As the 2023 Formula 1 season heads down the autumn stretch, perhaps the remaining drama is to be found in the respective battles for second place. In the Drivers’ Championship, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are trying to chase down Sergio Pérez. On the Constructors’ side of things, Mercedes is hoping to fend off Aston Martin and Ferrari.
All while Max Verstappen and Red Bull, respectively, run away from the field.
With the grid heading to the Marina Bay Circuit for the Singapore Grand Prix, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff offered a brief recap of the Italian Grand Prix before outlining the team’s expectations for this weekend, as well as the rest of the season, in their race preview.
“We maximised the result in Monza with the package we had. That will be important across the rest of the season to secure second in the Constructors’. At a circuit that didn’t necessarily suit the characteristics of our car, we were still competitive,” said Wolff.
“It’s encouraging to see that the W14 is performing well across a range of tracks,” added the Mercedes boss. “We’ve had some time to debrief an intense double header and we’re now heading into another one.”
As for what to expect at Marina Bay, Wolff made it clear that the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the toughest tests on the schedule, for a variety of reasons.
“Singapore is a unique challenge for every team. The hot and humid conditions are tough on the drivers, team members and the cars. It’s a bumpy track and there are some changes to the layout for this year, too. It should make the lap more flowing and slightly kinder on the tyres.”
With respect to those track changes, the previous layout at Marina Bay featured a quick sequence of corners during the third sector from Turns 16 through 19. That sequences has been eliminated, replaced with a straight through that section of the track:
The Marina Bay Street Circuit will be updated from 2023 due to the redevelopment of The Float at Marina Bay into "NS Square". The #F1 #SingaporeGP track will be reduced to 4.928km with Turns 16 to 19 re-aligned into a straight. More info at https://t.co/b54sENWDYu pic.twitter.com/YUpqwL6MFg— SingaporeGP (@F1NightRace) October 19, 2022
That change reduces the number of corners on the circuit from 23 to 19. Analysts anticipate lap times will be quicker as well, with race promoters estimating the qualifying lap time to clock in around 1:27.
During the last dry qualifying session, back in 2019, Charles Leclerc secured pole position with a lap time of 1:36.217.
As for Mercedes’ season, Wolff reiterates a common theme from the team these past few weeks: The goal is second in the Constructors’ Championship. While the battle is tight, he believes that the W14 is well equipped to make this a competitive showing for Mercedes at Marina Bay.
“The battle with our nearest competitors is incredibly close. It’s hard to predict just how the order will shake out each weekend,” added Wolff. “Nonetheless, we typically perform better on high downforce tracks, so we’re hopeful of a competitive showing.”