Preview: 2008 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix
This is the inaugural Singapore GP, and also the first ever night race for F1. In order to light the 5km track to make it suitable for F1 cars, high-power lighting has been installed throughout. Some articles are quoting 1500 light projectors providing light which is four times brighter than your usual stadium lights, and equivalent to daylight. Check out the Autosport.com preview gallery of photos taken Wednesday/Thursday as the last details were being added, and you can well believe it.
So there are two bits of good news. First: the drivers WILL be able to see where they are going. Second: The track is actually quite wide and fast in places. This is good, the initial track maps indicated short straights and lots of slow turns. There are lots of slow turns except that now we can see there is enough width to encourage racing, at least in places.
Two problems have cropped up, these are the dusty track surface (which will hopefully rubber in a la Monaco or Melbourne by Sunday morning), and the other is the weather forecast which is suggesting storms. You don’t really want that in a night race!
The drivers, teams, journalists and seemingly everyone involved are apparently still operating on European time so that they are fully alert for the race and all the post-event paraphernalia which occurs (press interviews, team debriefs, etc.). Hamilton says their doctor told them not to acclimatise to the local timezone. They are getting up at lunchtime and going to bed at 3am, which isn’t too far from my normal weekend routine, I don’t know what they are complaining about…
The race gets under way at 8pm local time which just so happens to be 2pm Central European Time, 1pm in the UK, the time all European races start.* Big thanks to Bernie for burning all this extra carbon, running several massive generators lighting this long track, purely for my benefit. I get a nice lie-in. And it’ll look great on the telly.
As the times here are fuckoed, make sure you know when everything is happening. Your best bet is to go to Formula1.com and use the widget in the sidebar where it says ‘Convert to My Local Time’. If your computer clock is set correctly it should work. I say this because qualifying does NOT happen at the usual European time, it is a couple of hours later. I have no idea why this is because that’s 10pm local time, which is nuts.
Annoyingly I have to miss qualifying live as Dad decided to book a tee-off time midway through it, he didn’t know the Qual time had moved. If it rains it is a moot point as we won’t go.. I’ll set the VHS and make sure he’s got the radio turned off. Yes, I still use VHS – digital terrestrial hasn’t got here yet and I can’t afford satellite… I will of course watch the race live.
* bonus fact: if the race is held in Europe but outside of the CET area, it still starts at 2pm CET.
ELSEWHERE IN RACING
MotoGP – Motegi Japan: The two-wheel circus heads to Motegi. I can’t remember ever seeing an exciting race on the road course at Motegi. If you ever wondered why this is called ‘Twin Ring’, the bikes are on the ‘other ring’ to the oval. I’ll hopefully catch the BBC replay, not sure when it is on yet. I’m not getting up at 4am for bikes!
NASCAR – Kansas: I’m sure some people will watch this, I’m not one of them. I really don’t care.
World Series by Renault – Estoril, Portugal: Europeans stopped mocking the American baseball thing when this Europe-only series was introduced. I’ve never got into this series.
Errr, that’s it. The season is winding down and the busy weekends are becoming few and far between. Thankfully they invented A1GP and GP2 Asia, so no more hibernation!
Speaking of A1GP, the first event was postponed and the second event looks like becoming a non-points race because their equipment isn’t ready yet, so not all teams can take part. This doesn’t look good for A1 while Superleague is solving problems every week.
While I have your attention, you need to do yourself a favour. When you’re done here, click this link. Don’t worry it isn’t a scam, there’s no money involved. It’ll take you to Last.fm. There’s a big play button on the right. Press it. Turn up volume. Listen.
EDIT – Even better, check it live with Jools Holland at YouTube. This was aired live two days ago.
See you Sunday.