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Mark Webber Completes Singapore Trial F1 Street Circuit at avg 30kmh

Red Bull racing’s Formula One driver Mark Webber drove through Singapore’s proposed street circuit this morning and declared that he and his fellow drivers would be looking forward to driving a “challenging & exciting” race here.

A media frenzy ensued in front of the Swissotel when Webber appeared, much to the bemusement of some of the Swissotel’s guests, some craning their necks to see what the fuss was about.

The 1.84 metre tall Australian then proceeded to test out the circuit in a black Renault Coupe-Cabiolet – with the top down – and completed three laps at a leisurely pace.

However, with ongoing road works and construction at Beach Road and Temasek Avenue, the asphalt that Webber had to traverse was far from race-worthy.

The morning traffic also provided some hairy moments as Webber was at one point, sandwiched between a car packed with photographers and journalists, and a slow-moving taxi along St Andrews Road. Midway through attempting a deft overtaking maneouvre, he coolly slowed down when it appeared that he might have realised that the Sepang race was still a week away.

Another more enthusiastic driver decided to shadow Webber in a ‘less-than-subtle’ yellow Korean-made coupe that swerved dangerously out of the Ritz-Carlton driveway ahead of this reporter to latch on to the Australian as he passed the proposed start/finish straight.

Following his jaunt along the designated route, Webber described the circuit as “a mixture of a tight and twisting section with a faster section across the start and finish line. The start of the lap looks quicker, but the middle to last sector looks a little bit tighter and slower.”

When asked to compare the route with other existing street circuits like Monaco, Webber said that Singapore’s version was more akin to the Adelaide street circuit, but would be faster.

In dutifully obeying local traffic laws while navigating city traffic, each 4.8km lap took more than ten minutes, which at race pace, could easily see more than six laps completed. Webber estimates lap times of no more than 1 minute 30 seconds given the current circuit layout.

Webber picked out section following the tight right turn at the Fullerton Hotel as his personal favourite, citing Anderson Bridge and the trees overhanging the track as elements which would give drivers the “sensation of speed and the rush of driving a car.”

In terms of overtaking opportunities, the Raffles Avenue straight which turns left onto Esplanade Drive appears to be a prime spot, as it will see the cars trying to outbrake each other at speeds of close to 300km/hr.

The Australian seemed less enthusiastic about the sections around Suntec City which he thought were “tight and twisty”, but then readily acknowledged that “to make a street circuit, you’ve got to have compromises. You cannot enjoy every single corner.

“There are going to be corners that have some potential safety issues.”

Other concerns that were raised involved the possibility of a downpour during night racing , and how the glare from surrounding floodlights being reflected in rainwater puddles could cause havoc for the drivers, in addition to the spray bring thrown up by the cars.

“Street circuits are mentally quite draining because of the immense concentration required,” he added.

“There’s a few straights here but you’ve got blind crests and manhole covers to keep yourself occupied.”

Another potential cause for concern: the heat and humidity.

Red Bull racing’s head of communications, Thomas Hofmann, confirmed that temperatures in Sepang had reached 47 degrees Celsius in the past week. With drivers losing up to 3 kg in sweat, Webber noted that a night race would certainly bring some welcome relief.

With 17 races already on the current F1 calendar, the easy-going Australian driver estimates that the racing season could eventually accommodate as many as 20 races, though admittedly, it would be quite a “busy season”.

So, will we see F1 in Singapore next year? Stay tuned.


April 2, 2007 - Posted by | News & Events

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