Formula One Night Racing in Singapore

From ESPN.

Night racing is old hat for NASCAR, IRL, Sprint Cars and NHRA and at countless bullrings around the United States. But it's a new experience for Formula One as Singapore hosts the first F1 night race Sunday.

F1 normally adheres to a pretty rigid schedule with qualifying, and the races usually start at 2 p.m., no matter where they are in the world.

But qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix will be at 10 p.m. local time Saturday, and the race will start at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Normally, when members of the F1 teams arrive in various countries around the world, they try to adjust to the local time zone as quickly as possible. But that is not the case for the race weekend in Singapore, where the teams are trying to stay on European time so as to be fresh for the late-night schedule.

"Our doctor has prepared a very precise schedule for the drivers to stick to because all the sessions are so late in the day," Hamilton said. "Essentially, we must not acclimatize to the local time, which is totally different to how we normally operate.

"Our training programs ensure that over a race weekend, we are at peak performance during the afternoons, and as a result, we are going to be staying in European time so this doesn't get disrupted."


After practice ends Friday night, most crews won't go back to the hotel until all the car preparation for the next day has been completed.

"Inevitably, ensuring all the team personnel have the opportunity to get enough sleep will be the main challenge over the course of the weekend," McLaren's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh said. "For example, the mechanics won't be going to bed until 4-5 a.m., because we finish running late in the evening and there is a program of work to complete prior to the next day.

"There is a clear plan, because we know the timings of the sessions and how much work needs to take place after each of the sessions. The reality is, it will be hard work for the mechanics, engineers, support crew, marketing operation, and we will take measures to support this.

"But I don't believe it will have a massive impact on the cars and the drivers, with the program for Lewis and Heikki [Kovalainen] being very carefully planned and monitored."


"They will give us as much light as possible, but as it is a night race, I don't expect it will be like daylight in every corner," he said. "That is fine, though. Driving at night is a fun experience, and it is definitely a really good show for the fans -- that is the most important thing."

"If it rains, there is the unknown of whether there will be a problem with glare or the sparkle of light from droplets of rain [on the drivers' helmet visors] that is greater than you would ordinarily get," Whitmarsh said. "To manage this potential, we are using coatings for the visors that won't allow droplets to collect."

Set among modern skyscrapers, old colonial buildings, lush tropical plants and trees, the harbor and the world's largest Ferris wheel, the brand-new Singapore street circuit definitely has an exotic backdrop.

F1's first night race certainly will be a memorable occasion. And with the crazy schedules the teams are trying to keep, it is no wonder some are dubbing the event "Sleepless in Singapore."

As night falls in Singapore, a new dawn for Formula One. (IHT)

But these difficulties are the price to pay for what Formula One hopes will be increased television audiences in Europe and a new way of generating revenues for the sport. This year, for the first time, Formula One earned more from the sale of races to venues than from the sale of television broadcast rights.

Europe remains the sport's most important fan base. That is why Singapore is the first of what Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's promoter, hopes will be a trend of night racing in Asia. The intention is to avoid having to broadcast races early in the morning in Europe, which organizers fear would cut into television audiences and thus affect sponsorship.

F1 driver Alonso wins drama-filled Singapore GP.

A 'black day' for Ferrari at Singapore Grand Prix.


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