Into the unknown

By Brad Jansen

Renault driver and two time World Champion, Fernando Alonso, drove to a sensational 20th victory under the lights of the Singapore street circuit last weekend. Pole man, Felipe Massa, was looking to get closer to winning his first World Championship title, but an unfortunate pit lane incident destroyed his hopes. Nelson Piquet crashed into the wall early in the race and forced a safety car. This left Massa and Hamilton the chance to take advantage and pit. An early release when the fuel hose was still attached unfortunately left Massa sitting at the end of the pit lane under the mercy of his sprinting mechanics. Hamilton, who had a clean stop, rejoined the race with no drama while Massa came out last. But it was Alonso who capitalised and took the lead of the race towards the closing stages, fighting off a brilliant drive from Nico Rosberg in the Williams.

The result meant Alonso took the win at Singapore’s inaugural race on the first circuit ever to be raced at night. Driving at night meant the drivers took a risk and entered totally uncharted territory. Adding to the prospect of racing in the dark was the risk of driving on a brand new, completely unknown circuit like Valencia a few months ago.

From a technological perspective, many new interventions were put in place for the race. These include reflective paint on the tyres and 35 Digiflags. These Digiflags can display different flag colours and are ideal for night races due to their luminosity, and they will be used in conjunction with the traditional flag signals. Martin Brundell, Formula One’s veteran racer and commentator described the race as having “Danger lurking in every corner, and a certain possibility of a safety car.”

Further enhancing the danger was the electric atmosphere against a backdrop of the city’s main business centre. The tunneling of the track underneath the main grandstand and the water crossing on the majestic Anderson Bridge meant that this truly was a momentous weekend for F1. The chaos at Ferrari meant that Massa finished 13th, while Hamilton came home in 3rd. The point difference between these two drivers now stands at 7. The next race takes place in Japan on 12 October.

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