Formula One is a demanding sport, and even more so at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The city state’s street circuit has long been considered one of the hardest tracks to race on in the F1 calendar, being a street circuit and having one of the hottest climates during the night race.
However, McLaren driver Lando Norris is confident of his prospects in the Lion City, after a slew of upgrades to the team’s MCL60 car resulted in vastly improved results in the second half of the season.
McLaren’s upgrade package was implemented across the races in Austria, Britain and Hungary.
As the updates were being rolled out, he took two straight second position finishes in Austria and Great Britain, and a fourth in Hungary — picking up 48 points in three races, compared to just 12 points in the first eight races of the season.
However, he is under no illusion that it will be an easy feat.
Speaking to CNBC’s JP Ong, he called the Marina Bay street circuit a “very tough track,” pointing out that unlike other purpose-built tracks, street circuits are “quite bumpy, easy to make mistakes, easy to lock tires, difficult to get a good balance on the car normally.”
Norris added, “It’s a circuit that is used once a year, the rest of it is people driving around. Whereas all the other circuits have racing every weekend, there is a lot of rubber.”
F1′s street circuits are generally bumpier than regular race tracks, and when F1 cars race on a circuit, rubber comes off from the tires and stick to the track, increasing grip and cornering speeds.
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE – OCTOBER 02: Lando Norris of McLaren and Great Britain during the drivers parade during the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on October 02, 2022 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images,)
Peter J Fox | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Norris revealed that as a result of the heat and humidity, the demands on concentration are “amplified” on the track.
“When you’re concentrating so much not to crash, not to hit a wall or not to make any mistakes, the amount of focus is even more than on other circuits at the same time,” he told CNBC.
Singapore’s tropical weather patterns also add another layer of unpredictability. Norris pointed to last year’s race, where rain forced the race to start late and increased the humidity for all the drivers.
When asked if he was confident to take the checkered flag in Singapore — which will be his first season win if successful, Norris quipped, “I want to say yes, I want to believe in it. So I’ll say yes.”
He said the team is “closer than ever” to seeing its first checkered flag, adding that it’s a good sign for the team to “catch up with Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull — because they’re who we should be fighting every weekend.”
“This year, we’ve taken such a big step and we’re confident we can continue that and take even more.”