Ahh, remember when the first-ever F1 night race was announced? The critics were out in force before heading to Singapore in 2008. Safety concerns galore, the circuit was too narrow, the lights wouldn’t work and now look – we’ve got five of them!
Well, that’s if you include the day-to-night race at Abu Dhabi, a night-ish race if you will.
The minute the paddock assembled into Singapore’s Marina Bay venue, all those initial fears disappeared. The circuit was, and still is, a crowd favourite, and the lighting was brighter than the WTF1 team’s futures, according to the internet.
We’ve already had two out of our five night races, but with the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix being thrown into the mix this season, why not take some time to look at the crucial things that make a night race special?
HOW DO THEY SEE?
It’s easy to assume that lighting up a race track would be the same as lighting up a football stadium. But nope, it requires something much brighter.
Normal street lighting provides around 30lx (lux, a unit of illuminance), a football stadium is usually around 800lx, and the Singapore circuit is 3000lx – which then became the standard for night racing in F1.
WHAT ABOUT THEIR HELMETS?
Well, that’s where the drivers’ visors come in.
The light level isn’t anywhere close to what they would have in full sunlight. It was assumed that drivers would need orange-tinted visors when night races first became a thing.
But soon enough, drivers became more confident in the light level, and most of the time they opt for the clear visors – which we love because it’s great to watch where they actually look when driving.
DOES IT MAKE THEM GO FASTER?
The short answer is: yes.
Temperature is huge in F1. Night races generally have cooler air temperatures than in the mid-afternoon when races usually run. So, when the air is cooler, engines run cooler, and everything becomes a little bit easier to maintain – especially the cooling elements of the car.
The tyres produce more grip and don’t overheat as easily, and cooler cars produce more downforce, which means even more grip and, yep, you guessed it, SPEED.
Are you a fan of night races? Let us know in the comments!