F1 practice runs on Singapore circuit starts Friday night

September 26th, 2008 - 1:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Sep 26 (DPA) With Singapore’s Formula One circuit given the final thumbs-up, drivers are getting ready for Friday night’s practice session to attune themselves to the 5,067-kilometre narrow street race under lights.The 20 drivers have practice sessions at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

“Practice will be as important as ever,” said world championship leader Lewis Hamilton of the first Grand Prix that will be held at night.

The drivers so far have only been able to test the Marina Bay circuit on simulators. The actual practice would supply data on tyre wear, grip levels and time lost at the pit lanes, observers said.

If it rains on race day Sunday, visibility and tyre performance would change, providing additional challenges.

The anti-clockwise track layout weaving around Singapore’s landmarks has 23 turns.

“We’re all very excited to get out on the circuit for the first time and experience what it is like,” Hamilton said.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA), the sport’s governing body, gave the track the green light Thursday and the final go-ahead for the event.

Hamilton is leading the drivers’ standings by a point over Ferrari’s Felipe Massa with four races to go after Singapore. His appeal against a penalty received after cutting a corner at the Belgian Grand Prix was rejected Tuesday by an FIA court.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali brushed aside speculation that Singapore could be pivotal in the race for the driver’s title.

“The Singapore race is very important because we only have four races to go,” he said, “but I’m expecting that this year, the championship will finish once again at the last race,” which is in Brazil.

The lighting system consists of 108,423 metres of power cables, 240 steel pylons and 1,500 projectors, creating light that is four times brighter than that used at sports stadiums.

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