Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast, Nico Rosberg reveals the extreme physical challenge drivers face during a race weekend in Singapore.
Formula 1 is tough at the best of times, but the Singapore Grand Prix is physically the most demanding event on the calendar and has also produced some breathtaking performances.
Since 2008, F1 has been racing under the spotlights on the Marina Bay Street circuit. As it is an urban circuit, driving close to the walls generally allows you to go faster. However, it is so easy to go over the limit and find yourself against the wall.
Red Bull remains remarkably undefeated in 2023 and Max Verstappen is on an unprecedented streak of 10 consecutive victories. One of the main reasons for this incredible success has been Red Bull’s mistakes, or lack of mistakes, as they have been excellent operationally.
But if there is one avenue where they could be surprised, it is Singapore. In fact, everything went wrong for Verstappen last year during qualifying and the Grand Prix, so can he redeem himself after 12 months?
Why didn’t Verstappen win in Singapore?
Take a look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the Singapore Grand Prix.
Red Bull generally hasn’t had the car to beat in Singapore, which is the main reason Verstappen hasn’t won there.
In 2017, the Dutchman started on the front row but found himself stuck in the middle of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel on the descent into the first corner.
A year later, Lewis Hamilton produced an exceptional lap in Q3 to take pole position and control the race ahead of Verstappen, who had to settle for second place.
Ferrari surprisingly completed a double in 2019, with Verstappen third and the Covid-19 pandemic meant there was no Singapore Grand Prix for the following two years.
Max Verstappen had a weekend to forget last year in Singapore following a fuel shortage error in qualifying and an error-filled race where he finished seventh.
Last season, Verstappen was the hot favorite, but a series of operational errors in Q3 saw him start eighth. Having looked unbeatable in the first two parts of qualifying, Verstappen aborted his penultimate lap in Q3 in order to be the last driver to cross the line, but was then asked to box out on his final lap because he didn’t Didn’t have enough fuel. These two flying laps were enough for pole.
During the race, he attempted to pass Lando Norris before turn 7, but locked up badly and was forced to look for fresh tires, subsequently finishing seventh.
“As if you were in a sauna on a spinning bike”
All drivers say Singapore is the toughest event of the year due to the heat, humidity and demanding track. It’s so hot that the drivers’ cold drink turns into hot tea after just a few laps of the race.
2016 Singapore Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg describes the intensity of the toughest race on the calendar.
“I would lose 3.6 kg of body weight from sweating. It’s like wearing a ski suit, sitting on asphalt at 45 degrees. Then you have gasoline right behind you, at 65 degrees, so it’s extremely hot,” Rosberg said on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.
“There’s no fresh air coming in, you have the seat belts really tight and the carbon seat molded to your body, so you can barely breathe properly.
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“Corner after corner, where you have to hold your breath, you can’t breathe in the corners because you’re holding your breath.
“I remember after 10 laps I was looking at the pit board and it said ’50 laps to go’ and I was thinking ‘I’m done. I’m 10 laps in and there’s 50 left.’ is so horrible. the feeling in the car is like being in a sauna on a spinning bike for two hours.
“Your head starts pumping in the helmet, your sweat drips into your eyes and burns. It’s incredibly hard.”
Will Red Bull’s streak end?
Jenson Button gives his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton’s latest comments on Max Verstappen’s driving partners, as well as the future of Lando Norris.
Red Bull won all 14 races in 2023, but came under pressure at higher downforce tracks, particularly on one lap. Think of Monaco when Verstappen was forced to take the wheels off his car to snatch pole from Fernando Alonso, or Hamilton taking first place in Hungary with a powerful lap.
Singapore is focused on mechanical grip and traction, two key areas in which the peloton is much closer to Red Bull. Ferrari showed this at Monza during qualifying as not only did they have strong straight line speed, but the drivers could also press the accelerator into the slower corners with a lot of confidence.
Aston Martin should also be back on the podium with its big change of direction and a car that corners very well at low speeds.
The pole sitter has won eight of the 13 Singapore Grands Prix and overtaking is notoriously difficult, so a spectacular performance from one of the Mercedes, Ferrari or Aston Martin drivers in qualifying, giving them track position, could put Red Bull on the back.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff questions whether Max Verstappen would matter in setting a new record of ten consecutive Grand Prix victories.
“Singapore is such a difficult track. It’s a track with one of the most turns of the year, it’s endless, turn after turn. It’s really difficult to get the settings right and make it work the tires correctly,” Rosberg said.
“Maybe we can have some surprises with some teams that are doing extremely well. I think it will be refreshing.”
New Singapore Layout
The Marina Bay Street circuit layout has undergone some changes since its inception in 2008, but this year the biggest change is the removal of four corners in the final sector.
The construction of the NS Square outdoor multi-purpose venue involves the removal of turns 16, 17, 18 and 19, so the track will no longer pass under the grandstand towards the end of the lap.
Instead, there will be a straight from Turn 15 to the old Turns 20 and 21 chicanes (which will now be the Turns 16 and 17 chicanes). This will put less pressure on the tires and also give the drivers some breathing space.
Nonetheless, Singapore is still tough and a track that will seriously punish anybody which is not in their game.
Sky Sports F1 Singapore GP Live Schedule
Friday September 15
10 a.m.: Singapore GP Practice One (session starts at 10:30 p.m.)
1:45 p.m.: Second practice for the Singapore GP (session starts at 2 p.m.)
3:30 p.m.: The F1 Show
Saturday September 16
10:15 a.m.: Practice 3 of the Singapore GP (session starts at 10:30 a.m.)
1:00 p.m.: preparation for qualifying for the Singapore GP
2:00 p.m.: Singapore GP qualifying
3:45 p.m.: Ted’s qualification log
Sunday September 17
11:30 p.m.: Sunday Grand Prix: preparation for the Singapore GP
1 p.m.: THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
3:00 p.m.: Checkered flag: reaction from the Singapore GP
4 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
The next stop in the F1 circus will be the stunning streets of Singapore under the lights. All sessions of the Singapore GP will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 from September 15-17. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel at any time