Tom Clarkson's 2008 Singapore Grand Prix preview

Published: 26 September 2008

This is turning out to be one weird weekend. Due to the late practice sessions and 8pm (local time) start on Sunday, the Formula 1 paddock is sticking to European time for the weekend. That means we’re going to bed at 4am every day and waking at noon.

'This is what I imagine being a student is like,' says Sebastian Vettel, who, like all the other drivers on the grid, isn’t a university graduate. Live the dream, Sebastian, because the pressroom certainly is. In fact, while members of the media drown themselves in ‘Singapore Sling’ every night, the drivers appear to be having an altogether more sober (sombre?) time.

'The rest of Singapore is keeping normal business hours,' says Jenson Button. 'That means all the good restaurants are closed by the time we want to have dinner at 3am. So far, I’ve settled for room service every night, so I’m not really getting to see the bright lights of Singapore.'

Give it time, Jenson. In a couple of hours you’ll be performing under the brightest lights of all: the 1500 2000-watt lights lining the 3.148-mile Marina Bay Street Circuit. The luminosity provided by these lights is 3000 lux, which is about half that of a sunny day, and the problem for the drivers appears to be what shade of tint to have on their visors.

As for the circuit layout, it’s been given the universal thumbs-up. The drivers that were walking it at midnight last night (I saw Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica and Rosberg) compared it to Monaco and Melbourne, and their only safety concern was the high kerbing at Turn 10. If a driver makes a mistake, they argued, he risks damaging his car on the kerbs. Well, there’s a simple solution to that…

As for Sunday’s result, look no further than McLaren. Their MP4-23 gets well hooked-up on street tracks and Lewis starts here as favourite, although it remains to be seen how – if at all – the legal wranglings in Paris have affected his mindset.


1 Lewis Hamilton 78 pts
2 Felipe Massa 77 pt
3 Robert Kubica 64 pts
4 Kimi Raikkonen 57 pts
5 Nick Heidfeld 53 pts
6 Heikki Kovalainen 51 pts

By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller