Would you get rid of Singapore’s bumps?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Singapore's controversial chicane will also be tweaked for 2009
Singapore's controversial chicane will also be tweaked for 2009

The operators of the Singapore Marina Bay circuit, which held F1?s first night race last year, have revealed they are making changes to the track for 2009.

What would you change about Singapore?s street track? Would you leave it the way it is? Here?s what I think needs fixing – and what doesn’t.

The organisers plan to re-configure two sections of the track. These are the opening sequence of bends (turns one, two and three) and the infamous turn 10a/b/c chicane, where Kimi Raikkonen crashed out of last year?s race.

They also plan to flatten out the bumps to make the track smoother.

What they should change

Turn 10 (red marker)

Turn 10 is a bit of a fudge at the moment ?ǣ it?s clearly not an ideal solution. The compromise of having a straight section of track with an artificial chicane inserted came about because of a lack of available room for run off where the track bends left.

Apart from re-routing the track entirely, it?s difficult to see exactly how they can fix this. It looks as if the designers wanted to take the track this way so it would cross the picturesque Anderson bridge. Presumably they thought it infeasible to send the cars down Connaught Drive (see map below) instead, or were just keen to have the cars drive past the city hall and supreme court.

Turns 16-21 (blue marker)

Again it seems the track planner?s first thought was to create a clever design feature ?ǣ in this case, a section of track that passes beneath a grandstand.

But doing so created an unattractive series of six consecutive 90-degree bends: a throwback to the days of Phoenix and Detroit.

It?s hard to escape right-angles on street circuits, but could they have done a better job here? Would it be better to have the track carry on along the harbour front instead of turning under the grandstand?

Having said that, I know Journeyer was in that stand at the race and he might feel strongly about keeping the track as it is!

Pit lane entrance

Many of the drivers were unhappy with the design of the pit lane entrance. During practice we saw drivers spinning at the the final turn, which revealed how susceptible they were to hitting the beginning of the divide between the pit lane and track. It also caused problems in qualifying, where Nick Heidfeld received a penalty.

What they shouldn?t change

Turns 1/2/3 (green marker)

The designers think that by changing this they might be able to create an opportunity for overtaking. I can?t see how, because the preceding corner (turn 23) is quite quick. I don?t think there?s much to be gained here.

Bumps

This might be controversial, but I think the bumpiness of the track is part of its appeal.

Tracks need not be so bumpy they shake the cars and drivers to pieces. But Formula 1 tracks should be demanding ?ǣ they don?t all need to be as smooth as putting greens.

There’s a line to be drawn between making tracks safer and dumbing them down. Getting rid of the bumps entirely would neuter the challenge of racing at Singapore.

Better than some

I think Singapore is one of the better modern circuits on the calendar. Although its first race was hailed as a sucess by many (though not all) it’s good to see the organisers aren’t resting on their laurels.

As Ollie said:

I?m not sure if Valencia are intending to make any modifications ahead of their second race in 2009, but comparing the two street circuits that debuted in 2008, I?d say Valencia needs more work than Singapore.

Singapore street track map for the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix - click to enlarge
Singapore street track map for the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix - click to enlarge

More about Singapore Marina Bay circuit