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. KJR1959 (@kjr1959) said on 27th September 2012, 7:55

    Take it off the list and make it a Supermarket car park

  2. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 27th September 2012, 9:24

    Just after turn 8 the track should cut left down Connaught Drive (on the other side of the cricket ground) and rejoin the current circuit just after turn 12. This will omit the awful turn 10 and still keep the iconic Anderson bridge.

    Also as mentioned by others turn 17 and 18 should be missed out. Turn 15 should go straight to turn 20. They could then turn the grandstands around to see more of the track!

  3. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 27th September 2012, 16:06

    I agree with those who think the track is fine as it is.

    Generally, I’m against circuits which does not have a particular character and try to be like a mix of all things. Like the majority of the new tracks: a few high-speed, medium-speed, low-speed bends, hairpins, long straights and no elevation and camber changes at all, which would literally add an extra dimension to the challenge. I know high-speed corners, elevations and cambers are more dangerous, but I think principally other areas have be addressed in respect to danger. Like downforce levels, aero in particular.

    I think Singapore has a character, because of a lot of things, a lot of which would be eliminated with a cut. Like the unusual length and number of corners. Or Turn 10. Its a different challenge, a breath of fresh air. It’s not dangerous as its slow and visible: no major accident occured there so far.

    What I’m not satisfied with is the monotone right-lefts of S3, but it cannot be cut out, or modified. But then again, one of them, a left-hander turning below the stands is unique in that just after the turn-in point it is very slightly downhill, often causing oversteer. This is what caught out those, who slammed into the barriers there, prompting an SC. It’s part of the challenge. I like the corner.

    Also, Anderson bridge is unique in terms of look – in this respect new tracks fare better, like Abu Dhabi. And a third argument: The straight after the hairpin where the Massa-Senna near miss occured became a fine passing zone – without DRS. I think this is in part because radius of the hairpin itself increased this year, IMO, but I didn’t do a comparison. Increasing track width on the outside of Turn 14 after the kerb blunder last year also helped. Nonetheless, Webber passed Alonso there in 2011 in a fine move, so it is good sequence in this respect as well. I would miss it, if it would be altered.

    Once again: so much tracks are boring nowadays because they try too hard to be all good things. Singapore is an exception, it is unique in a way. Please don’t tinker with it.

  4. Michael Brown (@) said on 27th September 2012, 22:05

    Keep turn 10. For once in a recent track there is a unique corner and they want to change that.

  5. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 28th September 2012, 4:33

    Hello everyone! My first comment here. I’m from Singapore and I think the circuit is fine.

    What F1 needs are circuits which are both unique and challenging. People love Monza for its long straights, Spa and Suzuka for their fast corners. Singapore is the opposite with its tight and twisty corners and unlike Monaco it is possible to overtake, even on a 2-lane bridge. If we make the circuit go faster it will become yet another medium-speed circuit. Seeing the drivers sitting on the couch exhausted after a 2 hour race is what makes Singapore different from other races.

    I agree it can be hard to differentiate between corners but I think that is down to the camera angles which are so low. Building an overpass/underpass at T8/14 is quite impractical even for normal days as most cars make a turn there. The grandstand at T17/18 can’t be turned around as it is a permanent facitily used for the National Day Parade. The places which can be sped up are probably T5, 11/12, 16 & 20/21 and tightening T7 should help overtaking. However, making big changes could lose Singapore’s reputation as a physically and mentally challenging race for both drivers and engineers. And that is something that shouldn’t happen.

  6. Steve (@machinesteve) said on 28th September 2012, 9:51

    No one seems to get the idea that to make F1 cars look great on TV they need to be set in context of an environment. An F1 car moving at 200mph on tarmac with no context might as well be moving at 30mph. Cards flashing past things look amazing. Monza, has trees. Monaco – has buildings. Canada and Australia, have lots of long shots through trees etc.

    On the other hand Valencia was just cars on tarmac with dull concrete walls, Silverstone is just flat green now (no atmosphere at all) and Singapore is just black. The first year it was shown it looked amazing…now its just deadly dull….you get no idea where the cars are in the city. One part is along the waterfront..I couldn’t tell you which part, even the bridge is lost. Its all part of the sterile coverage of Bernie Tv (a mon not known to understand much about art and soul).

    It probably looks good if you are there though…..unlike Valencia.

  7. David Rosa said on 28th September 2012, 12:13

    My route idea.
    They can extend the north track a little and cut the problem.
    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5684859

  8. Jack Cowie said on 28th September 2012, 12:18

    I like the simple idea you propose of simply turning left at the crossroads. The circuit as it stands is too long for a street circuit. Considering the expense of setting up a street circuit, especially with floodlights, this would be a big cost saving. A short lap means that fans see the cars more times, and drivers are challenged more by traffic etc.

    If you considered this length too short, you could take advantage of the dual carriageway, and instead of turning left or right at the crossroads, just go straight ahead towards a hairpin, swinging back the other way along the current track. I expect that the hairpin would be too tight unless you found extra space beyond the road on the exit; the only possibility as far as I can tell would be here as there’s a little extra space. With this layout, the circuit would have 3 good overtaking opportunities, all in succession so that they would flow into each other. The track would be halfway between the current length and the 80-lap length you suggest. I’m not sure, however, that even with space for a sensible hairpin it would be safe: there’s nowhere to put marshalls or anyone beside the track. It’s an obvious enough suggestion that it was probably considered when the track was first designed, and it may well have been ruled out then too. So, for me, the best idea is your one of simply skipping the whole of turns 7-14 or whatever they are.

  9. iceshiel said on 29th September 2012, 11:59

    The floating platform and stadium area (turns 16-19) is actually temporary and is slated to be removed within the next 5 years. There was also talk recently in the media that they wish to race through the Marina Bay Sands casino in order to reduce disruption to the business district. This track would be viable in the future when they don’t need to go through Turns 16-19, it is also much much faster:
    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5686161

    Here is a another version that does away with Singapore Sling and extends the main straight. It would also reduce disruption to the city as it cuts less into business district:
    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5686159

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 29th September 2012, 16:50

    I don’t want to see any changes whatsoever. The circuit is a pain in the backside (literally) for the drivers, it’s a long race way out of their comfort zone and like JB said, it’s what they train for. I don’t want to see the drivers treated like they’re a charity case and the track seems safe enough for any crashes.

    As far as the organisers are concerned…well they obviously don’t feel the GP is that much of a pain or cost as they just signed a new 5 year deal on it!

  11. MattyP said on 24th July 2013, 12:09

    Personally, i think that they should make Turn 10 a double-apex left hander, not a triple apex left-right-left corner. basically just get rid of the middle apex, and straighten out the track between the two left-handed parts. To slow the drivers a little bit i would introduce a slightly high kerb (similar to the “sausage” kerb, but a little bit smaller). And i would get rid of Turns 19 and 20 and put a straight between 18 and 21. Those changes should make the lap quicker than it is currently.

  12. I would remove curves 18,19,20 and 21 to become the lap faster and probably create a new overtake point. The track has too many courves, so boring race.

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