Singapore, 2012

How can Singapore’s F1 track be improved?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. The best solution to the Singapore Sling “problem” is to instruct the drivers to take the corner sensibly. You drive according to the conditions – and if the kerbs mean you go flying over them if you take them too hard, well, don’t take them so hard. Any part of any racetrack in the world can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Just because a corner is challenging to get right doesn’t make it inherently dangerous.

    1. It isn’t about it being dangerous, it’s that it is technical without any of the fun of a normal technical corner, slow without any possibility of overtaking, and really can only be used with one line, regardless of conditions.

  2. Lengthen second straight pass the monument garden then 2 lefts under the office towers, brings you back down other side of monument and onto existing track.

    Track distance is 3.75Km. Makes for an overtaking spot at end of the straight as slightly higher speeds equals more time on brakes, (that first left could be designed so it’s slow enough that they have to brake hard into it).

    Still would have 15 corners so drivers would be busy.

  3. My suggestion? Get rid of the current start finish, and relocate it to the national stadium parking lot. Then you can do a track that takes advantage of some of Singapore’s lovely curving streets, like this one (I know it’s a little long):

    1. I don’t think this is feasible at all – your plan involves them going up the 20m high Benjamin Sheares Bridge expressway sector. (much as i will like to see a F1 car speed along that bridge – would they kind enough to do a one-off demo?)

    2. It’s long, but a lot more of it is flat-out. F1 cars taking highway on/off-ramps and screaming down the freeway? Yes, please!

      I’m thinking it’s completely unfeasible, but this is definitely something I would love to see…

  4. How about removing turn 7, instead going straight to Beach Road, and there going left where it will rejoin the original track at St. Andrew Road? That way the track stays roughly at the same length, but the main straight and a secundary straight will be lengthened out; it will also be 2 corners less, of which the aforementioned turn 8. That will result in much faster laps.

      1. I don’t think this is feasible at all – your plan involves them going up the 20m high Benjamin Sheares Bridge expressway sector. (much as i will like to see a F1 car speed along that bridge – would they kind enough to do a one-off demo?)

      2. Better – less 90 degree corners. But it still leaves Turn 10 as a problem.

  5. Whilst it is true that changes need to be made to the track, a focus needs to be made towards making cars more able to follow each other closely. Since 2008 we’ve seen major steps forward in this, but cars still seem to struggle in the dirty air behind the lead car, up to approx 1 second behind it (depending on the track).

    I like the Singapore Sling. Yes, it is a unique corner and unique challenge to the drivers, but if F1 folks quickly acted on every driver’s whinge and complaint, the sport would change one weekend to the next. No thanks to that! It would be a shame to lose the bridge sections of the track, they provide stunning imagery, and Massa at least showed it is possible to overtake here too ;)

  6. Hold it in daylight.

    1. @racer After watching the GP2 races in daylight, I don’t agree. The darkness adds to the spectacle and covers up the less attractive areas.

    2. It’s too damn hot in the daytime for spectators.

    3. No way….. unless the spectators and drivers fancy getting heatstroke in that horrible humidity

  7. Do away with the HUGE stupid chicane lumps and concentrate on improving over taking…
    Best overtaking move this year was Massa on Maldonado…

  8. 23 corners are too much even for 5km length circuit. Corners must be reduced.
    From seeing the map overlay in google maps, one small change that could improve the track is in the area of corners 7,8,9 by simply removing corners 8 and 9 and extending the DRS straight about a block and then turning left at the junction to rejoin in corner 9. This way the DRS zone get’s bigger and easier to overtake and also the straight to corner 10 becomes also bigger giving another opportunity for overtaking (assuming the micky mouse chicane there is also replaced with a normal corner).
    The track becomes this way a lot quicker , and drivers have a few seconds to relax too ( this track as it is now is brutal for drivers -mostly mentally because they must be ALWAYS 100% focused).
    It’s a small change in the layout but has a big impact in the characteristics of the track.

    1. Then people will complain that the overtakes are too easy and “artificial”. It’s a lose-lose situation!

    2. However, I do agree with you, more corners dont necessarily mean more overtaking due to the brake zones!

    3. Yeah exactly the same as what I was thinking. You don’t even need to make the DRS zone longer; with the straight being longer you already increase the chance for overtaking.
      There might be one problem though. You have the end of the new straight The stanford Singapore; finding there run-off area isn’t that easy.

  9. @andy , i didn’t saw your comment… that is what i was trying το describe…. :)
    Apparently i totally agree with you

    1. Yeah could do with one wet Singapore race once in a while if only to see what it looks like under the lights….. a minor miracle in fact that no rain has hit the Sunday main race

  10. Put a chicane in half way down St Andrews Rd (slower speed, easier to navigate and as it’s fairly close to turn 9, easier to overtake) and turn the launch pad chicane in a 90 left (lower speed, less run off needed).

  11. A shorter circuit and an 80 lap race? I’ll take that, thanks! We need some change from all the new circuits which are around 55-60 laps, so one 80 lap race would be a unique challenge, especially as the best overtaking spot on the track would be passed 20 more times.

    I wouldn’t make any other changes though. Part of the appeal of Singapore is the atmosphere, making it much like Monaco in that respect. Also, Singapore Sling aside, it’s a decent track with a couple of half-chances to overtake, but which allow a driver to defend against a rival with DRS.

  12. I don’t understand how cutting the track from turn 8 into 14 will make it a shorter race. It will be a shorter lap, however looking at the track layout I can imagine the actual distance covered in 2 hours would be lower, simply because of the longer straights between 9 and 10, and 13-14. Haven’t calculated this though, so it might not be as big an issue as it seems, as it does remove ‘that’ awful slow chicane.

    I personally also really dislike the boxcar section at the end of the lap, but as there is no road through that directly bypasses it, it really is a necessity. And as someone brought up earlier, the first corner of it catches out a few people.

  13. The Crashgate grandstand section is indeed lame. But i doubt they would drop it to be honest as it guarantees at one stroke 30,000 more seated spectators.

    A 3-day pass to that section costs USD185/£115 now in the early bird sales phase for next year’s tickets. So that’s USD5.5m/£3.45m in revenue; not a Mickey Mouse amount.

    1. Just to add on, sectors 1 and 2 of the circuit are actually fine enough as most people have mentioned

      The last sector with all the mickey mouse 90 degree turns and going through the Crashgate grandstand area is just terrible though and this is one part where the most improvements can be made to improve the spectacle.

  14. I won’t be surprised if the revised track turns out like this. It is a very radical tweak but does incorporate all the rumoured revisions that had been mooted over the weekend.

    No Singapore Sling for good and the track extends into the Marina Bay Sands Casino area. The Crashgate grandstand is kept for “economic reasons” but the direction is reversed and it could be worthwhile to see whether it does improve the racing going the other way. The straight along the Esplanade Drive is a bit long and dangerous so a Mickey Mouse chicane could possibly be installed at the junction near the Anderson Bridge to slow the cars down.

  15. Ideally, this is what they would do. Go around the War Memorial instead of inside it, which should lengthen the straight and allow for more overtaking and adds a bit of a high-speed flick as the cars head towards the Singapore Sling. Then, instead of going across the Anderson and Esplanade Bridges, the circuit loops back up around Connaught Drive, cutting out whole host of slow corners until it gets to Raffles Avenue. Then it is flat out to the final chicane near the Singapore Flyer, skipping over the fiddly, novelty-value-only chicanes under the grandstand, which would need to be taken apart and turned around so that spectators could see.

    1. Actually, with the exception of the Turn 10 problem, I think you’re right. Specially if they could work out a way of keeping the Nicoll Highway open to traffic.

    2. I had that in mind as well, only if they go as far as to rebuild the grandstands, they should also do something about turns 1-2-3. I think they’re horrid and servo no purpose whatsoever. Either make turn 1 a real hairpin or make them a fast double apexer, like Suzuka.

      I take it that you’re going to keep the sling as it is?

      1. The Sling stays.

  16. Reading on Joe’s Blog, apparently the issue is that the circuit crosses over too much of the city. Causing traffic chaos. They want to cut the track around the Cricket Club area. So, here’s my suggestion for the track. It reduces the circuit to 4.5km, but also adds two big straights that will increase the average speed quite a bit, also, create a slam dunk overtaking spot. What you think?

    1. I like your thinking, but that back straight you’ve added would need a monumental run-off area.

      1. The road just keeps going after where i put the hairpin, so the run off would be fine.

        1. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately that’s Esplanade Drive / Nicoll Highway which is one of the north/south routes the city want to keep open.

    2. I love your idea! However, if we let the track run on both sides of the bridge, I’m not sure if there would be enough space left for recovery equipment if an accident occurs along the Esplanade bridge.

  17. Just how do you fix a pretty bad race track which seems to be riddled with limits in an environment where the city itself at night is one of the true treasures, visually spectacular, of anywhere on this planet ??

    Current cars are racing with many gimmicks that the fans would rather see not used. They are there to enhance what otherwise is an impossible task, passing the car in front of you. Now add to the mix a track where the passing with all of the techincal nonsense is pretty much a rarity.

    Now the Organizors want to stir it up and present some change, a new version of a bad layout in hopes of keeping the circus coming to town for the near future.

    I question how it can be done and fear that this event is on the block and is only being saved by lights.

  18. The excuse of “not enough run off” is nothing more then a pathetic excuse. messing up & hitting the wall in that turn at speed would be no more dangerous then messing up & hitting the wall on the straight at the same if not faster speeds. If you’re gonna hit a wall at speed it’s gonna hurt just as much no matter if it’s in a turn or if it’s on the straight. If they’re afraid of hitting the wall I’m sure there is a stadium or store parking-lot in the area that they can setup cones in & turn F1 into an Autocross event.

    With that being said I didn’t even know there was a bridge down there til I looked at it on Google Earth, on TV it just looks like they drive under a few random metal beams & then make a turn onto a straight. So cutting out 1 or both of the bridges wouldn’t make a different presentation wise (atleast to me).

    I’ve taken to Google Earth and came up with these 2 alternative options.
    Pink = Current
    Yellow = Bypassing the bridges
    Yellow to White = Keeping the bridges

    The Yellow one shaves off close to 1km. However both of those would require temporary asphalt to be put down (ROC style I guess?) over the field & park as well as some landscaping changes by getting rid of some of the trees on the side of the field & park that is next to it.

    1. @fisha695 – I’m afraid the “yellow path” cuts through the cricket club, which has existed since before Singapore achieved nationhood and which reportedly has rights that even the government cannot touch.

  19. I don’t get the hate for the Singapore Sling. It’s by no means an elegant corner, but it poses a unique challenge to the car and driver. If every corner got changed to the drivers’ preferences, tracks would become massively more homogeneous.
    I still think the track should be shortened though, the races are still taking slightly too long (personally I love marathon F1 races, but the casual audience needs to be kept interested). Turns 7 to 9 don’t appeal to many by the sounds of it, is there any chance of creating one sweeping corner with a huge run-off area to cover the safety aspect?

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