The challenges of Singapore's night Grand Prix
Formula One heads to Singapore this weekend for the sport's annual night race, for what will be the third running of the widely-loved race. While most of the sport's other 18 races are run under the afternoon sunlight, Singapore has the prestigious honour of hosting a floodlight Grand Prix, beautifully highlighting the picturesque Singapore landscape, and adding another feather to Formula One's cap.
Along with the challenge of sleeping until the middle of the day, teams are faced with the challenge of having a track temperature regularly cooler than the ambient temperature, because there is no sunshine to heat up the surface. This can make conditions very slippery for the drivers but will be lessened with Bridgestone bringing the softest tyre from their range - the super soft and medium compounds.
Although there were concerns about racing under lights when the race was first proposed, drivers are now comfortable with the set-up, as Williams' Rubens Barrichello explains: "We suffered a bit with the light the first year we raced there, but the organisers have improved that now. Driving a night race is similar to watching TV in standard, not high definition; there's just a bit less precision."
Having first seen the innovative concept of a Formula One night race in 2008, teams are now fully supportive of the value Singapore has brought to the sport, and McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh thinks other races can learn something from it. "In just two years, the Singapore Grand Prix has become one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar," says Whitmarsh.
"The broadcast footage of the cars racing around in the fading evening light, against the glittering backdrop of the city, has set new standards in televised sport. I believe this race has shown the sport how it needs to move forward, and I'm sure that any new venue that joins the grand prix calendar will be able to learn and benefit from the levels of excellence set by the Singapore organisers."