Formula 1

Singapore's Marina Bay circuit offers a true street racing experience

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In a time where most new Formula 1 tracks fail to capture the hearts of fans and drivers alike, Singapore's Marina Bay street circuit stands out as a venue the majority of those watching or behind the wheel have fallen in love with.

From the city backdrop to the lights shining bright, this is a racetrack that personifies Formula 1 at its glitzy best and puts on a show few others can even dream of matching.

Pure street racing

Yet unlike Valencia, the other modern street circuit that came in 2008 and hosted its final race in 2012, Singapore offers a much more old school challenge to the drivers even if the safety aspect in the 21st Century is evident at almost every corner.

When you give Hermann Tilke a blank piece of paper and a nice area of land to create a new racetrack he can take what he is given and produce the high-speed sweeps and incredible angles seen at the likes of Austin's Circuit of the Americas or Malaysia's Sepang. But when you use normal city streets the type of track likely to emerge is very different.

Ninety degree corners are common place, chicanes and hairpins are almost inevitable but taking that recipe of slow corner after slow corner and making it challenging well that's different.

But Singapore is exactly that with only the purpose built area around the pits varying from the traditional street circuit design.


Much of the challenge comes because of the high number of corners, 23 in all around the five kilometre track, and that means the driver is always concentrating on braking, hitting the apex and avoiding the walls on the outside; it is a relentless lap which in the tropical heat and humidity makes it one of the most physical races of the year.

And while many of the corners maybe chicanes and 90 degree turns, it is those kind of turns that require the most precision. Sure a 180mph blast up Eau Rouge is exhilarating but the cars work best at those speeds with downforce and the driver just needs to pick his line and measure the throttle, but at 50mph corners the wings are hopeless and it's about mechanical grip, looking after the tyres and picking up good traction.

This why Red Bull's blown diffuser was so effective last year as the car maintained greater grip through the twisty turns but its also why people's perception of the team matching Mercedes this weekend isn't as guaranteed as you would think.

Sure the RB10 is a more competitive car on more aero-dependent tracks but it was the blown diffuser that was so effective at Marina Bay last year, so whether the Adrian Newey designed car is just as suited to the layout this year will be key to how the weekend plays out.

Detailed lap

Let's look now at the areas of note around the circuit starting with the tricky sequence of corners at turns one to three.

Coming off the pit straight, the first left is all about not running too wide as the kink of two acts as a braking point into the slow left of turn three.

At the start it is common to see cars running across the run-off area on the outside and collisions are very possible but ultimately get the first part right and rest is fairly easy.

The short straight including the curve of turn four leads into an important right-hander of turn five.

This leads onto Raffles Boulevard and is the best straight for overtaking so maintaining speed and avoiding the wall on the outside is through the sweeping right is crucial.

At the end of the straight is Memorial corner at turn seven, a very bumpy approach means overtakes here are risky particularly up the inside, however, as the best place to make a pass on the circuit we can expect plenty of action here during the weekend.

Singapore Sling

Off Raffles Boulevard the track turns right then left before heading up to turn 10 named the Singapore Sling after the famous drink.

Much different to the original, this is now an arrive and drive left-hander whereas before it was a tricky triple-apex chicane that wasn't popular with the drivers but provided a unique challenge.

A tricky chicane leads over the Anderson Bridge and past the Fullerton Hotel before braking into turn 13, a tight hairpin left. Good traction is needed here as it leads onto Esplanade Drive a long straight by Singapore standards and another tight right at turn 14 offering another place to overtake.

The final sector is all about chicanes, the right, left, left, right in front of and under the Marina Bay grandstand test precision, particularly the second chicane as plenty of drivers have crashed here over the years, another right, left chicane heads towards a sweeping double apex left at the final two corners to complete a lap of the circuit.

A complex lap and also very hard to get right, the streets of Singapore are a welcome change from the straights of Spa and Monza and will test every aspect of both car and driver this weekend.

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