INTO THE NIGHT

Here we go then… leaving Europe behind, boarding the long-haul express for the season run-in and cramming in six grands prix in 10 weeks.

Are we looking forward to it? Well, put it this way: if the final flurry kicked off in one of F1's more, shall we say, anodyne venues then we'd be approaching the voyage with the sort of fear and loathing usually displayed by a mechanic eyeing an ergometer.

However, when the first flyaway on the cards is one of the most eye-popping and oddly exotic of the season then there's only one thing to say: "fasten your seat belts, stow your tray tables and prepare for take off – Singapore, here we come".

And here are our five chief reasons to be cheerful...

 

1. The Night Shift
This year's race marks the 10th Singapore Grand Prix, and ever since we first arrived here in 2008, everyone's made a fuss of the schedule and how gruelling it is to stay on European time. There are always tales of teams ordering in blackout curtains and reserving 'quiet floors' in hotels and so on.

While it's true that F1 teams do ask hotels to alter their housekeeping routines so that we can have a 'lie-in', particularly on Saturday when the curfew on operational personnel begins at 7am and runs until 3pm. After all, there's nothing worse than being rudely awoken at 9am by someone hammering on the door and barking 'housekeeping!' at the top of his/her voice. Actually, scratch that, it's worse when that person uses a skeleton key, lets themselves in, switches on all the lights and is confronted by the naked, hairy backside of a garage tech slumped , x-wing style, across the bed with a polystyrene box of street food glued to his face. Suffice to say, that while in Singapore, the 'Do Not Disturb' sign is your best friend.

The unexpected bonus of Singapore is that weirdly for a grand prix weekend, you do tend to get a lot of sleep. You finish work in the middle of the night, you're tired, you generally don't feel like a long wait before heading out to dinner, a bar and then a club or whatever. The upshot is you're in bed early and you get up later. For team members with young children this feels a bit like finding money down the back of the sofa and unravelling the note to find another one wrapped inside.


2. Street Food
It's a cliché but Singaporean Street Food is the bomb. It's also a godsend when you're working until the wee small hours. At 2am and beyond, Singapore's Hawker Centres, markets packed with street food outlets, tend to be the only places open. The added bonus is that the food is often superb.

A case in point is Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles, in the Chinatown Complex Market there is a hawker stand with a Michelin Star and you can still eat there for a few Singaporean dollars. You don't have to go all haute cuisine though, there are loads of centres dotted around the city (try Newton Circus, Maxwell Road etc) you won't be disappointed, and it's highly likely that we'll be there as well.


3. 23 corners
It's no secret that we're not at our best on circuits with long straights and few corners (yes, Monza, you can sit down now you power-hungry blowhard). Singapore though is different, in a wonderfully tortuous way. Made up of 23 medium and low-speed corners, the Marina Bay street circuit is one at which we traditionally feel we can do well at.

In fact, we've won here three times, we've landed a podium finish of one form or another in each of our last eight outings and Daniel Ricciardo has tasted champagne every time he's raced for us in Singapore. Setting ourselves up for one of our signature events was always a priority then, and hence we sucked up some grid penalties in Monza in order to best position ourselves for this weekend and all those lovely corners.


4. A proper crowd
From minute one in 2008, Singapore has embraced Formula One with unstinting commitment and passion and that give's F1's most luminous weekend a real sparkle. It's not just Singapore residents that turn out for the race either. The city is pretty much a next-door neighbour for Western Aussies, and for fans from Daniel's home town of Perth it's a 'short' five-hour flight to Singapore to barrack for their homey. In fact, for them it takes as long to fly from Perth to Sydney as it does to get to Singapore!


5. European Time
It's tied to the schedule but the value of staying on European time truly becomes apparent when the race ends. It's only then that you realise you're about to head home and that when you get back to MK there'll be no painful adjustment back to UK time, as you're already on it. To quote Mr Daniel Ricciardo: winner, winner, chicken dinner (although we might have had one too many of them in Chinatown by that stage.)