Panasonic Toyota Racing goes back to its roots this weekend with Formula 1's first-ever night race, on the streets of Singapore. Prior to competing in Formula 1, Toyota took on the challenge of the Le Mans 24 Hours, so plenty of team members are already experienced in the demands of night racing. Using that knowledge the team has prepared a special pit board which will be visible at night while other measures have been taken, such as adjusting the display on the drivers' steering wheel and providing additional lighting in the garage. The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix will be held on the 5.067km Marina Bay circuit, which includes a stretch over the famous Anderson Bridge and a tunnel underneath a grandstand. To prepare for the twin challenge of a new circuit and a night race, the team sent engineering and logistics staff to study the situation firsthand in July, while computer models have been used to predict the likely set-up requirements. A high downforce configuration is expected, so the TF108 will revert to a different specification compared to the low-downforce package used in Monza.
“Singapore is a new challenge for everyone because it is the first time we will race there and the first time to race at night. We don't know exactly how the track will be or how challenging the conditions could be, so it will be very interesting. For any new circuit, Friday practice is really important because that is when you can understand the track and that is particularly true in Singapore when we are driving at different times compared to a normal weekend. It is going to be a challenge for everyone and I am looking forward to it. It looks like it will be an amazing Grand Prix and I can't wait to experience the city because I have been several times but only for brief visits. I usually adapt very quickly to new tracks thanks to the time I spent in karting and the team was strong in Valencia on a new circuit so I am feeling pretty good about this weekend. High-downforce tracks suit our car very well and after bad luck in Spa and Monza I am looking forward to returning to the points.”
“Night racing is good fun and a great show for the fans. I competed in a night race at Las Vegas in 2005 when I was racing in the United States and that was a different experience, especially as it was on an oval. It is no problem driving at night generally because the lights make it seem more like daylight but it is a bit strange to be racing at a time when normally you are resting. I have actually already driven the TF108 at night, on a demo run in Valencia in January, but it will be a totally different experience this weekend. The venue in Singapore looks fantastic and I am really looking forward to this race because I believe we have a good chance to score more points. Things didn't work out for us in Monza, with the changing track conditions coming at just the wrong time for our strategy and the fight for fourth in the Constructors' Championship is very close now. We are really motivated to come out on top.”
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota (Senior General Manager Chassis):
“We have experienced several new venues since 2004 and generally everything goes smoothly. We are used to handling the challenge of a new track so that doesn't worry us. Obviously we have studied the lay-out in Singapore and we have found similarities to other tracks which lead us to conclude it will be a high-downforce circuit. So we know which direction to go in terms of aerodynamic set-up. We have made one or two small tweaks to our aero package and we expect the TF108 to suit the characteristics of the Singapore track. One of the other things we looked at early on was braking severity - this is very important because if you have to make changes it takes time. There is no doubt that Singapore will be very demanding on brakes and we expect them to be working at very high temperatures. Everyone is very much looking forward to the race and we have high hopes.”
Source: Toyota F1