I’ve been fortunate enough to see the birth of several street circuits and Singapore – so far – ranks among the best of them. The standard of preparation and finish is extremely high with the 3.15 miles ready for action at the expense of heavy local traffic on the edge of the city’s CBD.
As with any temporary track, there has to be compromise. The main point of controversy is likely to be Turn 10, where St Andrew’s Road meets Parliament Place. It’s estimated that cars will be reaching over 150mph in fifth gear before braking for the left-hand Turn 10.
The problem is the absence of run-off thanks to the presence of very grand 150-year-old buildings which not even Bernie Ecclestone can shift. The answer has been to install a tight – very tight – left-right-left at the junction. And, just to make sure drivers will go slowly enough, they’ve placed the equivalent of a couple of house bricks on each apex.
‘Yeah, that could be a worry,’ said Mark Webber. ‘You don’t want to hit them – certainly, not with the chassis – because if you do, apart from the obvious damage to the car, you’ll create even more damage by going into the wall. So the answer is not to hit them!’
That seems fair enough. But there is room to short-cut the kerbs completely, which several drivers may be forced to do. And that leads to more potential controversy. There is continuing debate over what the drivers should or should not do, Webber being of the opinion that if you overtake, you must let the driver in front get ahead again and not challenge until after the next corner.
But what if, by cutting the corner, the driver doesn’t actually overtake the guy in front but ends up running much closer (like Hamilton at Spa after he had let Raikkonen through) than he would otherwise have been? ‘Simple,’ said Webber. ‘Just make sure you don’t go green (set a personal best time) on that sector.’
Sounds like Charlie Whiting is going to have his work cut out this weekend. The last thing the F1 race director needs is more trouble, particularly after the controversy of his actions at Spa and the highlighting in court on Monday of a curious attempt to put words in the mouth of a former FIA chief steward.
That’s another good thing about an interesting new venture such as Singapore: there’s so much going on that there’s no time for F1 people to bore themselves stupid with continuing talk about Spa. What’s done is done. Let’s go racing. At night.