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 ?é?ú75m.

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 ?é?® Sahara Force India F1 Team, Singapore GP/Sutton

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

  1. maxthecat said on 26th September 2012, 21:06

    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).

  2. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 26th September 2012, 22:03

    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.

  3. Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 26th September 2012, 22:58

    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.

  4. Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 26th September 2012, 23:20

    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.

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 6:26

      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.

  5. Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 26th September 2012, 23:21

    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.

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5680434
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/102740
    http://twitter.com/byronf1/status/249808340908126209

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th September 2012, 23:34

    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.

  7. 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?

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5683022

  8. TED BELL said on 27th September 2012, 0:30

    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.

  9. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 27th September 2012, 0:31

    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.
    http://hostingbytes.us/images/3/603715.jpg
    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.

  10. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 27th September 2012, 1:13

    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?

  11. NinjaBadger (@ninjabadger) said on 27th September 2012, 1:24

    I wouldn’t made seeing turn 10 made into a 90degree corner. Yes, I know, there are plenty of right-angle corners across the track, but I’d rather see that than the width resrictions.

    This might be a long shot, but could they not go straight on at turn 8. So they go straight down the bridge on one side, hairpin (possibly a roundish hairpin), back up the other side.
    Therefore you miss out on the width resrictions, reduces the number of right-angle corners, makes the track slightly shorter with a slightly quicker average speed.

  12. AkaSparks (@akasparks) said on 27th September 2012, 3:58

    Make turn 10 a banked curve. Then it would really be a Singapore slingshot.

    And as with all my comments…. Get rid of DRS and bring back the tire war and refueling.

  13. roodda (@roodda) said on 27th September 2012, 4:39

    Extend the straight leading up to turn 7, so that the circuit would be couple hundred meters longer along Raffles Boulevard and the lead up to turn 10. This should increase overtaking and speed up the lap, as there would only be one 90deg corner instead of three. Turn 10 itself could be altered, especially the entry, where it narrows significantly. The photo above shows there is room for the entry to be wider, again increasing the chance to overtake.

  14. Joanna Bessey (@bernie-ecclescake) said on 27th September 2012, 5:41

    How about move the Singapore GP across the causeway to Johore. There is a permanent circuit there called Pasir Gudang Circuit and it used to held World Superbike and MotoGP. If San Marino GP can be held in a circuit that is 100km from the actual San Marino, I don’t see any different for Singapore GP.

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 6:09

      I don’t think bernie will allow Malaysia to host 2 f1 races in the same year as Bernie is already clamping down on such arrangement with Barcelona and Valenica alternating to host the Spanish GP and the European GP ditched altogether.

      The only exception is for America and its gigantic market that F1 is trying desperately to reach out to. I don’t think any marketer associated with F1 will complain that USA hosts more than one F1 race a year.

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 27th September 2012, 8:17

      But that’s in Malaysia, and Singapore is a totally separate, fiercely independent country. No way would the Singapore motorsports association agree to pay for a race that was being held on their next door neighbour’s track!

      • Joanna Bessey (@bernie-ecclescake) said on 27th September 2012, 8:26

        My bad, I though Malaysia and Singapore have the same relation like Hong Kong and China. How about the new Sport Hub and also some rumour on new permanent circuit near Changi Airport?

        • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 27th September 2012, 15:32

          @Joanna Bessey

          Singapore-Malaysia ties are more like a local derby between Man City and Man United or Austria and Germany. Outsiders might think both sides can get along as they are neighbours and speak the same languages but deep down, both are actually dying to get at each other.

  15. NOOK360 said on 27th September 2012, 7:46

    Let them race in daylight. The track looked awesome in P3, very american roadcourse-ish.

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