Sit down, buckle up and prepare for a rollercoaster ride through the opening races of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship™ season, which are sure to spring some surprises.
A package of new regulations meant that the teams struggled to develop consistent pace and reliability in pre-season testing. It means that the winners in the opening races of the season may not come from one of the established front running teams.
Early season dramas will have some teams inevitably playing catch-up and Singapore, even more than in previous years, could be critical to hopes of title success. The SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
of course, makes its own history as the first and only Formula 1™ street race in Asia held at night.
Held in the heart of downtown Singapore, the Marina Bay Street Circuit offers up close views of the on-track action, convenient accessibility by transport, off-track entertainment by international artistes - all making for a great value-for-money experience with just one ticket.
“It's one of the most stunning cities in the world. The ambience is already great before you get to the track and then the track itself is just phenomenal” is the verdict of 2009 race winner and 2008 Formula One™ World Champion Lewis Hamilton. His British compatriot, 2009 World Champion Jenson Button agrees. “It's a unique spectacle, and one that I think is brilliant for F1. The SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
is one of the wonders of modern sport.”
One driver whose success in Singapore launched him to World Champion status is four-time title-holder Sebastian Vettel. In 2010, Vettel's late-season charge gave him his first champion's crown. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Vettel dominated in Singapore, taking three successive victories – and of course, three more champion's titles.
As we start the new season however, the three vital weeks of pre-season testing in Spain and Bahrain demonstrated just how hard it was for even the top Formula One teams to push the boundaries of engineering and electronic technology. Some teams, including reigning world champion Red Bull, struggled even to get their cars to complete successive laps!
At the heart of the change are the car's power units. The shrill, high-revving, normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines, which echoed among the buildings around the Marina Bay street circuit as they revved to 18,000 rpm, will this year be replaced by the more gruff bark from turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 engines.
The new six-cylinder engines rev to 15,000rpm, which is still more than double the revs at which a most road car engines would blow themselves to bits. The cars also push environmentally-friendly road car 'hybrid' petrol-electronic technology to new limits.
Known as the ERS, for 'Energy Recovery System' a high-tech battery package stores energy recycled from heat from the turbochargers and the car's braking system. While last year's KERS energy recovery package gave drivers an extra 80bhp for just over six seconds per lap, the 2014 ERS gives drivers around 160bhp for approximately 33 seconds per lap, added to around 600bhp produced by the turbocharged V6s.
In order to control the ERS energy recovery, the cars now also use an electronic 'brake by wire' control system for the rear brakes, while the characteristics of the V6 engine now mean that an all-new eight-speed, rather than seven-speed gearbox is used. The Marina Bay street circuit will prove one of the toughest tests for the new transmission, ERS and 'brake by wire' systems. The track's combination of 300km/h straights leading into tight, slow corners such as Turn 7 by the Stamford Grandstand and Turn 14 by Connaught Grandstand at the end of the Esplanade Bridge will push the technology to its limits.
In addition, another major challenge in the tight confines of SINGAPORE
will be overheating. Anyone who has charged a smart phone or laptop, knows that the batteries create heat when they are charging or working hard. Just imagine how much heat is being generated by a battery pack which in a matter of seconds, is absorbing and releasing enough energy to drive a normal family car. In addition the turbocharger generates immense heat as it compresses the fuel and air to boost power inside the engine. Temperatures of well over 1000 degrees celsius are commonplace.
German car giant Mercedes seems so far to have the initial mastery of these challenges. In addition to the Petronas AMG Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who are tipped to be early-season front runners, the Mercedes engines are also being used by McLaren, Force India and Williams, who all performed strongly in the pre-season tests.
Williams may be one team well worth watching. Last year they suffered their worst season in almost four decades in the sport, but Williams has since recruited some of the best race engineers from other teams. Former Renault engineer Pat Symonds is now chief technical officer, heading a team which includes ex-Ferrari man Rob Smedley. On the driving front, new recruit Felipe Massa is closely matched by the talented Finn, Valtteri Bottas.
In contrast, the Renault-powered teams suffered a range of problems, well-beyond the normal early-running “shakedown blues”. Last year's front-runners Red Bull and Lotus, as well as the similarly-powered Toro Rosso and Caterham cars start the early races of the season with unproven cars, either in pace or reliability.
Meanwhile, one can never discount Ferrari. Their all-champion line-up of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen covered 975 laps of testing, proving that the Ferrari F14 T might just be a match for the Mercedes-powered cars. The Ferrari engines power Sauber and Marussia too and all amassed significant test mileage. That combination of reliability with pace might just propel Ferrari into a head-to-head battle with Mercedes for victory, which could last all the way to Singapore in September.
With Singapore being the 14th race in the 19-race calendar and one of the most physically demanding race of the season, “the jewel in the Formula One™ crown” is set to embrace the new regulations and enthrall crowds with its unique combination of race action and world-class entertainment this September in Singapore.
Early Bird Tickets at up to 25% savings are now on sale. Group Booking Specials and NEW Combination Packages are also available. Book before 30 April and stand a chance to meet the Formula 1® drivers.
For more ticketing and event information, visitWWW.SINGAPOREGP.SG
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