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Explained: The Singapore Grand Prix Circuit Changes

This weekend's Singapore Grand Prix will look a little different. We explain all below...

The Singapore GP. The original night race. Since first joining the calendar in 2008, the spectacularly illuminated circuit has wowed fans. It has also thrilled with many memorable races and iconic moments.

It's always one of the most anticipated events of the year, no matter the layout. And we've had a few. The original circuit was adapted in 2012 with the removal of the 'Singapore Sling' chicane. For 2015, turns 11-13 were reprofiled; 2019 saw a reprofiling of turns 16-17. Plenty of changes then. And this year is no different.

A significant part of the Marina Bay Street Circuit has been removed for this year's edition. Therefore, the layout of the track and the stresses it puts on different elements of the car has changed. That will be an important factor across the weekend.

But what exactly has changed for this year? Well, remember the fiddly double chicane by the river in the final sector? The right-left, left-right sequence that went underneath the grandstand?

That's been removed for 2023. It's been replaced by a longer flat-out sequence that completely bypasses it. It might present drivers with a new overtaking place into the new Turn 16 (the old Turn 20).

These track layout changes decrease the lap length from 5.063 km to 4.928 km and tweaks the lap count for Sunday's race from 61 to 62.

Until we run on track, it's hard to fully predict the impact track layout changes will have. That doesn't stop us trying though! The Vehicle Dynamics department have been hard at work in the Driver-in-the-Loop simulator and utilising computer simulations to understand the impact this new layout has.

"It certainly changes the flavour of that final sector," Riccardo Musconi, Head of Trackside Performance, explains. "In previous years, we've been getting towards the end of the lap just trying to survive. The final six corners really took the tyres to the edge so in the final turns, you were really fighting oversteer."

The longer straight that replaces the old twisty section will provide welcome relief in this aspect. "The new straight into what is now turn 16 will give the tyres a bit more of a rest. That means we should arrive there in a slightly better place and stand a better chance of keeping a better balance with the car."

It should also have a small effect on car temperatures, with a new opportunity for more airflow to pass through the cooling systems on the car for elements like the Power Unit and brakes. While the impact may only be small, every little helps.

It certainly changes the flavour of that final sector

Riccardo Musconi, Head of Trackside Performance

"Given the final sector is not as challenging for the car as before, we shouldn't face the same issues with overheating. That means we can hopefully drop some of the tyre management. If the tyres have an easier life, then it's possible they will suffer less throughout the race. That could have some strategic implications," Riccardo continues.

A shorter lap with less cornering demand will also help the drivers slightly with the physical and mental demands of the bumpy street track, in the hot and humid conditions. It might not be a stark difference but it's likely to have a small impact, nonetheless. It could also create an unexpected benefit. Riccardo states: "It will be interesting to see if the new layout also aids overtaking. It's not the easiest circuit to pass at but we will see if this adds another possible opportunity into turn 16."

On the face of it, the changes are small. As you dig into them though, they could have bigger implications than on first viewing. Even if they prove to be minimal, they will have an impact. And when you're hunting down every millisecond of performance, it needs to be considered carefully.