Singapore Grand Prix

Singapour race report


2016 Singapore Grand Prix – race report

"Seventh was the maximum we could achieve today"

Marina Bay Circuit, Sunday September 18

Fernando Alonso drove a hard and determined race to finish the Singapore Grand Prix in seventh position. The Spaniard, who had started ninth, made a brilliant start, and was able to hold on to fifth position for much of the race until falling into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in the closing stages.

Nonetheless, he was ‘best of the rest’ this evening: the next car home after the two Mercedes, the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris. His was an impressive performance.

Jenson Button’s race was effectively over on lap one. After making a good start, he became embroiled in the start-line accident, successfully dodging Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India only to tag his front wing on Valterri Bottas’s Williams as he was taking avoiding action.

Forced to pit for repairs and rejoin at the back, he was thereafter compromised in his efforts to play catch-up by bodywork damage that was reducing the downforce available to him. Towards the end of the race his engineers took the precautionary decision to stop his car owing to worsening brake temperatures – a legacy of the brake-duct damage that had occurred on lap one.


Started: 9th
Finished: 7th
Fastest Lap: 1m51.249s on lap 49 (+4.062s, 12th)
Pitstops: Two: laps 14 (2.98s) and 34 (3.98s) [Option:Prime:Back-Up]

“Seventh was the maximum we could achieve today – the best of the rest after the two Mercedes, the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris. We weren’t perhaps quite the fourth-fastest team here this weekend, so it’s thanks to good strategy and a good start that we were able to bring home this result.

“I chose to go on the outside at the start, and the crash didn’t affect me as I was already up into sixth at that point. Then I braked very late for the first corner and got past Daniil [Kvyat] and Kimi [Raikkonen]. Everything went fine – sometimes you just need to get lucky.

“For a time, I was even hoping for a podium finish – if something had happened ahead of me it could have worked out that way – but in fact it was one of those races in which nothing happened at the front.

“But, overall, we did the best we could today.”


Started: 12th
Finished: DNF, 43 laps – precautionary stop due to worsening brake issue 
Fastest Lap: 1m51.631s on lap 18 (+4.444s, 16th)
Pitstops: Three: laps 1 (13.56s – front wing change & suspension check), 15 (2.57s) and 27 (2.61s) [Option:Prime:Option:Back-Up]

“I might have retired on lap 43, but, to be honest, my race was effectively over on the first lap.

“I got a very good start and pulled alongside Valtteri [Bottas], but I didn’t see Nico’s [Hulkenberg] car coming across the track until he was right in front of me, facing the wrong way. I lifted and pulled to the right, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I tagged Valtteri with my front wing. That broke my front wing, brake duct and floor.

“I pitted to change tyres and fit a new front wing, but the car had been damaged, so I was lacking downforce for the remainder of the race. Even then, the downforce I did have wasn’t properly balanced across the car, which made it even more difficult.

“The reason we stopped was that we were concerned about the brakes – the temperatures were rising because of the duct damage. We were worried about a failure – it was the right decision to stop.”

ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Above all, today was a good day for Formula 1. 

“After two hours of intensely competitive racing under spectacular floodlights here in Singapore, the fact that the first two cars home were separated by less than half a second underlines what we who love racing already know: Formula 1 remains a superb sport, as exciting today as it’s ever been.

“From a McLaren-Honda point of view, we were pleased to score six world championship points as a result of Fernando’s forceful and competitive run to seventh place. He made a strong start and then maintained impressive and consistent lap-times all afternoon. His was a great drive by any standards.

“As for Jenson, he too got off the line well, but his fine start was spoiled when his front wing touched part of the Williams of Valtteri, who was trying to avoid getting embroiled in Nico’s shunt. It was no-one’s fault: sometimes chain reactions of that nature occur in racing, especially on lap one, and there was absolutely nothing Jenson could have done to avoid getting tagged in Nico’s accident this evening.

“I want to say a public ‘bravo’ to our race team – those in the garage and those on the pit-wall, as well as those back at Mission Control in Woking too – who managed the race so efficiently. That was a job very well done, guys. 

“Next we travel from the warmth of Singapore to an even hotter venue: the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. It’s a very different kind of racetrack from the Marina Bay Circuit on which we raced today – fast wide sweeping bends rather than slow narrow tortuous corners – but we’ll be gunning for points again all the same.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

“First of all, I must congratulate Fernando for another brilliant start that put him in front of the two Toro Rosso cars. That enabled us to finish seventh and score some all-important championship points. Both drivers struggled in all the free practices this weekend, but thankfully the car had much improved since qualifying to have a good, steady race pace.

“On the other hand, Jenson was unlucky to be involved in an incident at the start, trying to avoid a crash with Hulkenberg, which damaged his front wing and brake ducts. This led to a gradual decrease in pace and we eventually had to retire the car.

“Though bittersweet, I am pleased that it was a good result for Fernando and the team. We were able to show our pace in the race and finish behind the top three teams as best of the rest.”


2016 Singapore Grand Prix preview


#14 Fernando Alonso

"We knew Spa and Monza would be among the two most difficult races on the calendar for us. Now we move to the end-of-season fly-aways and we’re optimistic that we can continue pushing for more points and more positive results.

Singapore is a really fun track, very bumpy and challenging, but it’s a quirky layout with a lot of stop-start sections and really fast straights, so you need a car that works well in high downforce set-up and has good traction out of the slower corners. I’ve won there twice before, and the floodlights and energetic fans give it a really exciting atmosphere."

#22 Jenson Button

"The Marina Bay circuit is a challenge unlike any other that we face during the season – even when you compare it to the other street races on the calendar. It’s twisty, extremely fast, the barriers are high and close, and the bumpy surface is unforgiving, which sometimes means losing grip is something you can’t get away with, without seeing flying debris all over the track and the possibility of a Safety Car.

That’s part of what makes racing in Singapore so special, and its characteristics pose a tough test for even the strongest chassis and power unit. It’s gruelling for car and driver, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding to drive."


2015 winner Sebastian Vettel. 61 laps, 2:01:22.118s
2015 pole position Sebastian Vettel, 1m43.885s
2015 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, 1m50.041s (lap 52)
Name Marina Bay Circuit
First race 2008
Circuit length  5.065km/3.147 miles
Distance to Turn One 200m/0.124 miles
Longest straight  832m/0.5176 miles, on the approach to Turn Seven
Top speed 305km/h/190mph, on the approach to Turn One  
Pitlane length 420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 24s
Full throttle 45 per cent, with the longest period of full throttle being just 9s
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 17
Key corner Turn Five, a 90-degree right-hander. The exit is bumpy and it’s vital to get the power down cleanly because the second DRS zone follows
Fastest corner  200km/h (124mph), Turn 23
Slowest corner 80km/h (50mph), Turn 13
Major changes for 2016 No changes planned  
Fuel consumption 1.65 per lap, which is average
ERS demands Medium. The short bursts of acceleration from low speed make this track quite demanding on the ERS, but there are plenty of opportunities to harvest energy under braking 
Brake wear High. There are 16 braking events around the lap, with few cooling opportunities between each one
Gear changes 80 per lap/4,880 per race



History lesson: 
There have been two iterations of the Singapore Grand Prix. Between 1961 and ’73 the race was held for Formula Libre cars on the Thomson Road circuit, in a northern suburb of the city-state. The Marina Bay circuit has more of a downtown location and has hosted a world championship grand prix every year since 2008.

What makes the track unique: 
The entire event. This is the original F1 night race; it starts at 20:00 local time, two hours after sunset, and the cars look spectacular under the glare of the 1,500 lamps that line the circuit.  

Grip levels: 
Low. The asphalt is slippery and the average speed – just 170km/h (106mph) – is the second-slowest of the year.

Good. For a street circuit, there is plenty of run-off. In the places where the cars are at their fastest – into Turns One and Seven – there is ample room between the track and the barrier.

Watch out for…: 
Turn 21. It’s a fairly non-descript left-hander, but it’s vitally important. Turns 22 and 23 are taken flat-out, so exit speed from Turn 21 determines a car’s pace along the pit straight, where the first DRS zone is located.


Start time 20:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 61 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/45 laps)
Safety Car likelihood High. There has been at least one Safety Car period in every Singapore Grand Prix
When to press record The start. The novelty of seeing 22 F1 cars racing at night never wanes, and the left-right flick at Turns One and Two usually throws up some controversy on the opening lap
Don’t put the kettle 
The top seven cars made two pitstops last year. The first stops occurred from lap 10 onwards, with the second stops from lap 30. The appearance of the Utrasoft tyre this year could force shorter stints, with the possibility of a three-stop strategy more likely
Weather conditions now   30 degrees and stormy
Race forecast 29 degrees 
Tyre choices Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, a combination that has been used three times already this year: in Monaco, Canada and Austria



First Singapore Grand Prix: 

"Nothing Comes Close".

Singapore's F1 heritage: 
This is the ninth Singapore Grand Prix, which means the Marina Bay Circuit has hosted more F1 races than Sochi, Austin, Abu Dhabi and Baku on the current calendar. Interest in F1 has been growing in this area of south east Asia since the Malaysian GP first appeared on the calendar in 1999.

Smallest winning margin:  
0.293s, in 2010. This race was a private duel between eventual winner Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel; they started on the front row of the grid and despite the best efforts of Vettel to pass in the first corner, Alonso was never headed.

Sporting legacy:
To quote Fernando Alonso, the Singapore Grand Prix has become a “modern-day classic”. It’s the only true night race on the F1 calendar and it’s become one of the sport’s Blue Riband events. It’s also the longest race of the year in terms of time; in three of the last four years it has exceeded the FIA’s two-hour time limit.

Did you know? 
An underground electrical current near the Anderson Bridge is one of the quirks of the track. Without careful preparation by the teams, this current can play havoc with the cars’ electrics.

Don’t forget: 
McLaren has won the Singapore Grand Prix once before, in 2009. Fernando Alonso has won the race twice, in 2008 and 2010, and Jenson Button has finished second on two occasions. 

Fan zone:

Jono, aged 42, from Hong Kong, asks: “Everyone talks about the F1 teams remaining on European time at the race. What does that actually mean?”

McLaren’s answer: “It means there’s no jet-lag! All of the on-track action is off-set by six hours at this race, due to the 20:00 start time on Sunday evening. That means going to bed and getting up six hours later than normal, so lights out at 05:00 local time and getting up at lunchtime. That’s similar to the people working back at the MTC on European time.”


#14 Fernando Alonso

“Singapore is a great race – it’s always an enjoyable weekend and definitely one of the halo races on the calendar each year. It’s a really long race – usually almost two hours – so a lot can happen. It’s tough on the cars too, especially with the current that runs underneath the asphalt near the Anderson Bridge towards Turn 13, which can play tricks on the electronics systems.

It’s definitely a race of attrition, so I hope we can have a smooth weekend with good reliability, and work our way towards the front. Over the past few races, we’ve shown good consistency in our performances, so I’m optimistic that we can continue this form in Singapore.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Singapore is a tough race, so you have to be at your absolute peak physical fitness to not find it a struggle, especially in the heat.

It’s an incredible venue and there’s a really special feeling all weekend. Knowing you’re working on European time while the rest of Singapore is running on local time makes it really unique – like racing in a parallel universe! Racing under floodlights never gets boring, and I hope I can have a weekend with less drama than at Monza.”


Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“The combination of the stunning Marina Bay backdrop, state-of-the-art paddock facilities, unique circuit characteristics, and a vibrant atmosphere from the passionate fans, makes Singapore one of the most impressive spectacles on the Formula 1 calendar.

“As we begin the final set of fly-aways before the end of the season, we go to territories where we race at circuits that require a more technical car set-up, with less reliance on pure power. Despite spending the next few weeks far away from the UK, our development push is still ongoing and we’re still working hard on achieving performance improvements right up to the end of the season.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how the Ultrasoft tyre fares on the bumpy asphalt this street circuit is so famous for. Strategy will be an important factor in this year’s grand prix, especially given the unusually high likelihood of a Safety Car appearance. Although we weren’t in a points-paying position in Monza, we did see some promising performances throughout the weekend, so we're hopeful of a greater chance to show what our package is truly capable of at the Singapore Grand Prix.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“The Singapore night race is quite an amazing spectacle for everyone involved in F1, with the bustling city under the floodlights, great people and good food. The race, however beautiful, is long and physically draining for both the drivers and team, with high temperatures and humidity.

“The car set-up will need to change drastically to adjust the package from the fast-paced circuits of Spa and Monza, to Singapore’s twistier city circuit, so the team is already busy in preparation. Our car has good balance under braking, so the nature of the track should suit us more than the previous circuits.

“Honda will work to match the driveability of the power unit to suit the needs of the stop-and-go nature of the circuit, so that our drivers' skills can shine throughout the weekend. We hope to be in a good position to score points and have a good race.”


Singapore GP race map


2016 Singapore Grand Prix

Despite a championship history stretching back only as far as 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has swiftly established itself as one of F1’s marquee events. The night race that threads its way through an illuminated cityscape is visually spectacular – though it’s the atmosphere generated by the enormous crowd that makes the equatorial evening event memorable.

Marina Bay features the street circuit staples of low-grip surface, unforgiving walls and a paucity of overtaking opportunities. Second and third-gear 90° turns predominate on the 5km (3-mile) circuit, keeping average speeds low. With lap times in the mid 1m50s and a strong likelihood of Safety Car intervention, it’s the race most likely to be halted at the two-hours time limit rather than by going the distance.

Singapore is, of course, a maximum downforce race and the frequent use of kerbs also requires a car that’s quite soft. It’s a tough race on brakes – not for any one heavy event, but rather the non-stop nature of braking around the circuit.

It’s also a very tough race on crews and drivers. While a night race means lower temperatures, the mercury still tends to be above 30°C. Coupled with the high humidity and the length of the race, it’s the venue at which the drivers will suffer the most, losing several litres of fluid over the course of the race.

McLaren has a solitary victory in Singapore (2009), but Fernando is a double winner in the city-state.



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