F1 drivers largely happy with the Singapore track, apart from the tortoises

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa: Chelonaphobia sufferer?
Felipe Massa: Chelonaphobia sufferer?

Turn 10 on the Singapore track is causing some concern among the F1 drivers. Several of them have criticised the high kerbs on the corner. Felipe Massa has an unusual name for them:

The kerbs are like little tortoises and if you get something wrong you wreck the car.

As mentioned in the Sinagpore track preview turn 10 was modified late in the development of the circuit to slow the cars down at a point where there is little space for run-off.

Sebastien Bourdais inspects the troublesome \'tortoises\'
Sebastien Bourdais inspects the troublesome 'tortoises'

Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Bourdais added their voices to the concerns. Bourdais said:

I can see why they have done it because there is no run off there, and it would be a fast and open corner if you did not do something, but even so! We had a similar problem in Champ Car when they were trying to prevent cars from short cutting chicanes at Monterrey, and the things were half the size of what they are right now ?ǣ and we were smashing the tubs there left and right. Since you don’t go and buy a Lola or whatever it is these days in F1, you cannot really afford to damage cars. I haven’t seen Charlie [Whiting] yet, but I am a bit surprised. There are fixes for this though.

And Alonso added:

It is not the best solution that they could find. We worry that if you miss the chicane or miss the line then you have to go over the kerbs – and then perhaps you damage the chassis or damage the bottom. If you damage one car it is not a problem because you can take the T-car. But if you damage two, you go home. This is a concern at the moment. But I don’t know what can be a better solution and I don’t know if they are able to do it so quickly before tomorrow. So I don’t know.

A major change to the configuration of a track at short notice is unlikely, but the organisers might find a way of grinding down the kerbstones. But is this really such a serious problem? Surely the solution is for the drivers not to hit the kerbs in the first place. If they do and damage their cars, well, that’s motor racing.

If a driver arrives at the corner too quickly he is likely to avoid trying to turn in and risk damaging his car and instead opt to cut the corner – which has been the cause of a lot of recent aggravation.

If no-one else has done it already I would like to suggest we call turn ten the ‘tortoise chicane’.

Lights, pits and overtaking

Aside from the turn 10 problem the drivers have been very complimentary about the circuit in general and the lighting system. Bourdais said “It is daylight” and Massa somewhat under-statedly observed: “Hopefully we won’t have a big black out, because then it will be very difficult.” The chances of that have been reduced by the organisers testing a ‘controlled failure’ of the lights to ensure the back-up generators work.

However there are some concerns over what will happen if the race sees heavy rain (more on the Singapore weather here) and many have suggested the track configuration does not lend itself to overtaking. Bourdais added he was unsure about the pit lane entry:

The pit entry also seems to be a bit dodgy. You will be running quite a bit quicker than the guy who is going to pit, and you are all going to get to the same point because the entry is just hard left.

Do you think the chicane kerbs are a problem? What do you think of the rest of the Singapore track?