Drivers take a liking to new S’pore Sling

Drivers take a liking to new S’pore Sling
Sebastian Vettel of Inifniti Red Bull Racing drives during qualifying of the Singapore GP 2013 on September 21, 2013

The latest version of the Singapore Sling may have lost some of its potency but leading Formula One drivers are quickly developing a taste for it.

The triple-apex Turn 10 on the Marina Bay Street Circuit - whose high kerbs punished errant drivers by launching their cars into the air - has now made way for a sweeping left-hander, removing some of the bite from that stretch of the track.

"Turn 10 is better now I think," said Red Bull's Mark Webber after Friday's two SingTel Singapore Grand Prix practice sessions, the first time the drivers had had a shot at the revamped corner.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who had been a fierce critic of the left-right-left chicane, agreed.

"Turn 10 is the best solution we have with the space that's available," said the German, who is oddson to land his third straight win here.

The world champion and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton had both called Turn 10 the "worst corner" in the sport in previous years.

McLaren's Jenson Button also welcomed the change to the Singapore Sling.

The Briton said: "It's on the edge through there and there's not a lot of run-off, so every time you go through there, you are tensing quite a bit. It needed to change.

"I liked the corner but it was a pretty scary corner."

The added bonus of the change, apart from making the racing safer, is that speeds have increased. The International Automobile Federation had expected speeds at that point of the track to go up by about 40kmh to 240kmh.

Indeed, the lap record of 1min 45.599sec, set by Kimi Raikkonen in the first edition of the race in 2008, is under threat tonight - given how 15 drivers out of 22 went under the mark in yesterday's qualifying. Another contributing factor to the quicker times is the work done to the track.

The organisers said the first three turns, Turn 5, Turn 8 and Esplanade Drive, plus parts of the Pit Lane, had been resurfaced.

New asphalt gives the tyres much more grip; the greater the level of grip, the faster the cars can go.

The change was noticed by Hamilton, who topped the time sheets in Friday's P1 with a 1:47.055 effort.

In a radio message to his team, the 2008 world champion said: "The circuit feels twice as grippy as last year."

yulin@sph.com.sg


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