Debates and polls
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.
This 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.
Debates and polls
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Image © Sahara Force India F1 Team, Singapore GP/Sutton