Singapore GP: Honda preview

Round fifteen of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to south-east Asia for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. The 61-lap race will take place on a 5.067km (3.149-mile) street circuit around the city-state's...

Round fifteen of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to south-east Asia for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. The 61-lap race will take place on a 5.067km (3.149-mile) street circuit around the city-state's picturesque Marina Bay. For the first time in Formula One history, the race will be staged at night.

The 20:00 (12:00 GMT) start time will provide the race organisers and teams with a unique challenge. The track and pitlane will be lit by 1,500 light projectors with 2,000-watt halide lights, which will be spaced four metres apart and situated 10 metres above the ground. They will generate a luminosity of 3,000 lux, which is four times brighter than a sports stadium.

Singapore is the fifth and final street circuit on this year's calendar and while the venue is new to the FIA Formula One World Championship, this region of Asia isn't new to motorsport. In the 1960s and early 1970s a Formula Libre event was staged at Singapore's Thomson Road circuit and, more recently, motorsport fans have been able to enjoy Formula One at Sepang, home of the Malaysian Grand Prix, 300 kilometres (185 miles) to the north.

SINGAPORE - THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

The Singapore track is made up entirely of public roads; it has 23 corners and is one of only three circuits on this year's calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction. The abundance of first and second-gear bends will result in an average lap speed of just 175kph (108mph), which is similar to Monaco, and will result in the cars running with maximum levels of aerodynamic downforce.

As at the new Valencia Street Circuit last month, the Honda Racing F1 Team has left nothing to chance ahead of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. The team did a 3D track scan of the circuit several months ago, which provided the engineers with data about the track surface and the corner profiles, and was added to the simulation programmes at the factory.

With the race taking place at night, the team also faces the prospect of the track temperature being cooler than the air temperature. This could create slippery conditions for the drivers and with the circuit's unforgiving barriers just inches away, the Singapore Grand Prix is sure to be an enthralling and exciting contest.

Full throttle: 50%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: High - 10/10
Tyre compounds: Soft / Super Soft
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 175kph (108mph)

HONDA TEAM TALK

Ross Brawn, Team Principal

Q. What challenges does the Singapore Grand Prix present?

"The first Formula One night race, and of course a brand new circuit, presents a number of unique and exciting challenges for the team and we have greatly enjoyed working on these. First and foremost, it will be the first time that a Formula One race has been run under lights. We have done a great deal of research into this, particularly at the Moto GP race earlier this year, and our Sporting Director visited the Singapore track for the lighting test and was very impressed with the facilities. Talking to our Test and Reserve Driver Alex Wurz about his experience of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race has also been invaluable.

"The weather will be a key factor in the weekend. It will be hot, wet and very humid and local statistics tell us that there is a 50% chance of rain on any given day in September. These are difficult conditions to work in for both the team and the drivers; however it could lead to some very exciting on-track moments on a circuit which is lined with barriers.

"To prepare for the new track, both our drivers have been working on the simulator at our Brackley headquarters which assists with learning the track layout, gears and downforce levels. The circuit itself is tight, twisty and very narrow in places and it will be even slower than Monaco, with all of Monaco's traditional challenges. It will be a tough circuit for keeping the brakes cool and managing the engine, even more so in the high temperatures that we are expecting. With regards to aerodynamics, we will run the highest levels of wing of the season on the RA108 to give as much downforce as possible. The tyres are the soft and super soft compounds, the same specification as Monaco, and the unique challenge here is that the track temperatures will be more or less the same as the air temperatures and likely to fall as the evening progresses."

Jenson Button

Q. How have you prepared for the first night race in Formula One?

"For a flyaway race, it is always better to arrive as early as possible to acclimatise to the time zone, however for the night race in Singapore the situation is quite the opposite. I have spent some time on our simulator at the factory this week to familiarise myself as much as possible with the track layout before we get there. Then I plan to arrive into Singapore just prior to the start of the race weekend to give myself a better chance of ensuring that I don't become accustomed to the time zone. We will be operating to a European timeframe which will be tough as it means staying awake throughout the night and sleeping for practically the whole day before starting the engineering and running schedule from 1700. We have approached the race weekend timing very carefully for this race and will concentrate on getting our rest and nutrition right to ensure the body is ready to react in the right way when required. The first night race is very exciting for the sport and I can't wait to see what conditions the floodlighting will present. It's going to be quite a challenge but one that I'm really looking forward to."

Rubens Barrichello

Q. What are your thoughts ahead of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix?

"The Singapore circuit looks very different to the other new street circuit on the calendar this season at Valencia. Singapore is a much slower lap with many first and second gear corners, although the back straight down to Turn 7 looks exciting in terms of carrying speed through the barriers. I have driven the circuit on our simulator which gives you a good idea of how the lap will be laid out and the braking points, however it doesn't give you any projection of how it is going to be racing under the lights! From what we have been told about the lighting system, it's actually going to be brighter than daylight for the drivers. I've watched the Moto GP race at Qatar and it doesn't look like it took place at night at all as the track is so bright. I race in 12 hour go-kart races every year and I actually did a 24 hour sportscar endurance race at Interlagos in 1994 where we practiced a lot in night conditions so I have some idea of the conditions. I was very surprised at how well the Valencia Street Circuit was set up for the first race there last month, so I expect Singapore will be of the same standard and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

Honda in Singapore

Honda's operations in Singapore include automobile, motorcycle and power product sales. The company's first operations began in 1958 with motorcycles and it now has a 35 percent market share. Automobile sales began in 1969, when Kah Motor Co Sdn Bhd became Honda's sole distributor, and the company had an 11.4 percent market share in 2007. The Civic is the best-selling car, while sales of the Civic Hybrid, which was first introduced in Singapore in 2003, were up 160 percent in 2007.

In addition to sales and servicing, Honda plays a proactive role in road safety education. The company supports two driving schools in Singapore and provides educational courses in the neighbouring countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and India.

New to HondaRacingF1.com

A new section has been launched on HondaRacingF1.com dedicated to the team's earthdreams programme and the twelve projects which it supports worldwide. By clicking on "earthdreams" in the navigation bar, you can find out where each project is located, how earthdreams is supporting the project and the latest news from each location.

The team has re-launched its official YouTube channel which features a selection of films from HondaRacingF1.com's Honda Racing TV. The YouTube site currently hosts 28 videos, including all Grand Prix previews, plus links to the team website and merchandise store. The new-look channel can be found at www.youtube.com/hondaracingf1team

-credit: honda

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Alexander Wurz , Ross Brawn
Teams Honda Racing F1 Team