Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A last minute Run Down of the Singapore GP Circuit

Turns 1-3

The first of Singapore’s 13 left-handers, Turn 1 also represents the first overtaking opportunity on a circuit which, refreshingly, seems to offer several. A Grand Prix car will be travelling at over 280 km/h when it’s time to brake for Turn 1, downshifting to 2nd and slowing to around half that speed in the short right-hand sprint that follows, snatching 3rd through Turn 2 before dropping back to 2nd for Turn 3. Look for cornering speeds around 90-95 through there.

Turns 4-5

Leaving the new, permanent section of the track at the apex of Turn 3, the cars will accelerate up to 4th and touch 200 km/h and above through the left-hand kink of Turn 4. The right-hander at Turn 5 will be 3rd-gear, around the 130 mark, but the key point here is that the corner doesn’t tighten up – getting back on the throttle and up to speed for the long straight shouldn’t pose too many problems.

Turn 6

Speed is the essence of racing, of course – and the need for speed will be well and truly answered in this section! The cars should rocket all the way up to 7th as they go through the right-hand ‘kink’ halfway along the straight, meaning they will hit 300+ before the sharp left-hander at
Turn 7. And this, remember, is a street circuit…

Turns 7-8-9

Deceleration from those speeds means the approach to Turn 7 offers another clear overtaking opening. They need to get down to around 110k km/h to get round Turn 7, the 2nd-gear corner onto Nicholl Highway, and the ones who leave the braking late are the ones who will have a chance to make up places. As long as they don’t leave it too late…It’s a dab on the throttle and back to around 200 approaching Turn 8, the 2nd-gear right-hander where the circuit’s ‘waist’ is tightly pinched opposite Turn 14. Same for Turn 9: on the throttle, 200 or so then hit the anchors for the left-hand 3rd-gear corner which brings us to the historic heart of the track and the city.

Turns 9-10-11

Next comes the short straight that carries them past the Padang and towards the Singapore River. Getting the power down well out of Turn 9 will set a driver up for an attack on the way into the intriguing section at the end of it. Speeds here should be around 250 km/h, and a pass under braking into the left-hand sequence starting at Turn 10 is a distinct possibility. Snaking their way through 10 and 11, the drivers are likely to be reminded very firmly that this IS a street circuit: space is at a premium, so getting the lines right here will make all the difference. With its absorbing backdrop, it could be a photographer’s paradise.

Turns 12-13

This is potentially one of the most intriguing sections of the new track. Where else can you see Grand Prix cars arrowing across a 100-year-old bridge, turning sharp left and crossing the wide mouth of a river on a much more modern bridge? They should be in 2nd, then 3rd and building to 150 through Turn 12, jockeying for position on the narrow bridge and lining up the acute left-hander at Turn 13, taken in 2nd gear.

Turn 14

This is one of four places – Turn 13 to Turn 14 – where the cars can really stretch their legs: look for top speeds around 280 once more as they cross Esplanade Bridge before braking hard into 14. Sound familiar? It is – and it means another overtaking chance under braking for the right-hander that makes up the other side of the circuit’s ‘waist’.

Turns 15-20

We have to take this sequence all together as that’s what the drivers will be trying to do: minimizing the loss of speed through a challenging stretch that begins at around 230 km/h through the left-hand kink at Turn 15, then slows dramatically for another unique section of Singaporean track. This bayside section is the slowest on the track, not much faster than 100 or so in 2nd with a run of right-left-left-right-right changes of direction from Turns 16 to 20. Getting into corners well under braking, and getting back out of them well at relatively slow speed, will be the key.

Turns 20-21

Picking up speed, the cars will shift up to 3rd through Turn 20, accelerating through 120 km/h and faster through 21 as the drivers look for the best possible momentum into and out of the final corners.

Turns 22-23

That’s the double left-hander, Turns 22 and 23, swinging back onto the main straight. Through 22 the speed should climb above 150, then quickly up to 200 through the final corner as they get ready to pass the Start-Finish line on the way to 280 km/h. Only another 60 laps to go!

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