The Formula 1 paddock ventures outside of Europe for what feels like the final leg of the year, as Singapore begins a sequence of races to round out the 2015 season. The event around the Marina Bay Street Circuit has already become a staple of the campaign thanks to the vibrant city of Singapore and spectacular backdrop, while the punishing track results in a physically demanding two-hour race for drivers.
Lewis Hamilton arrives chasing his third Singapore victory and third win on the bounce having opened up a 53 point lead over Nico Rosberg in the championship, with the German now coming under pressure from compatriot Sebastian Vettel.
For the first time in 2015 there will be a mid-season change to the driver line-up, with Alexander Rossi set to make his Formula 1 debut with Manor Marussia, in place of Roberto Merhi.
Having visited the fastest circuit on the calendar, the sport now races at one of the slowest, with 23 corners constituting a lap around the track.
The track has maintained a fundamentally similar layout since its maiden run in 2008 but there have been tweaks across the years, with a further one being introduced for this season.
The section between Turn 10 and Turn 13 has been re-aligned, with drivers now negotiating the left hand side of the iconic Anderson Bridge, tightening the hairpin which leads to Esplanade Drive.
A high-downforce set-up is required, with drivers needing to ride the bumps as well as gaining strong traction out of the array of turns.
“The track layout has some nice features, but the first sector stands out for me – especially the fast right-hand kink of turn six and the braking zone of turn seven,” says Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg.
“You need a car that’s able to ride the bumps, can use the kerbs and gives you confidence through the low and medium-speed corners.
“I think the Singapore Grand Prix ranks as the toughest race of the year because of the heat. It’s physically draining and you’ve also got the mental challenge of racing so close to the walls with a small margin of error.”
Pole position has often been crucial in Singapore; only in 2008, when Felipe Massa was caught out by the timing of the Safety Car and in 2012, when race leader Lewis Hamilton retired, has the qualifying king not gone on to win the race.
The DRS zones will be along the pit straight and Raffles Boulevard, the same allocation as in 2014.
Pirelli has brought the Super Soft and Soft tyres in order to cope with the mechanical grip required, while Martin Donnelly is the driver steward.
Rossi will make his Formula 1 debut in Singapore – the first driver to do so at the circuit – and will use Number 53.
Timetable (GMT +8):
Friday 18 September
- Practice One: 18:00 – 19:30
- Practice Two: 21:30 – 23:00
Saturday 19 September
- Practice Three: 18:00 – 19:00
- Qualifying: 21:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 20 September
- Race: 20:00 (61 laps or two hours)