Singapore 2018: The Perfect Lap
Is there ever, a perfect lap in Formula 1? There just might be.
If you think of pole laps in Formula 1, which one stands out as the greatest that you have seen? Most of us are probably drawn to Ayrton Senna's iconic lap around the Monte Carlo street circuit in Monaco in 1988. The footage is beautiful and you the driving skills he requires for the car when he changes gear. It is still a lap which is continuously shown today. But what if I told you there is a modern-day equivalent?
Well, there is—Lewis Hamilton at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore in 2018. The lap ranks among the greats and stands out as Hamilton's best among his ninety-five pole positions and counting.
There are a lot of differences between Hamilton's lap in 2018 and Senna's in '88. Formula 1 has progressed pretty far. Hamilton does not have reach down to change gears as Senna did; he can press a few buttons. (it isn't actually that simple, it just looks it) The cars are probably a lot easier for the driver now. But there is something which joins them together, and that is the idea that they neared perfection. I would label them perfection, but Hamilton said his lap was not perfect.
The aim, here, was to showcase that despite the time difference, of twenty years. You still get those laps; those laps you talk about forever. So what made Hamilton's lap on that level?
Firstly, personal experience I remembered Hamilton's lap in 2018. I remember the shock I felt seeing him top of the timesheets, but in my head, I said it is only the start of Q3, the Ferrari's will come back. I was wrong.
Hamilton was in the W09 in 2018 and this a car which did not suit street circuits. The W09 was designed, like most Mercedes-AMG F1 cars, there was a long-wheelbase but a slight development in the degree of the rake system which they used. Let me say now; it should have never been on pole.
Results throughout the season made it clear that Mercedes had to go to Singapore and have a damage limitations weekend. The likes of the Monaco Grand Prix showcased that the favourites for the weekend were Scuderia Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and also Red Bull Racing with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Throughout the session, the two teams of Red Bull and Ferrari looked to have the edge. It seemed, as said, the Silver Arrows were heading for damage limitations. Raikkonen was the driver to watch until suddenly, Hamilton quietly started setting purple sectors. He went 1.388 seconds quicker than Raikkonen.
The camera switched to Hamilton's onboard as he was in the third sector and entered the final few corners of the 5.063 km circuit. It was evident from the snippet of the lap and the time gap something magical had just occurred for Hamilton in the W09.
Magic is precisely what occurred. Hamilton's onboard lap showcased a near-perfect lap. As we all know the Singapore street circuit, is like Monaco, hard to overtake and narrow. But it has more corners and is longer. Hamilton that day described it as "Monaco on Steroids."
Watching Hamilton, he did it perfectly despite him claiming it was not. He hit every apex, and he got as close to the wall as you can without crashing.
It was sector two, which stands out the most; it was where he gained the majority of time at around seven-tenths. As the first sector, he gained three tenths and the same in the third.
On face value, it can seem like nothing but Singapore, which has twenty-two corners, has a high number of blind corners. Of course, they know the likes of Singapore, well but there is room for easy error. Hamilton did not make it.
It appears that this lap has gathered a following, and an understand of just how good it is. It is the modern-day Senna '88 lap. It is one of those which people will rewatch to know how to perfect a lap.
The time still stands as the track record for the track, and since Formula 1 has had two years of development. It highlights its sustainability.
Senna's lap in 1988 showcased his array of talent and just how brilliant a driver he was. That is also what happened at Marina Bay. Hamilton was known for his one-lap pace, that's why he had the record. However, the lap in Marina Bay set him above the rest, just like Monaco '88 did with Senna.