Eight rounds of the 2023 season remaining and it’s time to resume the start once again with a stunning double-headed weekend in Singapore and Japan. There’s plenty to talk about, so here are some of the topics expected to be doing the rounds at Marina Bay.
Another taste of challenge to Red Bull?
The record run of wins for Max Verstappen and Red Bull prevailed in Monza last time out, but they were both made to work hard to earn it, specifically in the first part of the race. It was Ferrari taking the fight to the constructors’ champions in Italy, with Carlos Sainz on pole position and then leading the opening stages.
Eventually, Red Bull’s higher downforce helped kept their Tyre degradation problems at bay which the Ferrari pair were facing slightly more difficult after a dozen of laps, but immediately after the race Max Verstappen admitted Singapore is going to be “a little bit more difficult… it’s not going to be the strongest weekend for us.
Given the mighty strength of the RB19, it’s a shocker to hear Verstappen talk down his chances a little, although he still expects to be firmly in the mix for victory. But Mercedes and Aston Martin will both be targeting stronger challenges than they could offer in Italy at a high downforce track that should suit their cars more, and the same goes for McLaren after their recent gains.
Could it be that Red Bull have to deal with multiple threats in Singapore?
The Budget Cap
One of the biggest pieces of news to come out since the paddock left Monza relates to the cost cap, as FIA released their findings for 2022. All 10 teams have been found to be under the cost cap, in line with the Financial Regulations, and as a result have been issued their certificates of compliance.
Last year it was a topic that was full of controversy in Singapore as reports of breaches started to circulate, but the latest findings suggest the teams have learned from the first year’s issues to avoid a repeat this time around.
A spectacular physical test
The original night race, Singapore has been one of the most prominent races on the calendar from its very first appearance back in 2008, with the stunning downtown location that sees the track winding its way through the city streets under floodlights.
In the 15 years since it made its debut, Singapore has always been the benchmark on which the drivers are focused on when it comes to their fitness, as it’s the race that regularly runs closest to the two-hour mark due to the low average speed, and the heat and humidity adds to the challenge.
This year they may get some slight help from a revised track layout. Due to construction work around the floating stadium section, the Turn 16 and 17 chicane has been removed, meaning the track no longer runs along the waterfront and then cuts under the grandstand at that point for Turn 18 and 19.
The temporary revisions mean the final chicane is now Turn 16 and 17, leading into the final two left-handers to finish the lap.
In short it means now we get a longer straight that could aid overtaking, but also increases the average speed considerably and will mean lower lap times, reducing the overall race time. That will help ease one of the many, yet crucial difficulties of the Grand Prix.