Singapore Circuit changes course: ‘Four corners have been removed’

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Singapore Circuit changes course: 'Four corners have been removed'

Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Street Circuit is known for its challenging, high-downforce layout. However, for the 2023 season the track has undergone some major changes, which will not only affect lap times, but also the load on the brakes and tires. These adjustments are intended to offer Formula 1 drivers a new challenge and to level the playing field.

The most notable change is the removal of a series of four nearly ninety-degree turns near the end of the lap, which previously led the track under a grandstand. Instead, a longer straight has now been created leading from Turn 15 to Turn 20, which has now become Turn 16. This change results in faster lap times and also has some interesting implications for racing strategies.

Aston Martin’s performance director, Tom McCullough, emphasizes the positive effect of these changes on the tires. ‘Normally towards the end of the lap, because there wasn’t much tire recovery time, your rear tires were stinking hot on the old layout. What this will do is let them cool down a bit, and your tires won’t be so bad in the last few turns. So it actually makes life easier, I think, as far as the tires are concerned,” the performance director explained to Autosport. These cooler tires at the end of the lap can play a crucial role in managing the cars’ grip and performance, which can result in greater predictability for the drivers.

Positive reactions to adjustments

Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams, points out another benefit of the circuit changes: “The change in layout probably helps us because four corners have been removed. So that’s probably helpful.” However, he also emphasizes that this will change the characteristics of the circuit, especially in terms of braking, an always difficult aspect of the Marina Bay circuit.

An interesting twist that these changes bring is the potential impact on overtaking opportunities. The new Turn 16 could provide another opportunity for drivers to gain positions. Alpine driver Esteban Ocon says: ‘That was very, very good news. You don’t necessarily enjoy driving around on the track, so the fact that they are changing that is very good news. Hopefully it will help with overtaking, which was previously impossible.” However, a key focus is the accelerated lap time and faster end of the lap, which gives teams less time to make strategic decisions in safety car and virtual safety car situations, which are common in Singapore.

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