Marussia’s Jules Bianchi has made no secret of his anticipation for his first night race as a Formula One driver in Singapore next weekend.
“The Singapore Grand Prix will be a totally new experience for me as my first night race,” Bianchi said. “In my debut season where everything is new, it is certainly one of the highlights of the calendar for me and I can’t wait for next weekend.”
Bianchi debuted at the Australian Grand Prix for Marussia, and he has made quite an impression from the back of the grid by trouncing teammate Max Chilton and posing the stiffest challenge to Caterham’s Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Thanks to Bianchi, the team currently lies tenth in the constructors’ championship by virtue of his thirteenth-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and the Frenchman is keen on keeping Marussia ahead come the end of the season.
“The next part of the season is going to be quite a challenge for everyone, but the team is pushing so hard to maintain tenth place in the championship and I really hope that is going to be possible for us.”
The likes of Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Esteban Gutierrez have all raced at Singapore in GP2, making the novelty of a night race nothing new for them. Thanks to the nature of the circuit, the number of retirements is usually quite high at Marina Bay, giving Marussia and Caterham a chance to finish strongly and perhaps cause an upset.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”