Sports

Singapore Formula 1: Seconds
away from victory

A roaring sound from Formula One cars broke was heard around at the Marina Bay’s that weekend night.

It was not any regular weekend in Singapore. Motor sports and entertainment lovers around the globe knew that the sounds meant that the long wait was over.

That particular night, thousands of spectators of Singtel Singapore Grand Prix 2012 had the best night of their lives after witnessing defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany from the Red Bull Racing team cross finish line as the winner.

Vettel is the title holder for the 2011 Formula One and is seeking a second victory this season.

At the exclusive club of the winning team’s paddock, it was truly a party with some guests toasting with glasses of red wine or champagne, while other cheered and danced to the club’s own music from a performing disc jockey.

However, spectators and viewers might never know that all the team’s members had to work really, really hard and be very disciplined in order to produce such a fantastic showdown in the fast lane.

“Eight minutes before race is definitely a real busy time,” revealed Red Bull Racing team marketing staff Guy Richards during a garage tour in the qualifying round of the Singapore Grand Prix recently.

“All team members, including with team principal Christian [Horner], have to communicate with each other about everything including the tires and machine conditions, among other things.”

Unlike what people saw on the circuit or on television screens at home, all of the people involved were buzzing like bees.

“In the pit wall, we got all the statistics there to see what really happens during the race, all the drivers and car conditions. It’s really a hard situation for every member of the team, including drivers, because we have time limitations,” Richards said.

“During qualification session, the pit stop is also a very busy area because the cars are not always ready, they are constantly changing, so we have to make modifications here and there, always adding tweaking,” he said, adding that Red Bull Racing had about 400 people for its two cars in each of 20 races worldwide.

Red Bull Racing uses RB8 Formula One racing cars, which are designed by the team’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey. The cars use 2,400cc Renault engines with 7-speed transmissions.

The team had to adapt to different drivers because like any team, Red Bull also keeps improving its cars for the betterment of their performance.

“These guys always work. Busy, busy, busy all weekend. In the factory [in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK], it is basically all the same,” he said, adding that all crew members handling Red Bull racing cars were trained.

Red Bull’s second driver is Mark Webber of Australia.

Each car was handled by about 20 people during the weekend race, said Richards. “Generally, we have two team of crew for our cars and each of the teams has its own chief engineer. So basically, we work for about 16 to 17 hour per day.”

The condition in Red Bull Racing’s garage was like any other car repair shop — very hot and humid, especially in Singapore — but with various high-tech machines placed quite tidily around the area. The tough conditions were even harder with very loud noise from their super cars.

Red Bull Racing team, the leading builder of vehicles in in this season’s Formula 1, maintains its premium spot in the paddock, which is the first pit stop in the row is closest to the finish line and podium.

A pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops during a race for new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments or any combination of the above. The pit stop comprises a pit lane, which runs parallel to the start and finish straight, and is connected at each end to the main track. There are also a row of garages for individual teams.

Victory in Singapore eared Vettel number two in this season’s drivers’ standings, right before leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Behind the big operation there is Christian Horner, the Red Bull Racing’s principal team member since 2005. In Horner’s hands, the team became a big threat in 2009 before winning championships in 2010 and 2011.

“My role is to make sure everything is as it should be at the top of the chain; I have to make sure not just the department as you see here is operational, but also behind the scenes as well.

“Back in the factory we have a lot of people working for design, production, logistics, so a Formula One team is multi-varsity, we’ve got about 500 people working for the race, all to produce the two cars that you see here,” shared the 38-year-old.

Working in a field where time and fitness are two main things, Horner said that keeping his team’s stamina up was important.

“The team has got to be fit and healthy in good shape, because in the pit stop there are about 25 people involved; they are in the pit stop, garage […] which is obviously a hot and sticky condition.

“Pit stops are about 2.5 seconds these days, it’s important to have them in good shape. The garage as you see it is very humid down there. It’s tough working conditions.

“In [Singapore], it’s in the night, so we stay on European time. Everybody, when they come here, do not have to change their clocks from Europe,” he added.

Singapore held its first night race for the Formula One calendar in 2008. Since then, the country has developed he Singapore Grand Prix to be one of the most challenging series in the world with its hard-to-deal bumpy road and killer corners in Asia’s first street circuit.

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