UK: 18+ USA: 21+ | Begambleaware.org | T&Cs apply | Play Responsibly
After a week break in order to get the cars across the Pacific, F1 returns to action in Singapore this weekend. Join us for a lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the Singapore GP layout. Make sure to also take a look at our F1 predictions and the odds for this weekend.
Singapore GP layout: the ultimate “Mickey Mouse” track?
Since its addition to the F1 schedule in 2008, the Marina Bay Street Circuit has often come under heavy criticism. With lots of corners (23 in the original layout), an excess of tight, 90-degree turns and limited overtaking opportunities, most races around the Singapore GP layout felt dragged out. The track is also very physically-demanding, with little time to rest between one turn and the next. Combined with the heat and high humidity, the Marina Bay Circuit asks a lot out of drivers and cars. Brake wear is one thing to watch out for.
For 2023, the circuit will have its fourth layout change. This time around, the old Bay section has been revamped, with four turns removed. The section, which saw cars go under the Float grandstand, has been converted into a long straight. The famous grandstand overlooking the bay is set to be demolished this year. F1 brass hopes the change will make the track slightly less demanding on the brakes, while providing a rare overtaking opportunity and significantly shortening the laptimes.
The lap around the Singapore GP layout is a lengthy one, and will likely remain among the longest in the F1 schedule even with the new Bay section. It starts down the short main straight. Drivers go hard on the brakes for turns 1 and 2, a left-right medium speed complex that leads to turn 3, a very slow left-hander. The cars then take turn 4, a short flick to the left, flat out. A short straight connects turn 4 to turn 5, a very slow right-hander.
From turn 5, the cars head down a long straight. Turn 6, a wide right-hander, is located at the end of the straight, with the cars taking the corner flat out. Then, it’s hard on the brakes yet again for turn 7, a slow left-hander that provides one of the few overtaking chances around the Singapore GP layout.
Turn 7 leads to the Marina Bay Street Circuit’s trademark tight and slow infield section. A short straight comes after turn 7 and leads to the 8-9 complex – a slow right-hander followed by another slow left-hander.
The cars then head down another straight, which ends in a heavy braking zone for turn 10, a medium speed left-hander. This is where the infamous Singapore Sling chicane used to be located, prior to its remodeling ahead of the 2013 Grand Prix. Next up the order are turns 11 and 12, a short left-right sequence. Drivers lightly tap the brakes for 11, while 12 only requires them to briefly step off the throttle. And then it’s hard on the brakes again for 13. The entry into this corner is a tricky one, with drivers sweeping to the right before slamming the brakes for a very tight and narrow left-hander.
Cars and drivers finally get to catch their breath down the long straight heading to turn 14 – a wide, but also very slow right-hander. Drivers then take turn 15, a long sweep to the left, flat out. The cars then head down the new Bay section, which has been converted into a long straight.
At the end of the Bay straight comes the old turn 21-22 complex, which has now been appropriately renumbered to 16 and 17. This is a slow, right-left sequence that leads to a short straight. Drivers then tap the brakes for turn 18, a wide left-hander. Turn 18 is merely used to set up for turn 19, another left-hander that is taken flat out. From turn 19, the cars find themselves back down the main straight to complete a lap around the Singapore GP layout.
Marina Bay Street Circuit DRS zones: three zones, but limited overtaking opportunities
The Marina Bay Circuit has three DRS zones. However, all three are relatively short, and don’t provide much of a boost for overtaking. There were talks about adding a fourth zone, but that ultimately came to nothing.
The first DRS zone is located down the straight after turn 5, and continues all the way through turn 6, up until the braking point for turn 7. The detection point is located at the exit of turn 4. Drivers can attempt a move down the inside, but the overtake must be completed before turn 7, as the corner doesn’t have enough space for cars to go side-by-side.
The second DRS zone is located down the long straight between turns 13 and 14, with the detection point between turns 12 and 13. Drivers can use the overtaking aid to attempt a move down the inside of turn 14.
The third and final DRS zone is located on the main straight, with its detection point located just after turn 17. Drivers can use the final DRS zone to set up a move into turn 1, although the twisty nature of the complex makes it a bit tricky to line up a risk-free move.
Marina Bay racing history
The first race held in Singapore, commonly referred to as the crashgate or Singaporegate, is now one of the most infamous in F1 history. And it’s now back in evidence, following Felipe Massa’s suing the FIA for the 2008 title. The Brazilian started on pole for F1’s first ever night race, and looked set to take the championship lead from title rival Lewis Hamilton, who was lining up in second place.
But it all unraveled on lap 12, when Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally crashed out to bring out a Safety Car. The rest is history: with Renault teammate Fernando Alonso having pitted a lap earlier, the SC brought the Spaniard to the front. Massa, meanwhile, was released with the fuel hose still attached to his F2008, dropping him to the back of the order. Alonso won the race, with Hamilton extending his lead in the standings.
Of course, Singapore had other interesting moments – and we can’t talk about this Grand Prix without mentioning its dominator, Sebastian Vettel. In 2013, the would-be four-time champion pulled off what is widely regarded as one of the greatest qualifying laps in F1 history, needing a single attempt to secure pole. The German went on to dominate on Sunday as well, winning by over 32 seconds.
However, four years later, the Singapore meister saw his championship challenge undone around these same streets. Vettel had a bad start from pole. In a clumsy attempt to block Max Verstappen and fast-starting teammate Kimi Raikkonen, the German triggered a multi car pileup that took Raikkonen, Verstappen and Fernando Alonso out, with title rival Lewis Hamilton jumping from fifth to first. Vettel retired a few corners later with a punctured radiator. The crash handed the championship lead over to Hamilton, who would not relinquish it again.
Two years later, Vettel redeemed himself. The four-time champion leapfrogged teammate Charles Leclerc in the pits to secure his 53rd – and final – GP victory.
In last year’s race, Sergio Perez jumped Leclerc at the start and held off the Ferrari driver’s charge, winning by just over 2.5s.
What lies ahead for 2023
This could be an interesting race, as Max Verstappen has never won in Singapore. Red Bull, on the other hand, has four wins at Marina Bay. Verstappen remains the favorite, but he will have to break the proverbial duck and secure his first victory at the street circuit.
Subscribe to Punditfeed on Google News for all the latest updates from the world of sports!