Next weekend's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix promises to be a fascinating spectator for the Formula One fan, but may not be appreciated quite as much by those involved in the heart of the action.
While the public will be aware of the differences when the cars are on track, there will be less appreciation of exactly what is going on behind the scenes as the teams toil away, following their usual race weekend programmes, but at very different times of day - or night.
The drivers will take to the track for the first time for Friday's opening free practice at 1900hrs local time, while Saturday's qualifying will start as late as 2200hrs, the latest action of all, as the starts at 2000hrs on Sunday.
McLaren, along with its nine rivals, are expected to adopt a bespoke night-time work schedule to ensure that the drivers and other team members are able to function to their optimum level during the night. Usually, a period of acclimatisation is vital for the 'flyaway' races that are in significantly different time zones to Europe, but the Singapore Grand Prix means that the opposite is true, as McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh explains.
“Inevitably, ensuring all team personnel have the opportunity to get enough sleep will be the main challenge over the course of the weekend," he confirmed, "For example, the mechanics won't be going to bed until 4-5am, because we finish running late in the evening and there is a programme of work to complete prior to the next day.
"There is a clear plan, because we know the timings of the sessions and how much work needs to take place after each of them, but the reality is that it will be hard work for the mechanics, engineers, support crew and marketing operation. We will take measures to support this, but I don't believe it will have a massive impact on the cars and the drivers, with the programme for Lewis and Heikki being very carefully planned and monitored.”
The Woking team heads to Singapore heading the drivers' championship and closing in on Ferrari in the constructors' standings, and Lewis Hamilton is getting used to the fact that he
he will the premier night-time attraction in the city state, rather than the location.
“Singapore is going to be a unique challenge for every member of the team," he confirmed, "Our doctor has prepared a very precise schedule for the drivers to stick to because all the sessions are so late in the day.
"Essentially, we must not acclimatise to the local time, which is totally different to how we normally operate. Our training programmes ensure that, over a race weekend, we are at peak performance during the afternoons and, as a result, we are going to be staying on European time so this doesn't get disrupted.