Drivers prepare for night race issues
(GMM) Most formula one race drivers took a stroll around the floodlit Singapore street circuit on Wednesday night.
The lighting itself did not seem to be an issue, as the barriers, road and curbs gleamed arguably more brightly than they do when the sun is out.
But Mark Webber, who races for Red Bull, was one of a few drivers taking more than a fleeting glance at some of the high and sharp curbs, including at the turn 13 hairpin, and the chicane at turn 10.
Webber told the local Straits Times newspaper that the curb issue "should be looked at".
"The rest looks very good," the Australian added.
Another concern is the threat of rain, with minimally a 50 per cent likelihood every evening this week, rising to 80 per cent for Sunday's night race.
"From the point of view of the spectator, it is exciting," Fernando Alonso told the Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.
"As for the drivers, we have to wait and see how it is going to be because safety is the most important issue.
"We have not been able to test in those conditions," he added.
BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld agrees: "Rain combined with the artificial light is the great unknown for me with this race."
GPDA chairman Pedro de la Rosa, who as McLaren's test driver will not race or drive on the circuit this weekend, played down the concerns.
"If we have enough light, it should act in the same way as if it's raining in daylight," he is quoted as saying by The Times, revealing that the drivers' pressure group has not formally brought up the matter with the FIA.
"I don't see it as dangerous," de la Rosa added.
Another issue is what effect the race's unique timing, with drivers staying in European time but staying up late and sleeping in, will have.
Some drivers, including Nico Rosberg, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello, have been preparing by enjoying the city's nightlife, so that they are accustomed to the challenges of working late.
World champion Kimi Raikkonen explained: "I like to sleep until noon every day so for me this seems the perfect venue."
Former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger, now Toro Rosso co-owner, dismissed all the fears about the sport's first night race.
"There has been skiing under lights for years. So why not formula one?" the Austrian told sport1.de.