For most Formula One fans, Singapore rhymes with glamour. On many levels, the Singapore Grand Prix could be called the “Monaco of South-East Asia”, with those 24 cars dancing between the walls, sometimes only a few centimeters away… indeed, sometimes not even that.
For the team, however, Singapore was approached with some trepidation. The stop-start, low-speed nature of the circuit also echoes the particular characteristics of Monaco – where the team had its most difficult race of the season nearly four months ago.
Of course, since then, much hard work has gone on behind closed doors in Brackley to improve the car’s performance and handling characteristics on this kind of circuit. So the team arrived in Singapore with the firm intention of scoring further points on Sunday…
After a useful early evening session on Friday where he focused on higher fuel levels to help our understanding of how to prepare the car for the race, Nico approached qualifying with reasonable optimism.
His times in Q2 were good and Nico decided to go out in Q3 to try and get at least sixth place on the grid. Even though he ultimately qualified seventh, it was worth a shot as he only ended up 0.2s behind Massa.
Nico had a clean start in the race and managed to overtake Hamilton in the first lap, holding onto sixth place for four laps. He was then one of the first cars to stop, making his first appearance in the pits on lap nine – which set out his stall for an aggressive three-stop strategy.
After two further stops on lap 22 and 29, the latest to react to the deployment of the Safety Car, Nico managed to look after his set of soft tyres for the remainder of the race, covering over half the race distance (32 laps) on the same set.
Nico fought hard with Force India’s Paul Di Resta, who had originally planned a two-stop strategy but also stopped behind the Safety Car for soft tyres, and ran to the end.
On this demanding track for our car, and due to what Nico described as a “set-up mistake” from his side after the race, he ended-up struggling with the rear end. He faced more tyre degradation than the cars arsix 6 valuable points for the team after a good race from his side…
Michael ran a “tactical” qualifying session on Saturday, taking the calculated risk of not going out in Q3 to save new tyres for the race. Like Nico, Michael made a good start and managed to overtake Lewis during the first lap. The two drivers had (again!) a good – and clean – battle during the opening laps, until Lewis found a way past Michael in the DRS zone on lap three.
After his first stop on lap 10, Michael showed some great pace, posting the then fastest lap of the race twice and closing in on Nico. Michael stopped on lap 24 again, before an accident with Sauber’s Perez brought Michael’s race to an end.
“What happened was what I would call a misunderstanding between Sergio Perez and myself. He was about to go inside and lifted, and I was not expecting him to do that so early, and therefore hit him”.
Michael’s DNF brought a good run of form to an end (two fifth places in succession) but there’s no doubt that he will do what he can to bounce back in Japan, a track he names among his favourites.
Team-wise, the boys in the pits once again showed how determination, practice and meticulous attention to detail can produce great results – the team did the four fastest pit stops of the race in Singapore and were, on average, half a second faster than the next best rival.
Everyone is now looking forward to our visit to Japan, a great country which suffered a lot just a few months ago and that every team is always excited to come back to…