Lewis Hamilton has criticised Singapore Grand Prix track organisers for turning a chicane into “the worst corner I’ve ever driven in Formula One”.
Close friend Adrian Sutil felt the full force of the left-right-left turn 10 kink during yesterday’s second practice session at the Marina Bay street circuit.
The chicane has been significantly modified for this year, with the first of the three kerbs moved in by a metre and the second by two metres, making it significantly narrower.
It resulted in Sutil hitting the second kerb hard, sending the 27-year-old’s Force India soaring a few feet off the ground before landing on his front-left wheel, immediately breaking the suspension.
Asked about the track modifications, Hamilton said: “I think they have made it worse. The chicane is the worst corner I have ever driven in Formula One. It’s just ridiculous.
“Last year it was small, but now it’s even more dangerous. We saw one other car take off. You approach that corner at 160mph to 170mph, and then you brake hard.
“If something goes wrong, somebody’s brakes fail and you hit one of those kerbs then you are going to see a nasty accident.”
McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was not quite as hard hitting in his condemnation, but also expressed concerns.
“I’m looking up towards the lights most of the time when I’m going through there because as soon as the front hits the kerb it’s up in the air,” said Button.
“I’ve no control of the steering through there, but it’s all right. I’ve no problem with it. I’ve not hit the wall, and hopefully I won’t.”
Button’s greater worry is the right-hander turn five, adding: “They have resurfaced it and there’s very negative camber. You turn in and the car falls away, you lose the rear end and it feels pretty uncontrollable.
“It’s also a pretty tough corner because the water is still in the asphalt, so it’s very tricky.”
Forgetting the track, the McLaren duo have to find a way to contend with the Red Bulls, with Sebastian Vettel quickest by a second from the Britons, with even team-mate Mark Webber down by 0.6secs.
Hamilton, though, exuded a positive attitude as he said: “I think we will be able to compete with the guys up front.
“I feel optimistic. We’re in not such a bad position, and the Red Bulls are definitely beatable here.
“They were quick in the middle and last sector, so we have to work hard to try and find that time, but I’ve no doubts we can do it. We’ll have to see what happens, but I hope we can challenge for the front row.”
Reigning world champion Button concedes his car is “working well,” but knows his team face considerable work ahead of them to close the gap on Red Bull.
“There are still some improvements needed because I don’t know where our pace is,” said Button. "At the moment the Red Bull is crazy quick, but we won’t know how much until today.”