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Singapore preview quotes - Manor, Sauber, Haas, Pirelli, Williams & more

15 Sep 2016

With the season’s European rounds complete, the paddock heads east for the floodlights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, host of the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. Those involved look ahead to the action...

Manor

Pascal Wehrlein

“Checking into my hotel room, seeing the view of the Marina Bay Circuit laid out right in front of me, was a very nice feeling. An incredible view of an incredible city and a fantastic location for a Grand Prix. Tough conditions, a demanding circuit for car and driver – exactly the kind of challenge I love. Bring it on!”

“I’m prepared for the fact that it will be tough-going; high temperatures, high humidity, 23 corners on a track that is not so long compared to some. The track conditions can be changeable, with two practice sessions in daylight, and qualifying and the race at night - and, of course, the rain. Plus, it’s a street circuit, so it can be quite unforgiving. But, you won’t find me complaining. Pretty much every track is new for me this season, so while each one is to be respected, I don’t worry too much about acclimatisation; it’s something I really enjoy. I’ll let you know how it goes!”

Esteban Ocon

“I’m loving and learning every minute - and there’s so much more still to come. It’s a big challenge stepping up to F1 in the middle of the season; so much to get to grips with and no time to stop and think, only to keep pushing forward. It’s a big test, but that works for me! In only two races I’ve had some things go well and some things go less well, but I’ve got two race distances under my belt and I’m really happy with the way I’ve slotted into the team, and with my own performances. Six of the next seven tracks are new for me, so some exciting challenges are ahead, which is great! Plus, we have some important objectives as a team, which we need to be very focused on.”

“I think we’ve shown that when everything goes our way, we can expect to be in Q2. Pascal has been able to show that it’s possible. So that’s the next target for me personally. When we start further up the grid, we can create opportunities for the race, and then, who knows, another point is a real possibility. At this stage, that would be a dream come true in a long list of dreams I’d like to realise.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

“There are worse places to be working nights, that’s for sure! A night race always sounds pretty challenging, but by the time we’ve flown in and got stuck into the preparation, it’s not so difficult to adjust to being on European timings. The lighting system is truly excellent and at a track as impressive as this, in such a fantastic city, there are way too many pros to think about cons. What they’ve done with this race is incredible for the sport and the fans and it’s a real pleasure to be racing here.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“The Singapore Grand Prix is surely one of most exciting as well as challenging race weekends. The typically high temperatures, the high humidity, and the fact that the race is held at night makes it to one of the highlights of the season. For the spectators it is a real experience - besides the action on track, there are also many events going on off track. Thinking about last year’s race, I was very close to the points by finishing in P11. As we saw positive results from the car package during the recent race weekends, our aim is certainly to fight for points in Singapore.”

Felipe Nasr

“I like the Singapore Grand Prix a lot - the night race as well as the atmosphere in the city once Formula One is there makes it a special race weekend. It is a great street circuit and racing under these high temperatures is a real challenge. I have good memories from last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, as I was able to score one point. Looking back to the tests during the previous race weekends, I have confidence in our car, as I felt that we made a step in the right direction, although we cannot see it in the results yet. In Singapore a lot can happen during the race, so we need to take every opportunity that might come up.”

Haas

Romain Grosjean

“It’s pretty cool. Everyone loves it, especially the VIPs, who then go partying after the race. It’s a special one, for sure. It’s a race everyone waits for. It’s a tricky track, and you’re racing at night downtown when it’s very hot and humid, so there are a lot of factors that make it exciting.

“It’s actually easier at night because the lights never change. The luminosity is always the same. You stick with the same visor, and driving at those speeds in those conditions is absolutely fine.

“There are a few corners where you can actually run wide and go over the kerbs. I think last year they removed some. So, yes, most of the time there are walls in close proximity - you pretty much have to hold your breath and hope for the best, especially when you’re pushing in qualifying, as you run so close to the walls - but there are a few occasions on the track when you can use a bit more of the width than was perhaps first designed.

“Especially between Turns 3 and 4, and on the long straight, it’s very bumpy. You really want to find the right line there. When you make an overtaking move there, you’ve really got to be sure you’ve got the car with you as it’s very tricky. To be honest, every corner is tricky.

“It can be very physical. All week we never see the sunlight, so that takes a bit of energy away. Then it’s humid, it’s hot and it’s always a long race. We usually reach the two-hour limit. It’s very, very demanding. I remember back in 2013, I lost four kilos (nine pounds) of water during the race, which is quite a lot. Mentally it’s very difficult, as much as it is physical. It’s clearly one of the races where you need to be at your fittest in the season.

“We [drivers] love a challenge. That’s why we race in Formula One and that’s why we drive these cars and race at over 300 km/h (186 mph). We love it.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“I like very much the first section - Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4. You arrive very quick from the straight, so it’s a sequence of corners which makes it very interesting. I also like the last part where you have a lot of chicanes where you can use the kerbs. It’s a lot of corners in a very short period of time, so it’s very physical.

“The overtaking opportunities are on corner 1, corner 8, which is after the long straight, then after the hairpin, as well. There are two or three places which are pretty good for overtaking, even though it’s a street circuit and usually street circuits are a bit more difficult for that.

“The first time I came there was in GP2 and I went straight into practice without knowing much about it. There used to be a very special corner, a triple chicane, which now has been changed, so that part and that section will be new to me. I’m looking forward to getting to know it.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“I think we’re at a good point in finding solutions and finding the balance of the car. We are bringing updates to the car in Singapore which, hopefully, will help us go faster. Front wing, modifications to the floor and the brake ducts. We’re aiming to reduce corner sensitivity so the car is more consistent, and enhance aerodynamic performance and overall efficiency.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“Singapore is probably the most spectacular circuit that we visit all season, and this year we hope to make it even more special with the arrival of our rapid ultrasoft compound, in order to maximise the speed and grip available at the Marina Bay track. This is one of the most unpredictable races of the year - it’s the only track with a 100 percent safety car record - so all the complex variables inevitably throw up opportunities for teams to do something creative with strategy. In terms of competition, it looks set to be one of the closest races we will see all year, where tyre management will make a big difference.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“We’re back into the flyaways with Singapore, one of the most challenging race weekends on the calendar. That track has so many corners, so as a driver to complete the perfect lap in Singapore it’s quite tricky. But it’s really rewarding when you do. Personally, I do like the challenge. It’s a night race and in terms of how much you need to focus, it’s probably the most difficult track after Monaco. There’s no room for mistakes. It’s extremely hot, which makes it much more physical for the driver and hard on the car. It’s a very unique and cool looking Grand Prix.”

Felipe Massa

“Singapore is one of the few night races that we have, together with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. It’s a very difficult race. It’s very humid and so hot; a tricky race for everybody and one of the hardest on the calendar. That said, I really enjoy racing there and it’s a very rewarding track. It’s always a good feeling racing in Singapore.”

Pat Symonds, chief technical officer

“The move from Monza to Singapore is one of extremes, going from the lowest downforce and drag circuit of the season to a street circuit where emphasis is on high downforce and good mechanical grip. Singapore presents many unique challenges, not least of which being that it is a night race. It does however, also bring some advantages; being so close to the equator we can quite accurately predict the ambient and track temperatures. The circuit puts a premium on low-speed grip and traction. It also has a high braking demand with certain areas requiring good ride to maintain mechanical grip. It’s a circuit we have performed reasonably well on in recent years, so we look forward to collecting some strong points as we continue our championship battle.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“We knew Spa and Monza would be among the two most difficult races on the calendar for us. Now we move to the end-of-season flyaways and we’re optimistic that we can continue pushing for more points and more positive results. Singapore is a really fun track, very bumpy and challenging, but it’s a quirky layout with a lot of stop-start sections and really fast straights, so you need a car that works well in high downforce set-up and has good traction out of the slower corners. I’ve won there twice before, and the floodlights and energetic fans give it a really exciting atmosphere.

“Singapore is a great race - it’s always an enjoyable weekend and definitely one of the halo races on the calendar each year. It’s a really long race - usually almost two hours - so a lot can happen. It’s tough on the cars too, especially with the current that runs underneath the asphalt near the Anderson Bridge towards Turn 13, which can play tricks on the electronics systems. It’s definitely a race of attrition, so I hope we can have a smooth weekend with good reliability, and work our way towards the front. Over the past few races, we’ve shown good consistency in our performances, so I’m optimistic that we can continue this form in Singapore.”

Jenson Button

“The Marina Bay circuit is a challenge unlike any other that we face during the season - even when you compare it to the other street races on the calendar. It’s twisty, extremely fast, the barriers are high and close, and the bumpy surface is unforgiving, which sometimes means losing grip is something you can’t get away with, without seeing flying debris all over the track and the possibility of a safety car. That’s part of what makes racing in Singapore so special, and its characteristics pose a tough test for even the strongest chassis and power unit. It’s gruelling for car and driver, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding to drive.

“Singapore is a tough race, so you have to be at your absolute peak physical fitness to not find it a struggle, especially in the heat. It’s an incredible venue and there’s a really special feeling all weekend. Knowing you’re working on European time while the rest of Singapore is running on local time makes it really unique - like racing in a parallel universe! Racing under floodlights never gets boring, and I hope I can have a weekend with less drama than at Monza.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“The combination of the stunning Marina Bay backdrop, state-of-the-art paddock facilities, unique circuit characteristics, and a vibrant atmosphere from the passionate fans, makes Singapore one of the most impressive spectacles on the Formula One calendar.

“As we begin the final set of flyaways before the end of the season, we go to territories where we race at circuits that require a more technical car set-up, with less reliance on pure power. Despite spending the next few weeks far away from the UK, our development push is still ongoing and we’re still working hard on achieving performance improvements right up to the end of the season.

“It’ll be interesting to see how the ultrasoft tyre fares on the bumpy asphalt this street circuit is so famous for. Strategy will be an important factor in this year’s Grand Prix, especially given the unusually high likelihood of a safety-car appearance. Although we weren’t in a points-paying position in Monza, we did see some promising performances throughout the weekend, so we’re hopeful of a greater chance to show what our package is truly capable of at the Singapore Grand Prix.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“The Singapore night race is quite an amazing spectacle for everyone involved in F1, with the bustling city under the floodlights, great people and good food. The race, however beautiful, is long and physically draining for both the drivers and team, with high temperatures and humidity.

“The car set-up will need to change drastically to adjust the package from the fast-paced circuits of Spa and Monza, to Singapore’s twistier city circuit, so the team is already busy in preparation. Our car has good balance under braking, so the nature of the track should suit us more than the previous circuits.

“Honda will work to match the driveability of the power unit to suit the needs of the stop-and-go nature of the circuit, so that our drivers’ skills can shine throughout the weekend. We hope to be in a good position to score points and have a good race.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

“Monza didn’t quite go to plan. But when you look at how far we’ve come as a team this season, from the position we were in, then I realise I’m in a phenomenal position. We’re still leading both World Championships and there are still so many great things to achieve together, even before this season is through. Next up it’s Singapore, which is always a great event. The race is a challenge with the heat and humidity – but it’s a street circuit, which I love. We didn’t have the greatest weekend there last year, so hopefully we’re on top of that now. I guess we’ll find out in a few days’ time! Either way, it’s not going to be an easy breezy drive. Even when we won there back in 2014, it wasn’t straightforward. Ferrari and Red Bull will be on it I’m sure, so we’ve got a big fight on our hands if we are up at the front. I love a battle, so I’ m excited to see how it plays out.”

Nico Rosberg

“Standing on top of that Monza podium was an awesome experience. I’ll definitely remember that one for a long time! But now my focus is on Singapore - a race that’s been up and down for me. I got my second ever podium there way back in 2008 but haven’t been up there again since, so the target is to change that on Sunday. Of course, it won’t be easy. This is a Red Bull track and we weren’t so strong there last year. But I have faith in the team and my belief in myself is as high as ever. I approach each weekend aiming to win the race. The points gap has gone up and down but I’ve taken it one race at a time - and that’s the best way for me, as you can see by how the gap is now. Singapore is a cool city and a great place for Formula One. The track looks spectacular under the lights and it’s always buzzing in town around the race weekend, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“After a strong showing in Italy, we go to Singapore with a big challenge ahead of us. No team has ever scored a 1-2 finish there - and with good reason. As we have seen before, it’s a race where a single problem can cascade into many more as the weekend progresses. We have to optimise everything to get a solid result. We didn’t manage it last year and, although we believe we now understand why, only performance on the race track can prove our conclusions right. We are curious and excited to see how it goes. Ferrari were mighty around this circuit last year and it will suit the high downforce design philosophy followed by Red Bull, so we must not make the mistake of thinking we are favourites this weekend. It’s an exciting time for the sport and the future is looking bright. For us, we now have to get the ball over the line in both championships while remaining conscious that next year is a very different challenge. For the drivers, I think their battle will go to the end and our challenge is to ensure they both have the equal opportunity to fight in terms of equipment and operations. It’s going to be great to watch.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Singapore is a unique race. With all sessions run at night under floodlights, everybody stays on European time throughout the weekend. This makes it a strange few days, getting up at lunch time in the local time zone and going to bed at breakfast. There seems to be a common feeling that there are more than 24 hours in the day when we’re in Singapore - but nobody is quite sure why! This was not a good race for us last year and a lot of work has been done during the intervening 12 months to understand why that was. It’s a matter of great interest for us as a team to see if we can come back and get it right this time around. Of course, we haven’t been able to test on the circuit, so all of our theories are just theories at this stage. We’ve got a lot more work ahead to get ourselves in a good position during practice, to qualify well and then to have a strong race. But we love a challenge and are looking forward to it. It’s an atmospheric venue with plenty of fans turning out, so we’re aiming to put on a good show and compete strongly.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

“Singapore has really become one of the highlights of the season, next to Monaco and perhaps Baku. It’s a street circuit; it’s a night race and it’s in a city which is one of the hubs of the world. The track is spectacular and you drive next to an amazing backdrop - definitely one of the best races you could have on the calendar.

“The strange sleeping pattern you get into also adds to the unusual weekend - you sleep until late in the day and stay up well into the night - it’s an interesting way to break from the usual routine of a race weekend. It’s nice to have a change. Coming from Europe, this schedule makes it much easier on you because you don’t have any jet lag; you don’t have any adjustment to make and can go straight into the racing matters. The only struggle is to find any restaurants that still serve food after midnight when you’re finished at the circuit!

“I’ve never had a chance to explore Singapore, partly because of the schedule, but also because Marina Bay is quite far from the heart of the city. Once the race weekend kicks off, it’s difficult to move around the town because many roads are closed so we usually end up not seeing too much of the place. It seems a fun city, though - Asian but with a European vibe.

“The track is very challenging. It’s a very long lap, with many corners and that in itself is an added difficulty when you try to strike a balance for the set-up with the engineers: it’s never-ending! From a driving point of view, it makes it really hard to get all the sectors together and deliver the perfect lap. It’s also very hot and humid - you’re in the car for pretty much two hours in steaming hot conditions… it definitely tests you.

“There are some nice corners, such as the fast right-hand kink of Turn 6 and the approach to Turn 7. The first sector is my favourite part of the lap - there are bumps and big kerbs, so you need a car that can take them nicely, and you need good traction out of the low and medium-speed corners to get a quick lap.”

Sergio Perez

“Singapore is unique - starting from the very special schedule we have there. The European season may be over, but we keep to their times: it’s a weird routine - you wake up late, go to the track in the afternoon and stay up late into the night.

“It’s a very demanding race from a physical and mental perspective: it’s hot, races usually last up to two hours and you have nearly 25 corners to get right every lap. There is no margin for error and generally the racing is very intense, which takes a lot out of you as a driver.

“The key to being quick in Singapore is precision. You need to find every last millimetre of the track, almost kiss the walls and have a stable rear end of the car. It’s a circuit that can catch you out and I can’t remember a race there without a safety car, so races can be shaken up at any time. It’s also a track that rewards guts and where the driver can make a big difference.

“As a street circuit, it’s not as unforgiving as Monaco because the track is much wider, but it also means the speeds are higher and there are more overtaking opportunities. I have a good relationship with the place, with some strong results in the past. Hopefully I can do the same this year!”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“We’ve usually performed well in Singapore. We’ve scored points in every race there since 2010 and had some very strong performances over the years. We had our best showing of the year in Baku on a circuit that shares many characteristics with Singapore so there’s every reason to feel optimistic. I think the warm conditions will work in our favour as well. Solid points must be the objective in Singapore and all the remaining races.”

Renault

Kevin Magnussen

“It’s a really cool circuit and being a night race in Singapore, it makes Formula One look even more spectacular. The cars look super shiny under the lights - for television viewers as well as for the spectators in the grandstands it adds to the beauty of the race. The entire city lives and breathes F1 during that week and you can feel it in the atmosphere everywhere when you are downtown.

“The track itself is fun and I always enjoy driving on street circuits. That said, it’s also a pretty tricky circuit to get right with a lot of corners where a mistake can be easily made. Grip levels evolve throughout the weekend so the key is set up and getting the balance right. Hopefully it’s a track where we can better our performance a little bit after a disappointing last European race.

“Although it’s a night race, we all stay on European time - we get up late in the day and come to the track from around four o’clock in the afternoon, which means that it’s morning in Europe. This also means that we don’t struggle with jet lag in Singapore. Even though we race at night it gets very hot in Singapore and that’s a challenge in itself, but it should be fine.

“It didn’t go very well [last time I raced here in 2014] as I had an overheating issue in the car - on top of hot conditions! A radiator seal had broken and there was hot air coming into the cockpit. It was extremely hot! This year I’m hoping for a solid race where we can fight in the pack. I really look forward to being in Singapore.”

Jolyon Palmer

“I love Singapore and it’s a totally different challenge from Monza. It’s a street race with close walls taking place at night so it’s a unique event on the calendar. I’ve raced and won there in the GP2 Series and it was one of my best wins. In fact, I raced there two years running and both years were very good. It’s a better opportunity for a stronger result.

“It’s a cool feeling driving at night as you can see the circuit very clearly from the lights but your vision is channelled as the background is in darkness.

“The final sector is a real challenge with the section under the grandstand. It’s tight over the bridge too so you need your wits about you. Stringing a perfect lap together is a real challenge! Over the bridge and the middle of the lap are pretty tough to get right as you’re braking as you turn so it’s easy to lock a wheel, and the last sector is very tight and twisty.

“[Overtaking is] certainly is a challenge but Turn 6 at the end of the first sector / beginning of the second sector where the DRS comes in is the main overtaking opportunity and then braking into Turn 7. The track is pretty tight in other places and it’s always pretty slippery when you do go offline.

“We see the circuit change a lot over the weekend as the surface rubbers in then the climatic conditions are reasonably different between FP1 and FP2, then FP3 and qualifying so getting a good handle on the balance of the car gives us plenty of work as generally it’s cooler later in the night. It’s not a conventional weekend!

“The great thing about the race is that it’s right in the centre of the city so you’re surrounded by everything you could want. You don’t have to go far for a good restaurant. It’s great to sample the local culture.

“I’m really looking forward to it. The summer break allowed me to recharge my batteries completely and now I’m fully in the zone. Spa and Monza were not the easiest tracks for us but Singapore offers more of an opportunity I think. I’m driving better than ever and I’m exceptionally keen to have a strong result after the frustration of Monza.”

Bob Bell, chief technical officer

“Singapore’s a night race on a street course with 23 corners surrounded by a lot of barriers. It’s a race where drivers really have to be on their mettle. It’s tough for everyone as it’s hot and humid. For the drivers, it’s a long race on a bumpy circuit.

“It’s tough on brakes and requires high downforce but that said, there’s nothing to say that we shouldn’t put on a reasonable show. Over the course of the weekend one of our biggest challenges is understanding the car with the moving target of track surface evolution. This is the same with any street course and you can find yourself chasing your tail somewhat as it’s difficult to ascertain if any lap time improvement is from a change made to the car or just from the track surface improvement. For this reason you don’t want to change too much of the car set-up over the practice sessions. To have a strong Grand Prix you need to arrive with a good set-up out of the box so the drivers can gain pace through both their confidence and circuit evolution.

“Most of the corners are low speed so that’s what we target with the set-up. It’s quite bumpy so you need to get a good set-up for ride then it’s fine tuning around that. If you have a solid base set-up the pace will come to you over the sessions as the grip from the surface improves and driver confidence grows.”

Fred Vasseur, team principal

“Singapore is a type of circuit that should suit us better than the ones visited recently. We can hope for results that are more in line with those achieved at circuits such as Budapest or Spa.”

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director

“We are looking forward to the final part of the year and visiting tracks that should play to our strengths a lot more. In previous races and particularly in Spa we’ve shown that the performance potential is there, but sadly we haven’t had the opportunity to convert into results through various incidents. Singapore’s twists, turns and short bursts of acceleration should give us the platform we need to finally get onto form.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“Singapore is definitely one of my favourites. It’s very challenging, not easy to understand and also the heat makes it even harder. Being a night race means it’s a bit different, you have to adapt your braking zone as the light changes from the earlier session to the late ones.

“I enjoyed it a lot last year so I’m excited to go out there again. The local food looks and smells great but I haven’t got around to trying it yet. In 2015 I ate pretty basic food, I don’t really like fish so I kept it simple with some plain meat. This year I am going to try and sample some local dishes.

“Luckily the time difference isn’t a problem because we are always driving so late, this means we keep our body clocks on the European time zone. It’s funny because we go for dinner in the middle of the night, there are people partying while you sit eating.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“Singapore is great, a real night race. Being able to drive through a massive city at night with all the lights flashing between buildings as you go past is an awesome feeling. It’s weird, I think it actually feels like you are going faster at night.

“It’s really hot and humid out there, I would say it is probably the most physical race of the year but I enjoy the challenge. One main highlight for me is the food, it’s amazing in Singapore. You can get everything and anything but Chilli mud crabs are pretty mega so I love having them a lot.

“It seems like a really fun city and I’m really fortunate to get a lot of people coming over from Australia and especially Perth, this means I get a lot of love in Singapore.”


More to follow.