Following one of the season’s most straightforward one-stop races in terms of strategy, at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix, Formula One is now getting ready for one of the most complex tactical races of the championship, which takes place around the illuminated streets of Singapore. The three softest tyres in the Pirelli P Zero range – soft, supersoft, and ultrasoft – have once again been brought to Singapore, just as was the case last year, ready for a 61-lap race that normally lasts close to the full two-hour limit, with more than one pit stop. Added to this unusual challenge are the usual considerations of a non-permanent street circuit: variable levels of low grip, street furniture such as manholes and white lines, as well as a high probability of safety cars: 100% so far in the track’s nine-year history.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola has said that teams must pay a lot of attention to the data gathered from the drivers during the free practice sessions given the night time evolution in Singapore. It is a well known fact that the Singapore Grand Prix takes place at night, which means that the temperatures will grow ever cooler as the sessions progress during the weekend: “In order to prepare, teams will have to pay particularly close attention to the free practice data as track temperature at night will evolve in quite a different way than it does at a conventional daytime race. Understanding this will be key to getting a good handle on wear and degradation rates, and so implementing an effective tyre strategy.” – Mario Isola explained, as reported by Pirelli’s official website.
Pirelli’s racing manager also admitted that strategy will play a very important role in a race that has a very high chance for a safety car. In the nine races that have been held in Singapore, there has been safety car deployed fourteen times: “Singapore is always one of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the year, in which pit stop strategy often plays a crucial role in the outcome: also because of the near certainty of a safety car at some point during the arduous two hours. Having said that, pole position has historically had a strong influence on the race win at Marina Bay, so qualifying will be crucial as well.” – Mario Isola concluded.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit from a tyre point of view:
– With each session starting late and continuing into the night, the pattern of track temperature and track evolution is different compared to usual daytime sessions.
– With 23 corners, the tyres have their work cut out; it’s one turn after another.
– While this is the track with the most corners of the year, it is also the second-slowest lap after Monaco: a unique combination.
– Even at night, ambient temperatures remain high, leading to some thermal degradation.
– The rear left is the most stressed tyre, which will largely dictate the number of pit stops.
– Two stops won the race last year, but there were several three-stoppers as well.