Singapore changes could boost Williams

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The updated circuit layout for the Singapore Grand Prix is likely to have a clear impact on the demands on cars and potentially the pecking order, according to Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson.

Construction work in Singapore means part of the Marina Bay Street Circuit is being impacted and a temporary change to the layout is in place that will see cars continuing straight on after Turn 15, cutting out the Turn 16/17 chicane and Turn 18/19 (pictured above) that went under a grandstand in the final sector. Robson says the longer straight and fewer corners could help Williams be more competitive but is also expected to give the cars and drivers a slightly easier time.

“I think it probably will (be a test of progress), but obviously the changing circuit, changing layout probably helps us, because four corners have been taken away!” Robson said. “That’s probably helpful. But I think more seriously, that will change the nature of that circuit quite a lot, not so much in terms of the downforce level I don’t think, but in terms of braking is always difficult there.

“The energy the brakes have to deal with, the rear tire degradation is always really difficult by the time you get to the last sector. So to have those corners taken away from that part of the circuit I think does change the characteristic of the circuit quite a lot, for everyone obviously. Hopefully that plays slightly more to the strength of this car.”

Another change that will come into effect in Singapore is a technical directive relating to flexible bodywork that appears targeted at front wings, something Robson also says could impact the competitive picture.

“I genuinely don’t know. I think the way the TDs are written, they’re clearly aimed at quite specific things that the FIA have seen, so they must be affecting some people,” he said. “I think on the whole, we don’t think it affects us very much. A little bit to do on our floors, but I think the wing side of things, not a big deal. Hopefully it will slow some people down.”