Most F1 races take place down dedicated tracks and in blazing daylight. But Singapore’s is unique – F1 here is a night race, and the city blocks off roads downtown for about a week to transform it into a circuit.
Apart from the novel factor, how do these special race conditions actually affect the cars and racers? Business Insider spoke to Ian Goddard, Head of Technical Partnerships at Renault Sport Formula One, for an explanation:
- Cool night temperatures make pit stops harder.
“Every track is different,” Goddard says. “Although it may look like the same car that shows up to every race, every race requires a different setup, suspension and aero package for the car.”
With night races, F1 drivers are using a colder track than they’re used to. The car tires don’t reach the sixty-degree temperatures they usually do for day events, making it harder to switch them off the car at pit stops.
- The narrow track means cars drive slower, and more crashes are expected.
With tight road lanes and barriers placed close to the cars, drivers are more likely to crash. Sharper corners also mean racers generally go slower, and this in turn reduces tires’ grip on the track. Some teams may struggle with adjusting their cars to compensate, and this in turn reduces their performance.
- Singapore’s weather makes predicting the race outcome very difficult.
Says Goddard: “Race strategy defines how we approach each race. So we’ve got a strategy, statistical modelling of parameters like weather and temperature and track characteristics.”
Before a race, strategists run millions of simulated outcomes to help racers drive better. But the temperature and track extra factors in the Singapore circuit – especially unstable weather, like sudden storms and showers – make it much harder for strategists to predict the outcome.