Singapore GP: what time is the race? Why has the track layout changed? | Top Gear
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Thursday 28th September
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Singapore GP: what time is the race? Why has the track layout changed?

Red Bull has won 14 out of 14 races this season, but might it come unstuck at the Singapore Grand Prix?

Published: 14 Sep 2023

Sounds fanciful, doesn’t it? Especially when Max Verstappen is on a 10-race-and-counting winning streak that dates back to the Miami Grand Prix in May. But if you thought Red Bull was simply going to turn up and win this weekend, hold your horses a second.

The evidence is thus: last time out in Italy it was Ferrari who grabbed pole position, albeit on a very different type of circuit. Overtaking in Singapore is Very Difficult, so if Red Bull is beaten in qualifying it’ll be harder to rectify on race day.

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Also the track is different, having lost four corners compared to the old layout. Is that four in which Red Bull can no longer press home its advantage over the competition?

Plus, this is one of the few remaining tracks on the calendar where Max Verstappen has never taken the chequered flag. They must all be signs, huh? Huh?

We know, we know; clutching at straws in the vain hope of competition. Something else to look out for is that Red Bull could clinch the constructors’ title in Singapore if it scores a 1-2 finish and Mercedes bungles with a double DNF.

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Need even more background on the race? The information you need is but a few vertical thumb swipes away…

What time is the Singapore GP? And what time is qualifying?

For UK viewers, the Singapore Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday 17 September, exactly 23 hours after the qualifying session that’ll set the grid (2pm on Saturday if you can’t be bothered doing the maths).

Before that there are three practice sessions: FP1 begins at 10:30am on Friday 15 September, followed by FP2 at 2pm and FP3 the next day, again at 10:30am.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Wet, hot and thundery. Which is pretty much par for the course in that part of the world at this time of year. The crucial thing to note however is that the threat of rain is largely expected to have disappeared when the main action gets underway in the mid-to-late evening local time. So don’t expect a repeat of the chaos of a few years ago when Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen all hit each other after a wet standing start.

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Where is the Singapore GP taking place?

Singapore mate, the clue’s in the name. Officially the track is called the Marina Bay Street Circuit, so called because it’s a street circuit that overlooks the Marina Bay.

Facetiousness aside, the Singapore GP has been on the F1 calendar since 2008 with a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Singapore has seen the highs and lows of F1: Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap here in 2018 is the stuff of legend, while Renault cheating its way to victory in 2008 is so notorious that ex-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa is threatening legal action for the effect it had on his title chances that year.

Oh, and it’s a night race. Cue atmosphere and a big electricity bill for all the floodlights.

How many laps is the Singapore GP?

Interesting you should ask this, because the changes to the track layout - made necessary because of development work happening in the area - have shortened the length of the lap. Therefore more laps are needed to hit the magic 300km-plus-a-bit length of a grand prix. This year there’ll be 63 laps for the full race distance, with lap times expected to be several seconds quicker than in 2022.

Who’s going to win the Singapore GP?

In all likelihood, Max Verstappen is going to win. Look at us being all cavalier by backing the guy who’s not been beaten in months. The Dutchman is after his 11th win in a row, and you’d think only teammate Sergio Perez - who usually comes alive on street tracks - has a shot of beating him.

But if Ferrari can repeat their quali heroics from a fortnight ago, don’t discount Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz just yet. The slow-speed nature of the corners in Singapore should suit Mercedes’ car more than usual too, so Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will be quietly hoping their rivals are hit by reliability issues: Red Bull hasn’t had a single DNF yet…

How can I watch the Singapore GP?

UK F1 fans can either watch the Singapore Grand Prix live on Sky Sports’ F1 channel, or gain access to Sky’s coverage by means of a Now TV subscription. Failing that, your only remaining (legal) option is to buy a ticket and fly to Singapore. Good luck with hotel prices.

The cheaper way of doing it is to simply wait for the highlights show on Channel 4: this week’s race highlights will be broadcast at 5.30pm on Sunday, while the quali round-up is on Saturday at 7.30pm.

Happy with radio coverage? Live commentary will be on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra from 12.45pm on Sunday.

What’s the Top Gear view on the Singapore GP?

We’ve got mixed feelings about the Singapore Grand Prix: while it’s occasionally thrown huge drama our way, overtaking is seriously hard at this tight, concrete-boundaried circuit. Which means the grid line-up from qualifying will usually give you a good idea of where the drivers will finish on race day. Boo. Here’s hoping that the changes to the track will spice up the action. Even if it does mean focusing on the battle for second…

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