Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc already feel in tune with the extreme climate that Singapore is famous for: as usual at this latitude, temperatures are in the order of 30 degrees, but the humidity is around the 80% percent mark. All the drivers regard this as the most physically demanding race. “When I start training in January and February, I never think about the first race of the season, it’s this one,” revealed Carlos. “Because this is where you face the hardest conditions. There are other races with very high temperatures, but only here is the humidity suffocating and that, combined with the fact the track runs anticlockwise, makes it particularly tiring on the neck. Added to that, the track is very bumpy and there you have the full picture. It’s not just physical, it’s also mentally demanding, because you battle the last ten laps or so with your mind as much as your muscles.”
Sauna and resistance. Charles had similar thoughts to his team-mate when it came to the challenges presented by this race. “This time, before Singapore, we had a two week break so we could prepare even more specifically,” said the Monegasque. “Personally, I trained in a sauna to get my body used to the very high temperatures that one encounters in the car. It’s vital to look at every detail, which of course is always the case but in the closing stages of the race, you need a clear mind to make up for the fact your body is getting more and more tired. It is one of the challenges of this track that makes it one of my favourites along with Monaco and Baku.”
Popular track. Carlos also loves Marina Bay. “The walls are very close and at street circuits, that’s always a challenge within a challenge, but above all, we like it so much because it is so difficult,” added Sainz. “Then there are also so many variables: the weather can always play a part and you can’t rule out the chance of rain, while the Safety Car can mix up the order at any moment. Are we the favourites? I’d say not, but I expect we’ll be able to fight at the front.”
Improved operations. Charles went on to discuss the goals for the remaining races of the season. “We want to improve how we operate on a Sunday. To do that we need to put together our potential and that of the car at every occasion. When we have done that, we have got the results we expected, but we haven’t always managed it,” admitted Leclerc. “Since the summer break, Red Bull seems to have made another step forward in terms of its competitiveness. Usually this season we have been strongest in qualifying, but in the race, for various reasons, we have let points slip away. If we want to aim much higher next year, we have to always strive to be perfect and we want to use these last six races to now start preparing for next year.”
Programme. Tomorrow, the cars take to the track for free practice at 18.00 and 21.00 (12 and 15 CET). On Saturday, qualifying will be at 21.00, preceded by the final free practice session at 18.00. Sunday’s race gets underway at 22.00 local (14 CET).