The 2019 Formula One World Championship has bid farewell to Europe for the year and headed over to Asia where the Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled to take place this weekend.
The race, famous for being run at night, is held on a street circuit known as the Marina Bay Circuit, with visibility only made possible by a series of 1,500 halogen lamps. They shine so bright that drivers often don tinted visors to reduce the glare.
Like Monaco, speeds don't get very high due to Singapore's short straights, tight corners and bumpy surface, a combination that nevertheless makes the race one of the trickiest to arrive at the ideal car setup. The good part is that it gives some of the slower teams a better chance.
Weather can also be issue in Singapore, though the current forecast doesn't call for any rain throughout the weekend. There's still hot and humid conditions to deal with, even into the night where the temperatures can reach 104 degrees F. This is physically demanding for the drivers and challenging for the cars in terms of managing brake and tire temperatures, and compounding this issue is the race's long two-hour length.
Pirelli's tire nominations of the softer C3, C4 and C5 compounds roughly corresponds with the nominations of 2018's race. Another issue teams will need to concern themselves with is the high degree of track evolution as well as the usual street furniture such as manholes and white lines that can alter grip levels.
After some early practice on Friday, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen put in the fastest times, followed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and then Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. For Bottas, his session ended early when an instance of oversteer saw him crash into the barriers at turn 19. There was also trouble for Ferrari's Charles Leclerc who retired due to transmission problems.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton leads the 2019 Drivers’ Championship with 284 points. Bottas is second with 221 points and Verstappen is third with 185 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 505 points versus the 351 of Ferrari and 266 of Red Bull. Last year's winner in Singapore was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.
In other F1 news, injured driver Robert Kubica has announced that he will leave Williams at the end of the 2019 season. Haas also announced that it will keep current drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for the 2020 season.