When you walk around on Thursday, the surface always looks pretty dirty. Modern street races like this tend to wash and scrub the track but even that doesnít really change the fact that what youíre driving on is a public road with all the grit and grime and dirt that those have. It means youíre in for a slithery, bumpy weekend Ė which I love! The important thing in Singapore is to not get caught chasing the set-up on a Friday. The track is going to evolve, youíve just got to be patient and let it happen without constantly tweaking your car, trying to hit a moving target. Itís one of those races where youíre never completely satisfied with the amount of preparation that you do.
I love to come to this amazing and also very clean city. The race track is a bumpy ride and you are being jogged around a lot in the driverís seat. The circuit is fun but at the same time very challenging. You have to get close to your limits and risk a lot, in order to get the greatest efficiency out of your car. The toughest challenges in Singapore are the heat and the amount of turns. The chicanes are very difficult to drive and you barely get to catch your breath. Very important for a fast lap is the last turn before heading to the start finish line. There is an extremely high curb, which you should not hit otherwise the car lifts up. My greatest memories are the wins of 2011, 2012 and 2013, because I think itís one of the toughest races of the year. Itís very long, thereís no space for mistakes and the race just seems to go on forever.
1. How difficult is it to keep everyone on European time for the Singapore GP? Do people slip into local time?
The flights actually work out in our favour in that respect, because the flights come in in the evening, the guys get there and can have a big night if they like for their first night in Singapore and they donít actually have to go to bed until 6 or 7 oíclock in the morning. I never thought as a Team Manager I would say to my guys to stay out until 6am, but they very quickly deal with it and personally, I donít get any jet lag there at all. I also thought that the light would have a big effect on your body clock but as long as the curtains are dark enough in your hotel room youíll be fine.
2. Is it true that hotels alter their housekeeping routines to accommodate race teams?
They do. We have asked our hotel to do that again this year. But the best thing is to put a ďdo not disturbĒ sign on the door, because someone will make a mistake at some point. Even if itís just returning laundry. The hotels are really great there though. They work with us, but it still helps to put the sign on your door.
3. Does the pit stop routine differ in any way due to it being a night race e.g. do the crew need different visors, is visibility compromised in any way?
We always supply the pit crew with dark, light and poor visibility visors anyway. Because of the event schedule it is a hugely popular event and it is actually difficult to get the pit stop practices in at a normal time, due to the support races. We end up practicing in day time when actually you would rather practice at night. But night is morning and morning is night, so it all gets a little bit confusing. It hasnít affected the performance up until now, but we do have to turn down the lights that the driver sees in the pod, because otherwise he would be driving out, seeing red lights burning in the back of his eyes.
4. How is the humidity level in Singapore compared to other hot weather venues? Is it an easier or more difficult environment than say Sepang or Budapest?
Singapore is just a wonderful place, but yes it is incredibly humid there. The best way to get to the circuit from our hotel is to walk, so really you are out in the sun from the moment you wake up. It gets very very hot at track as the garages arenít air-conditioned. The offices are, but it never seems to be strong enough. The guys work under extraordinary circumstances there. It is very much like an oven in the garage and we have to be very careful with their nutrition and their hydration.
5. What are your own hints and tips in regard to getting the Singapore race weekend right?
The first thing to do is having a great first night in Singapore and have a really good sleep. I always find myself waking up earlier, which would probably be 4am in Europe, but I tend to go to the gym and then spend a little bit of time by the swimming pool, which is quite an unusual thing, so very refreshing compared to other races.