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Singapore preview quotes - Williams, McLaren, Pirelli & more

15 Sep 2015

With the European leg of the season complete, the Formula One paddock begins a series of flyaway rounds with the original F1 night race and one of the most popular races on the calendar - those involved look ahead to the 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix…

Williams

Felipe Massa

“It’s a fantastic race and I love to visit Singapore; the city is incredible and the people are really friendly. There are a lot of passionate fans so I hope we can deliver a good performance. It’s not easy to get the set-up perfect and the tyres working in the ideal operating window, and these are challenges we will face from the start of the first session. Of the last remaining races this season this is probably the hardest track for our car, but that doesn’t mean we can’t deliver a good haul of points.”

Valtteri Bottas

“Singapore is a very cool place and quite unique in that it’s a night race. Being in the middle of the city I can walk to the circuit from my hotel which is convenient and adds to the sense of atmosphere. For the fans there is nothing more you would want really - you can see the city and racing all in close proximity. For the team it’s a challenging track as there are so many corners with different characteristics which makes it hard to get the balance perfect. The heat, humidity and intensity of the track also makes it very physically demanding. There have been a few changes to the track layout this year so it will be interesting to see the effects these have.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“On the back of a successful weekend in Monza, the team heads to Singapore in good spirits and hopeful of scoring some good points. It’s a street circuit and a night race so it poses some very significant challenges. It's very long with 23 corners which are a challenge for the drivers physically, and also for the engineers because of their relative low speed. It starts off as an understeer circuit which develops to include tyre degradation on the rear tyres which causes traction issues in the race. The ambient conditions are tough on both the drivers and the crew alike, as are the abnormal working hours which everyone has to get used to. There have been a few small changes in the layout but the drivers have worked in the simulator to understand this. Singapore has become a jewel in the crown of Formula One as it epitomises what we love about the sport.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen

“Racing in Singapore is going to be something really special. I’m really looking forward to the challenge. It’s true that we’ve already experienced a bit of night racing in Bahrain this year, but that was a permanent track and now we will be racing on a street circuit, which is always more tricky… It reminds me of Monaco, as we will be driving close to the walls and it won’t be easy to overtake, but I’m sure we will have some good fun out there!”

Carlos Sainz

“The race programme is so weird! Not the usual driver routine at all… Breakfast at 15:00, lunch at 19:00! We go to sleep very late, wake up late… To drive at night is always different, our night vision needs to be perfect! However, I’ve been told that the lights are really strong and you can’t really tell it’s night-time.

“It seems like a pretty interesting track: long, with a lot of corners, braking, bumpy… And it will suit our car quite well! I’m very happy to have finished the race in Monza after four retirements in a row, and hopefully we can now make the most out of this weekend - Singapore is a very good opportunity for us to score points!”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“Singapore is an incredible place for a race. It’s really unique in every way, and as a driver it’s a privilege to be part of such an amazing night show under the spotlights. It’s a Grand Prix that many people look forward to and I’m really excited to go back there.

“The heat and humidity make it tough for the drivers and everyone in the garage. It’s a very challenging race physically, so it’s important that we train properly and prepare effectively to keep ourselves on top form all weekend. It’s a really fun circuit to drive, so I’m looking forward to getting to Marina Bay and soaking up the amazing atmosphere.

“I’ve won twice in Singapore and I love racing there, so with my engineers we’ll be focussing on setting up the car as best we can for this circuit as soon as we arrive. It’ll be interesting to see how our car responds to the high-downforce setup there and I hope we can have a more positive weekend.”

Jenson Button

“Singapore is always such a special race. It’s quickly become one of the most famous races on the calendar and it’s easy to see why. The whole setup is really special and racing under lights creates an amazing atmosphere that’s totally different from any other Grand Prix. There’s a real buzz about the place from the moment you step off the plane.

“There’s always a lot of anticipation in the build-up to this race, and for us it’s no different. We’ve had a couple of really challenging races, but we’ve said for a while that some of the circuits we go to towards the end of the season should be a bit better-suited to the stronger elements of our package.

“There’s no denying it’ll be hard work, and we aren’t expecting miracles overnight. But, Singapore is a fantastic circuit, it’s one of the longest races of the season in terms of time, and we quite often we see a safety car there. So, anything can happen; we’re hoping to learn a lot about how our car works in this configuration, and take as many positives from the weekend as we can.”

Eric Boullier, racing director

“Singapore marks the start of the final ‘fly-away’ leg of the season, and a set of new and different challenges for the whole team. It’s a relentless time of year which demands a lot from every team member, but we’re focussed on the challenge and working hard to complete the last third of the season on a more positive note.

“There is no denying that Spa and Monza were incredibly tough races for McLaren-Honda. We expected it, and it was no surprise when the results came, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Saying that, we are entering a phase of the season where the circuits rely less on pure power and more on balance, characteristics that tend to suit our package better.

“Together, McLaren and Honda are constantly striving to improve our package and we have faith in our collective abilities to analyse our weaker areas and continue pushing forward. We won’t make any promises or predictions, but we love this circuit and hope to put on the best show possible under the incredible floodlights of Singapore. It is truly a spectacular location to host a Grand Prix and fully deserves its status as one of the flagship races on the Formula One calendar.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

"From Singapore, we now start our second round of fly-away races. After the classic circuits of Europe, a night race on the complex street circuit of Singapore will be a big change for the team, in both the preparation for the race and adjusting our body clocks.

“Our engineers are preparing to reach the ideal power unit set-up for the track's slippery and tight corners. The car's overall balance between power unit and chassis will be the key to a good weekend, so we hope to provide a good package for the drivers for the race."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Since joining the calendar in 2008, Singapore has always provided a truly stunning spectacle that showcases what Formula One is all about: the most advanced technology in the world, under the spotlights. As this is a street circuit, we’ve nominated the two softest and fastest tyres in the range: they offer the maximum mechanical grip and a rapid warm-up, which are two keys to success in Singapore. There are lots of factors for the teams and drivers to consider when planning strategy: the unusual track temperature evolution, a big performance gap between the two compounds, the need to save fuel over the long and demanding race distance, as well as the high likelihood of a safety car, which has featured at every race in Singapore so far. Because of all these variables and also the assorted street furniture - painted white lines, manhole covers and so on, which have caught out a few drivers in the past - the work done in free practice to capture all the necessary tyre data will be even more important than usual.

"During these days, we will also be defining, together with the FIA, a clearer procedure enabling the teams to more easily follow the rules regarding tyre usage. This is important to avoid any misunderstandings, by giving the teams more precise indications to comply with, thus avoiding what happened to Mercedes in Monza.”

Force India

Sergio Perez

“I’m heading to Singapore feeling very positive. We’ve shown in the last two races just how competitive we can be and I’m confident we can have a similar level of performance in Singapore. The team is pushing hard to bring performance to the car and we’ve still got developments coming through which will help us a bit more this weekend.

“The Marina Bay track is one of my favourites and I’ve scored points every time I’ve raced there. I always enjoy driving on street circuits because you have to be aggressive and precise, and that suits my driving style. It’s quite bumpy, too, so you need a car with good stability to ride the bumps. It’s also one of the most demanding races of the year because of the heat and humidity.

“I’m now feeling more comfortable with the updated car. I made a big breakthrough in Spa and since then I’ve had the confidence to push and get the most from our package. It’s a good sign for the rest of the year.”

Nico Hulkenberg

“I’ve always enjoyed racing in Singapore and I think it’s one of the best events of the year. The city is buzzing and there’s a great atmosphere wherever you go. When it’s all lit up at night it looks stunning. I often wonder how much work is required to transform such a busy city into a racetrack. It’s clearly a huge logistical operation, but it’s definitely worth all the effort.

“The track layout has some nice features, but the first sector stands out for me - especially the fast right-hand kink of turn six and the braking zone of turn seven. You need a car that’s able to ride the bumps, can use the kerbs and gives you confidence through the low and medium-speed corners.

“I think the Singapore Grand Prix ranks as the toughest race of the year because of the heat. It’s physically draining and you’ve also got the mental challenge of racing so close to the walls with a small margin of error. We go there knowing we’ve made some good steps with the car over the last few races and aiming for more good points.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, team principal

“The Singapore Grand Prix has already established itself as a firm favourite on the calendar. The organisers put on a fantastic event and I enjoy the unique atmosphere of the night race. It’s a venue where we’ve traditionally been competitive and we go there determined to build on our good track record.

“Singapore will give us another chance to optimise the b-spec version of VJM08 as we introduce another small update package. Having performed well on the high-speed circuits of Spa and Monza, we know we have the potential to get both cars inside the top ten, but it’s going to be quite a different challenge on the tight and twisty streets of Singapore.

“As I’ve been saying for a while, the midfield fight for fifth place in the championship is likely to go down to the wire. It was important to score good points in Monza to reclaim fifth place, but with seven races still to go we cannot afford to ease up. The development of the VJM08 will continue and we need to take every opportunity that comes our way.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

“Monza was an awesome weekend for me - one of the best I’ve had in Formula One. The car this team has built is just incredible and I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work. Of course, it was a shame for Nico and the crew to have the retirement - but I know he’ll bounce back and I’m looking forward to another battle in Singapore. This race is always a highlight of the season - a great city which looks really spectacular under the lights with the tricky street circuit below - my favourite kind of track to drive. You’ve got to stay 100 percent focused for a full two hours, which is tougher than it sounds with the crazy humidity. Any small slip and you’re in the barrier, so maintaining that total concentration is crucial. I’ve won there twice now - both times from pole, which shows you how important qualifying is too. It won’t be easy to make it three - far from it. But I’m riding high right now and I’ll be pushing for that hat-trick.”

Nico Rosberg

“Obviously, Monza didn’t go to plan. It was gutting to miss out on a good result so close to the end but now I approach the final seven races with the attitude that there’s nothing to lose. It’s maximum attack and I won’t be giving up the fight, no way. Singapore is one of my favourite races, so that’s a good place to start. It’s so tough on everyone - physically and mentally - and I love that challenge. I was only a few thousandths off pole last year and feeling good for the race until a problem with the steering wheel ended my weekend. I know I’ve got the pace to win there, so I’m hoping for a clean weekend and a chance to unleash this silver beast under the lights.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Monza was not an easy weekend. Both drivers produced very strong performances - but unfortunately only one got the result he deserved. When you are in a position like we currently enjoy, expectations are extremely high - and none more so than among our own people. This was our first retirement of the season which shows how far we have come but also that we are not invincible. Every detail matters and we are trying to take care of all of them. So, we take lessons from our failures and look to get back on top with both cars in Singapore. This won’t be easy, however, at a circuit which provides one of the toughest tests of man and machine on the calendar. We must be at our best here - and at each race that follows - to make sure the job is done.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“We came away from Monza with mixed feelings. It was a great performance and a fantastic victory from Lewis to achieve the Grand Chelem. But, on the other side of the garage, we let Nico down on two occasions with a pair of mechanical failures which unfortunately nullified a great recovery drive that should have brought at least a third-place finish. Now, we re-group and move on to Singapore. The season is far from over and things can change very quickly - so the target is a strong result with both cars there. It’s a challenging race - particularly on the brakes. The circuit sees a large number of braking events, with low average speed around the lap reducing cooling opportunities. It’s also a very bumpy track, with heavy use of the kerbs making it tough on the car. The layout makes overtaking a difficult task - often resulting in action-packed races, with unsuccessful passing attempts leaving debris on the track and resulting in frequent safety car appearances. It’s an interesting event - running on European time to allow for night-time track running - and provides a significant physical test for drivers and team members alike. It’s one that we all look forward to and we’ll be hoping to make it a memorable weekend.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“The Singapore Grand Prix offers spectators a great backdrop. It is always a very special race that I like a lot. I can hardly wait to get to Singapore, as this street circuit is one of my favourite tracks. The fact that the race is held at night brings a unique atmosphere with the city being under floodlights. For me it is definitely one of the highlights of the season. I am also looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix because of our aero-update. Our goal is to get the maximum out of this innovation.”

Felipe Nasr

“Singapore is one of the nicest venues on the current Formula One calendar. I really enjoy driving on this fascinating street circuit. Racing there is a physical challenge, because of the high temperature as well as the high humidity. Managing to put in the perfect laps during the night race will also be challenging. You need to drive very precisely through every one of the 23 corners on each lap, especially the tight ones. We also have our aero-update there, which is important and encourages everyone in the team.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, head of track engineering

“Having closed the European season on two high speed circuits in Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, the Sauber F1 Team will face some sort of major changes upon returning to Asia. Firstly the street circuit in Singapore presents totally different characteristics in terms of cornering speeds, set-up and aero efficiency requirements; secondly the Sauber C34-Ferrari has undergone a rather significant aerodynamic refinement that will require track validation; and lastly the race weekend will happen late at night in significantly warm conditions. Furthermore, we are curious about experiencing the re-aligned track section between turns 10 and 13. Regarding tyre allocation, Pirelli will provide the soft and super soft compounds.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

“The track is really impressive with some technical parts and some classic street circuit ‘ninety 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 E23 as it is a car that does inspire confidence, and confidence is king when you’re on a street course. The biggest challenge will be if it’s wet at any time - then we really have to work hard!

“The key elements [of physical preparation] are sleep and hydration. It’s a humid heat so you sweat a lot - even walking into the track. Keeping hydrated is very important. It’s a race where we run unusual timings relative to the local day. Once you get used to waking up in the afternoon and then going to bed early morning, then it gets to be just routine. It’s no secret that I love my sleep so one of the most important aspects of preparation for me is ensuring that my room stays dark in the morning when we’re still sleeping due to the timings we run. I hope the hotel has good blackout curtains! If it doesn’t then it’s not unknown for me to tape black rubbish bags to the windows to keep the light out and guarantee my sleep!

“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.

“I love the mix of cuisine you find in Singapore. For what is a relatively small place there is such an amazing fusion of cultures and this means there’s a really diverse mix of foods. You can get some really interesting dishes from the street vendors and there are some world class restaurants in town too.”

Pastor Maldonado

“I’m positive. Singapore’s a fantastic event, it’s a fun circuit and we’ve got a great car. We’ve shown at many different circuits that we can perform well this year so it’s another race where we want to get out there and put in a strong performance.

“Traction is fundamental in Singapore, it’s 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. It will be tough to regulate the torque and the traction out of the slow speed corners. Then you look at all the normal things for a fast lap. It’s a track where you can’t make mistakes because the walls are so close.

“Overall it is a very demanding track [physically] 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.

“To be honest it is not too different to racing in the day or at night. The main reason is quite simple - when we drive we do not look upwards, we are always focusing on what is straight ahead. The big change is the temperature of the Tarmac which is slightly cooler at night. So we have a slightly different approach because of this. We have to adapt our styles a little and make sure we create heat in the tyres as much as we can.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“[Singapore] should be pretty good for us. We’ve shown the E23 to be pretty capable in low-speed corners and over kerbs which is positive. We may not be quite as good as we have been at the medium-downforce tracks but there’s scope for a good weekend.

“There are a lot of walls and not so much run-off meaning there’s plenty to think about. You’re dealing with very slow speed corners and a lot of kerbs which means many demands on the car. There are many braking points – even though there aren’t any high speed stops, the brakes really take a pummelling as they’re always being used and they get no time to cool down. Lots of braking means lots of accelerating afterwards, so you need good traction. There’s plenty to think about for the drivers and engineers alike.

“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 crucial at Marina Bay.

“It will be down to the drivers to report back what the car is doing and let the engineers re-balance the car as the track temperature comes down. With previous years’ experience we have a fair idea of what sort of adjustments we need to make. The temperature does fall quite a bit, changing the grip and balance of the car somewhat. As the track temperature comes down the grip difference front to rear can change and make it tricky to get the car balanced following the earlier hotter practice sessions.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo

“Well it is hot! And very humid! I think it’s all those tall buildings downtown - the heat doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s the most physical challenge of the year. It’s the only race of the season where you crack open your visor to let in some cool air and instantly wish you hadn’t because it’s hotter outside. By the warm-up lap your chilled drinks bottle is the temperature of a freshly-poured cup of tea. It’s a tough place to race - but I love the challenge. I think most of the drivers do.

“I like the track. Street circuits are fun: you’re bouncing off the kerbs, kissing the walls, it’s cool. And the city’s great. Good restaurants, good atmosphere, great nightlife. Yeah, my kind of place...”

Daniil Kvyat

“It’s definitely one of the most challenging races of the championship. It’s the longest, one of the hottest, one of the most physically demanding races we face but having said that I do like the track, because although it’s a street circuit, it’s quite a bit quicker than Monaco. As Grands Prix go, it tends to have more atmosphere than the average...

“Last year it was extremely tough because my water bottle didn’t work, so it was a very difficult race. But this year I think I’m much better prepared from a physical point of view, so it should be fine. For example, Malaysia this year felt a lot more comfortable than last year and it’s similar, so I think I will be okay.”


More to follow.