Formula 1's drivers have dismissed suggestions the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix this weekend – the sport's first-ever night race – could turn 'dangerous' should the predicted monsoon-like rain materialise.
Drivers and teams are having to acclimatise to a new circuit and racing under spotlights, with 1,500 ten-metre high projectors – equipped with 2,000-watt halide bulbs, generating light four times stronger than that inside a football stadium, according to The Sun
– set to be spaced four metres apart around the 3.15-mile Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Not only that, but with high levels of humidity and a strong possibility of rain – and heavy rain at that – over the course of the weekend, the issue of safety has been raised, with no one knowing how the glare from the bright lights will affect visibility around the tight, twisty and narrow concrete barrier-lined track should they reflect off surface puddles.
“There is a big chance of rain as we are very near the Equator and it often comes down very heavily,” three-time former F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart told the Daily Express
, suggesting the top flight's 20 drivers are quite literally setting off on a journey into the great unknown in the Far Eastern city-state. “If that happens the drivers have to cope with a new circuit, their first night race and the rain. It is a big task.”
“The weather will be a key factor,” agreed Honda team principal Ross Brawn. “It will be hot, wet and very humid and there is a 50 per cent chance of rain on any given day in September.
“These are difficult conditions to work in, for both the team and the drivers. However, it could lead to some very exciting on-track moments on a circuit lined with barriers.”
It is believed that the Singapore Grand Prix is being treated as something of a 'toe-in-the-water' guinea pig exercise for holding similar night-time races in other countries like China, Japan and Australia, but Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman and McLaren-Mercedes test driver Pedro de la Rosa is confident there will be no undue worries.
“The bottom line is, if it's not raining, we are 100 per cent sure that it will be fine,” the Spaniard told British newspaper The Times
. “There will be no issues. People talk a lot about the tunnel at Monaco, but when you are driving, you don't even notice it.
“If it rains, we don't know because no one has tried it, but if we have enough light, it should act in the same way as if it's raining in daylight. I don't see it being dangerous. At the GPDA, we have not expressed our concerns because we are quite comfortable with it.