How can Singapore’s F1 track be improved?

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Singapore, 2012The Singapore Grand Prix has been one of the most successful recent additions to the F1 calendar.

Ahead of last week’s race Bernie Ecclestone and the race organisers announced a five-year extension on the original deal which will keep it on the calendar until at least 2017.

Compare that to the other track which joined the calendar in 2008, Valencia, which did not feature on the provisional 2013 F1 calendar which appeared before the race.

However the Singapore track is not without its shortcomings and the possibility of changing it has been raised.

One of the chief concerns of the race organisers is the costs involved in constructing the circuit for each race and the disruption it causes to the city. They put the total cost of hosting the race at ??75m.

There are also practical problems with the circuit, such as the difficulty of recovering stranded cars. In the five races at the track so far, the safety car has been deployed eight times.

The slow average speed around the lap means the race can fail to go the distance, as happened this year.

One part of the circuit which drivers would like to see altered is also one of few corners on the track to have earned a name: the Singapore Sling chicane at turn ten.

Sebastian Vettel explained the drivers’ objection to it during the post-qualifying press conference: “I think we’ve discussed it many times, every year actually, to find a better solution in turn ten which probably requires to take a little bit of land from the cricket club for those couple of days or maybe remove the pavement for three/four days.

“I don’t know, but if you consider the costs for this whole event, I think taking a pavement away and putting it back on shouldn’t be a big problem,” he added. “In terms of safety I think that’s one of the worst corners we have on the calendar, because you’ve got these big kerbs, big bumps and it’s a bit tricky to find a better solution right now with the space we have, but I think that’s something we need to work on.”

Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado backed the world champion’s view.

Changing the Singapore track

A straightfoward way to tackles some of the problems could be to direct the cars left instead of right at turn eight (by the red marker on the above map), rejoining the present circuit at what is currently turn 14.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Singapore, 2012This would reduce the length of track which needs to be illuminated and cut out some section of track where recovering a car is difficult without a safety car. Although it would mean losing features such as the Andersen bridge, it would cut out the drivers’ least favourite corner (pictured).

With the present track length just over 5km, cutting this much of it would bring it close to the FIA’s minimum length for F1 tracks of 3.5km. A Grand Prix would likely have over 80 laps to reach the minimum race distance.

As Singapore is a street circuit, the opportunities for change are limited by the surrounding network of roads. But there may be opportunities to increase the use of purpose-built sections, such as the start/finish area.

Although Singapore has struggled to produce good races (averaging 6.3 in Rate the Race over the past four years), it has proved a popular addition to the calendar and those who’ve been to the race seem to have enjoyed it very much.

Whatever changes they make, hopefully the organisers see fit to keep it as a proper street circuit where drivers have to cope with a bumpy surface, a twisty track and foreboding walls.

What do you like or dislike about the Singapore Grand Prix track? What needs to be changed – and how? Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Sahara Force India F1 Team, Singapore GP/Sutton

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138 comments on How can Singapore’s F1 track be improved?

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  1. Alehud42 (@alehud42) said on 26th September 2012, 16:04

    By cancelling it.

  2. Personally, I would not change it at all as I see no problems with the circuit. The driver’s complaints about the Singapore sling are silly, it is unusual but that’s what makes it great. Many of the latest circuits have nothing unique to them. I hope turn 18 also stays if changes are made because that corner catches out a lot of drivers. The circuit must remain long to offer more chances to make mistakes, so I’d be firmly against the suggestion in the article of turning left at turn 8.

    • Couldn’t agree more @slr

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2012, 17:09

      @slr

      The circuit must remain long to offer more chances to make mistakes

      I don’t follow your reasoning here. While a shorter lap would mean fewer opportunities to make mistakes over a single lap, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case over the same race distance (i.e., with more laps).

    • The driver’s complaints about the Singapore sling are silly

      Why? How?

      I think if you get drivers complaining then you have to seriously look at why.

      • Simple: He’s not the one in the car.

      • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 26th September 2012, 22:23

        I think they’re not silly, but I don’t think it should change; turn 10 is one of the defining features of the track; it’s the corner everyone associates Singapore with.
        It’s quite exciting watching onboard footage of it, and I believe that to make it safer, they should have curbs with either a gradually increasing, or a constant gradient, so the curbs act like circular ramps; that should allow the drivers to take it a bit faster, and if the curbs were flatter, and due to the small gradient, the drivers will be able to ride the curbs more, thus reducing the risk of damage due to the small angle at which the curb meets the tarmac.

        • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 27th September 2012, 21:01

          To clarify, I’d like the curbs to be circular, and for them not to protrude from the tarmac too much, much like the initial curb at the Ascari Chicane (from 2011, 2010, 2009, etc but not 2012)
          Only for the other sides to be identical to the curbs facing the track

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 27th September 2012, 10:35

      yes i like this coment!

    • favomodo (@favomodo) said on 27th September 2012, 13:40

      What about this idea: a crossover at turn 8/14!

      So instead of going right at turn eight, make it a straight there and take ‘turn 10′ the other way around (no sling necessary, because of slow exit of the turn before that). So give the circuit an 8-layout like Suzuka. The only drawback would be an expensive crossover at turn 8/14, but you get the straights in return!

  3. Turn 10 defo needs to go. It’s an awful corner, and not a very safe one. I’ve complained about it since ever here, and sometimes I get responses like “it’s an unique corner, an unique challenge and needs to stay” which I think it’s missing the point completely, but oh well…

    I don’t know how to improve that track, I guess you need to know that bit of the city to give a proper suggestion…

    To be entirely honest, I don’t like the Singapore track, so whatever they change will be welcomed, specially if it means racing will be better (or safer). But I think it should stay because it’s proven to be a massive challenge for the drivers and the cars, plus it’s a great spectacle. Watching the cars racing at night it’s still as cool as it was in 2008.

    • Heskin Radiophonic (@heskin-radiophonic) said on 26th September 2012, 16:58

      Personally, I would round Turn 10 (which is the major problem corner) off – the picture at the bottom of the article makes it clear that there is the space to make it into a more gradual, high speed left hand turn.

      The other thing I would change is get rid of the last stadium section where the cars go under the seating – there are just two many 90 degree turns in that last section of the lap. Make it a flat out run to join those two sections of the same road together.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2012, 17:07

        @heskin-radiophonic

        I would round Turn 10 (which is the major problem corner) off – the picture at the bottom of the article makes it clear that there is the space to make it into a more gradual, high speed left hand turn

        There’s no chance of them doing that with so little room for run-off there, which is what Vettel alluded to.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2012, 21:48

      @fer-no65 I think Martin Brundle hit the nail on the head when he said the reason drivers don’t like the corner is because it makes them look silly.

      Not in the sense that it’s a challenging or difficult corner to get right, but that it’s so inelegant you can’t help but think they’re not driving it well.

      To put it another way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a driver go through it and thought “they nailed that”. It’s more like “they survived that”.

      • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 27th September 2012, 2:54

        Yeah that sums it up pretty well. People say it’s a challenge, but it’s like a challenge in the way that literally threading a needle is. Sure, it’s hard to do, but does anyone actually enjoy the act?

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th September 2012, 3:06

        @keithcollantine that’s what I’ve always said. It’s a complete car breaker. If they want to “make it interesting”, when why not spil oil on the track? It’s a survival test, and if something goes wrong, bang, you hit the wall while still in the air !

        It’s hardly a challenge. It’s just ridiculous.

  4. Master firelee (@master-firelee) said on 26th September 2012, 16:16

    I think that the the Singapore Sling chicane at turn ten should be made into a smooth corner, it would make the track faster during that particular section and would prevent the cars hoping over the curbs.

    • necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 26th September 2012, 16:32

      That’s not possible for safety reasons, but I think they could simply ease the chicane a bit, with less obtrusive kerbs.

    • GT_Racer said on 26th September 2012, 16:35

      There isn’t enough run-off there to have a fast corner.

      Make it a fast corner & if anyone went off there they would have a big impact on the outside barrier & then likely slide down the track to have another big impact in the runoff just before the bridge. Not to mention that in a race with a lot of cars around having a car bouncing off a barrier back onto the track wouldn’t be a good situation.

      The 3 kurb chicane isn’t ideal but is the safest solution to run round that part of the track, Whatever else you do wouldn’t leave enough run-off. After the 1st race in 2008 Charlie asked the drivers for feedback & alternatives & they gave feedback on the kurbs (And they have been tweaked over the 5 years) but nothing on possible alternatives to the layout & thats why nothing has ever really been changed there.

      The issue with cutting the track in half as Keith suggested in his article is that you then take away 2-3 possible passing spots that exist in that section (Turns 10, 14 & 15) of the track & basically leave the track with only 1 passing spot (The DRS zone).

      I like the layout as it is, Despite the bitching on here after this years race I actually thought it was a very entertaining race & I quite enjoyed the 2010/2011 races as well. Some intresting strategy, good/close racing, some good fighting & some good overtaking.
      I personally enjoyed Singapore far more than most of the races which recieved higher ratings earlier in this year as it featured far more of what I enjoy about racing (The things I listed above).

      Im also confused as to how people can say there was no overtaking as I saw quite a lot through this years race & most were not easy DRS drive-by’s either.

      • I agree with everything GT_Racer said, I’m not a fan of turn 10 but it adds a bit of spectacle. The only way I can think of improving it is to lower the curbs, but then you’ll have Massa cutting the whole thing…

  5. I don’t think that turn 10 is the biggest problem at least not from spectators view, it might be for the drivers though. Instead I’d extend the track by one block after turn 7 so the Raffles Boulevard would be couple hundred meters longer and after that there would be just one corner before turn 10. That might increase overtaking. Also a good way to make track shorter and faster is to go straight from turn 16 to 20 if that’s possible.

    • michaeldobson13 (@michaeldobson13) said on 26th September 2012, 17:01

      Good Idea – you could also tighten the corner going onto Raffles Boulevard to make traction onto the corner more important.
      Also, they could tighten turn 10 slightly to make it more of a braking point to aid overtaking – tighten the first part into about 90 degrees, which can also leave run-off as it is further forward, and then having a nearly flat out end to the chicane. They could then straighten out the next chicane and move the next corner back slightly (there’s enough space as it is dual carriageway at this section).

  6. sam3110 (@sam3110) said on 26th September 2012, 16:31

    2 ideas from me:

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5682333
    Make it slightly less twisty, reprofile the sling so intsead of being a double chicane its a single one, with a flick to the right before going left, bypass the under the grandstand bit.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5682345
    Go clockwise! that way the Singapore Sling can be a proper corner, and straighten out the silly boxy bit in the middle of the lap.

  7. Well I think that the organizers should build a bridge or a tunnel at Turn 8-14 crossroads in order to connect Turn 7 with Turn 13 and Turn 9 with Turn 15-16 . Thus two slow corners will be removed and two long straights will be added , leaving the circuit mostly as it is but making it faster with more overtacking opportunities. As for Turn 10 the should make it a bit smoother .

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 6:16

      The costs associated with the modification wouldn’t be too gargantuan actually and a tunnel/bridge would actually improve day-to-day normal traffic.

      Any building of a bridge/tunnel in would mar the landscape around the Civilian War Memorial though and the authorities wouldn’t allow that.

  8. What about making curve 16 less sharp, so that it the chicane can be taken faster.

    Then, curves 7, 8 and 9 can be changed so that the track goes around the other side of the park. This will remove the actual curve 7, a new curve similar to curve 8 will appear at the opposite side of the park, and curve 9 will be a new chicane.

    In google maps you can see how these changes may be possible and they will reduce the time per lap (effectively shorting the race). Moreover, they will need “minor” changes in terms of lightning and installations.

  9. Go right to the wall on the inside of T5 (it makes the corner much quicker and may allow cars to follow better on the run to T7.
    Go right to the wall on T7 and make the apex 2 or 3 metres later, rather than that stupid kerb in the middle of the road.
    Straighten out the silly right left just before te Anderson bridge (T11,12) its pointless
    Get rid of the section near the end. Have T16, but rather than go underneath the stands, keep going and emerge where the current T20-21 section is, perhaps then tighten the last corner to allow for an overtaking opportunity or open it out to allow cars to stay close for a lunge in T1

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 26th September 2012, 17:06

    Let’s create a bridge so the figure-of eight- would be possible, and yo uwould turn 4 medium straights in 2 long straights. I imagined this by looking at the picture of this article. From above looks possible. Invest a couple of millions to create that bridge or even something they can put and retire (would that be possible, I mean a temporary flyover?)

    • artificial racer said on 26th September 2012, 19:48

      ^^^ this is what I was pondering by looking at the map. Have either a bridge or an underpass built for F1 so that the circuit would go clockwise around the cricket ground and potentially create a bit better overtaking possibility. It would also benefit the city traffic the rest of the year. And there is plenty of runoff going round that way.

      Other alternatives would be a massive reworking to have the circuit use more of the shoreline area north of turn 1.

  11. make the lights go off at random times

  12. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 26th September 2012, 17:27

    Singapore looks spectacular.
    *Looks* spectacular. But it isn’t really.
    The bright shiny lights in the darkness and the flashing off the cars between the walls, the howling of the engines echoing in the canyons of the streets . . . Should be fantastic, but it isn’t, is it?
    There are lots of tracks that I can actually imagine going round with my eyes closed, but Singapore is just so visually bland that I get lost watching it on telly. Too many 90 degree bends and too many concrete walls that all look the same. I could imagine a tired driver getting really confused towards the end of the 2 hour race in that heat.
    I think the Turn 10 problem could be rectified by bringing the track up (widened) Connaught Drive which runs parallel to the T9 to T10 straight and would lead in the Anderson bridge turn quite neatly. There might have to be a bit of tree clearing there though to provide a run-off area.
    Alternatively, as others have pointed out, it would be far more exciting to have figure eight layout with a crossover at T8 and T14 instead of the two 90 degree bends (yawn). That would make the turn over the Anderson Bridge absolutely mighty and the T10 problem would be reduced.
    I’d also like to axe the section that goes in front of and under the Grandstand; it’s four 90-ish degree bends and a blast in front of the stands, whereas the track could have gone behind the permanent Grandstand and provided a superb overtaking spot into the 90 degree (Arrghh!) bend underneath the elevated highway. I know this is never going to happen though, because the seats in the grandstand must provide a decent wedge of income for the organisers.
    I still don’t think that the race will deliver the sparkle and excitement it promises, though. It’s not visually exciting enough on TV. I can’t be the only one out of love with it?

  13. Verstappen GP (@verstappengp) said on 26th September 2012, 17:37

    I woud make it into a faster chicane with the same amount of runoff, like this: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5682453

  14. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 26th September 2012, 17:44

    I don’t mind the idea of a shorter track, and it would be fun for the spectators too, to see the cars pass by 80 or more times. It would make finding a gap in qualifying more difficult, though. My only problem with the suggested shortcut is that I don’t like sector 3 in Singapore. Sectors 1 and 2 are interesting, but S3 has too many slow chicanes. F1 cars need to stretch their legs from time to time!

    I don’t see the big safety issue with the Singapore Sling. If you drive over the kerbs, you’ll be going pretty slowly, so you might be in for a bit of rough ride and possibly end up in the wall the way Raikkonen did in 2008, but would drivers really hurt their backs there, or dangerously climb over other cars? And if for some reason you don’t slow down enough for the corner, then you’d miss the middle of the corner altogether.

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