The infamous Turn 17 around the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore – the corner where Nelsinho Piquet deliberately crashed his Renault during F1's inaugural night race in 2008 – could be done away with under plans to shorten the track for the 2011 edition.
Discussions are currently taking place regarding potential alterations to the layout, designed to bring down the average lap time, which at 1m48.240s was the second-slowest of any of the 17 grands prix in 2009, behind only China, where a torrential downpour increased it by as much as 16 seconds.
“We are not going to make any significant changes to the track, but we will start looking at certain key changes to be implemented in 2011,” Singapore tourism board executive director Justin Chew told Channel NewsAsia
at the Asian Sports Hub and Tourism Conference. “Of course, there is a new footprint coming around our circuit park, which is a new MRT station, the double helix bridge [and] the Marina Bay Sands – and those would have an impact as well.”
Should Turn 17 indeed disappear, it would draw a definitive line under one of the most scandalous examples of cheating in sporting memory, when Piquet was instructed by his Renault bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds to purposely crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to necessitate a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph.
Piquet has since left F1 with his tail between his legs to pursue a second career across the Pond in NASCAR, whilst Briatore and Symonds were barred from the paddock for their roles in the salacious controversy – punishments that would subsequently be overturned by the French High Court at the beginning of last month. Renault escaped with a two-year suspended permanent ban.
Meanwhile, the Sepang International Circuit – home to the annual Malaysian Grand Prix since 1999 – could also be set to undergo modifications, with track chief executive Razlan Razali telling the local Star
newspaper: “Works are in progress to repair and upgrade the pit area and roof structure and to add more facilities for the benefit of spectators coming to watch the race.”