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?

  1. Scuderia16 (@scuderia16) said on 26th September 2012, 18:30

    I don’t know if it has already been mentioned, but alter the track to go straight at turn 8 and make turn 13 a monaco style hairpin. This would open up a good overtaking spot, an increase the average speed of the lap.

  2. Personally I think there’s no real need to change the track for purposes of the racing. The sling is just about the only point on the track that really stands out, maybe combined with the turn back under the grandstands where we saw people crashing ever since the first race.

    I do get that if its to big a burden on city life, they could try to make more of it into a semi permanent part in the parkland, but it would mean changing quite a lot of the track and would make it less of a city race (we would cut two brides out for example and surely the cricket club and war monument, although who sees them during the race anyway), but the need to have a life around it and save on yearly buildup is good enough a reason to me.

    So that brings us to something like what @prisoner-monkeys posted in the roundup then.

  3. johnkhobson (@johnkhobson) said on 26th September 2012, 18:47

    Basically, this course sucks. You all know why.

  4. Go north:
    If the circuit can’t be routed down the road that avoids the Singapore Sling, then skip the bridge loop entirely.

  5. I think that Singapore is one of the best tracks currently on the calendar. And not just for the nighttime or the uniquely coloured walls of which I’m a fan.

    The 2hour marathon races it produces are something that the drivers should be tested for at least once during a season. I have no problem watching all of it as I don’t find the races processional; there’s lots of overtaking to be had at turns 6/7, 8 and 14 which means cars don’t get stuck behind others for too long (I’m sure there were many overtakes last weekend); plus there’s lots of room on the straights for the back-markers to get out of the way. The race result is always a fair result of pace.
    I love the way the walls are close to the exits of the corners too. It doesn’t have the oppressiveness of Monaco because there’s breathing space on a lot of the corners and straights, but the closeness you get to see on some of the exits (especially of turn 21 before that beautiful sweep onto the straight) is incredible. Oddly enough it’s like a mix between Monaco and Canada for that.
    And given the rest of the track, I really don’t mind the Singapore Sling. It’s a unique solution to the problem of limited runoff. But the runoff area is the only thing I’d change about the track itself: it needs more in order to stop people hitting the wall (which is sometimes a bit harsh on drivers). I think the risk of suspension failure keeps the car in line, so a few extra yards of run-off by ripping up tarmac isn’t going to change the corner characteristic.
    The only other thing I’d want is for them to really go overboard on ways of removing cars from the track quickly and without a safety car. Jam it with cranes, open more walls, whatever. If there’s nothing they can do though then it’s an acceptable price to pay for the track layout.

    Basically I like Singapore. It has far less faults than other circuits, and it’s a good event to boot. And it has a good sporting role in the F1 championships. I don’t see much to change. The question “how can Singapore’s F1 track be improved?” strikes me the same way as asking “how can Neapolitan ice-cream be improved?”. a) is it’s improvement an issue? and b) there really can’t be too much to change before it stops being Neapolitan ice-cream. Why would we want to change Neapolitan ice-cream into something else which already exists? just keep the Neapolitan ice-cream.

  6. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 26th September 2012, 18:54

    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.

    • 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.

  7. markus0027 (@markus0027) said on 26th September 2012, 19:17

    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.

  8. freedo50 (@) said on 26th September 2012, 19:47

    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):

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 6:23

      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?)

    • Steven (@steevkay) said on 27th September 2012, 21:14

      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…

  9. Andy (@turbof1) said on 26th September 2012, 19:56

    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.

  10. James (@jamesf1) said on 26th September 2012, 20:03

    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 ;)

  11. Hold it in daylight.

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

  13. 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.

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 26th September 2012, 20:24

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

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 26th September 2012, 20:25

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

    • Andy (@turbof1) said on 26th September 2012, 20:52

      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.

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

  15. Sprinklers

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 5:47

      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

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