September 20, 2011 (F1plus Team).- Team lotus for another “Home Race” this weekend at Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore. The Grand Prix will be the 14th round of the Formula 1 championship, in the only race held at night.
It’s true, Lotus origins trace back to England (and hence Silverstone), but after resurfacing under businessman Tony Fernandes Malaysia based operation, that country is now the natural home. However, Singapore is just close by that country, so locals need to support their closest peer.
On top of that, many fans from the surrounding areas assist, including those from Malaysia, making Lotus the direct beneficiary of all this support. The team is more than ready for the weekend and to cope with the difficulties that relates to the track and to the weather.
The Marina Bay Circuit is very bumpy as explained by the team’s Technical Director, Mike Gascoyne: “Because the track surface is very bumpy we have to run the cars at almost the highest ride-height settings of the season whilst also focusing on braking stability and maximizing traction to generate the quickest lap times. ‘
“We approach Singapore in much the same way we do Monaco. We will be running with a maximum downforce package with a new floor and diffuser and bigger front brake ducts to cope with the brake cooling demands”, Gascoyne added. As for the heat, Tony Fernandes commented: “The heat and humidity are obviously challenging for the whole team but we have shown throughout the year that our guys are ready to take on whatever lies ahead of them, deal with it and keep learning and progressing. “
It’s interesting to see how each driver copes with the demands of the visit and Jarno Trulli said he travels as late as possible to avoid his body being affected by neither the time change nor the night race, which might be uncomfortable for some.
Last year, Heikki Kovalainen had a dangerous incident (exciting somewhat) from which he came out perfectly fine. His car just went into flames, and by showing excellent signs of quick response and bravery, he started to work on putting the fire down (with an extinguisher), something that was followed by all the cameras.
Right there, the Fin caught the attention of many and earned new fans. And he explains: “Last year was obviously a pretty spectacular end to the race, maybe a little too hot even for me and not quite how I’d like it to have finished, but there were a load of cool photos from the fire and we ended up winning the LG Moment of the Year prize for a shot of me putting it out.
As for the race strategy, he comments that it starts earlier, since most drivers try to keep their own clock in European time, given that the race is held at night.
“There are a few obvious talking points around the race weekend – it’s a night race so all the drivers and teams stay on European time. In practical terms that means heavy blackout blinds in the hotel rooms, breakfast at lunchtime and our normal race weekend schedule all shifting forwards several hours to replicate the European race schedules. The heat is pretty hardcore for the guys in the garages, but I like it. Physically I have felt good all season and while it’s obviously more challenging in the humidity and heat of Singapore, it’s a good challenge and it’s what F1 should be all about.” Kovalainen said.