The Force India Formula One Team now heads to the Far East for the final leg of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. The first of the trio of Asian races will be a new venture for F1 - the Singapore Grand Prix, the inaugural race on the...
The Force India Formula One Team now heads to the Far East for the final leg of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. The first of the trio of Asian races will be a new venture for F1 - the Singapore Grand Prix, the inaugural race on the tiny island nation, and the first ever night race.
The event will be held in the city's marina area on a 5.067km temporary street circuit that runs down Raffles Boulevard and over the mouth of the Singapore river past City Hall into Raffles Avenue, home to luxury hotels and imposing skyscrapers. The race will start at 20:00hrs on Sunday, well after sunset, and will be run entirely under heavy-duty football pitch-style floodlights. Practice and qualifying will also be run under the lights, the first time F1 cars have run during the hours of darkness.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director
With the strong Indian influence in Singapore, are you looking forward to the weekend?
Absolutely, with the large Indian population and the proximity to India, it's something that we very much look forward to. For the companies that sponsor the car, and others as well, Singapore is going to be a big, big venue. It has rightfully aroused tremendous international interest: it's a new venue, the first night race and a street race, which are always hugely popular. I think it's going to be absolutely spectacular. They have built in a huge amount of entertainment as well and there will be bars and live music, and it will all be open well after the events on the track are over, so I think it promises to be a huge amount of fun. This is what F1 needs.
The wet street race in Monaco was good for the team. Do you see Singapore as potentially something of a lottery?
Definitely, it could be a lottery. I've been a resident of Singapore for the last 25 years, and one thing I can tell you is that it rains every night. You don't have to pray for rain, it just comes! People say that rain suits Force India, but rain has the same effect on everybody. It doesn't give a special opportunity for us alone. If it's a challenge for other drivers, it's equally a challenge for our drivers.
How much of a boost was it for the team to reach Q2 in Italy?
It was a brilliant feeling to have finally achieved one of our targets, and to have done so in difficult conditions. The whole team had a great push just by seeing the car up there in P12. It just goes to show that if you get the strategy right and the drivers are motivated and hungry you can achieve an unexpected result. I would have liked to get into Q2 a little earlier in the season, but it was a superb result all round and you cannot take that away. We worked hard to get it and I was delighted.
Have you seen the team improving over recent races?
I've been measuring the progress of this team. We need to be more competitive, but 2009 will be the real test. I've always said that we will take baby steps in 2008, such as getting into Q2, and I think we have managed to do that. We are racing now, we are beating the Hondas and the Williams. In 2009 we have no excuses, I know that, and I will make sure that we perform.
At the start of the season you were racing Toro Rosso, and in Italy they won a race. In a way does that give you hope for the future?
I could not be a happier man. I went to Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost and congratulated them after qualifying, and of course after the race. It was fantastic that F1 proved that the independent teams can win. That's a source of great inspiration for Force India as well, I hope to be in the same position next year.
Colin Kolles, team principal
What are your thoughts on going to Singapore?
It's going to be a very interesting event. We'll have to work on different time zones and it looks to be a very special track. Additionally it's a night event, so it's something that I am really looking forward to. It should be very spectacular to see the cars racing under the lights.
In Monza the team seemed to take a step forward, with the first appearance in Q2. How would you review this weekend?
It was a fantastic result for qualifying and the reaction both within the team and from people watching in India on TV was very inspiring. It was motivating to be racing with Hamilton and Raikkonen too, but while it's nice that we were racing them our goal has to be to finish in front of them as well in time.
What will the targets be for this race?
I would like to get two cars to the end of the race and to see them both racing. As always, we have to be realistic, but also optimistic that we can get a good result should the circumstances allow.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer
What preparations has the team been making for this event?
As with every new race, initially we only have the track map to start from. We have recently run this on our simulations and it looks to be quite slow. Some corners are very wide and will allow several different lines if conditions are wet, but it does look like there will only be a couple of overtaking possibilities if it is dry. Our team manager, Andy Stevenson, has also been out to Singapore to recce the track, the layout of the pit complex, and of course the lights. I think are well prepared.
How will the team deal with the race being a night race?
In engineering terms, there is no difference between a race in the day or at night, as the set-up is exactly the same. The biggest difference will be the schedule. We won't be starting until later in the day and then we will finish a lot later than usual. In general we work for eight hours after the finish of a session so on Friday that will be a finish of around 7am! This means we will probably stick to a European time zone but the toughest challenge will be to avoid jet lag and fatigue, which is when mistakes occur.
The car went well at Monaco. Do you see a street race as a chance to get a good result?
Yes, and if it's wet, which it easily can be, it's an opportunity. Over the last few races, since we've introduced the new seamless shift gearbox, we've really taken a step forward. We've seen that every weekend. We were in the top 10 in every practice session in Monza, and 12th in qualifying. You can argue that it was fuel loads, or the timing of when we went out, but you can't get lucky every time! So for these next few races we've got to look to pick something up.
I'm feeling confident going to Singapore now after a good event in Monza. Throughout the weekend we were strong and it was a nice feeling to finally make it to Q2. I was disappointed we couldn't make more of the race as I think we could have finished well, but we were competitive throughout the weekend so we have to be positive from this point of view.
From all I have heard, Singapore is going to be a fantastic event. Even after 12 years in F1, it's nice to go to new venues and particularly one where fans and media have really got behind the sport. It will be interesting to race under lights too. I think it will be different, but we will soon adapt - we will do our track walk when it gets dark so we will have an idea of how it will be and how the track will look with the glare from the floodlights.
I hope we can carry forward our improved performance to Singapore. There's a lot of support from Indian fans over there and I hope we can put on a good show for them.
I'm really looking forward to this event as it will be very different to any other race on the calendar. It's a new venue in an amazing city, and of course a night race. For sure having a race in the dark will be very interesting, the lights are going to be very bright, so for us it might seem like we are racing during the day, perhaps even brighter. I'll stay at the track when they switch the lights on for the first time so I can see exactly what it will be like.
The fact that the race is in Asia will also be a real challenge. Timing wise I will try to stay on European time so I am used to being awake during the night. I think this is very important as you want to be at your peak during the sessions, and not feeling like you need to go to bed! I will also arrive a day earlier than I normally would for a flyaway race to get used to the humidity and the heat, which I expect will be very similar to Malaysia.
I hope we can get a good result here in Singapore. I was disappointed in Italy, firstly not to have qualifed better and then I couldn't push during the race, so I really hope for more at the next race.
Singapore Grand Prix information
The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix will be run on a specially constructed 5.067km street course that takes in some of the most modern, but also most historical, landmarks of Singapore. The race will be run in an anti-clockwise direction, up past the marina, into a tight series of left hand bends and down Raffles Boulevard before crossing the mouth of the Singapore River and running back up towards the marina.
Along Raffles Boulevard the cars will be pushing 300kph - a high speed for a street circuit - and between 250kph and 300kph on the Pit Straight and Esplanade Drive. The high speed will be tempered by slower right angle bends as the track skirts round office blocks, skyscrapers and luxury hotels, bringing the average speed down considerably and making it a high downforce track rather than the lower levels used in Valencia.
-credit: force india