SportF1Why Singapore is the biggest challenge for F1 drivers...

Why Singapore is the biggest challenge for F1 drivers in 2022

Street circuits are well known for being mentally demanding, despite the fact that the average speed is usually not very high compared to permanent tracks. However, they require greater concentration and give pilots little time to breathe.

Among all the urban ones, the one in Singapore is a beast like no other. It has a reputation for being one of the most challenging races, both physically and mentally, meaning it requires different preparation than any other event.

Daniel Ricciardo said that his first Singapore Grand Prix, in 2011, is still the hardest thing he has ever experienced as a motorsport driver. “I wasn’t prepared, and it looks like I’ve been partying all week!”

“I didn’t realize how wet and how hard that circuit was, with no straights to rest on. I’ve never experienced anything like that,” he told

At that time, the fact that Ricciardo was racing for the HRT team did not help either, in fact, he ended up being lapped up to four times by the race leader.

“I remember that it was an ordeal for me,” recalls the Australian. “I got out of the car and I remember saying that it was physically the hardest thing I had ever experienced.”

“I also made a promise, I said I would never feel this pain again behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. Since then, Singapore hasn’t been that tough.

F1 drivers may be elite athletes who have coaches to try to get the most out of them. But their usual level of fitness and training plan is something they need to review in the run up to the Singapore GP.

Heat is one of the main factors drivers have to adjust to when racing in Singapore. The average humidity throughout the year there is over 80%, and the temperature in October is still around 30ºC given its proximity to the equator. Drivers may be used to the heat when racing in the Middle East or mainland Europe in the height of summer, but nothing comes close to the stifling conditions of Marina Bay.

If you follow the F1 drivers on social networks, you will have seen some of the training that the coaches prepare them for just that challenge. Last week, Carlos Sainz posted a video of himself riding a stationary bike inside a sauna to try to get used to the heat it will be in the cockpit during the Singapore race.

Other pilots train with more clothes than necessary, or simply enter the sauna with a very high temperature to get used to the body. In the lead-up to this weekend, every practice gets a lot harder, but it will be worth it on race day.


But it’s not just the heat and humidity that make Singapore such a difficult challenge. Unlike the high-speed street circuits of Jeddah and Baku, Singapore’s average speed is quite low. Charles Leclerc’s pole lap in 2019 was 1m36.217s, some eight seconds slower than Sergio Perez’s pole time in Jeddah this year, despite the Jeddah track being 1km longer than the one in Jeddah. Singapore.

That makes the Singapore race, on a track with 23 corners and few straights, one of the toughest of the season. Since it hit the calendar in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has never been completed in less than one hour and 51 minutes – a record in 2018 – and has reached F1’s two-hour limit four times, meaning that resistance and heat management for that long is key.

Another challenge that pilots must adapt to is the time zone. That is something that must be taken into account in all races, but in Singapore it is more complicated, because it is night. The best option is to stick to European time zones, which means going to bed around 6am and getting up in the middle of the afternoon. In fact, the teams make sure that hotels don’t bother their staff with cleaning and such.

Nicholas Latifi is facing his first weekend in Singapore this year, and admits he doesn’t know how to prepare. He has always been in favor of arriving at the races as soon as possible to be able to adapt “not only to the weather, but to the climate”.

“I haven’t raced in Singapore yet, but it’s a strange race. I guess you want to go early to get used to the weather, but not late, because you keep the UK one. So the later you get there, the easier it will be for you to adjust. to the schedule. It is somewhat complicated”.

The Singapore Flyer at sunset

The new generation of cars will be another challenge that the drivers will have to pay attention to. A lot has changed since 2019, with the change in regulations and the increase in weight that created slower cars in low-speed corners, making it difficult to work especially on street circuits.

And then there’s the rebounding or porpoising that teams have experienced this year, which will be even tougher on teams due to the bumpy streets of Marina Bay. Esteban Ocon said at Monza that the cars would feel as stiff as the karts hitting the curbs, while Pierre Gasly said it would be an extreme race for everyone. However, Singapore remains one of the favorite races on the calendar for all drivers.

All the teams already know how to prepare for Singapore, but after a three-year absence, it is likely to be the toughest challenge the drivers have faced in a long time.

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