In his latest blog post, Jean-Eric Vergne talks bespoke trainers and looks forward to a new F1 experience – racing under floodlights at the Singapore Grand Prix.
New races always bring new challenges and the Singapore Grand Prix is no different than any other. In fact, the first (unlikely) challenge arrived on Wednesday when Daniel and I were invited to the studio of Singaporean trainer designer Mark Ong to put our designs on some shoes. Not what you’d call the most normal of race weekend challenges but it turned out to be a fun one.
I have to say, it’s one of the stranger things we’ve been asked to do but it was a good experience and Mark and his wife Sue-Ann were great. They’ve designed trainers for a lot of big stars, so to have our names added to a list that includes basketball player Kobe Bryant and the musician Q-Tip is great.
Before all that, I was on duty last week for Red Bull at a show car run in Warsaw, Poland. It was part of the Verva Street Racing event and it was pretty big. I think there were about 60,000 or 80,000 people there and all kinds of machinery on display from bikes to rally cars and drifting cars to me driving the Red Bull Racing RB7.
Show car runs are tricky things to fit into the schedule as we’re so busy and even more so at this point of the season when we have all these fly-away races, but once you get to the events they are always great fun and you can’t help but get into the spirit of things. Once you’re in the car you really enjoy the moment and can share your passion with people who often have no other access to F1.
As for the Singapore race itself, well, as I said, this is a completely new environment for me. I had some time in the simulator before Monza to get to know the track and that obviously does help. It’s a pretty simple process. You have a few sessions just to get a good feeling for the track, you establish a good baseline and then you test whatever you need to test in preparation for the race.
"I hope I can get the maximum out of the circuit, myself and the car, and that I can get a good result for the team"
In terms of its similarity to driving the track for real, it’s close enough to get a good understanding of what the track is like, to learn the layout, to figure out the best approach to it and to get comfortable with what you’re going to face. One thing I know for sure is that it will be a hard race physically. It’s a long lap, with mostly second- and third-gear corners, big braking events and a lot of gear changes. In the heat and humidity here it will be pretty punishing over 61 laps.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is the closest we come to the kind of conditions we have here, but this year there was rain and it actually wasn’t that hot in the car. I think the nearest I’ve come would be Budapest, which was hot and exhausting. Having said that, I didn’t really feel any tiredness in the car. I don’t think you ever do when you’re fighting for position in a race. You’re just totally focused on the battle with the guy in front and everything else is peripheral. It’s only after the race that you realise how hard you’ve been working and how much of a toll a long race has taken on you.
It’s a proper street circuit too. Okay, so it’s not like Monaco where you have every kind of corner from really high-speed ones to the slowest first-gear sections, but the walls are still very close and one mistake will definitely end your race. You do get very close to the walls on the corner exit and at the apex of corners. But I do need to get out there in the car to really understand it and that comes tomorrow afternoon.
I think I’ve mentioned before that normally street circuits are not my favourite. However, I think after Monaco I can put that feeling behind me, as that was a good weekend for me. I hope I have the same spirit this weekend, get the maximum out of the circuit, myself and the car, and that I can get a good result for the team.
It will be a totally new experience for me here, under the lights and in the middle of the night. But I’m up for it. I think we’ve prepared well with the simulator and all the other work, and I’m now looking forward to getting out on track and seeing what night racing is all about.
Until next time,