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Singapore preview quotes - Caterham, Marussia, McLaren & more

17 Sep 2014

With the European leg of the season complete, the teams and drivers head to Singapore and the spectacular Marina Bay Street Circuit for the second floodlit race of the year. Those involved in the 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix discuss their prospects…

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez

2013 Qualifying - 10th, 2013 Race - 12th

"I am looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix, as it is one of my favourite tracks. The fact that the race is hold at night brings a great atmosphere, which I really enjoy. Because of the high humidity, racing is a physical challenge there. I remember last year, not only when I was driving, but even more so when I finished the race, I noticed how much energy this climate consumed. Overall I have good memories from Singapore. In 2013 we had a good qualifying, and it was the first time I made it into Q3. In terms of track layout, I think the characteristics will suit the C33. We have been working intensely on the mechanical set-up of the car, which will be crucial on this circuit, as the track has many tight corners and only a few short straights. I am really looking forward to the weekend, and especially to getting the maximum out of the updates to the car we are having there. It is going to be an interesting race, and there is a realistic chance for a positive result."

Adrian Sutil

2013 Qualifying - 15th, 2013 Race - 10th

"Driving on the track in Singapore is good fun, and, on top of that, it is a street circuit which I personally like a lot. The circuit has relatively short straights and 23 corners, which makes it the track with the most corners on the calendar. Sheer engine power is not crucial here; rather a high mechanical grip is important because of the many tight corners. Good stability of the car as well as high downforce will be essential, as the circuit has several kerbs and is quite bumpy in some places. I think we will have the best chance for a better result there. Moreover, the night race in Singapore is always special and offers the spectators a great backdrop. I am looking forward to the Asian trip; the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the season highlights."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber head of track engineering

"Considering that the Singapore track is one of those circuits which are less dependent on engine power, as well as the fact that we will be introducing an aerodynamic update package with a new engine cover and a modified front wing, the team is feeling quite positive about regrouping in Singapore. The night race on the street circuit is one of a kind; the track offers the typical engineering challenges of a street circuit with the need for mechanical grip, traction, stability and cooling on top of the job list. To the drivers it is unforgiving in places, it is therefore essential to provide them with a set-up they can fully trust. The show will benefit from Pirelli's compound choice of soft and supersoft, and the safety car deployment rate of 100 percent in the races so far."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

2013 Qualifying - 5th, 2013 Race - 5th

“It was a good feeling to finally get back on the top step at Monza - especially after another tough start to the race. The car was just flying out there after those difficult first few laps and it was great to be able to capitalise on the pace I felt I'd had right from the beginning of the weekend. Obviously, with Nico coming second I haven't been able to close the gap too much - but there's still plenty of points to be won and I'm glad to have taken a step forwards. Despite the highs and lows, I'm still well and truly in the hunt for the championship and that is something that gives me huge motivation for the final six races - starting in Singapore. It's a great place to begin the final flyaway phase of the season. The city is buzzing and the track is mega. It's a street circuit and I love street circuits. I won there in 2009 which was a really special experience, plus I had a podium - which should really have been a win - at the first race in 2008. My luck hasn't been great at this circuit since then but hopefully that will change next weekend.”

Nico Rosberg

2013 Qualifying - 2nd, 2013 Race - 4th

“Even though it didn't work out quite the way I'd hoped, there were still plenty of positives to take away from Monza. Once again our Silver Arrow looked super quick compared to our rivals and hopefully we can carry that right through to the end of the season. Of course, I was disappointed to drop points to my team mate in the championship battle - but I still have the lead and I'm determined to hold on to it. Next up it's the Singapore Grand Prix, which is definitely one of the highlights of the year. There's an amazing atmosphere and the whole city really comes to life for the race weekend. It's just unreal - I would really recommend anybody to go there if they can as it's a fantastic experience. The circuit, the city, the atmosphere... everything! The way they basically shut down a whole place just for Formula One is incredible and it's amazing to think of all the work that must go into making it happen. I got my second ever podium here with P2 in 2008 and I generally enjoy street circuits, so I'm looking to go one better this time around.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Italy was a fantastic way to wrap up the European phase of the season after a tough few weekends at the preceding races. It was our first one-two finish since Austria and, realistically, the results in between had not matched the high standards we set ourselves as a team. To see both drivers on the top two steps was a thoroughly deserved reward for all the hard work put in by the people at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Lewis produced a fantastic drive to recover from a difficult start and take a well-earned win. For Nico, it was unusual to see a few mistakes when he is usually so consistent - but he has all the mental strength required to bounce back. Away from the racing, it's been a busy week for both the team and for Formula One. On track, it has been confirmed that we will now see less radio traffic. This is a complex and controversial decision which will require a significant effort from the teams to understand how best we can work around it. The directive is not yet fully clear and there will inevitably be some controversy, so it will need further clarification as to how much the essential on-track procedures will be affected - particularly before the start of the race. Also, in the wider world of the sport, we have seen Luca di Montezemolo stand down from his position at Ferrari. Mr di Montezemolo has been an iconic figure in Formula One for many, many years and I personally wish him all the very best. Looking ahead, we now approach the final six races of the season - beginning with the spectacular Singapore Grand Prix. This is an event which the entire paddock looks forward to each year, and we fully intend to kick off the final third of the season with another top result.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

“As a team we were incredibly happy with the result in Monza. It's one of the great circuits of the season and a challenging one to take a win, let alone achieve a one-two finish, so that was extremely satisfying. They were fantastic drives from both Lewis and Nico and it was a welcome return to winning ways. Singapore is a race that I'm sure the whole paddock looks forward to. It's a glamorous event with a fantastic atmosphere - to the extent that standing on the starting grid under the thousands of spotlights feels much like being on stage, waiting for the theatre to begin. It really is a unique weekend - not least because of the peculiar timings. The circuit itself could not stand as more of a contrast to Monza, with a lot of low-speed corner content. The demands on the car are still very high in terms of braking, steering and also the engine. It's also a long race - often running to the full two hour limit and frequently characterised by safety cars. It's a tricky one to manage no matter what position you might be in, with fortune playing a part depending on the nature and timing of any issues which may arise. It's always an action-packed, incident-filled race, with the nature of the track and the heat playing a role in retirements - both mechanical and by human error. We'll be aiming to steer clear of any drama and come away with another strong result as the season enters its final third.”

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

2013 Qualifying - 1st, 2013 Race - 1st

“I love to come to this amazing and also very clean city. The race track is a bumpy ride and you are being jogged around a lot in the driver’s seat. The circuit is fun but at the same time very challenging. You have to get close to your limits and risk a lot, in order to get the greatest efficiency out of your car. The toughest challenges in Singapore are the heat and the amount of turns. The chicanes are very difficult to drive and you barely get to catch your breath. Very important for a fast lap is the last turn before heading to the start finish line. There is an extremely high curb, which you should not hit otherwise the car lifts up. My greatest memories are the wins of 2011, 2012 and 2013, because I think it’s one of the toughest races of the year. It’s very long, there’s no space for mistakes and the race just seems to go on forever.”

Daniel Ricciardo

2013 Qualifying - 9th, 2013 Race - DNF

“When you walk around on Thursday, the surface always looks pretty dirty. Modern street races like this tend to wash and scrub the track but even that doesn’t really change the fact that what you’re driving on is a public road with all the grit and grime and dirt that those have. It means you’re in for a slithery, bumpy weekend - which I love! The important thing in Singapore is to not get caught chasing the set-up on a Friday. The track is going to evolve, you’ve just got to be patient and let it happen without constantly tweaking your car, trying to hit a moving target. It’s one of those races where you’re never completely satisfied with the amount of preparation that you do.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

2013 Qualifying - 3rd, 2013 Race - DNF

“The track is really impressive with some technical parts and some classic street circuit ‘90 degree’ turns. There are a few decent straights but it is mainly busy, busy, busy for us, with corner after corner. Going over landmarks like the (Anderson) Bridge and down the Raffles Boulevard make for a fantastic sight from both the cockpit and also for the TV viewers. This year will be interesting with the new cars. As we saw at Monaco, I am sure that the drivers will be working very hard in the cockpit, especially getting the power down out of the tight turns. And if it is wet at any stage then it will be particularly interesting.

“I really love racing at this track and in fact I love the country as a whole. The Singapore people are very friendly and it is nice to see so many coming downtown to the race. It has a completely unique vibe for the Grand Prix weekend and it takes on an ambience like nowhere else we go to.

“Last weekend was a difficult one for us because the nature of the Monza track was like a penalty. Singapore offers less in terms of compromising the downforce for straight-line speed, so we should be able to fight higher up the grid. We managed to get some points at Monaco, so I am hoping we can achieve something similar on this street circuit too.”

Pastor Maldonado

2013 Qualifying - 18th, 2013 Race - 11th

“The traction will be fundamental at Singapore, a really big factor. This is because the corners are generally slow and tight, so it means the way we exit them will be critical to ensure a good lap time. The 2014 spec cars will make it very interesting out there and I expect it to be very tricky, especially the first and third sectors. This is where a lot of time can be won or lost. It will be tough to regulate the torque and the traction out of the slow-speed corners. It will be a good challenge but a tough one lap after lap. It should look good for the spectators and TV viewers though. Marina Bay is a test, but this is the reason we love to be F1 drivers. There is something new and challenging every year for us to get to grips with, literally in this case!

“It should be better at Singapore for us and a step forward from Monza. At this stage of the season it is not going to be a massive step, but we expect better things for sure. We will do our very best to make sure that we find a good balance for Singapore because it is a very particular track with lots of different challenges. Of course the one big challenge is the race and most of the other running happens later in the day.

“Overall it is a very demanding track where you get no rest at all really. You are constantly turning or braking and there are only two short straights, not enough to really have a proper rest. But I like it this way because you get a rhythm going quickly. Physically it is tough because the humidity is so high and the race so long, much longer than Monza for instance.”

Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal

“Monza was always going to be very hard for us. Singapore should see an improvement in pace as the track characteristics will suit us more. The drivers are fighters and they really enjoy street circuits, so I think we have the potential to extract a good level of performance from the E22 there. Pastor and Romain will have a stronger package relative to Monza, so I am sure they will grasp this and make the most of it.”

Nick Chester, Lotus technical director

“It is a high-downforce track, so everybody will be running toward their maximum downforce set-up. Then it really is all about how you manage the mechanical set-up to get the best out of the car in terms of handling the kerbs. Ensuring a good level of grip in the low speed corners is also crucial at Marina Bay.

“In terms of energy management there is a lot of recovery on the brakes enabling you to recharge the battery quite nicely as there isn’t as much time full throttle as other tracks. It is probably more important to look after the car under braking here.

“There will be some new bodywork parts and some new mechanical parts for this race that we will evaluate in the free practice sessions.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

2013 Qualifying - 11th, 2013 Race - 9th

"The last race in Italy was disappointing for me. After the race the team found some damage to the floor, which is why we had the balance problems. It made the car difficult to drive. I'm confident things will be better in Singapore and I will be fighting hard to get a good result. It's definitely a tough race. It's hot and humid, and the race usually runs close to two hours, so physically it's probably the most difficult race of the year. It's mentally tough, too, because street circuits are more unforgiving. The walls are close and you have to get close to them if you want to be quick. The other challenge is to get your sleep pattern sorted at the start of the week."

Sergio Perez

2013 Qualifying - 14th, 2013 Race - 8th

"The result in Monza was an important boost for everyone in the team. It shows that we will continue to fight hard for every point until the end of the season. The battle with Jenson was very clean. Neither of us wanted to give up and it got very close at times, but I knew it was crucial to stay ahead. I enjoy the track and I've always scored points in Singapore so I will try to keep up my record. I think we can be quick. There are a lot of slow corners and that usually works well for our car. I've always liked street circuits so it's up there as one of my favourites. It's a very demanding race and usually quite unpredictable. You have to use the kerbs and attack the corners, which suits my driving style."

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal

"I'm cautiously optimistic. This year we've delivered a car that has worked on all tracks so we don't have any concerns about Singapore. The warm temperatures and softer tyre compounds should also work in our favour. We've been working hard to bring some performance to the car as well, which should help us for the rest of the season. We are enjoying the fight and the close competition. Fifth place is just one point away so there is all to play for. For a team like ours to be where we are, fighting with teams that have won races and championships, shows how far we have come. I'm very proud."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne

2013 Qualifying - 12th, 2013 Race - 14th

"Singapore is possibly the most difficult Grand Prix for the driver, a really long race on a tricky track, in hot conditions. The track surface is quite bumpy and demanding for the driver, but that makes it challenging which is why it's a track that I love. We will have some performance updates for this race and I hope that means we can make a step forward and get a good result. The fact it's a night race has no real effect on how we tackle the race as visibility is good, in fact the lights are so bright that you don't even use a clear visor, instead I choose a medium tint. Racing at night is fun, it's quite cool to go to bed at five in the morning and get up at two in the afternoon and just stay on French time. Physical preparation is important as it is such a hot race, so we train in very hot conditions wherever possible during the European summer to prepare and I don't expect any problems on that front."

Daniil Kvyat

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I have actually driven the Singapore track back in 2010. It was in Formula BMW, but of course I only had 140 horsepower then and this year I will have a few times more than that! Therefore it's going to be a very different experience this time and one I am looking forward to. I do like the track a lot, because although it's a street circuit, it's much quicker than Monaco for example. Recently I was able to drive it again, although only on the simulator and the feeling I had was good. Although the walls are very close to you, the track itself is quite wide. I enjoy the aspect of racing at night and actually, after this year's Bahrain GP I said we should have more night races because the atmosphere is really cool. I'm sure it's going to be quite tough physically, but I am prepared for that. In terms of our performance, the fact that absolute power is not the most important part of the package, means we can expect the STR9 to be more competitive than, for example, down the long straights at the last race in Monza. Let's wait and see but on paper it looks more promising, even though we were still able to put up a fight in Italy."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"It's always a great pleasure for us to come to Singapore, which has consistently proved itself to be one of the most spectacular races of the year. Racing under the lights in such a vibrant city provides an amazing atmosphere that showcases Formula One at its very best. The unique nature of the race at night obviously has an impact on the tyres, and we've selected the two softest tyres in the range for their rapid warm-up and high levels of mechanical grip: vital characteristics on a street circuit. This is actually a step softer than last year, when we nominated the medium and supersoft, so we should see some interesting tyre strategies with teams taking full advantage of the performance on offer. There's traditionally quite a high incidence of safety cars, so every strategy has to be flexible enough to bear this eventuality in mind as well. With the championship seemingly getting closer, all the signs suggest that we're in for an exciting and unpredictable race."

Williams

Felipe Massa

2013 Qualifying - 6th, 2013 Race - 6th

"The Singapore race is fantastic, but also exceptionally difficult. The temperatures are so high and the humidity really affects the drivers physically. The track is similar to Monaco but almost twice the length which adds to the challenge. Staying on European time helps with it being a night race, but it's still a bit strange going to bed at 3am. I really enjoy the race and hope to carry the success we had in Monza into the remaining races of the season."

Valtteri Bottas

2013 Qualifying - 16th, 2013 Race - 13th

"I'm looking forward to Singapore, it's a very special race - the setting there is really cool, the track is very challenging and there's no room for mistakes. It's a night race but the lights are very bright so it doesn't make a big difference to drive, everything just looks awesome which is great for the fans and builds the atmosphere. The race is long. Normally it goes up to two hours, so it's a challenge for the cars with tyre degradation, and for the drivers physically it will be probably the toughest race of the season due to the heat and humidity. Singapore could be a little more difficult for us compared to Monza, but we have some aero upgrades which should give us more downforce. We go there hoping to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull but we know Mercedes will be very strong."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"Singapore is a night race and even though that brings certain challenges for those who work there, it offers a great spectacle for Formula 1. The track has a few issues that we have to work around, such as the lack of grip that on a normal track would improve, but here doesn't. This results in a lot of wheel spin and oversteer which affects the balance of the car. The main focus for the team is the Constructors' Championship now and we have to establish ourselves in third position, which we regained from Ferrari in Monza."

McLaren

Jenson Button

2013 Qualifying - 8th, 2013 Race - 7th

"This is such a special race. The whole weekend feels different - there's a buzz to the paddock when you first walk in on Thursday afternoon and it never goes away. You can feel the vibe - and the tension and anticipation climb higher and higher as we get closer to the race itself on Sunday night.

"We had a positive showing at Spa and Monza, and we're continuing to develop and improve the car. As we move back to higher-downforce circuits, it'll be interesting to see how the pack reshuffles itself - I think we'll still be able to maintain our forward momentum.

"I also think Monza showed us that this formula is working - we had some fantastically close battles in Italy, and I really hope that we continue that in Singapore. It's not the easiest of tracks for racing, but I think Monza has shown that the new regulations are in fact making the racing better. I'm really looking forward to getting out on track and seeing what these cars can do."

Kevin Magnussen

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I've been looking forward to this race all year! I've never done a night race before, so this is going to be such a special weekend. Racing at night under the spotlights really feels like a show, and I think it's an incredible and positive thing for the sport as a whole.

"This is also probably going to be one of the physically toughest races of the year - it'll last for nearly two hours, and there aren't too many opportunities around the lap to relax. But I like that - I like tracks that are quite intense: I really enjoyed the Hungaroring, which is quite relentless, and this looks pretty similar.

"Finally, I think the impending ban on over-the-radio instructions will be interesting. As with any sudden change to the interpretation of the regulations, it's going to be tricky to know exactly how best to proceed, but I'm sure we'll find a way to make it work."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"The start of the flyaways marks the final chapter of the world championship season. It's a time when the whole team needs to dig deep as we continue our work to improve the car and carry some positive momentum across the winter and into next year. It's an important time for everyone - and it will be interesting to see how our car responds to the return to the high-downforce circuits that proliferate for the remainder of the year.

"The Singapore Grand Prix has very quickly become one of Formula 1's most important, vibrant and glamorous events. It's a must-see race, and one that shows just what this sport can achieve with an open-minded approach to creating something new, unusual and innovative.

"We are still evaluating the full consequences of the new interpretation of Article 20.1 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, but, as a team, we will of course find a solution that works and which follows this new interpretation. Singapore is a difficult race to manage under normal circumstances, so this will definitely add an extra dimension to our preparations."

Marussia

Max Chilton

2013 Qualifying - 22nd, 2013 Race - 17th

“It’s great to be heading back to Singapore. It’s a fantastic city and the atmosphere of the night race is totally electric. I have great memories of winning there in GP2 in 2012, so it’s always nice to come back and race here. The track is not dissimilar to Monaco, another street circuit, and we know our car is well-suited to those track characteristics. I had quite a good race here last year and with only six races remaining, it’s important that we have a good showing at every round.”

Jules Bianchi

2013 Qualifying - 21st, 2013 Race - 18th

“I really enjoyed my first night race experience here last year; it’s such an unusual and exciting event with a really great atmosphere. It’s fun, doing things differently. Having to push yourself to adopt a new regime is an interesting challenge that requires real discipline. The track characteristics are quite a lot like Monaco, which is a race that is special for a couple of reasons, not least because I finished in the points there. With so many similarities, this is a circuit that also gives me a good feeling. Last year the race did not pan out so well for me, but we learned a great deal and I hope we can bring that experience together to achieve a good result this year. Our car should work well here with all the corners, and as it is often an eventful race, we will be fighting to take advantage of every opportunity.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal

“Singapore is a fantastic destination at which to begin the final phase of the season. The tempo of the races really steps up a notch from this point as, up and down the field, there is still so much to play for. So it is quite fitting that we get the fly-away races underway in such a vibrant city and one which does a fabulous job of hosting a Grand Prix. Over the past four years we have become well-versed in coping with the unique challenges that this event poses; racing under the lights, operating to a European schedule, eating breakfast in the afternoon, to name but a few. That familiarity has done little to diminish the whole experience and we are excited to get into the swing of the race weekend proper. Of course, the Marina Bay Street Circuit closely resembles Monaco, and within our team we cannot think of Monaco without remembering it as the biggest milestone in our young history - our first points. One cannot take anything for granted though; just like Monaco this is a very unforgiving and demanding track that punishes even a small mistake. Nonetheless, we know our drivers enjoy the tough conditions this race presents and will make the most of the fact that this track, with it short straights and plentiful corners, is one that is ideally suited to our package.”

Mattia Binotto, Scuderia Ferrari chief operating officer - power unit division

“The Singapore track is very similar, in terms of its characteristics, to Monaco, the circuit where Marussia picked up its best result of the season. The Marina Bay track therefore represents a good opportunity to demonstrate the car’s potential. The aim is to be ready to make the most of any opportunity that might present itself for the team to bring home more points. As usual in Singapore, one of the critical aspects is the high temperature. We will therefore have to pay particular attention to keep all the car’s systems under control, especially the ERS. In this race, reliability will be key and it will be necessary to be very attentive to it at all times.”

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I always like the Singapore Grand Prix because it's a night race and its festive atmosphere is definitely one of the highlights of the season. It's a very technical track, with lots of changes of direction, and it's a challenging race for everyone. After finishing ahead of our closest rivals in Italy, I look forward to another good fight out on track in Singapore - it will be good to see what we are capable of with the updated car at the Marina Bay Street Circuit - at street circuits anything can happen and we need to make sure we do our best."

Marcus Ericsson

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"Singapore is one of my favourite cities and I cannot wait for my first Formula One night race experience. It's a circuit I know quite well - I've finished on the podium every time I've raced there with GP2, so it brings back very good memories. The track is bumpy and it reminds me a lot of Monaco, even though the Singapore layout is much more physical and requires double the amount of energy over a single lap compared to Monte Carlo. The heat and humidity also make it a tough race weekend, but I've been training hard to make sure I am ready for the challenge and I look forward to the weekend ahead."