Crawling into bed as the sun comes up, sleeping until mid-afternoon and then getting up to burn the midnight oil again – on any other weekend that would be the recipe for a party of epic proportions. At the Singapore Grand Prix, though, it’s just the rhythm of the working day.
The fact that everyone sticks to European time to be at his or her best for F1’s original night race is just one facet of this fascinating race that differentiates it from every race on the calendar. Add in the punishing heat and humidity, the longest race, by duration, on the calendar, 23 corners and the fact that the Safety Car has made an appearance every single time we’ve raced in the city and it all adds up to a uniquely challenging race.
And it's one that over the past decade we’ve mastered more than most, with three wins and in all 11 podium finishes – more than double the amount of our closest rival.
With all that in mind, to say we’re excited by the prospect of the coming weekend would be something of an understatement. And our drivers feel the same way too…
The team has a pretty good record on the streets of Singapore and we’ve been on top at similar venues, such as Monaco, this season. That must be a cause for optimism?
I think the whole team is looking forward to Singapore because we know we have a real chance to have a good result there. The race has been a strong one for us in the past and I think we should be able to challenge for a podium this year.
It’s a physically demanding track. Is it one you can get any satisfaction from or is it simply a long, hot slog?
I really enjoy driving there; the track has a lot of corners and is quite bumpy, but it makes it all the more interesting to find a good set-up for the car. The night race and hot temperatures really test you to the limit, for me Singapore is physically the hardest race of the season. I have been preparing for quite a while.
What about racing under the lights?
A night race in general is a bit different with the lights, it adds an extra aspect that we don’t have at the majority of races. The atmosphere around the whole weekend creates a great buzz and is a perfect way to kick off the fly away races.
Everyone always talks about how much of a challenge Singapore is for drivers. How tough does it get in the car?
I’ve learned to love the challenge of Singapore. For me, the first year I raced there in 2011 was one of the worst races I have been involved in. Physically it was so intense, I just underestimated how hard it would be. I wasn’t in a happy place after that race, it gave me a feeling I never want to experience in a race car again, so I made a promise to myself that I would always come to Singapore over-prepared.
So beating the heat has become a target in itself?
In a way it’s something I now take pride in; I always arrive there feeling really sharp and well prepared. I now really like that challenge and I also thrive in the heat. In a strange way, the pain has become pleasure over the years.
OK, we have to do the obvious question: tell us again how much do you love street circuits?
I love them! The feeling of driving on the edge, so close to the walls, is something you just can’t get enough of. Also, Singapore is the original night race and the schedule is always pretty hectic, but there is something kind of romantic about going to the track at night and then to bed at four or five in the morning.
Part of that romance has to come from the fact that you always go well there?
Yeah, it’s a place where I also have good races and finish pretty strong. I’ve had four podiums and three second places in a row there, so it’s about time I win the damn thing!