Singapore GP offers plenty of Formula One novelty

September 24th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Sep 24 (DPA) The inaugural Singapore Formula One Grand Prix Sunday is like a Monaco race under floodlights - only faster and with drivers in a world of their own.While several drivers reside in the principality and mingle with the rich and famous there during the May race, Singapore will be a totally different affair.

World championship leader Lewis Hamilton and McLaren-Mercedes teammate Heikki Kovalainen said the trick to achieving a good result at the first night race in the sport is never changing the biological clock from Europe to Asia.

“Essentially we must not acclimatise to the local time, which is totally different to how we normally operate,” said Hamilton.

“Our training programmes ensure that over a race weekend we are at peak performance during the afternoons and as a result we are going to be staying in European time so this doesn’t get disrupted.

“For the drivers, our meal, waking and sleeping rhythms will all be in European time, for example we will get up early afternoon for breakfast, have supper at 1 a.m. and go to bed at around 3 a.m. It will be very different preparation to any other race but we’ll try and do the best job we can.”

Finland’s Kovalainen said that special measures will apply in their hotel to ensure that the non-acclimatising works.

“The hotel rooms will be blacked out so we can sleep late into the day, special arrangements will be put in place to make sure the cleaners don’t come into the room, as they would not expect people to be sleeping until early afternoon. The telephones will not ring.

“We will essentially be isolated from the normal workings of the hotel,” said Kovalainen.

The 8 p.m. local time start of the race Sunday means that European viewers will have their regular 1200 GMT slot. Qualifying Saturday even starts at 10 p.m. Singapore time (1400 GMT).

The anti-clockwise track in the city-state is 5.067 kilometres long around the Marina Bay, passing the business district high rises and the world’s biggest Ferris Wheel.

Lit by 1,500 floodlights, the drivers face 23 turns. In some, they have to slow down to less than 100 kph, while almost 300 kph is possible on the famed Raffles Boulevard.

Drivers will be wearing reflector helmets and electronic signal boards will be on hand instead of the traditional yellow (danger), blue (let faster car overtake) and green (course clear) flags.

But the chequered flag for the race winner will be in place as in any other GP as Singapore hosts the race for the first of five planned editions.

Most of the 100,000 tickets have been sold, but despite the threat of rain umbrellas are prohibited because they could be blown onto the track.

The F1 visit is to boost Singapore’s image as the local Straits Times already expressed hopes that the city could become the Monte Carlo of Asia.

According to Steve Slater, the F1 expert of local TV network Star Sports, the race at least will be spectacular.

“Monaco has a great atmosphere, but the track is hopeless. But here in Singapore 300 kph is possible,” he said.

Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug is also fascinated by the unique race weekend.

“This premiere will certainly be the most exciting in Formula One history - in the middle of the night, in the middle of the metropolis,” said Haug.

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