Fernando Alonso's podium in steamy Singapore

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“I never went to university,” says Ferrari star Felipe Massa. “If this is how students live, it’s quite fun!”

Felipe is referring to the topsy-turvy timetable at the Singapore Grand Prix, which sees the drivers going to bed at 4am and getting up at lunchtime every day. They have breakfast at 2pm, lunch at 8pm and dinner at 2am, and with most restaurants closed in the middle of the night there’s a great sense of paddock camaraderie because everyone is forced to eat in the same restaurants.

Keeping to European time adds to the spectacular nature of the Singapore Grand Prix, the only night race on the F1 calendar. The atmosphere rockets as the sun goes down each day and the grandstands are rammed whenever the cars take to the track. More than 262000 spectators attended this year’s race over the three days, and why wouldn’t they? The cars look amazing under the 1,500 halogen lights that line the 5.3km track.

The lights provide a luminosity of 3,000 lux – the equivalent of a Premiership football stadium. As a result, visibility isn’t a problem for the drivers. But the heat is an issue: cockpit temperatures climb to 60 degrees and with humidity in excess of 75 percent, the drivers sweat a lot.

“It’s a very long and tough race,” says Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton. “It’s much tougher than the Malaysian Grand Prix because there are long straights at Sepang along which to relax and get some airflow into the cockpit. Singapore is the second slowest track on the calendar (after Monaco) and there are a lot of corners, so we’re constantly working. It’s very hot!”

As for the on-track action, the weekend was dominated by Sebastian Vettel. His emphatic victory increased his lead over Fernando Alonso in the world championship to 60 points. The Spaniard was best of the rest after playing a tactical game all weekend. He tried a new floor and a new front wing on his Ferrari during Friday practice, but these improvements weren’t enough for him to take the fight to Vettel and he immediately turned his focus from qualifying to the race.

He lined up only seventh on the grid – one place behind team-mate Massa – but he had a great race car for Sunday evening’s race. He made an amazing start and was up to third by the first corner. A Safety Car on lap 25 forced Fernando to roll the dice. With more than half of the race remaining, he pitted for the harder of Pirelli’s two tyre compounds and set about trying to get to the end without making another pitstop. He took second place when Nico Rosberg, ahead of him on the road, pitted for new boots and he completed 36 laps on the same set of tyres to come home 32s behind Vettel.

“This feels like a victory,” said Fernando afterwards. “We got the maximum from the race today, and that’s all you can ask for. The world championship looks very difficult now, but we won’t give up.”

Motorsport