F1 race to zoom ahead - unless PSI enters very unhealthy range

A view of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix night race Marina Bay street circuit shrouded by haze on Sept 14, 2015.
A view of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix night race Marina Bay street circuit shrouded by haze on Sept 14, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Formula One fans in Singapore can expect their dose of high-octane racing this weekend - unless the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) creeps into the very unhealthy (201-300) range.

Drivers and officials told The Straits Times that visibility and safety on the Marina Bay Street Circuit will not be compromised in less hazy conditions.

Mr Alex Gibot, chief of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) series, a popular F1 support race, said the track's floodlights, which simulate daylight conditions, ensure drivers can see ahead to the recommended distance of 50m.

"As long as visibility is not much affected and it's clear for the drivers, the race can carry on," he said.

"I'm not worried at all. We have held races in even tougher conditions in fog and rain."

In a statement yesterday, race organiser Singapore GP said that based on current PSI levels, there are no plans to amend the racing and entertainment programme.

"We will continue to work closely with all the relevant government authorities to receive the best possible forecasts when they are available," it said.

But for veteran PCCA driver Ringo Chong, the haze becomes an issue if it makes breathing a chore, particularly in stuffy driver outfits. The 49-year-old Singaporean said: "We cannot expect drivers to wear another mask in their helmets."

N95 masks will be available throughout the circuit park at cost price, while medical and first-aid posts will be on standby.

Last year's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix continued without major incident even when the three-hour PSI hit 129 midway through the action.

Any decision on whether it is safe to race will be made by Mr Charlie Whiting, race director with the sport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation, after consulting drivers and teams.

A number of local sports events were cancelled over the weekend owing to health concerns.

A promotional event today with McLaren driver Jenson Button has been switched indoors, from a petrol station to a hotel.

Fans who spoke to The Straits Times said they will not be deterred by the weather.

Student Fauzul Fauzan, 23, said: "It doesn't matter because it is only held here once a year, and I am willing to head out and watch my favourite drivers like Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton battle it out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline 'F1 race to zoom ahead - unless PSI enters very unhealthy range'. Print Edition | Subscribe