Start, Singapore, 2013

F1’s toughest race just got tougher

2014 Singapore Grand Prix preview

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Start, Singapore, 2013Over its first six seasons as part of the Formula One calendar, Singapore has proven to be one of the longest and most demanding grands prix of the championship.

Drivers and cars alike are pushed to extremes over the course of the two-hour race. The Marina Bay course sports more corners and braking points than any other circuit on the calendar.

But this year, the challenge of the Marina Bay circuit will be that much greater for the drivers with the FIA having suddenly enforced a ban on many types of team radio communication in the build-up to this weekend.

Drivers must now face the prospect of one of the most demanding races of the season knowing they will no longer receive the endless stream of reminders about tweaking their power unit settings and improving their racing lines that they had once relied upon.

With Singapore being one of the toughest races of the season in terms of braking, drivers will be relived that warnings about brake wear levels will not be imposed until the next round in Japan.

Despite its many corners and the close proximity of barriers lying in wait to punish any mistake, Singapore has produced some entertaining races over its relatively short history. This is partly due to the handful of genuine overtaking opportunities that exist, especially into Memorial Corner (turn seven), turns ten and fourteen.

With the slowest average race speed of any circuit on the calendar bar Monaco, the Singapore Grand Prix becomes as much a test of endurance as of speed with the high humidity, even after the sun has set. It is dependably one of the most strenuous races of the year, notwithstanding the fact the new cars are less physically demanding.

Singapore circuit information

Lap length5.065km (3.147 miles)
Distance61 laps (308.8km/191.9 miles)
Lap record*1’48.574 (Sebastian Vettel, 2013)
Fastest lap1’42.841 (Sebastian Vettel, 2013)
TyresSoft and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Singapore track data in full

The risk of a Safety Car intervention is at its highest in Singapore, with Bernd Maylander being called into action at least once during every Singapore Grand Prix thus far. Although the first appearance of the Safety Car made at this track will always be the most notorious.

Due to the high braking demands, F1’s new turbo hybrid engines will also be pushed to the limit this weekend. According to Renault, the energy stores and MGU-Ks will face one of their toughest challenges of the season this weekend due to the high workloads around the circuit.

After 13 dramatic and often rivetting races, it’s almost hard to believe that just six race weekends of this year’s championship remain.

The enthralling battle for the drivers’ championship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been slowly building to a boiling point all season long – and even more memorable moments may yet unfold this weekend under the lights in Singapore.

The first of the final six flyaway races of the year, Singapore plays host to the second night race of the season and is one of two street circuits that will round out this year’s championship. After two races on very low-downforce circuits, the Marina Bay track puts emphasis firmly back on downforce and mechanical grip – providing an opportunity for some teams to claw back performance with aero upgrades.

Singapore Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2014On paper, Singapore offers Red Bull their greatest opportunity for a fourth victory of all the remaining races. The frequent corners, lack of long straights and high downforce demands of the Marina Bay circuit will likely negate the advantages the Mercedes powered cars enjoyed in Monza and may play right into the hands of the RB10.

Daniel Ricciardo beat his four-time world champion team mate to the chequered flag for the third consecutive race in Monza. But Sebastian Vettel has won the last three races in Singapore, and must consider this a vital chance to put one over his team mate on Sunday for a change.

Mercedes

Hamilton’s Monza victory could prove vital should he claim his second world championship in Abu Dhabi. Although the gap to Rosberg remains at 22 points, he know another setback could leave him in a very weak position.

Having seemingly thrown away victory in Italy, Rosberg will be desperate to show that he is not buckling under the pressure from his team mate by delivering a clean and consistent performance this weekend.

The pair disputed victory here in 2009 and the battle was settled in Hamilton’s favour when Rosberg made a rare slip-up at the pit lane exit, incurring a penalty.

Ferrari

Luca di Montezemolo, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Monza, 2014The seismic news following the Italian Grand Prix of Luca di Montezemelo’s impending departure may not have an immediate effect on the day-to-day running of the team, but is likely to be a focus of interest for the media this weekend.

It will be business as usual for them, and the challenges and unpredictability promised by this weekend’s race gives them a glimemr of hope they could yet avoid their first win-less season for over 20 years.

But having struggled to master the new brake-by-wire systems in this year’s cars, Kimi Raikkonen is facing another challenging weekend.

Fernando Alonso will be feeling somewhat more confident, having taken one of his most memorable victories here in Singapore in 2010, capitalising on a slip-up by Sebastian Vettel in qualifying to take pole position and hold off the Red Bull by less than three-tenths of a second at the chequered flag.

Lotus

After a difficult weekend in Monza, Singapore should prove a better venue for Lotus. With Renault having identified Singapore as a race where their engines should be closer in performance to the Mercedes, Romain Grosjean will be looking to maximise the E22’s performance at a circuit where he achieved his best qualifying result of 2013.

McLaren

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Monza, 2014After some encouraging signs in the last two races, McLaren will know that the advantage they enjoy with their Mercedes engine will not prove so effective this weekend.

Kevin Magnussen delivered some impressive performances in Spa and Monza but has seen his efforts undone with two consecutive post-race penalties for avoidable incidents.

He arrives at Singapore as the only driver in the field with no previous experience of the circuit. As well as getting to grips with one of F1’s most challenging races, he must avoid giving the stewards any further reasons to take away any more of his hard-earned points.

Force India

With six races remaining, Force India require just one more point to exceed their previous best haul.

One point is also all that separates the team from McLaren in their battle for fifth in the constructors’ championship. As Monza showed that this particular duel could well be decided on track, Force India will be looking for a similarly effective performance from Sergio Perez this weekend.

Sauber

Sauber came closest to ending their record points drought at the last high-downforce circuit in Hungary. With this in mind, the team are looking for an improvement in performance with some significant upgrades this weekend, according to the team’s Head of Engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Ara.

“We will be introducing an aerodynamic update package with a new engine cover and a modified front wing,” he said. “The team is feeling quite positive about regrouping in Singapore.”

It would be a timely shot in the arm as rumours point to a potential takeover of the team in the near future.

Toro Rosso

With just six races left to convince another team to sign him for 2015, Jean-Eric Vergne has become increasingly vocal about his belief in his abilities. But he badly needs a strong performance this weekend to help him find a seat for next season.

Unreliability remains a major problem for the team. In Monza brake failure scuppered Daniil Kvyat’s pursuit of a points finish, which will not inspire confidence for this particular race.

Williams

Felipe Massa, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014Mercedes have clarified how the Williams drivers can access the ‘overtake’ mode on their engines, which became a point of discussion at the last race following the battle for position between Massa and Hamilton.

Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrains engineers are embedded within Williams to control the technical parameters of the engines and it is only this which determines whether the overtake button can be used.

As for whether Williams are allowed to use their overtake button to defend against Mercedes drivers, note that Valtteri Bottas was told he could use his when racing Hamilton during the German Grand Prix.

Marussia

The last time Marussia raced around a street circuit, they left with their first ever world championship points. Naturally, the team are hoping for another good weekend in Singapore, although another points finish may be a little too much to ask for this time around.

Caterham

Having been a part of the Caterham takeover deal ahead of the British Grand Prix, Christijan Albers departed from the Leafield team immediately following the Italian Grand Prix. Whether this is a sign of further troubles to come for the team remains to be seen.

Kamui Kobayashi will once again retain his race seat for this weekend.

2014 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel6.314.803710/13Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo5.383.551811/13Form guide
Lewis Hamilton5.381.601310/13Form guide
Nico Rosberg1.851.831412/13Form guide
Fernando Alonso6.545.082912/13Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen9.858.8341212/13Form guide
Romain Grosjean14.3811.578167/13Form guide
Pastor Maldonado17.9213.8812178/13Form guide
Jenson Button8.858.0831713/13Form guide
Kevin Magnussen9.009.3321312/13Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg9.857.3351212/13Form guide
Sergio Perez11.628.4031110/12Form guide
Adrian Sutil15.3113.3811178/13Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez16.7715.7512208/13Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne11.0810.508138/13Form guide
Daniil Kvyat11.2310.789149/13Form guide
Felipe Massa7.928.6031510/13Form guide
Valtteri Bottas7.235.172812/13Form guide
Jules Bianchi17.6915.5091810/13Form guide
Max Chilton19.2315.91131911/13Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi18.8315.3813188/12Form guide
Marcus Ericsson20.6217.1311208/13Form guide
Andre Lotterer21.000/1Form guide

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2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, McLaren/LAT, Williams/LAT

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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19 comments on “F1’s toughest race just got tougher”

  1. As for whether Williams are allowed to use their overtake button to defend against Mercedes drivers, note that Valtteri Bottas was told he could use his when racing Hamilton during the German Grand Prix.

    Isn’t the real question here: how on earth will the team be able to inform its drivers they can/can’t us it!

    1. Before the race; wonder if they can use pitboards for this info?

      1. No and no. The reason they ask over the radio during the race is because it’s dependent on how the engine’s performing at that point in the race. The FIA have already confirmed that there’s no distinction between information passed to the driver by radio and by pitboard.

      2. Not on the boards – it’s considered ‘power unit management’.

  2. Lotus

    After a difficult weekend in Monza, Singapore should prove a better venue for Lotus. With Renault having identified Singapore as a race where their engines should be closer in performance to the Mercedes, Romain Grosjean will be looking to maximise the E22′s performance at a circuit where he achieved his best qualifying result of 2013.

    Maldonado: most likely will crash so no bother mentioning.

  3. I think Monaco is even more Suited RBR and we all saw how it ended , Unless some thing happens at Merc we dont see any other team winning also i doubt we may see more than 3 winners in 2014.

  4. This will be a walk in the park for Rosberg.He is incredible around Singapore and without a doubt his strongest track.Last year he destroyed Hamilton by four tenths and with the super soft/soft combination so far has always beaten his teammate.

  5. I reckon that it will be very tough for Red Bull to beat Merc here. Even if Red Bull are closer in qualifying, bar any issues I still believe that performance gap is simply too high. Saying that, Red Bull have already pulled off some excellent strategy calls for Daniel Ricciardo this season and he pulled them off supremely. Whilst I think that it will be very difficult for anybody to challenge the Silver Arrows, we can dream… Vettel’s record of three wins and nearly one in 2010 points towards him possibly having a better weekend here than at most of the other races this season too.

  6. I see Bernie has broken cover and said the clampdown on radio messages is his initiative. Well knock me down with a feather, a totally ‘out of touch with the fans’ idea has come from Ecclestone, what a surprise, not.

    Please, please retire Bernie, we’ve had enough of your ‘good ideas’.

    1. @frasier, not so out of touch really, while the scope and implimentation might be questionable, many F1 fans have written comments critical of the coaching of drivers during the race, and many, like myself have agreed but remained silent, preferring to concentrate on the greater evils.

      1. My own view has been of widespread criticism of this change because it is a matter of opinion and any ‘sport’ that relies on opinion isn’t really a sport, but I’d be interested in a proper poll, how about that Keith?

        1. Its funny reading a lot of the comments here whenever a change is implemented. So much negativity and moaning regarding any change that’s made.
          In this case we haven’t even seen the impact of the radio ban, so lets all hold our horses. It could be really good for the racing, and the drivers don’t seem too fussed.

  7. This says all you need to know about the difference between a top driver and an ok one.

    Massa’s opinion on the radio ban:

    “The cars are very complicated, and this is not related to driving. If the settings are wrong, you cannot do two laps before the car fails.

    “If it stays like this, there will be a big fight in the drivers’ briefing (with FIA race director Charlie Whiting on Friday).”

    Alonso’s opinion:

    “No big difference for me. We never used the radio for performance anyway. At the end of the day, the driver still drives the car. The rule is just to put the drivers in a more alone situation.”

    1. And Massa’s right? This rule is an incredible overreach. Cars this year are so complex that almost all drivers experience at least one significant software / mechanical issue at some point during the weekend. Normally these can be mitigated with specific adjustments on the basis of feedback from the engineers. Without this, small issues that we often don’t hear about will snowball rapidly into race-ending failures.

      Keep in mind that many drivers are on the cusp of having to take grid penalties for new parts. Even if we don’t see dramatic blow-ups, teams may still be forced to compromise their own pace in order to save components. The intent of this rule-change is to penalize drivers who have grown dependent on ‘coaching’ from their engineers. In practice, it will reward drivers who can memorize the appropriate debugging sequences.

      1. Perhaps the cars should have been designed to be less complex to operate. Which, of course, means that this radio ban should have been thought through several years ago and made to coincide with the new engine regulations.

        Typical Bernie knee-jerking.

    2. This says all you need to know about the difference between a Mercedes and a Ferrari power unit.

  8. If Rosberg wins here, and Vettel finishes 7th or lower, that will be the end of any chances for Sebastian Vettel’s 2014 campaigne.

    1. He still has a chance !?

  9. How many times do you guys think Darth Crashtor Maldonado will bin it this weekend?

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