Lewis: “I’m still well and truly in the hunt – that gives me huge motivation”

Lewis: “I’m still well and truly in the hunt – that gives me huge motivation”

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.

Singapore: In The Cockpit With Lewis

What’s really unique about Singapore is that we stay on European time throughout the weekend – so you’re waking up in the afternoon and going to bed as the sun rises. You’re effectively working a night shift, so I’m sure the guys and girls who do that on a regular basis back at our factories would have no problem with it at all! But for us, it’s something a bit different and it can take a day or two to adjust. We’ve been coming here for a few years now, though, so you get used to it.

Singapore is a really special race. The obvious difference is, of course, that it’s a night race. But beyond that, it’s a spectacular event in a great city. What makes this one quite tough is the heat – and particularly the humidity. As a driver, you can lose as much as a few kilos during the race, which makes it a real challenge to stay focused when you’re flat out for nearly two hours. It’s so important to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up, as a tiny loss of concentration can easily ruin your race.

Finding the braking point into Turn 1 is tricky. Like a lot of places around the circuit it’s really bumpy and the car can move around quite a lot. You then have to drift wide on exit – taking all of the kerb at the right-handed Turn 2 before braking in a straight line for another left at Turn Three. You need a good exit here before accelerating all the way through the curve at Turn 4 and braking across the bumps once again into Turn 5.

Keeping your minimum speed as high as possible through here is really important, as you need a fast exit heading through the first DRS zone along the back straight. There’s a small kink on the way through here and you need to be as smooth as you can, with the car bottoming all the way down to Turn 7. You generally brake at around the 100 metre sign for this corner, carrying lots of speed into the apex. The car is all over the place at this point – again because of the bumps.

It’s hard braking again into the tight hairpin at Turn 8. At this point the tyres are really hot so getting good traction can be difficult, which makes Turn 9 even tougher. You have to be really careful and patient through here, as the exit is really tight to the wall and you can easily have an oversteer moment which could ruin your race.

Then, we’re into quite a tricky part of the circuit – starting with Turn 10, where we used to have a terrible chicane but now there’s quite a quick left-hander into a fast chicane at Turns 11 and 12. The track gets pretty tight here as you go over the bridge, where it’s really easy to lock up the front wheels as you brake hard for the Turn 13 hairpin.

The exit from Turn 13 is crucial for a good run down the straight and into Turn 14, where there’s surprisingly good grip on entry – allowing you to brake nice and late. After another short straight it’s into the really technical final sector – starting with the Turn 15, 16 and 17 sequence. You’re braking an turning all the way through the sweeping left-hander at Turn 15 so it’s really easy to lock up, then your immediately into a right and immediate left at Turns 16 and 17.

It’s easy to lose the back end through Turns 18 and 19, then you have to use the kerbs a little through the fast chicane at Turns 20 and 21 – again a very bumpy part of the track where a small oversteer moment can easily see you clip the wall. The final two corners are almost one double-apex turn, taken really fast and firing you down the start / finish straight for another lap.

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