Esteban Gutierrez has arrived in Singapore in fourth place in the GP2 championship for the 12th and final race weekend of the season. The Marina Bay Circuit is completely new to the GP2 teams, as is the experience of nighttime qualifying this season.

After failing to finish on the podium in Belgium and Italy, Esteban’s chances of winning the drivers’ championship have gone but third place is still up for grabs. James Calado, Esteban’s Lotus team mate, sits on 160 points, just eight ahead of the Mexican. Guido Van der Garde is behind Esteban on 141. There are still 48 points to play for.

The Marina Bay Circuit presents a challenging mix of corners, bumps and a slippery surface which the GP2 drivers will have very little time to master in free practice.

“Singapore is going to be tough because it’s completely new to GP2, there are a lot of corners to learn and it’s very humid. Free practice is going to be very important because this is a track we don’t know, and we need to have confidence in the car from the start to have a chance in qualifying. We shouldn’t try to compensate too much in Singapore for what has happened during the last two weekends. We have to keep our focus on the technical side of the car right now. But I’m looking forward to this last race of the season and learning a new, very exciting circuit. I’ll do my best to claw back third place in the standings, as it’s important to finish on the overall season podium.”

GAËTAN JEGO, CHIEF ENGINEER: “Singapore is going to be a big challenge for all the teams and drivers, most of whom have never raced here before. As it’s a city track, which goes unused for 51 weeks a year, the surface will be very green and slippery. GP2 will be the second cars to take to the track on Friday after the Ferrari Challenge. Because the walls are so close, like in Monaco, the drivers are going to have to be brave to find where the limit is, and mistakes will be costly because we need as much track time as possible. It’s very bumpy, there are a lot of corners, and fewer laps than usual because of the long track length, so that will have to play into our strategy. Qualifying will be held at night, which will be a new experience. Both cars have new engines here, which should help us. Although we struggled at Monza, the set-up here is very different in terms of aero configuration and therefore I expect us to be quick here and fight for the

Formula One


Dr Mallya looks back on the European season and sets his sights on a strong showing in Singapore.

Eighth place brought some useful points in Italy, but is it really a case of ‘what might have been’?
If Paul had started where he should have started I’m sure he would have finished higher up the order. It was very unfortunate what happened to Nico during qualifying, where he couldn’t set a time. Given the pace of the cars I would have expected him to qualify somewhere close to Paul, so we could potentially have had both well inside the top ten. It was not to be.

Nevertheless a solid drive by Paul into eighth?
Given the fact that we were on a one-stop, we had to also keep in mind that the tyres needed to be conserved. Eighth was a result, but with a better starting position we could have come away with more.

After Spa, Sauber looked within reach, but they scored well in Italy. How do you view the situation?
There have been various moments where they’ve drawn away and we seemingly can’t catch them, but all it takes is a podium finish that brings in a lot of points, and if we get a couple of them, we could still chase them down.

On the other hand you have increased the advantage over Williams, albeit by only three points.
Two years ago Williams got us by one point in Brazil, so every point does matter!

How do you view the rest of the season?
As I’ve said before, we haven’t had our fair share of luck yet this season. Take the case of Spa – it was probably as close as we’ve had to a podium finish, but once again, it was not to be. But I’m an optimist and I don’t give up! It’s tough, Williams are strong, Sauber are strong. And look at what’s happening with Lotus. A lot of teams that were regarded as midfield teams last year are now pushing the big boys pretty hard.

Are you looking forward to Singapore?
In Singapore the atmosphere is brilliant. It’s a night race, of course, and more significantly for me there are a lot of people of Indian origin in Singapore, so they relate a lot to Sahara Force India, which is always nice. When I was living there, Singapore was very different to what it is now. It’s a lot more exciting, there are a lot more things to do, and it’s a lot more tourist friendly. Singapore should be a strong race for us because the track has always suited our car.

Nico on Singapore

Nico Hulkenberg talks about the most demanding race of the year.

Nico, tell us about racing at night in Singapore and the challenges it presents…

I took part in the 2010 race and thought it was a mega experience. The whole atmosphere in the paddock and working at night is fun because it makes a nice change. We stay on European time so the body keeps its rhythm, although it does feel strange to be going to bed when the sun is rising.

What about the track itself?

It’s a very long lap with some tricky bumps and kerbs, and you need to get close to the walls if you want to be quick. So getting the perfect lap is not easy. It’s anti-clockwise, too, although it’s not as demanding on the neck as somewhere like Interlagos because most of the corners are low to medium speed.

What about the physical challenge generally?

For me Singapore is the toughest race of the year – physically and mentally. I think it’s because there are 23 corners on the track and it’s one of the longest races of the year – always close to the two hour limit. So you certainly feel it after the race because of the high temperatures and humidity.

Paul on Singapore

Paul Di Resta explains his preparation for night racing in Singapore.

What are your expectations for Singapore this year?

I had a good race there last year and we’ve seen already that the car has been strong on street circuits this year. So I’m hoping that we will go well there, optimise the set-up and pick up some good points. I think it’s a track everybody enjoys and it’s an interesting race because of the unusual schedule.

Does it still feel different to be racing under artificial lights?

They do such a good job that you don’t really notice. It’s almost better than if you are driving during the day with cloud cover. It’s just something you get used to really quickly. The other thing is you arrive there and stay on European time, and the night becomes your day so you don’t really suffer with jet lag.

Is it easy to stay on European time?

It’s not something I find difficult. The important thing is making sure you choose the right flight to arrive in Singapore at the right time of day. You also have to make sure the hotel staff don’t tap on your door in the morning at 9am because you need to be sleeping for another five hours! I always go to bed at 6am and wake up at 2pm, that’s my routine.