Teams predict lap times will fall by 10 seconds at shortened Singapore track

Formula 1

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Formula 1 teams believe the revisions to the Marina Bay street circuit will mean lap times are 10 seconds faster at this weekend Singapore Grand Prix than they were last year.

Development work taking on ther Marina front where the final sector of the lap is located has led the event organisers to significantly revised the track layout this year. The course has been redirected from turn 15 to what was previously turn 20 via a straight.

It is the biggest change to the track’s layout since the removal of the slow ‘Singapore Sling’ chicane. it is expected to be used for at least three season as the building work is due for completion in 2026.

The corners which have been removed include turn 17, which was made notorious during the first running of the race, as it was the scene of Nelson Piquet Jnr’s crash during the race. It subsequently emerged the Renault driver had deliberately spun his car into a barrier to cause a Safety Car period which his team mate Fernando Alonso would benefit from, leading him to win the race.

The tight turn 18 will also be bypassed. This has proved one of the most frequent accident spots which has often led to Safety Car periods.

The changes were announced 11 months ago. F1 teams have therefore had plenty of time to put updated track models into their simulators and find out what the revised layout means for the drivers.

A lap time gain of eight seconds was originally forecast using digital versions of 2020 F1 cars, which did not race in Singapore and are very different from the generation of cars introduced last year. Teams’ simulations using 2023 cars now indicate the lap time gain will be even greater.

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Mercedes and Haas both predicted cars will lap the circuit 10 seconds quicker than last year. That indicates drivers will lap the circuit in less than one minute and 40 seconds. Charles Leclerc took pole position last year with a time of 1’49.412.

The removal of four slow corners will also reduce the strain on tyres. Previously they would begin to overheat towards the end of the lap, but the easing of the final sector should help drivers keep them closer to the optimum operating window

Fewer corners means less demand on the gearbox, and the circuit will no longer feature the most gear changes per lap.

The shortening of the lap has also led to the race’s lap count being increased to 62 to ensure it reaches the minimum distance of 305 kilometres applied to all grands prix except Monaco’s.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said the changes look “interesting” and are likely to “make it slightly less demanding physically.”

“It’s going to be faster,” he continued, “so it’s probably going to last for a shorter time so we’ll lose less liquid and be slightly less demanding. Whether that will change anything for us as a team, time will tell.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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22 comments on “Teams predict lap times will fall by 10 seconds at shortened Singapore track”

  1. I like the idea of faster laptimes. Interestingly enough, apparently it won’t do a change on the very importance of an good aero and dragless car, as in Monaco. But this will ask more from the engines, no?

    1. No because that new longer full-throttle section is short anyway.

      1. Well, depending on how things goes, I’d not rule out an Alpine getting an podium, if they can repeat the deal of Monaco. And considering after a recent updates they reduced the gap to the top 4 a little bit, compared to when in Monaco.

        Thanks for the answer, Jere. I’m looking forward for this weekend. Alpine getting an third podium would be very cool for a team that is the sixth position in the WCC right now. Six teams on the podium this year already. Cool stuff.

    2. With the enviroment in mind everything gets taxed incl. the Drivers (it’s hot & humunity is very high) So Electronics doesn’t like this either I wouldn’t surprised on several dnf this race.

  2. Less slow corners and reduced tire wear => Ferrari benefits if not hit by TD42.
    Mercedes might benefit as well, they have been relative slow out of 90 degree corners.

    Singapore was already a track that didn’t really suit Red Bull but with this change it might be even tighter.

    For sure this is the biggest chance for any other team to get a win. If they can’t win in Singapore it will require bad luck and/or mechanical failure(s) to stop them at Japan, Qatar, Texas and Mexico.

    Also Perez should optimize in Singapore as unlikely he can challenge Max in the 4 races after.

    1. I doubt anything will change for general competitive order, & especially Red Bull’s form.

    2. The best you could ask is AMR or Alpine (yes, I know), because both can deal with the tyres quite good, and their cars aren’t heavy on drag, based on what we saw at Monaco. Merc is going to have a difficult time, they’ll surely feel the TD018, not to mention their car is quite draggy, Ferrari can’t stand the heat very well, despite the removal of some turns. McLaren is hard to tell. We don’t know if they managed to reduce the massive amount of drag from the car, yet.

  3. I don’t know why they even bothered to initially make simulations for 2020 cars even though they never got race in Marina Bay on any configuration, but also because those simulations are from last year so that data was already outdated at the time.
    I don’t quite get the part about the relative 2023-spec reference being even greater despite current-generation cars being slower.
    While the lap time drop relative to last season might be that great, people should remember that last season’s qualifying was rain-affected, which reduces relative comparability.
    Anyway, a new fastest-ever lap in Singapore, all configurations combined, should be achievable, i.e., bettering the 2018 pole time of 1:36.015 as the change is quite similar to Montmelo’s & which resulted in a new fastest-ever lap on any configuration.
    I initially thought or understood the lap amount would rise by two, which presumably was more based on guesswork than actual idea, given a new centerline length has only just come out, but without the last number, which will show in FIA’s official track map.

    1. Edit: The new centerline length is 4.928 km, so yes, 62 is indeed the lowest number needed to reach 305 full kms.

      1. Final edit: 4.940

  4. The track is shorter … so the teams think the lap times will be faster …

    I wish I was intelligent enough to come up with stuff like this…..

    1. Shorter doesn’t always or automatically mean faster, but only when a given length reduction or impact on average speed is considerable.

      1. No matter what the track, if you take out any section, any length, and race with the same cars, the laptimes come down.
        Which is not the same as the cars going faster: Their speed in the sections that are still there, is the same, but there’s less sections, less km’s to cover.
        That’s all there’s to it.

        1. True, generally, but not necessarily a very marginal length because an overall average speed has a greater impact than length.
          The smaller a distance, the more impact average speed has &, the greater a distance, the more it impacts in lap time differences.

          1. This is what you said:

            Shorter doesn’t always or automatically mean faster

            You can try to cover it up with all the wool you like, but it’s still not true.

            Take any circuit you like, take out any section you like, and then prove to me laptimes did not come down.
            Good luck.

    2. Yeah, they had to run sims with super computers that added about 20 tons of Co2 to crack that one.

  5. @keithcollantine @idawood
    this is an article on the track layout. I would really appreciate if you include pictures of the track before and after the changes. It is impossible for the average fan in me to imagine where certain turn is especially on a track with more than 20 turns. I am forced to look at other articles/images to infer better.

    1. But @webtel, that’s fully in F1 style! ;-)

      “Session will resume at 12:56 local time.”
      Fine, could you then also tell me what that local time currently is, please?
      Or, even better, do away with this local time krap, and just show us a count down clock. But that’s probably beyond Amazon’s capabilities, mental or technical.

  6. Singapore was always one of the toughest challenges physically for drivers. It was great to see them exhausted and still driving fast. The more corners means drivers will have to “work” more to handle the car, and they will get tired more.

    I am probably in a minority of people who don’t like this change.

    1. Yes, minority, probably. But not alone.

  7. I´m glad they took 10 years to figure out they´ve created a boring track.

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