Kimi Raikkonen is hopeful of returning to form in this weekend's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix – the first Formula 1 race ever to be held under spotlights – with Adrian Newey joking that the Finn is 'used to performing when it's dark'.
The reigning F1 World Champion – who looks all-but certain to lose his crown come season's end, sitting as he does some 21 points shy of the championship lead with only 40 remaining up for grabs – has endured a lacklustre run for most of the campaign, but reckons he could just be in with a shout again around the floodlit confines of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Qualifying in Singapore will take place at 10pm local time on Saturday, with the red lights due to go out at 8pm the following day to signal the start of the race – an unprecedented nocturnal schedule designed to prioritise the convenience of European television audiences – and drivers likely to head to bed around 3am and get up again in the early afternoon.
Though that may seem like a punishing routine, renowned party animal Raikkonen is adamant it will be of no concern to him, as he seeks a victory that will be crucial to keeping his fading title hopes alive.
“I enjoy evenings and night time more anyhow,” the 28-year-old is quoted as having said by British newspaper The Sun
. “I like to sleep until noon every day, so for me this seems the perfect venue. I am more awake in the evenings than in the mornings.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Red Bull Racing chief technical officer Adrian Newey, who worked alongside Raikkonen at McLaren-Mercedes from 2002 to 2005, the Englishman quipping: “I guess Kimi should be on-form – he's used to performing when it's dark.”
Retiring RBR ace David Coulthard, for his part, revealed that his preparations for the night-time competition would include 'staying up late, going out to nightclubs and eating a lot of carrots – because they help you see in the dark'.
A more pragmatic approach is being taken by McLaren, who aside from jokingly fitting a set of rally-style headlamps to the two MP4-23s ahead of the weekend, have arranged for Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen's hotel room windows to be blacked out, telephones turned off and housekeeping staff told to stay away.
“Essentially we must not acclimatise to the local time,” world championship leader Hamilton explained, “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 stay on European time so this doesn't get disrupted.
“For the drivers our meal, waking and sleeping rhythms will all be in European time. For example, we will get up early afternoon for breakfast, have supper at 1am and go to bed around 3am.”