First Practice Session: 1:42.489 Position: 1, Laps: 21
Second Practice Session: 1:40.852, Position: 1, Laps: 33
“It was a good day out there today, but I expected this, to be honest, and am not really surprised with our performance. I knew we would come here with a good car. We made some progress from the morning and even though we were the quickest in FP1, I still wanted to get more out of the car and the set up in the afternoon. We took another step forward throughout the day, which was good and we now hope there is still more room to improve for tomorrow. I’m after a dominant weekend and so far this has been a good start. It’s important that we obviously keep that for tomorrow but I have faith that we can perform on this level all weekend. I know the challenge in Qualifying will be a potentially stronger Ferrari and Mercedes but I’m confident we can stay up there and fight with them at the top.”
First Practice session: 1:42.610, Position: 3, Laps: 23
Second Practice Session: 1:41.408, Position: 2, Laps: 28
“Finishing first and second in the last session means it has been a positive Friday. The car in general performed well so we are happy with that side, the balance can always be improved and we are a bit down on top speed but nothing major to work on. After such a good day we have to believe that a very good result in Qualifying is possible, so we will go for it. Compared to our competitors we look very strong, we didn’t expect to be this competitive so of course this is very pleasing for us. We still have to be cautious and work on all aspects because we know that in Q3 tomorrow they will have improved and be closer; for now we look in a good position. Qualifying will be tight but I’m confident that our race pace offers us the chance of a good result. We know this should be one of our best tracks so we will do our best to capitalise on that.”
Night and the City
Singapore in 2008, Abu Dhabi in 2009 with its race ending under lights and then Bahrain in 2014 – Formula One certainly loves a night race. It’s also apparently in love with the notion of more races in cities. So, bright sparks that we are, we thought we’d prepare a list of other cities in which we could hold night races. Turns out it might not be that illuminating after all…
1. Guayaquil, Ecuador – The key thing with night racing is that you need it to be dark. Yes, yes, we can hear you saying ‘well, duh!’ right now, but hear us out. A reasonable start time means darkness at the right hour, which in turn means holding night races in cities that go dark early in the evening and that leads us to equatorial cities. These are classed as being less than 5˚ north or south of the equator (about 550km). As well as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur the list includes Nairobi, Kenya, Bogotá, Colombia and our choice for F1’s next night race Guayaquil, Ecuador. The capital city of this country named after the Earth’s imaginary belly band doesn’t have a race track but the nation does have one permanent motorsport facility, the Yahuarcocha circuit in the town of Ibarra near the Colombian border. It’s about a nine-hour drive from Guayaquil, but hey we went to Mokpo for three years, so no problem.
2. Mokpo, Korea – And speaking of Mokpo… now, now, hold on, hear us out! We’re happy to admit that South Korea’s ill-fated grand prix was never going to top our list of best-loved races, but think about this – the track layout itself was really good and it never failed to provide an exciting race. OK, as we won there three times we’re bound to say that but add this into the equation: part of the reason it was not universally loved was that it seemed to be located in a swamp. Run the race in the dark and that less than lovely backdrop would be obscured. Final reason: the first race there in 2010 pretty much finished in the dark and that was a cracker. What’s not to like!
3. Helsinki, Finland – If we’re talking about racing in the dark then heading north seems like the right idea, especially in the latter stages of the season when Scandinavia is plunged into perpetual darkness. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the drift. And drifting might be just the thing on the icy expanses of whatever circuit Kimi and Valtteri will undoubtedly prosper at. Also, imagine the parties.
4. Elon Musk’s Boring System – Doesn’t sound very good does it, but wacky, electric car-building, Matrix-loving, space cadet Elon Musk has plans to build a massive underground road system beneath Los Angeles which would cure the city’s traffic problems in a heartbeat. Indeed, he’s already launched The Boring Company to start tunnelling. The idea is that vehicles would be lowered down by elevator to tunnels systems and then transported around by high-speed trolley. Remove the trolleys for a weekend and you’d have the perfectly perpetually dark environment in which to stage a night race. Plus, the commercial rights holders seem very keen on a west coast race in the US, so start digging boys!