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The Singapore night race crash course

By Zaki JufriEvents - 17 September 2009 2:44 PM | Updated 04 September 2013

The Singapore night race crash course

Cut through the information clutter! All you need to know about the world's most expensive sport and the only Formula 1 night race is on this page.

What is F1?

Besides the obvious fact that it's a motor racing sport involving some seriously good-looking drivers, what exactly is Formula 1? Formula 1, or F1, is the highest class of auto racing sanctioned by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile).

Each F1 season consists of a series of races, taking place in different countries, each known as a Grand Prix. At the end of the season, two annual World Championship titles are given out - Drivers and Constructors.

The distance covered in each race should equal to approximately 305km (in Monaco, however, the distance is 260km). The number of laps in each Grand Prix should add up to this distance.

Let's take the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix (or the Singapore GP, for short) for instance. With a track that's 5.067km long, it'd take 61 laps to cover a distance of 308.95km (the start and finish lines aren't in the same place so the race distance is slightly shorter than 61 X 5.067km).

At 60 laps, the distance covered is about 304.02km - not enough to hit the 305km mark. Races are also limited to two hours, and are stopped even if the distance covered does not fulfill the 305km length.

Getty Images/Red Bull Photofiles

On race day, the starting grid - how the cars are arranged at the start line--is determined by the qualifying results. The driver who clocks the fastest time at qualifying takes the pole position. How a driver performs at a race can sometimes be a matter of where he's placed in the starting grid.

In the 2009 season so far, Brawn GP driver Jenson Button has used all four of his pole positions to his advantage, as it gave him a starting edge to turn them into race wins. 

While drivers inevitably receive the most attention, F1 racing is a team sport - which explains why points are also awarded to the constructors. Depending on the circuit, teams decide what sort of pit-stop strategy to adopt - a one-, two- or three-stop strategy. When a driver makes a pit stop, an entire team swings into action to help refuel the car, change the tyres and make other adjustments.

Teams practise their pit stop manoeuvres in the lead up to each race because a well executed pit stop could contribute towards a driver's eventual victory at a race.

The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix

With the basics out of the way, let's take a look at the Singapore GP. Happening over three days -- 21, 22 and 23 September 2012 -- this Grand Prix is promoted as F1's only night race and is Asia's only street race on the calendar. 

That the Singapore Grand Prix is a night race isn't a publicity stunt. A night race would mean that those living in Europe - the sport's core audience base - would be able to catch it at a more convenient hour.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit, as the circuit is called, runs through the heart of Singapore's bustling business district, passing well-known landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer and The Esplanade. 

Although this event won many international accolades like the FIA Promoter of the Year award, the track received many criticisms from the drivers in previous races. Drivers commented how its bumpy surface made the track excessively difficult to negotiate in Singapore's hot and humid climate.

The high kerbs at Turn 10 were also a topic of contention. Drivers worried that hitting the bumps could cause suspension damage to the cars. As Jenson Button (who was driving for Honda in 2008) famously put it after a practice run at the circuit, "The circuit is interesting to drive and it's very bumpy which adds to the excitement as the bumps bounce the car all over the place."

Indeed, Turn 10 proved to be a spectacular turn to watch in 2008. It claimed Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Force India-Mercedes' Giancarlo Fisichella. The turn's been named 'Singapore Sling' after the country's signature cocktail. It remains to be seen if this turn would prove to be the toast of the F1 world.

Drivers: who to watch

Drivers from the 'Big Four' - McLaren, Williams, Renault and Ferrari - have won almost every world championship since 1984. But with seven winners from 13 races, and surprise after surprise, the 2012 Formula One season is shaping up as one of the best ever.

With three wins in the bag, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso looks set to be the driver to watch this season. He leads the pack with 179 points, almost 40 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton (142 points).

Last year's champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull Racing has had a lacklustre season thus far with only 1 win, but the team has matched expectations with its four poles, winning three races (two from Mark Webber) and leading the Constructors’ points at this juncture. 

Even mid-field teams like Lotus, Sauber, Williams and Mercedes have done well this season with the latter two winning a race each. This is definitely good for the sport.


Fernando Alonso 
Fans of the Spanish driver would be most interested to see if he would once again emerge victorious at this year’s SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. After the 13th race in Italy, the Spaniard sits in first position. He had a good season so far and has put the pedal to the metal at every race when it comes to pushing the limits of his car. With seven races to go, Alonso has to be consistent and keep getting podium finishes to wrest the championship away from reigning champion Sebastian Vettel. (Photo: LATPhotographic)


Mark Webber 
Mark WebberRed Bull Racing's Mark Webber has been very consistent this year so far, with two wins, two podiums and two fourth places. He trails teammate Sebastian Vettell by 12 points and the only way for him to have a shot at the championships is to rack up the podiums. But after spinning out of the Italian GP on the 51st lap and finishing 20th, we can only hope for the best for the Australian. (Photo: LATPhotographic)


Lewis Hamilton 

After a crash in the first corner that saw him retire early from the Belgian GP, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton blazed through the Italian GP to win the trophy. Despite a rocky start to the season and trailing pack leader Fernando Alonso by 37 points, Hamilton seemed to have gotten his act together and earn himself four wins this year (two strong wins at his favourite Montreal and Budapest). Whether this new injection of high-octane fuel is enough for the Brit to overtake Alonso, only time will tell. (Photo: LATPhotographic)



Sebastian Vettel 

2012 doesn't look like a good year for reigning champion Sebastian Vettel. After his stunning 2011 season, Vettell has been humbled -- one win in 13 races does not bode well for the two-time champion. For the second race this year Vettel's RB8 suffered an alternator issue to leave the reigning champion 39 points down, retiring in the 47th lap of the Italian GP. Not to mention that the loss of the exhaust blown diffuser has impacted Vettel’s driving style and his lack of confidence in the Red Bull RB8 was demonstrated by a couple of mistakes in Australia. Although the 39 point deficit he has from Alonso looks like a big feat, he did recover from such a wide margin before in 2010. If Red Bull Racing can make the RB8 somehow work for Vettell for the remaining races, there's no reason why he can't claim a third title. (Photo: LATPhotographic)



Drivers' standings after 13th race of F1 season in Italy:

1Fernando AlonsoSpanishFerrari179
2Lewis HamiltonBritishMcLaren-Mercedes142
3Kimi RäikkönenFinnishLotus-Renault141
4Sebastian VettelGermanRed Bull Racing-Renault  140
5Mark WebberAustralian  Red Bull Racing-Renault132
6Jenson ButtonBritishMcLaren-Mercedes101
7Nico RosbergGermanMercedes83
8Romain Grosjean FrenchLotus-Renault76
9Sergio PerezMexicanSauber-Ferrari65
10 Felipe MassaBrazilianFerrari47


Constructors' standings:

1Red Bull Racing-Renault  272
7Force India-Mercedes63
10 Caterham-Renault0


Road Closure

For road closure information during the Grand Prix weekend, please visit this link.


2012 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is on from 21-23 September,  2012. Tickets available at www.singaporegp.sg/ticket/ticket_price.php