Whilst the all-new Marina Bay Street Circuit has generally received an enthusiastic if cautious thumbs-up from the Formula 1 fraternity ahead of this weekend's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in the city-state, a number of areas have come in for criticism – not least of which being the 'dangerous' entry to the pits.
The pit-lane begins at the penultimate corner of the 23-turn layout, clipping the apex of the fast double left-hander which completes the lap, and an 'off' for Sebastian Vettel as the Italian Grand Prix winner attempted to avoid a wayward Jarno Trulli prompted Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Sébastien Bourdais to describe the situation as 'incredibly dangerous'.
Whilst both Ferrari drivers tended to agree – title challenger Felipe Massa admitting the section is 'a bit critical' and defending F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen stating that both the entry and exit of the pit-lane 'are pretty difficult and we will have to be very careful' – Trulli was adamant that driving the wrong way on the circuit and crossing the pit-lane entry had been the wisest thing to do following his practice spin.
“I wanted to move off the racing line as safely as possible,” explained the experienced Italian, who found himself formally reprimanded and fined €10,000 for his actions, “so I decided to go down the pit-lane.
“I took the quickest and safest option available to me and the other cars. I have been penalised and I accept that, but I know I did the safest thing for me and the other drivers. It is one of the quickest corners on the track, and you don't want to have a crash there.”
As he languished some way off the pace throughout the opening day's running, Toyota star Trulli admitted to having encountered difficulties with both driving after dark and the track's bumps and harsh kerbs, confessing: “I struggled a little bit with driving at night, because there are some dark spots which make it a bit harder than normal.”
Adrian Sutil also revealed bruised legs at the end of the day, with the surface most notably catching out – aside from Trulli and Vettel – Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello [see separate story – click here
] and Mark Webber, who became the first man to crash when he 'got into the little chicane a bit too hot' and damaged the right front suspension of his RB4 against the circuit's barriers inside the tunnel. Red Bull Racing team-mate David Coulthard clearly expects an eventful grand prix.
“It's like the cobbled streets of Paris,” the veteran Scot reflected, “and very unforgiving. I think there will be a lot of incidents during the race. Unlike Valencia, which was a smooth circuit with very good kerbs, the kerbs here are very aggressive, especially at turn ten. We've already seen a few people having incidents, and I think we'll see more of the same story during the weekend.”