Why Formula One drivers think the new Singapore track layout is better and what the chances are of a comeback for the part not used in 2023
The Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore has become shorter for the 2023 Formula One season: The winding passage around the grandstand at the harbour area has been dropped, from turn 15 it goes straight to turn 16. And this new track layout goes down well with the drivers.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso, for example, said after the free practice: “It was fun and I think the layout is an improvement. It makes the track a bit faster and you get into a rhythm. So yes, I like the change.”
Valtteri Bottas is also enthusiastic. “I prefer this layout,” he says. “I guess it creates at least a little overtaking chance. And it makes the track a little bit faster. “
The comparison to the previous layout
In the practice sessions, the Formula 1 cars passed the start and finish after just 1:32 minutes. Last year, with the previous layout, it had been 1:42 minutes. Formula 1 thus saves ten seconds per lap in a direct comparison.
This is one of the reasons why the drivers unanimously voted to keep the current track layout at the drivers’ meeting on Friday evening. But it’s not that simple: the change is initially valid for three years while construction work is carried out in Singapore.
“How long it will take the government to do it, we don’t know,” says Singapore Grand Prix promoter Colin Sin. “It could take more than three years. It will probably be 2028, but we don’t know that yet. “
Promoters lose money on track shortening
The riders should be happy about this prospect, but the local organisers are not very keen on any delays: That’s because the new layout does not include the Marina Bay Grandstand (see cover photo), which means a significant proportion of ticket sales will be missed out. “We’re talking about 25,000 people, and that’s tearing a hole in our pocket,” Sin explains.
And so it may come down to a compromise solution in Singapore once construction is complete: They might go for the more fluid 2023 layout, but build the grandstand back into the track layout after all.
According to Sin, the prerequisites for this are already being created during the reconstruction work. “We don’t have the plans for that yet, but there could be a smoother entrance passage [before passing the grandstand].” For now, however, the current layout will remain in place in Singapore.