Scuderia Ferrari in Singapore does not want to underperform, even though the Marina Bay circuit is one of the least suitable for the SF-23. However, Fred Vasseur, despite being aware of the challenges the red team has faced on twisty circuits like Budapest and Zandvoort, looks at Marina Bay with some anticipation, as if the positive weekend in Monza could find an extension in Southeast Asia.
The trip to the City-State located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula has peculiarities that make it unique in the Formula 1 calendar, so we asked Dr. Fred Fernando, a 63-year-old Roman doctor from Ferrari, to explain how the Maranello team’s staff prepares for this world championship event.
Singapore is one of the most demanding races in terms of weather conditions. How does the team view this trip?
“The weather conditions in Singapore during the month of September are quite extreme since we encounter very high humidity levels and frequent rains. Daytime temperatures can range from 27 to 31 degrees Celsius, while the humidity rate can exceed 80%. Ferrari always prioritizes personal health through the Formula Wellness program, which includes annual clinical check-ups with the promotion of proper lifestyles and the prescription of physical exercise. Therefore, we are confident that all team members will be able to cope with these extreme conditions without any problems.”
The Maranello team’s schedule in Singapore is entirely unusual, while in Japan, we will have a more conventional weekend. How have you suggested to the team to manage themselves so that their performance is not affected?
“Singapore is an unusual race where, due to the evening track times, we tend to keep almost European timings. But then we will go to Japan, where we will return to more conventional daytime schedules, and the time zone difference will be even more noticeable.”
“We recommend gradually adjusting sleep in the days leading up to the trip, shifting bedtime and meals closer to the destination country’s time zone. It’s also essential to drink plenty of water because dehydration can worsen the effects of jet lag, while alcohol and caffeine are strongly discouraged as they can disrupt sleep.”
“Another method we suggest is short power naps of about 20-30 minutes, which can provide a quick energy boost when needed. On the other hand, it’s advisable to avoid the use of smartphones, TVs, or other light sources in the hour before sleep because white light can suppress melatonin production. To cope with environmental conditions, the advice remains to maintain adequate hydration and consume light meals, and in this regard, the catering at the track has coordinated with us to provide a targeted menu.”
What are the most common medical issues you face as team doctors in Singapore?
“The most common clinical requests are the usual ones, musculoskeletal issues (e.g., strains, lower back pain, neck pain), which can increase in this race due to the powerful air conditioning that the team is often exposed to after sweating.”
“Related to the same reason are respiratory issues (colds and flu-like symptoms), while digestive system problems (gastroenteritis, constipation), and sleep-wake rhythm disorders are exacerbated by the long journey, environmental conditions, and foods consumed outside the track, which may prove unsuitable from a hygiene standpoint. For this reason, a doctor and a physiotherapist are always present with the Scuderia at every Grand Prix.”