Singapore Grand Prix Preview: Singapore
Following Monza, where the two hardest compounds of the Pirelli F1 range were nominated, Formula One now heads to Singapore where the two softest compounds in the range will be present: P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft.
Singapore is a street circuit, but a highly unusual one. The race is run entirely by night, which means that track and temperature evolutions are somewhat different to the normal course of a grand prix weekend. Nonetheless, ambient temperatures are still generally high, which along with the enclosed nature of the track in the heart of the city, means that this is one of the most physically demanding tracks of the year for the drivers.
Traction and braking are the key elements to the Marina Bay street circuit, and there is also a bumpy surface, which makes finding consistent traction all the more difficult. As well as that, there is the usual street furniture including painted white lines and manhole covers that can catch drivers out and provide an extra hazard for the tires. Singapore has more corners than any other track on the F1 calendar, creating yet more work for the tires.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “It’s always a great pleasure for us to come to Singapore, which has consistently proved itself to be one of the most spectacular races of the year. Racing under the lights in such a vibrant city provides an amazing atmosphere that showcases Formula One at its very best. The unique nature of the race at night obviously has an impact on the tires, and we’ve selected the two softest tires in the range for their rapid warm-up and high levels of mechanical grip: vital characteristics on a street circuit. This is actually a step softer than last year, when we nominated the medium and supersoft, so we should see some interesting tire strategies with teams taking full advantage of the performance on offer. There’s traditionally quite a high incidence of safety cars, so every strategy has to be flexible enough to bear this eventuality in mind as well. With the championship seemingly getting closer, all the signs suggest that we’re in for an exciting and unpredictable race.”
The circuit from a tire point of view:
Singapore is all about traction and braking. In particular the rear tires are worked hard on the exit of all the slow corners. The left rear is particularly stressed, as it has to cope with both longitudinal and sideways accelerations. Traction is further compromised by the bumpy surface of the normal roads used for the circuit.
The supersoft tire is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tire by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Ambient temperatures are usually between 30-35 degrees centigrade in Singapore and there has not yet been a wet race.
Singapore has higher abrasion than most street circuits but the asphalt takes longer than most tracks to rubber-in so track evolution is slow; as is the case generally with non-permanent facilities. Rain showers in the late afternoon – a frequent occurrence – also have the effect of washing away a lot of the rubber that has already been laid down.