Renault Sport F1 preview to the Singapore GP

In contrast to the previous two events on the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix places an emphasis on low speed driveability and engine response.

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham F1 Team
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham F1 Team

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The 5.073km circuit has a huge 23 turns — more than any other track on the calendar, bar Valencia — as cars pass in and out of the office blocks, luxury hotels and state buildings.

The average speed is therefore correspondingly low, with cars circulating at just 170kph over the lap.

Top speed is just over 305kph between turns five and seven with DRS and KERS activated and under 50% of the track is spent at full throttle; two thirds of the figure from Monza.

Singapore Grand Prix engine facts and figures:

Twenty two of the 23 corners are taken in first to third gear, so for the vast majority of the lap the engine is working at between 8,000rpm and 13,000rpm on the corner exits.

The engine maps need to deliver good driveability through the low speed and low rev range as accurate torque response and stability are key. Getting the correct gear ratios in the lower level can also improve grip, and ultimately lap time, in this respect.

The engine is only given a chance to breathe on two short straights, the pit straight and then the curved straight between turns five and seven. In fact seventh gear will only be engaged three times per lap; only Monaco has a lower usage.

The stop-start nature of the track and the short bursts of acceleration between the turns make Singapore one of the least fuel efficient of the season and consumption per kilometre is extremely high compared to the last event at Monza.

Getting the fuel load for the start is one of the major challenges of the race as engineers will also have to consider the likelihood of weather changes and safety cars.

While temperatures during the night are typically lower than during the day (between 5 and 6°C cooler), the enclosed nature of the track between the buildings keeps ambient temperature high.

Cooling systems are therefore carefully monitored, particularly since the cars are going relatively slowly and often circulating closely to each other, raising the operating temperatures further.

Singapore’s equatorial location gives it a very tropical climate and humidity is often over 90%. The high water content in the air displaces the air being ingested into the engine via the air filter, reducing the amount of oxygen that can be combusted with the fuel.

This makes the engine output less powerful so different engine modes will be used to negate the power loss.

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham F1 Team:

Singapore is a pretty cool venue for a race; it always looks spectacular on the TV and in photos with the lights. Being a street track, the speeds are a lot lower than the previous two races in Spa and Monza as there are tight corners going round the hotels and other buildings.

We need power in the lower range of the engine for this reason and stability under braking. This is really important as there are so many corners on the track. I have good memories of the race, particularly 2010 when it ended a little more spectacularly than perhaps we’d have liked, but as it’s so close to Malaysia we always look forward to putting on a good show for the fans that come to see us and the whole sport.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:

After the high speed races at Spa and Monza we go to Singapore and one of the slowest tracks of the year. Power sensitivity is amongst the lowest of the season as only 46% of the lap is spent at full throttle. This means top speed is not so important here; instead we focus on a smooth power curve in the lower rev ranges and good response out of the high number of corners.

Remi Taffin, race engineer Renault F1 Team
Remi Taffin, race engineer Renault F1 Team

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Fuel consumption is one of the highest of the year due to the start-stop nature of the track so the starting fuel load is one of the heaviest we see in a season. To avoid finishing with too much fuel on board — and therefore a time penalty per lap — or too little fuel, drivers constantly play with the engine modes, adjusting to have more or less rich fuel mixtures.

However, due to the low power sensitivity, we can use leaner engine modes to try to reduce the fuel at the start of the race, which effectively acts as ballast.

Tyre wear is always quite high due to the abrasive tarmac of the everyday roads, manhole covers and lack of rubber at the start of the weekend. We can reduce some tyre wear with engine maps that increase rear stability and grip, enabling our partners to be more creative with the pit stop strategy.

We are pretty confident that we can deliver round the streets of Singapore; the RS27 has so far performed well on street tracks this year and circuits with low average speeds so we are looking forward to helping our partners achieve some good results.

Source: Renault Sport F1

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Renault F1 Team , Caterham F1
Article type Preview
Tags kovalainen, renault, singapore, taffin