Singapore GP - Rain, unknown factor Having bid farewell to the European season with yet another podium at its home race in Monza, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro now embarks on this year's final quartet of races, starting with the second running of...
Singapore GP - Rain, unknown factor
Having bid farewell to the European season with yet another podium at its home race in Monza, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro now embarks on this year's final quartet of races, starting with the second running of the Singapore Grand Prix. The 2008 event was not only the first time that the Formula 1 World Championship had staged a race here, but it was also the first ever night race for motor sport's premier series. Although that race was packed with incident and spectacle, the two biggest concerns for all the teams proved to be less difficult to deal with than expected: firstly, the floodlighting was of such a high standard that there were no complaints on the visibility front from the drivers, indeed some felt it was better than racing in daytime as there was no sun to cause blinding or shadows on the track and secondly, spending the week on "European Time" to adapt to the night schedule actually seemed to give everyone more sleep than at a conventional race. One other concern was not addressed last year, namely the effect on night time visibility in the event of rain. Inevitably, in this part of the world, the weather forecast for the week mentions the chance of thunderstorms, but it remains to be seen if these will arrive during times of on-track action. Temperatures are due to be in a range of 25 to 31 degrees Celsius.
The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix was generally well received by the teams, although there were some complaints about the track surface and some kerbing and these issues have been addressed with modifications, including some to run off areas at the first two corners and to the pit lane exit, which came in for some criticism last year. Even with these changes, it is clear that the Safety Car can play a significant role in determining the outcome of the race, given that this track has far more in common with Monaco than with Valencia for example, the latter having larger run-off areas at key points on the track. The other factor it shares with other street circuits is that a good grid position is more important here than at more flowing circuits. This is an important point for those running KERS, as the run down to the first corner after the start is relatively short and therefore, the power boost is unable to be used as effectively as at the last few races, although it can still be of help in overall performance terms.
Right from the very first round of the championship in Melbourne, back in March, it has been difficult to predict the outcome of races and the picture has got even more complicated on this front as the season has progressed. Therefore, a rough guide to which cars are well suited to the track will only be available after Friday's free practice. The F60s driven by Raikkonen and Fisichella will be essentially unchanged since the last race, apart from the downforce levels on a track that is usually hard on the brakes and the tyres. Bridgestone is bringing its Soft and Super-soft tyres, which are well suited to the characteristics of the F60. As far as the engine cycle is concerned, the team can now count on running each engine for just two races to the end of the year, which is a tribute to the good work of all those in the engine department in Maranello, given that some other teams are struggling on this front.
Since the Italian Grand Prix, Kimi has spent his time at home, in Switzerland. Giancarlo Fisichella had a busier week, spending last Monday working on the simulator at the Fiat Research Centre in Turin and the Roman was in Maranello on Wednesday, in meetings with the engineers, before taking to the track at Vairano on Thursday, for the last of this season's aero tests, which gave him a further opportunity to feel at home at the controls of the car, working through various procedures.
Last year, starting from pole, Felipe Massa appeared to have the race win in his grasp, until the Safety Car intervened and the Brazilian's pit stop went seriously wrong, as he left his position outside the garage, with the fuel hose still attached. Having started from third, Kimi Raikkonen was chasing Hamilton, who was struggling with his tyres and would have got ahead in the run of pit stops, except that the Scuderia had to bring both its drivers in together for a double pit stop, as a result of the Safety Car. Then, when lying fifth, while chasing Glock, he crashed within a few laps of the chequered flag. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and its drivers are looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix, which provided an interesting and novel experience last year, although there are additional pressures after the event, as this year, it is the first of two back-to-back races, with Japan. This means that Sunday, already a late night, will become even longer for the crew, thanks to the need to pack up all the cars and equipment for immediate freighting to Suzuka. Unusually, having spent at least a week in a Far East time zone, most people in the paddock will still have to adapt to a major time difference, having exchanged day for night in Singapore.
With four races to go, the target for Ferrari is the one it set itself quite a while ago, from the time when it became apparent that Championship titles were no longer a realistic goal. Maintaining third place in the Constructors' classification is the revised objective and, as has been demonstrated in recent races, if all elements of the package come together, then a podium is within reach. If the more obvious candidate to achieve this from within our ranks is Kimi, after making good progress throughout his debut in Monza, Giancarlo himself and the team expect to see the Roman make a contribution to the points tally this weekend.
All set for Singapore
Singapore, 24 September 2009 -- The Marina Bay circuit's paddock got more and more busy today. After the thunderstorm in the morning the sun came out again and the high temperatures are moderated by a light breeze. The teams arrived around noon local time: not because they had a late night last night, but they are all trying to stay in the European time zone. Everything happening on Thursday has been postponed by a couple of hours, such as the FIA press conference, which will be held at 6pm and not at 3pm as usual.
The paddock has been improved and now the teams have more space. Although everybody is already thinking about 2010 when, at least in theory, there should be at least 13 teams. It's true that the teams will be smaller and some infrastructure, such as the petrol pumps, will have to go, but things have to be reorganised nevertheless, especially for the extra-European races.
From A to ZZ
Exceptional guests at the Ferrari box this afternoon. The legendary rock band ZZ Top, the opening act of tomorrows "Formula 1 Rocks" concert, visited the men at Ferrari. The Formula 1 Rocks will be held here and in Abu Dhabi, bringing music and Formula 1 together. The men from ZZ Top asked last night if it was possible to visit the Scuderia's garage. Naturally they were invited to see where the men from the Prancing Horse work. The musicians, also famous for their enormous beards, were accompanied by the Scuderia's Gino Rosato. Two of the three band members were easily recognisable thanks to their beards, but all of them were fascinated by the F60 and the work done by the mechanics, preparing the single-seaters for the race. Later on they met Team Principal Stefano Domenicali who, as an avid music fan, explained that he was extremely sorry that he doesn't have the possibility to come to tomorrow's concert: "Unfortunately when you're playing we're on the track. Our sound is the sound of the V8," Domenicali said.