Can I Beat Hamilton in Singapore?
I think we can all agree that Singapore is a terrible track for racing. Despite that, the track itself is one that really tests the drivers. Not only does it challenge accuracy, but it challenges your endurance. This is a long, narrow circuit, in a hot and humid part of the world. It may not produce good races, but the Singapore GP is one of the biggest tests on the F1 calendar. Thankfully for me, I'm only having to do hot laps around the virtual version in my shed!
Starting off in the first sector, this is about as straightforward as this track gets. With relatively good distance to the walls through T1-T3, you have a little more leeway for any potential mistakes when compared to the rest of the circuit. Despite that, you still need to be neat and tidy, making sure to not hit the kerbs too much or get too much wheelspin out of T3. The next real corner is T5 and it's among the very best on this track. You can really swing the car in from a wide angle and carry the speed onto Raffles Boulevard.
From now on, things get a whole lot tighter. The braking zone for T7 is the biggest on the circuit. With horrible little kerbs inside and outside, you want to take as little of them as possible. A nice, clean exit feeds you into T8, a slow, clumsy corner that never feels right. T9 is tricky - you want to take as much track as possible without using the kerb too much, whilst also running it as close as you dare to the outside wall. Assuming you don't hit that wall, that'll lead you into what was the "Singapore Sling". Thankfully, it's no longer that awful little chicane that only served to ruin your spine.
If you survive, you're heading towards the Anderson Bridge. This section requires precision and a controlled right boot. T11 itself is simple enough, but it's critical to get right due to the way the track tightens AND narrows in the acceleration zone. The walls come up real quick. Combine that with a rear that is barely hanging on, and it feels like a lottery as to whether you make it through. Once over the bridge, you're almost immediately braking into the tightest corner on the track. Getting the exit right is vital, because it leads onto one of the longer straights on the circuit.
Esplanade Drive leads you into T14, another tight corner that has an awkward kerb on the inside and a wall at the exit. Now, the next six corners are all fairly similar. They're all around about 90 degrees and they all lead onto short straights. They also all have nasty kerbs on the inside, with walls hoping that you hit those kerbs badly, so they can gobble you up. The most notable part of this section is it's where Nelson Piquet Jr intentionally crashed to help Alonso win the 2008 race. Oh, and you go UNDER one of the grandstands.
Finally then, after some of the narrowest, tightest sections of track on the whole calendar, you get to feel the car at speed. The last corner is a double apex, high speed affair. Holding 6th gear all the way through, you want to get as close as you dare to the first apex, without hitting the kerb. The second apex isn't important, as you're simply trying to carry as much speed as possible through it to the, almost immediate, start/finish line. After all the low speed stuff, it can be hard to adjust your brain to need to carry such high speed. The reward if you do it well? Potentially beating Hamilton's exquisite pole lap!