Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Pirelli’s Mario Isola: Marina Bay layout change “could create an overtaking opportunity”

Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola previewed the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix at the slightly modified Marina Bay Circuit, a venue that offers little room for error and a technical challenge for drivers. 

“The closing stages of this long season, taking Formula 1 to three continents and 16 different time zones, kicks off in Singapore this weekend. This was the first race to take place under artificial light: an idea that was later followed, in varying degrees, by other venues. 

“From a technical point of view, Marina Bay is a typical street circuit: very twisty (with 19 corners, many of them 90-degree) and little run off. As a result, even a small mistake can be costly, while the track layout also means that the cars run a high level of downforce.”

The track layout of Marina Bay will look somewhat different to years prior, with construction in the area prompting the creation of a straight where turns sixteen through nineteen once were. Isola said that this modification will result in a faster lap, and could potentially create a new overtaking opportunity. 

“This year, the lap takes on a new look due to some building work in the Marina Bay area: the part of the track that was previously turns 16 to 19 is now just a single straight, which is nearly 400 metres long. 

“This change will make the track faster; firstly because the total lap length is now less than five kilometres and secondly because the layout has become a lot more flowing. We’ll wait to see if this change has an effect on strategies, because in theory at least it could create an overtaking opportunity – with passing notoriously difficult unless you have a much faster car.”

With the “consistently high” temperatures of Singapore, Isola said that overheating will be a primary concern in terms of tyre management, reliability and stress on the drivers. 

“This track doesn’t place particular stress on the tyres in terms of loading, but the rear tyres need to be carefully managed during the traction phase when exiting slow corners. Temperatures are usually consistently high, as Singapore is only about 150 kilometres from the equator. This increases the risk of overheating: not just for tyres but also everything else, including the mechanicals and of course the driver!”

Credit: Pirelli Media