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Clubbing and carrots - getting into the Singapore groove 19 Sep 2008

Anderson Bridge at Night Singapore Grand Prix Circuit Preview, Singapore, 21 November 2007. World © Sutton The view from the seating gallery of Turn 19 Singapore Grand Prix Circuit Preview, Singapore, 21 November 2007. World © Sutton Singapore street circuit lighting at night. Singapore Circuit Construction, Singapore, 6 August 2008. Singapore Flyer. Singapore Circuit Construction, Singapore, 27 July 2008. Lighting rig at the Singapore Grand Prix street circuit. Singapore Circuit Construction, Singapore, 27 July 2008.

Next weekend’s inaugural Singapore Grand Prix will present the Formula One drivers with a multitude of challenges. Not only will they be racing under lights for the first time, they also face an all-new circuit and a ‘working day’ that won’t finish until the small hours of the morning. How will they prepare? We went looking for the answers, some of which may surprise you - extended bouts of nightclubbing in a bid to become ‘night owls’ and plenty of carrots to help see in the dark…

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India:
“The Force India team took this task very seriously and after Monza I will run on the simulator to prepare for the Singapore GP. I think this is a very professional approach to what may be a very challenging event. For me personally, I do not do any out-of-the-ordinary preparation, as I normally like to wake up late and go to bed late anyway - so Singapore suits me fine!”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari:
“I don’t know what time the race is. Is it in the evening? Good. I enjoy evenings and night time more anyhow. I like to sleep until noon every day so for me this seems the perfect venue. I am more awake in the evenings than in the mornings. I am very much looking forward to that experience, but honestly I don’t think there is much difference for us as drivers as I assume the lights let the track look similar to all the other tracks that we race at daytime. It will be a bit cooler in the evening - and there is a much bigger chance of rain than during the day time in that part of the world, so we should see an exciting race. I will fly out one week before the race to get accustomed to the climate, with a stopover in Dubai where I have some work to do.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota:
“I will go there in the evening and take a look at the circuit, and will try to understand as much as possible on the conditions during the night. And I do not see that we can do any more than that. And if you somehow manage to keep the European timing in your metabolism, than I think this is perfect.”

Timo Glock, Toyota:
“I don’t do anything special - just go there and race. I will set the alarm when I have to get into the car. That’s it. I don’t philosophize about what I’m going to do to stay in whatever time zone. I will get up when I have to get up, I will sleep when I have to sleep and I will drive when I have to drive. We don’t have a simulator, so once I am there I will walk the track - and then get into the car and translate my impressions into performance.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India:
“As the qualifying and race will be in the evening, I will sleep and prepare for this race in a special way. Singapore is seven hours ahead of Germany, so I will keep my timing as it is in Europe and sleep during the day to be fit in the evening.”

Jenson Button, Honda:
“After this weekend I’ll be doing some work on the simulator to familiarise myself as much as possible with the Singapore track. Then I plan to arrive into Singapore just prior to the start of the race weekend to give myself a better chance of ensuring that I don’t become accustomed to the time zone. Usually for a long haul race it’s better to arrive as early as you can, but because this is a night race we need to be operating in a European timeframe rather than a local one. This will be tough because it means trying to stay awake until 8 am, then sleeping for practically the whole day before starting the engineering and running schedule at around 5 pm. The first night race is very exciting for the sport and I can’t wait to see what conditions the floodlighting will present. It’s going to be quite a challenge but one that I’m looking forward to.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda:
“Nothing dramatic - mostly I am curious. The other day I read the schedule of our team and it said: the drivers may leave the circuit at 3.30 am! Isn’t that crazy? But in the end it is going to be pretty much on European timing, so I think we are going to be quite used to the schedule. To learn the track we use a lot of videos and the simulator. When I arrive I like to walk the track with the engineers, or I take the scooter if I want a little more feeling - like in Valencia, as there were 25 corners, and you could not get a proper feeling with only one lap of walking. I will arrive on Monday, and have two days to spend with my wife in the city, and then most probably I will have a very lively nightlife to get used to the schedule.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren:
“I’m looking forward to visiting the country, trying the food, seeing what the track is like, see what it will be like to race on. I've never raced at night before so the race will be quite a fun challenge. We’ll stay on UK time, which means waking up in the early afternoon at 2 pm and going to bed at 3 am. It will be very different preparation to any other race, but we’ll try and do the best job we can.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren:
“Well, it’s another street circuit and street circuits are always fun. And the fact that we’re racing at night will be interesting - how it feels, how it’s different, whether it’s good or bad. The Race of Champions was in the evening, in the stadium with the lights, but the races weren’t long or serious so it’s going to be all new. It’s going to be a different approach physically. The main thing to consider is that we remain sharp at a later time in the day. We need to keep the rhythm correct and sleep well, which means effectively a day there. That is all taken care of by the team - but it’s still a big challenge. It’s going to be different!”

Fernando Alonso, Renault:
“In terms of physical preparation, I have to admit that I have done nothing special for this race. I have prepared just as I would for any other race. On the other hand, I have worked with my physiotherapist and other members of the team to decide the best way to manage the race weekend, especially in terms of sleep. In the end I've decided not to adjust to the local time zone and to remain on a European schedule, which will be best for my energy levels. Getting this right is an important element for the race, both for the drivers and members of the team.”

Nelson Piquet, Renault:
“I don’t do anything special. In reality it will be not much different than any other race - or to be precise, any other street circuit. There is no real way to prepare yourself. We don’t have a simulator so I will have to wait till I get there. Sure, I studied the layout and all available photos, but that is only a faint substitute, so I will concentrate on absorbing the track once I’m there.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull:
“I am staying up late at night, I am going out to nightclubs, and I’m eating a lot of carrots because they apparently help you to see better in the dark. I will work on the simulator on Monday. You see I’m doing all the preparations that I can possibly do. I will touch down in Singapore Tuesday morning and then I will head for the track. I will walk it, crawl it, will cycle it, have someone take me around it on their back - you name it, I’ll do it!”

Mark Webber, Red Bull:
“I don’t think that it will be much different to all the other races, even if we start six hours later than usual. The biggest trouble is the second practice session and the qualifying as they start really late and with the debriefing and the meeting with the engineers to discuss the race strategy we will not be able to leave the track until way after midnight. We will face some very long days. Definitely I will have to be fresher in the evening - quite a task for someone who is kind of an early bird. To get to know the track I will, like most others, use a simulator. And once I am there I will walk it in daytime and night time. I think it will be a fantastic experience.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams:
“I will run the track in the simulator. But that teaches you only the basics of the track, like where to go left or right, but not the essentials. These I will work on once I’m there, walking the track and, as one lap is not enough, using the scooter to put in some more laps to get down to the details. But the real way to ‘swallow’ a track is with a Formula One car - everything else is just warming up. How do I deal with the time and jet lag? As we have to stay on European time I will fly out as late as possible and once I’m there I’ll go to the disco for the first few nights and sleep during the day - so I am in perfect timing for the race.”

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams:
“The bottom line is we have to stay with the European time, which is a bit of a strange thing to do as I will already be there one week before the race. I will work on sleeping until three or four o’clock in the afternoon, then getting up and trying to stay awake till the early morning - sounds strange, doesn’t it? It very likely will be hot and humid so we have to get physically prepared for that. For gaining track knowledge I’ve been working on the simulator and once I am there I will probably use a bike to do some laps prior to free practice. I am sure it will be a very different race experience than to what we are used to.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso:
“We don’t have a simulator so the only option is get there, walk some laps and memorize as well as you can. The watchword for the race weekend is ‘European time’ so I’ll try not to arrive too early. It will be an interesting experience although I think that on Sunday we all will be a bit off kilter.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber:
“Honestly, I don’t do anything different to what I do with every new track. I work on the simulator and I have been speaking with Mark Webber who was there. I will discover the reality once I’m there and walk around - very likely on the Wednesday. I am looking forward to it because it’s a street circuit and throughout my career I’ve always performed well on such tracks. I am not thinking too hard about the fact that we are racing in the night. I am sure the track is perfectly lit and I’ll be there long enough to get used to these different conditions.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber:
“Of course you need to prepare for the circuit, again a new territory for us. I will study the track layout on the plan, then I will use the simulator to get a moving experience. The tricky part will be to cope with the light situation, but before you actually see it it is difficult to prepare, because the reality can be completely different to what you’ve guessed. Regarding the timing, we have to try and arrange everything around our ‘working hours’ at the track, which means that I have to try not to wake up at six in the morning when qualifying starts at 10 in the evening. But then, Singapore is an exciting city, so the time will not get too long. Actually, I plan to fly in on Tuesday and stay on the European schedule - however that works - and otherwise take it as it comes. I am sure it will be a very impressive experience.”