The Singapore Grand Prix is one that’s often cited as the biggest physical challenge on the Formula 1 calendar. It’s little wonder why, as with searing heat and a seemingly never-ending barrage of corners, the drivers have to be incredibly fit to go the distance.
Thankfully, you can enjoy the Marina Bay Street Circuit from the comfort of your own living room, but completing a lap requires huge amounts of concentration. To add to the difficulty, overtaking around this track is also very tough.
The track has hosted the Singapore GP since its inception in 2008 and its configuration has remained largely untouched in that time. Bear in mind that the actual race takes place at night, while time trail around this track is set during the day.
The first three corners to start your lap of Marina Bay are effectively a left-right-left slalom which take a few attempts to get right. Turn 1 is an overtaking spot, as it follows a DRS zone, but it’s tight and there’s another DRS zone that follows soon after.
Get as far to the right as possible for the best line through Turn 1, running your front-right over the yellow concrete on the outside if you can manage it. Brake just before the 50m board down into fourth gear and swing the steering fully left.
Bounce your front-left wheel over the edge of the inside kerb of Shears and get back on the throttle towards Turn 2. The rear of the car is always trying to get away from you, but you can control it with the level of downforce you’ll be running.
Run the front right over the inside kerbing of T2, even over the orange kerb, you can get away with a decent cut here. Swing the steering wheel back to the left for Turn 3 while braking gently down to second gear. Avoid all the kerbing on the inside and outside, especially the inside, as it’s a very steep kerb that will unsettle the car. Going wide of the apex in 3 is fine, as you can carry more speed this way.
Get back on the power hard on corner exit and don’t worry about Turn 4, it’s just a slight kink.
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Turns 5 & 6
Turn 5 is a deceptively tricky right-hander which lures you into thinking that you can brake later than you actually can. Going as far to the left as possible, brake at the 50m board down to fourth gear. Avoid the inside kerbing as it plays havoc with your racing line and run the car over the outside kerbing on exit, but no more than a wheel, as the wall is waiting for you.
Get back on the power quickly, as the first DRS zone on the track is straight after the corner. Don’t worry too much about Turn 6, it’s another kink, although in the wet, you will have to lift for it.
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Memorial Corner & Stamford
Following the famous Raffles Boulevard is the Memorial Corner, which is the best overtaking spot on the track. This corner sees the car travelling at 190 mph (302 kph) and since it follows a DRS zone, you’ve got a good opportunity to get alongside your opponent, whether it’s down the inside or around the outside.
Brake at 75m down into fourth gear and cut over the inside kerbing to avoid having to use the outside kerbs, it’s not as harsh at the one at Turn 5. Running wide isn’t a good idea, as the kerbs out there are harsh.
Turn 8 follows quickly after 7, so swing back to the left quickly after rounding T7. Brake at 75m again and down to second gear for Stamford. Clump the car over the inside kerb and fade back to the right for Padang.
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On the surface, Padang seems like another standard 90-degree left-hander, but the way you round it more akin to a sweeper than a street circuit. Dab on the brakes down to fourth gear just before the Pirelli advertising hoarding above. Clatter over the inside kerbing and run the car as far wide as you can go – all the way to wall – to carry as much speed as possible.
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Named after the city state’s favourite cocktail, the Singapore Sling is a lot simpler to round than it used to be. The worst kerbs in the sport used to flank this corner, but now it’s a fast left-hander, very similar to Padang. If you’ve very brave, this can be an overtaking spot, but you have to be fully alongside the inside of your rival.
Brake at the 50m board down to fourth gear and clatter the inside kerbing to round this corner. Be sure to get on the power again quickly, traction is good out of here.
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You’ll be braking while turning for Turn 11, but need to remain in fourth gear. Finding a braking marker is difficult, I usually do so just after the Rolex hoardings above you disappear from view. T11 just begs you cut it, but much more than a wheel over the inside kerb will land you with a penalty.
Accelerate gingerly through Turn 12, as crashing into the bridge is very easy to do. Turn 13 isn’t visible when you’re braking for it, but missing the correct point will lose you a lot of time on exit. I get on the anchors around the point where I’m maxing out the revs in fifth gear. Brake heavily down to second gear and clip the inside kerb on exit.
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Traction is tricky out of T13, but you have to get a good run out of the corner, as the straight before Connaught is an overtaking opportunity. Brake just after the 100m board down to second gear and completely avoid the inside kerbing, it’ll unsettle the car.
You can run the car out wide on exit, but not onto the red and white kerbing, grip is hard to find there. If you’re trying to pass, it’s probably best to go for the inside, as it’s also the inside for Turn 15.
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Turn 15 is a kink, but its proximity to the braking zone of Turn 16 makes it awkward. Brake at the point where you’re maxing out sixth gear down to third and completely avoid the inside kerbing.
Briefly get on the power fully before half-throttling it around Turn 17 and running the left-front over the inside kerbing, if you’re confident with your steering, this won’t cause you problems. Be very careful not to hit the outside wall on exit, though, it’s a lot easier to do than you’d think.
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Bay & Turn 19
Singapore’s tunnel chicane is one of the tightest points on the track, so don’t try to pass, whatever you do. Brake down to third gear at the 50m board and clump over the inside kerbing of Turn 18. Swing to the left then swing to the right in a fluid motion, you’ve got to practice this to get the flow right.
Turn 19 requires a lift, no braking and you should get off the throttle once you’re maxing out third gear. Traction is difficult on exit, so always leave some room between the car and the wall in case you get some wheelspin.
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Turns 20 & 21
Another corner where there aren’t braking markers is Turn 20, so brake before shifting to sixth gear down to third gear. Run wide of the apex for T20, as it lets you carry the most speed into Turn 21. Run the left-front over the inside kerbing, making sure to control the back end. You can use the run-off on exit, but I tend to avoid it, as another wheel spin moment can send you into the unforgiving wall.
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Turns 22 & 23
Treat the final two corners as one long left-hander with 3 apexes. You don’t need to brake here these days, only a lift is required. You need to lift at about the point when you’re topping out sixth gear, or just after the 50m board, but remain in sixth. Get back hard on the power when you’ve scraped enough speed off and hang on through the long left.
The three points you need to aim for are to clip in the inside kerbing of Turn 22, run most of the car off the circuit on the outside exit of T22 and to remain on the inside of the white line for Turn 23. Running wide through T23 will cost you time and possibly invalidate your lap. The DRS activation comes quickly after this point, so be sure to have the rear end settled.
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Aerodynamics are king in Singapore, you need nearly full angles to round the corners at speed, I went with 11/10 for the front/ rear. Transmission should be set to around 50/75 front/ rear to aid traction and save the rear tyres.
Tyre wear isn’t an issue around here, it’s easy to do a one stop with softs and mediums, so set the toe and camber angles as low as possible.
For the suspension, you need soft springs, as you’ll be using the kerbs and they are harsh around here, 1/1. The ani-roll bar should be middle of the park, as there aren’t too many high-speed direction changes here, 6/7. As usual, the ride height should be low to save your straight line speed, 3/4.
There are some big stops here, but you can’t go too high on the brake pressure, as it kills your momentum through corners like Turn 3. I went with 85% pressure and 55% bias towards the front wheels.
Finally, the tyre pressures should be the normal 23.4psi on the front, with a slightly lower 20.7psi on the rears, to save the latter from overheating.
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