Singapore GP: BMW Sauber preview

Munich/Hinwil, Sunset in Singapore on the weekend of 26th - 28th September will set the scene for a captivating event: the first ever night race in the history of Formula One. The five-kilometre-plus circuit through the streets of the Asian port...

Munich/Hinwil, Sunset in Singapore on the weekend of 26th - 28th September will set the scene for a captivating event: the first ever night race in the history of Formula One. The five-kilometre-plus circuit through the streets of the Asian port city will be illuminated by floodlights for the 15th race of the 2008 World Championship season.

The use of artificial lighting has been one of the hot topics in the lead-up to the Singapore Grand Prix, which makes the illuminations created by German artists Friedrich Forster and Sabine Weißinger - better known as "Casa Magica" - particularly appropriate. Credit Suisse will present impressions by the partnership and parallels between the work of the renowned Swiss financial institution and the BMW Sauber F1 Team on the facade of the Meritus Marina Hotel. The projection will run from 25th to 28th September, from sunset to midnight.

As far as the technical preparations for the new street circuit are concerned, however, holding the race at night is barely an issue. The BMW Sauber F1 Team has been using its simulations to prepare for its 50th grand prix, in the same way it did for the recent GP on the new street circuit in Valencia. Using the circuit data as a basis, the technology has enabled the engineers to calculate the anticipated ideal line. Lap time simulations were generated with various different car configurations, and when it came to mechanical set-up the data allowed the experts to determine weight distribution and spring and damper settings. The team then used the calculated speeds to determine the transmission ratio, and downforce levels and the track characteristics to establish the loads on the brakes - in order to confirm material specifications and the amount of brake ventilation required. However, the grip levels offered by the asphalt and the degree of tyre wear will remain unknown until the cars drive out onto the track for the first time.

With the Formula One bandwagon travelling to Asia from Europe, the best plan for the teams' body clocks will simply be to ignore whether it is light or dark. The team will not eat breakfast until after lunchtime in Singapore, the drivers will go out onto the track in the evening and work will continue into the early hours.

Nick Heidfeld:

"Everyone is really looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix. Firstly because it's a new track, secondly because it's a street circuit and thirdly, of course, because we'll be driving at night. The floodlights should ensure it is actually as bright as during the day, but nobody has yet experienced how these light conditions will feel at Formula One speeds. I would have welcomed the chance to test on the track, especially in the rain. Rain combined with the artificial light is the great unknown for me with this race. The climate should be similar to that in nearby Kuala Lumpur, and - from experience - it rains frequently there, especially in the early evening.

"In principle, I think it's a great idea to hold a race at night. I'm more of a night person - I like to go to bed late, but am not a great early-riser. For that reason, the rhythm of this weekend should suit me. It's a question of adjustment. It's important to eat and sleep at the right times in order to ensure you're really on the button when you need to be. I doubt we'll have much free time, but as the race is taking place in the middle of the city I imagine we'll be able to absorb a fair amount and sense the atmosphere. I've never been to Singapore, apart from sitting in the airport, and am expecting it to be a vibrant and interesting Asian metropolis."

Robert Kubica:

"I am looking forward to Singapore, as the grand prix will be the second new race of the season. Racing on new tracks is always interesting - I enjoy it very much and I am very excited. Beyond that, I am extremely happy to race on another street circuit as I am a big fan of street circuits. Lots of people consider it interesting that the race will start at night. But from a driver's perspective I think it does not make a big difference whether we race in the daylight or at night. There are still some question-marks regarding weather conditions and - related to the chance of rain - the light situation. I am sure the FIA have done everything to make it a safe race."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"Singapore is the second unknown quantity on the calendar this year after Valencia. Both are city races, but in Singapore the action will also be taking place at night - and that in an Asian metropolis and against an amazing backdrop. This will give the event even more appeal and excitement. You only need to think of the special atmosphere you get at a football match under floodlights: the surroundings melt into the background, the action itself takes centre stage. I'm expecting this premiere in Singapore to be the highlight of the season.

"We had a look around the circuit at a meeting of team managers in Singapore and were given a demonstration of the lighting system. We were left very much with the impression that, although the race would be at night, it would actually be as bright as day. The only question remaining is whether the light will reflect from the track surface if it rains. That's something we'll only find out if we get a wet race.

"We're very much looking forward to another race in a booming region. I think the wide variety of circuits in the top category of motor racing this year makes sense and is the right approach. And, above all, it makes F1 extremely attractive for the spectators. The overall package represents probably the most spectacular mix of circuits there's ever been in Formula One.

"The recent back-to-back races at Spa and Monza saw Nick and Robert not only increase our number of podium finishes this year to ten, but also collect a total of 21 points - more than any other team. Now we're looking to follow up this good showing in the last couple of European races this year with a strong climax to the season."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"From the spectators' point of view, the Singapore Grand Prix - the first night race in the history of Formula One - will be a highlight in the truest sense of the word. The circuit has a large number of 90-degree corners in the 100 km/h speed band, which means that traction will take top priority. The downforce level is high, comparable to Monaco. As things stand, the biggest unknown is the track surface. Its lack of exposure to the sun is a factor that should not be underestimated, as the asphalt temperatures will be lower than at other races in this part of the world. That is something we'll need to take into account with the car set-up.

"Because this is a new circuit for all of us, we'll be relying one-hundred per cent on our simulation, which has proved to be very good in the past. The unusual working times will certainly demand a fair amount of all involved, but will also be an interesting experience. In Jerez we tested several new aerodynamic components which we'll be using in Singapore. I'm confident that we'll be able to continue our positive recent run of results and am looking forward to this new challenge."

Facts and figures:

Circuit/Date                    Singapore/28th September 2008

Start time (local/UTC) 20.00 hrs/12.00 hrs (14.00 hrs in central Europe)
Lap/Race distance 5.067 km/309.087 km (61 laps)

History and background:

The first historical records on Singapore are in the form of Chinese writings from the third century AD. The development of the modern city state began in 1819, when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded the first settlement in the name of the English East India Company. In 1824 the company laid claim to the whole island, having bought it from the Sultan of Johor. In 1867 Singapore became a British crown colony. Singapore fell under Japanese control in 1942 after a successful assault, but was then handed back to the British in 1945. Singapore separated from British control on 1st September 1963 and became a member of a federation with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. Singapore was later ejected from the federation following massive unrest and has been an independent nation since 1965.

The history of the country's name has an altogether calmer feel. It is derived from the Sanskrit language and is a combination of Singha (lion) and Pura (city). Legend has it that a Hindu prince was walking through the dense jungle when he came face to face with a lion. Looking into each other's eyes, man and beast averted a violent confrontation - the prince let his sword fall to the floor and the lion retreated.

Critics of Singapore object to the authoritarian control mechanisms of the state and the extremely tough penalties for crimes, while supporters praise its cleanliness and low levels of corruption and criminality. The country's territory stretches over some 700 square kilometres at present, but will expand further through land reclamation. The population of the island state currently stands at more than 4.5 million people. There are four official languages: Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English.

The traditional centres of Singapore's economic power are its port - one of the world's largest and most modern transshipment points - and its financial sector.

Appearances in South Korea:

The BMW Sauber F1 Team and Nick Heidfeld have two extra commitments in Asia between the grands prix in Singapore and Japan. They will put on a demonstration run in Seoul on Saturday (4th October) and another in Gwang Ju, 250 kilometres south of the capital, on Sunday (5th October). South Korea is set to host a Formula One race for the first time in 2010.

-credit: bmw sauber

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Robert Kubica , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber