As the drivers head out for practice on the streets of Singapore, the number of radio messages that help them when it comes to just about everything on the car, whether it’s engine settings, brake temperatures, or tire wear, will probably be much fewer than in the previous race in Italy.
I say fewer because with so many complex system on a modern F1 car, the teams apparently argued successfully in the paddock that going to a full stop may not be wise and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile may modify the new rule ahead of the race.
For example, it’s more than probable that some drivers would get their clutch settings wrong on the way to the grid and cause massive and potentially dangerous problems at the start. There has also been talk of pushing the radio ban back to the start of the 2015 season so the team can prepare properly and have alternate systems in place.
Even with some easing of the radio ban on coaching, Sunday’s race will pose a special challenge to drivers should the amount technical information that flows from the engineers to the cockpit be reduced during the upcoming grand prix weekend.
Essentially, any change to the amount of messages going to the driver coming before the Singapore Grand Prix — one of the longest and difficult races of the year on equipment and drivers, could have disastrous consequences for some.
There’s the fuel issue where it’s possible that some will run out before the end of Sunday’s grand prix as Singapore was already a tough one when it came to conserving enough gas to get to the finish line. Not having reminders about fuel use and mileage may have cars running out in the late stages.
The same goes for tires, especially since Pirelli has brought softer compounds to Singapore than it did last year. Most cars will probably do two pitstop, but managing the supersoft rubber will be tough on the long 5.073-kilometre, 23-turn street circuit, with the problem area likely being the rear tires.
Finally, the third big question mark will be the brakes. Look for more than one driver to run into trouble, and it’s likely that there will be the first test of the exempt technical/coaching messages for safety reasons in Singapore.
Brembo ranks the circuit as hard on brakes with 20 per cent of the lap spent slowing the car. Although none of the braking areas the circuit is particularly demanding, the usual high ambient temperature, the time spent on the brake pedal and the lack of opportunity to let the pads and discs cool makes track one of the hardest on the braking systems.
Success in managing these things during the race that were usually left up to the engineers will be critical to success in Singapore.
Much depends on the driver, his style, experience level, technical abilities, and feel of the car. Some will obviously fare better than others, and it will be interesting to see who gets things right and who gets them wrong.
For those who can manage in the void, the ban will have come at a great time, while there may be lots of disappointment for those who can’t.