Five Fast Facts about the Singaporean Gran Prix
A history of racing
The Singapore Grand Prix is a relatively modern creation as a Formula 1 fixture, having first joined the calendar in 2008. But the Singapore Grand Prix itself is nothing new, having already been held between 1966 and 1973 to Formula Libre rules – open to a wide variety of different cars. Taking place on the Thomson Road circuit on streets in the heart of the city, the event actually began in 1961 as the Orient Year Grand Prix, before Singapore became an independent sovereign state (in 1965). The race became popular with drivers from Australia and New Zealand, with Kiwi racer Graeme Lawrence achieving three consecutive wins driving cars from three different manufacturers: McLaren, Ferrari and Brabham.
A race of firsts
The Thomson Road circuit rapidly became too dangerous, and just too inconvenient for the city, but Singapore would find a way to welcome racing back to its streets with a new track laid out around Marina Bay. The inaugural race in 2008 was one of firsts for Formula 1: the first street race in Asia, and the first ever night race. It has since become a spectacular template for other more recent additions to the calendar, like Jeddah and Las Vegas. But remember where it all started.
Cutting out corners
The Marina Bay circuit provides a stark contrast to the track that comes before it on the calendar, Monza. Rather than long straights and high speeds, Singapore's track has always been about slow corners, with 23 turns in total. There will be a slight change for 2023 though, with four of those corners – Turns 16 to 19 – being removed while the area is redeveloped into a new events space. While the circuit length will be reduced from 5.063km to 4.928km, it's estimated believed that lap times could fall by 10 seconds or more. The race distance will increase from 61 to 63 laps as a consequence. This is probably the race that will look most different to its equivalent from last year.
Beating the time difference
One of the reasons for making the Singapore Grand Prix a night race was to keep it at a regular time of day for television audiences, unlike other races in the Far East of Asia, countering the six-hour time difference to central Europe. Teams and drivers have also used this to their advantage by staying on European time to avoid jetlag, meaning they have breakfast in the early afternoon, dinner after midnight and don't head for bed until around four in the morning. Or alternatively, party until it's breakfast time.
Working up a sweat
The Singapore Grand Prix is one of the most demanding races of the season for the drivers, despite – or maybe because of – the relatively low speeds. Usually, it's the second-slowest lap of the season behind Monaco. Unlike Monaco, the race distance isn't reduced to compensate for this, and so the action often runs for the maximum two hours permitted – especially as safety car interruptions are extremely common. With so many corners and only short straights, the drivers (and tyres) are constantly working hard. Even at night, the temperature and humidity levels are high, meaning drivers can lose up as much three kilograms in sweat during the race.