliability, and work our way towards the front. Over the past few races, we’ve shown good consistency in our performances, so I’m optimistic that we can continue this form in Singapore.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Singapore is a tough race, so you have to be at your absolute peak physical fitness to not find it a struggle, especially in the heat. It’s an incredible venue and there’s a really special feeling all weekend. Knowing you’re working on European time while the rest of Singapore is running on local time makes it really unique – like racing in a parallel universe! Racing under floodlights never gets boring, and I hope I can have a race with less drama than at Monza.”

Hear from the management

Eric Boullier

“The combination of stunning Marina Bay backdrop, state-of-the-art paddock facilities, unique circuit characteristics, and a vibrant atmosphere from the passionate fans, makes Singapore one of the most impressive spectacles on the Formula 1 calendar.

“As we begin the final set of fly-aways before the end of the season, we go to territories where we race at circuits that require a more technical car set-up, with less reliance on pure power. Despite spending the next few weeks far away from the UK, our development push is still ongoing and we’re still working hard on achieving performance improvements right up to the end of the season.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how the Ultrasoft tyre fares on the bumpy asphalt this street circuit is so famous for. Strategy will be an important factor in this year’s grand prix, especially given the unusually high likelihood of a Safety Car appearance. Although we weren’t in a points-paying position in Monza, we did see some promising performances throughout the weekend, so we are hopeful of a greater chance to show what our package is truly capable at the Singapore Grand Prix.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“The Singapore night race is quite an amazing spectacle for everyone involved in F1, with the bustling city under the floodlights, great people and good food. The race, however beautiful, is long and physically draining for both the drivers and team, with high temperatures and humidity.

The car set-up will need to change drastically to adjust the package from the fast-paced circuits of Spa and Monza, to Singapore’s twistier city circuit, so the team is already busy in preparation. Our car has good balance under braking, so the nature of the track should suit us more than the previous circuits.

“Honda will work to match the driveability of the power unit to suit the needs of the stop-and-go nature of the circuit, so that our driver’s skills can shine throughout the weekend. We hope to be in a good position to score points and have a good race.”

2016 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – PRACTICE

“We’ve got quite a lot of work to do before we can be as competitive as we want to be”

The McLaren-Honda team made a somewhat cautious start to its Singapore Grand Prix weekend, making steady progress as it attempted to gather information on a suite of new parts while refining the balance of the MP4-31 around a notoriously tricky and unforgiving street circuit. Fernando Alonso also tried the halo cockpit protection system during his installation laps this afternoon.

Unfortunately, the day was book-ended by a pair of failures: Jenson Button stopped on track with a fuel system issue at the beginning of FP1, and had to be pushed back to the pit-lane; then, on his final lap in FP2, Fernando’s car developed a gearbox issue that forced him to park on the circuit.

The engineers will burn the midnight oil tonight to put the team in a better position for qualifying and Sunday’s race.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
FP1 1m48.202s (+2.379s) 21 laps 11th
FP2 1m45.779s (+1.627s) 30 laps 9th
Hopefully we can find a couple of tenths overnight

“Our expectations were quite high before coming here – although, to be fair, I’d said beforehand that there are circuits coming up that should suit us better than Singapore.

“We’ll have to fight to get into Q3 tomorrow because I think Force India and Toro Rosso both look pretty strong around here. Hopefully we can find a couple of tenths overnight so as to battle them for the final three or four top-10 positions in qualifying though.

“Our biggest problem is an overall deficit of grip – we need to find a bit more downforce for tomorrow, and then we need to make the tyres work better over a single lap. We’ll work hard to do our best to achieve those two important goals. It’s not so easy to overtake around here, so a good grid position will be important.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-02
FP1 1m49.615s (+3.792s) 20 laps 16th
FP2 1m46.574s (+2.422s) 30 laps 12th
We’ve got quite a lot of work to do before we can be as competitive as we want to be this weekend

“When I stopped the car on track, I was fortunate enough to be pushed back to the pits because there wasn’t an opening on the circuit to park the car.

“Our pace hasn’t been quite as good today as we’d anticipated. As a result, we’ve got quite a lot of work to do before we can be as competitive as we want to be this weekend. We just couldn’t quite access the grip out there today, so we’re going to need a decent gain in pace to be competitive.

“Having said all that, hopefully we can improve things overnight – it’s going to be a busy evening.”

ERIC BOULLIER
We made some solid progress between the sessions

“Today wasn’t the easiest of practice days. Jenson and Fernando were each affected by on-track stoppages – but, fortunately, neither failure significantly affected their running. Equally, both drivers and engineers had to work hard to dial the cars in after discovering that their initial balance wasn’t fully delivering on track.

“Singapore’s Marina Bay track is fast and unforgiving, and finding a perfect balance isn’t always easy –especially when you have to contend with the changing track and ambient conditions that occur between FP1 and FP2.

“We struggled a little today, overall, but I think we made some solid progress between the sessions and we’ve got a good direction to pursue ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Both sessions ran according to plan, with just a couple of small issues.

“With such big changes in running conditions from FP1 to FP2, it’s always difficult to prejudge how the car will fare throughout the day. Both sessions ran according to plan, with just a couple of small issues.

“The focus was predominantly on set-up changes, with the team confirming the use of the tyres, chassis and power unit balance. Honda’s particular focus was on catering the set-up to the stop-go nature of the Singapore street circuit.

“During FP2, we were able to test our long-run pace and stability using multiple compounds and were able to gain good data and setting direction for Saturday and Sunday.

“The final confirmation and tweaking will be done overnight.”

2016 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

"Scoring points with both cars is our aim for tomorrow"

A concerted effort from the McLaren-Honda engineering group transformed the team’s fortunes after a difficult three practice sessions, resulting in Fernando Alonso qualifying ninth for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Jenson Button, who had also benefited from improved grip and balance in his MP4-31, also looked destined to earn a top-10 starting position, but was unfortunate to suffer a left-rear puncture after glancing the wall on his final flying lap in Q2. He will consequently start 13th.

FERNANO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
FP3 12th 1m46.164s (+1.812s) 13 laps
Q1 9th 1m45.373s On Options
Q2 8th 1m44.653s On Options
Q3 9th overall 1m44.553s On Options
Race strategy will be key, and I hope things can turn around for us

“On the face of it, I’m pleased. Getting into Q3 was our first objective, but our next is to be competitive in the race. Nonetheless, our pace still wasn’t great today and we struggled a little – in fact, good pace hasn’t come too easily to us this weekend.

“Hopefully we can improve for tomorrow though. Race strategy will be key, and I hope things can turn around for us a bit, especially if we get a good start, attack into the first corner, and come out in a good position at the end of lap one.

“It might be a case of damage limitation in the race, but let’s see what we can do.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-02
FP3 16th 1m47.277s (+2.925s) 16 laps
Q1 5th 1m45.262s On Options
Q2 13th overall 1m45.144s On Options
"We made some changes to the car, and it felt really good this evening"

“Up until qualifying, our weekend had been really tough. But we made some changes to the car, and it felt really good this evening. It took a few set-up tweaks and I found my confidence, so I was able to get the best out of the car in quali.

“Then, on my final run in Q2, I went a touch wide at the exit of Turn 14 and just tapped the wall on the exit. The impact broke the left-rear wheel and gave me a puncture – it was my fault.

“It was definitely possible to get into Q3 today: my final lap in Q2 was looking very similar to Fernando’s before the puncture.

“Our long-run pace means the race could be difficult for us, but there’ll probably be some Safety Car periods and a bit of action, so anything could happen.”

ERIC BOULLIER
“To be clear: scoring points with both cars is, of course, our aim.”

“Bearing in mind the problematic day we had yesterday, we recovered well today, dialling-in a decent grip level and an improved handling balance on both cars. I want to say ‘bravo’ to our engineers for that achievement, which they accomplished calmly and without drama overnight and earlier today.

“Jenson was unlucky to suffer a left-rear puncture following a light brush with the wall on the exit of Turn 14, the result of which was that he wasn’t able to progress to Q3.

“Fernando moved through to Q3 with no such ill-fortune, and duly recorded a fast and efficient lap to end up in P9.

“Tomorrow both our drivers will enjoy the slight advantage of starting the race from the clean side of the grid – and, in what’s usually a long and difficult evening’s racing, they’ll surely bring their great experience to bear on the task of doing their best to score world championship points.

“To be clear: scoring points with both cars is, of course, our aim.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA
both our drivers showed their stellar driving prowess right when it counted

“All through the Friday and Saturday free practice sessions, both cars struggled to find overall grip, but we were able to make the most of the cars’ balance in qualifying today.

“Thanks to some great driving, Fernando made it through into Q3 to finish in P9, his second-highest qualifying result of the season. Unfortunately, Jenson had an incident in Q2 putting an end to his Q3 chances, but he showed good pace in Q1 so we're hopeful that we can recover in the race tomorrow. 

“Above all else, both our drivers showed their stellar driving prowess right when it counted, which led to our qualifying results today.”

2016 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – RACE

“Seventh was the maximum we could achieve today”

Fernando Alonso drove a hard and determined race to finish the Singapore Grand Prix in seventh position. The Spaniard, who had started ninth, made a brilliant start, and was able to hold on to fifth position for much of the race until falling into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in the closing stages.

Nonetheless, he was ‘best of the rest’ this evening: the next car home after the two Mercedes, the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris. His was an impressive performance.

Jenson Button’s race was effectively over on lap one. After making a good start, he became embroiled in the start-line accident, successfully dodging Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India only to tag his front wing on Valterri Bottas’s Williams as he was taking avoiding action.

Forced to pit for repairs and rejoin at the back, he was thereafter compromised in his efforts to play catch-up by bodywork damage that was reducing the downforce available to him. Towards the end of the race his engineers took the precautionary decision to stop his car owing to worsening brake temperatures – a legacy of the brake-duct damage that had occurred on lap one.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
Started 9th Finished 7th
Fastest lap 1m51.249s Lap 49 +4.062s, 12th
Pitstops 2 Lap 14 (2.98s) Lap 34 (3.98s)
“For a time, I was even hoping for a podium finish"

 “Seventh was the maximum we could achieve today – the best of the rest after the two Mercedes, the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris. We weren’t perhaps quite the fourth-fastest team here this weekend, so it’s thanks to good strategy and a good start that we were able to bring home this result.

“I chose to go on the outside at the start, and the crash didn’t affect me as I was already up into sixth at that point. Then I braked very late for the first corner and got past Daniil [Kvyat] and Kimi [Raikkonen]. Everything went fine – sometimes you just need to get lucky.

“For a time, I was even hoping for a podium finish – if something had happened ahead of me it could have worked out that way – but in fact it was one of those races in which nothing happened at the front. 

“But, overall, we did the best we could today.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-02
Started 12th Finished 43 laps – precautionary stop due to worsening brake issue
Fastest lap 1m51.631s lap 18 +4.444s 16th
Pistops Three Laps 1 (13.56s – front wing change & suspension check 15 (2.57s) & 27 (2.61s)
"To be honest, my race was effectively over on the first lap"

“I might have retired on lap 43, but, to be honest, my race was effectively over on the first lap. 

“I got a very good start and pulled alongside Valtteri [Bottas], but I didn’t see Nico’s [Hulkenberg] car coming across the track until he was right in front of me, facing the wrong way. I lifted and pulled to the right, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I tagged Valtteri with my front wing. That broke my front wing, brake duct and floor.

“I pitted to change tyres and fit a new front wing, but the car had been damaged, so I was lacking downforce for the remainder of the race. Even then, the downforce I did have wasn’t properly balanced across the car, which made it even more difficult.

“The reason we stopped was that we were concerned about the brakes – the temperatures were rising because of the duct damage. We were worried about a failure – it was the right decision to stop.”

ERIC BOULLIER
"We were pleased to score six world championship points"

“Above all, today was a good day for Formula 1.

“After two hours of intensely competitive racing under spectacular floodlights here in Singapore, the fact that the first two cars home were separated by less than half a second underlines what we who love racing already know: Formula 1 remains a superb sport, as exciting today as it’s ever been.

“From a McLaren-Honda point of view, we were pleased to score six world championship points as a result of Fernando’s forceful and competitive run to seventh place. He made a strong start and then maintained impressive and consistent lap-times all afternoon. His was a great drive by any standards.   

“As for Jenson, he too got off the line well, but his fine start was spoiled when his front wing touched part of the Williams of Valtteri, who was trying to avoid getting embroiled in Nico’s shunt. It was no-one’s fault: sometimes chain reactions of that nature occur in racing, especially on lap one, and there was absolutely nothing Jenson could have done to avoid getting tagged in Nico’s accident this evening.

“I want to say a public ‘bravo’ to our race team – those in the garage and those on the pit-wall, as well as those back at Mission Control in Woking too – who managed the race so efficiently. That was a job very well done, guys.  

“Next we travel from the warmth of Singapore to an even hotter venue: the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. It’s a very different kind of racetrack from the Marina Bay Circuit on which we raced today – fast wide sweeping bends rather than slow narrow tight corners – but we’ll be gunning for points again all the same.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA
"Though bittersweet, I am pleased that it was a good result for Fernando and the team"

“First of all, I must congratulate Fernando for another brilliant start that put him in front of the two Toro Rosso cars. That enabled us to finish seventh and score some all-important championship points. Both drivers struggled in all the free practices this weekend, but thankfully the car had much improved since qualifying to have a good, steady race pace.

“On the other hand, Jenson was unlucky to be involved in an incident at the start, trying to avoid a crash with Hulkenberg, which damaged his front wing and brake ducts. This led to a gradual decrease in pace and we eventually had to retire the car.

“Though bittersweet, I am pleased that it was a good result for Fernando and the team. We were able to show our pace in the race and finish behind the top three teams as best of the rest.”