Whitmarsh and Haug looking forward to most exciting première in F1 Formula 1 continues to break boundaries as it travels to the Republic of Singapore for Asia’s first street race and the first night race in the history of the sport. The anti-clockwise, 5.067km track will wind through the heart of one of the world’s most striking and energetic cities.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
What will be the key logistical challenge faced at the Singapore Grand Prix?
"Inevitably, ensuring all the team personnel have the opportunity to get enough sleep will be the main challenge over the course of the weekend. For example, the mechanics won’t be going to bed until 4 - 5am, because we finish running late in the evening and there is a program of work to complete prior to the next day. There is a clear plan, because we know the timings of the sessions and how much work needs to take place after each of the sessions. The reality is, it will be hard work for the mechanics, engineers, support crew, marketing operation and we will take measures to support this, but I don’t believe it will have a massive impact on the cars and the drivers, with the program for Lewis and Heikki being very carefully planned and monitored."
Is the team planning to take additional lighting?
"Ordinarily, the garage is lit for work at night anyway so that won’t be a new phenomenon. There will be some functional lighting on the pitwall which we don’t currently have, that will be the only addition. In the car the cockpit display is illuminated so that won’t be a problem, and there is an assumption that there will be sufficient ambient luminosity that you can see knobs and buttons in a way you ordinarily could. We are going with a variety of visors with high-contrast, different colorations, as with artificial light you will not have natural shadow and depth perception can be reduced. However, we are expecting the quality of light is so good that we wouldn’t have to do anything, the purpose of floodlighting is to be operating as though it was daylight."
Are there any other impacts the timing will have on the race?
"There is the potential for the temperature to drop, but I suspect it will still be warmer at 21:00 in Singapore than during Friday practice at Monza! We expect the ambient will be around 30 degrees centigrade, the track temperature will cool down for the evening but will still be close to 40 degrees centigrade, unless there is rain. If it rains, there is the unknown of whether there will be a problem with glare or the sparkle of light from droplets of rain that is greater than you would ordinarily get. To manage this potential, we are using coatings for the visors that won’t allow droplets to collect."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
After Monza, Lewis‘s advantage in the Drivers’ Championship is only one point. Are you getting nervous now?
“We see no reason to be. In his 31 Grands Prix so far, Lewis scored 187 points, six on average per race. During this period, no other Formula 1 driver collected more points. In 26 of his 31 Grands Prix, Lewis finished in the points, 20 of those occasions finishing on the podium. We now want to pick up our good shape of the second third of the season, then we head into the right direction.”
What went wrong in Monza?
"Following the tire choice in qualifying which unfortunately led to his 15th grid position, Lewis showed a great race and overtook impressively. With Heikki’s second and Lewis’s seventh places, the team still scored 10 points in Monza - more were possible. On the other side: In the previous six races Lewis alone scored as many points as both drivers of our toughest competitor."
The Singapore Grand Prix, the first night race in Formula 1, will be the next event. What can we expect?
"The Singapore Grand Prix will be the fifth street race on the calendar after Melbourne, Monte Carlo, Montreal and Valencia and the first ever Grand Prix be held at night. Foremost, we look forward to the atmosphere of this first night race. About 1,500 extremely powerful light projectors have been installed four meters apart around the about five-kilometer long track, and they are said to illuminate the track brightly. In this unusual environment, the drivers have to focus on 23 corners per lap, six of them with speeds lower than 100 km/h. Once per lap, on the 700-metre full-throttle part along the Raffles Boulevard, the cars reach almost 300 km/h. This premiere will certainly be the most exciting in Formula 1 history -in the middle of the night, in the middle of the metropolis."