Kimi Räikkönen feels he still has something to prove at the flood-lit Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore and after a strong run to fifth place in Monza, the Flying Finn moved into third position in the Drivers’ Championship, just one point off second spot.
The final two European races of the season have been tough going for Lotus F1 Team, with one car exiting the Belgian Grand Prix in an incident which left Romain Grosjean banned for the subsequent race in Italy; a race where the team weren’t able to display the pace they hitherto have done so this season. Spa may not have delivered the performance that the team wanted, and the characteristics of Monza may have made it unlikely for Lotus F1 Team to be seen fighting at the front, but Singapore is rather different and should play back into the hands of the E20.
After a weekend on the sidelines in Italy, Romain is back in the hot seat for the Singapore Grand Prix and keen to put his learning experience from Monza into practice.
"We have a few upgrades scheduled for Singapore and they should bring some extra performance. Also, I’m very happy with how we’ve improved our pitstops this season. We broke our all-time record in Monza with 2.44 seconds, but most importantly all of our pitstops were consistent. This was not by chance; the whole team put a lot of effort in and, as you know, such a step forward can have a massive impact on the outcome of a race.
Kimi is currently third. Anything can happen. We’re not naive though, and we know that his chances are slim. However, we’ll push like hell as long as there is a mathematical chance of winning it. Romain is in good spirits. There are some positives to take from this experience. For example, Romain followed Kimi’s weekend quite closely and I’m sure that he has noticed a few useful tricks. Now, the situation is back to normal and I hope we can put this story behind us.
[As a team] we’ve always said that fourth was our goal this year but looking at our pace, it would be legitimate to try and have a go at third if we can. The pack is so tight that anything is possible. We just need to score points – consistently and with both cars – until the end of the season."
Marina Bay In Numbers
2.5 Highest g-force experienced for 3 seconds at T22/23
20% of the lap spent braking
40 Total straight per lap (%)
45% of lap at full throttle
65 Lowest apex speed (kmh) at T13
81 Gear changes per lap
300 Highest apex speed (kmh) at T6
300 Distance in metres from start line to first corner
305 Top speed (kmh)
650 Longest full throttle burst (metres) between T5 and T7
APPROACHING TURNS 1 + 2
Approaching turns 1+2 is the second fastest part of the track, with speeds of around 290kph reached before the Sheares corner. This is followed by hard braking to around 90kph at turn 3.
TURN 7 (MEMORIAL CORNER)
The fastest part of the track with speeds of around 298kph reached before the approach to this sharp left hander.
TURNS 13 + 18
Two of the slowest parts of the track with speeds of around 80kph and extensive kerb use for the quickest line.
Another slow corner at 85kph.
The rubber kerbs used on many the corner apexes have been replaced with fabricated steel versions for this year.
Maximum downforce here, especially with so many low speed corners and frequent traction demands.
Maximum downforce levels as understeer could prove costly with the walls so close.
There are several high kerbs around the circuit, requiring good suspension compliance. The continual braking demands also call for a softer car; a requirement balanced against wanting to run the car as low as possible without wearing the plank too much.
Brakes are under constant use. Although none of the braking demands are individually massive, it’s the relentless nature of continually braking which means they never have an opportunity to cool. This affects the discs, pads and even the brake callipers themselves.
Pirelli’s softest allocation of the soft and supersoft compounds are nominated here. With 23 corners, the tyres have to perform very well under traction and braking. One of the biggest causes of tyre wear is wheelspin so rear suspension will be set up to give maximum longitudinal grip. Singapore is a long 61-lap race
that normally goes up to the two-hour limit, which puts further stress on the tyres; particularly as the cars carry one of the heaviest fuel loads of the year. One factor in favour of the tyres
is that – being a night race – the track temperature drops from a peak of around 50 deg C in the day to closer to 30 deg during running times.
With an average speed of under 170kph, engine maps are designed to target driveability through the lower revs. Of the 23 corners, ten are taken in second or first, seven in third and only one is taken in fourth gear, which means that the engine is working at between 8,000rpm and 13,000rpm for the majority of the corner apexes and exits.