Blackout curtains at the ready, because we have some big lie-ins planned this weekend! But, we’ll be making up for it by burning serious midnight oil at the Marina Bay Circuit.
We’ve kissed goodbye to Europe and it’s “Hello, Asia”, for the first of three races on Far Eastern asphalt. First up, we’re tripping the light fantastic in Singapore, birthplace of the F1 Night Race. What a race! What an atmosphere! Let’s hear from Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, both champing at the bit to get their first taste of this frantic and challenging 5.065km street circuit, and from Racing Director, Dave Ryan.
2016 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix
Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore
16-18 September 2016
Pascal, you’ve just arrived in Singapore, the home of F1 night racing. What do you think of this incredible show so far?
“Checking into my hotel room, seeing the view of the Marina Bay Circuit laid out right in front of me, was a very nice feeling. An incredible view of an incredible city and a fantastic location for a Grand Prix. Tough conditions, a demanding circuit for car and driver – exactly the kind of challenge I love. Bring it on!”
On paper – or, simulator – what do you make of the Marina Bay Circuit?
“I’m prepared for the fact that it will be tough-going; high temperatures, high humidity, 23 corners on a track that is not so long compared to some. The track conditions can be changeable, with two practice sessions in daylight, and qualifying and the race at night – and, of course, the rain. Plus, it’s a street circuit, so it can be quite unforgiving. But, you won’t find me complaining. Pretty much every track is new for me this season, so while each one is to be respected, I don’t worry too much about acclimatisation; it’s something I really enjoy. I’ll let you know how it goes!”
Esteban, two races down, two checkered flags, seven more races to get your teeth into. How is it going?
“I’m loving and learning every minute – and there’s so much more still to come. It’s a big challenge stepping up to F1 in the middle of the season; so much to get to grips with and no time to stop and think, only to keep pushing forward. It’s a big test, but that works for me! In only two races I’ve had some things go well and some things go less well, but I’ve got two race distances under my belt and I’m really happy with the way I’ve slotted into the team, and with my own performances. Six of the next seven tracks are new for me, so some exciting challenges are ahead, which is great! Plus, we have some important objectives as a team, which we need to be very focused on.”
What’s the next box you’d like to tick?
“I think we’ve shown that when everything goes our way, we can expect to be in Q2. Pascal has been able to show that it’s possible. So that’s the next target for me personally. When we start further up the grid, we can create opportunities for the race, and then, who knows, another point is a real possibility. At this stage, that would be a dream come true in a long list of dreams I’d like to realise.”
Dave, is everyone ready for the night shift?
“There are worse places to be working nights, that’s for sure! A night race always sounds pretty challenging, but by the time we’ve flown in and got stuck into the preparation, it’s not so difficult to adjust to being on European timings. The lighting system is truly excellent and at a track as impressive as this, in such a fantastic city, there are way too many pros to think about cons. What they’ve done with this race is incredible for the sport and the fans and it’s a real pleasure to be racing here.”