Heavy clouds had gathered on the Marina Bay track shortly after the end of the W Series support race and the skies began to darken as the F1 peloton finished the parade pilots aboard a fleet of classic cars.
Patches of rain began falling in the paddock an hour and 20 minutes before the 8 p.m. start time, with the team’s radar systems indicating an intense thunderstorm was expected to hit at 6.55 p.m.
It duly did so and quickly turned into a violent thunderstorm, with the end of the track’s pit straight no longer visible on the circuit’s television cameras.
At 7:02 a.m. local time, the F1 timing boards displayed the following message from the FIA, which officially delayed the start of the race.
“The pit lane is open and the entire start procedure is delayed,” the message read. “Updating in 20 minutes, a minimum of 10 minutes notice will be given.”
Later, race control said the start procedure would begin at 8:05 p.m. local time, with the formation lap at 9:05 p.m. local time (2:05 p.m. BST).
Regarding the start of the race, article 44.1 of the F1 sporting rules states: “40 minutes before the scheduled start of the formation lap, the pit exit will be open and all cars, including those due start the race from the pit lane, will be permitted to leave the pit lane to cover a sighting lap.”
This means that once the order to leave the pits has been granted by the FIA, after giving 10 minutes’ notice, the 40-minute starting procedure period will begin.
Photo by: Alex Kalinauckas
Although initial expectations were that the storm would blow quickly over Singapore, the wind carrying the clouds south, rolling back along the pit straight, it lasted for the usual time when the cars were preparing to leave their garages to take the pre-race grid.
Flash flood warnings have been issued by authorities in Singapore, while a similar rainstorm on Saturday left puddles that hadn’t dried for several hours, meaning the FP3 has been reduced lasting from an hour to 30 minutes and qualifying went wet to dry. session where dry tires were only a viable option for the last Q3 segment.
The usually packed Singapore paddock quickly cleared as the rain began to fall, with television crews assembled, event guests, officials and media taking refuge in the team hospitality units and in any covered structure.
Wet and wet FP3 qualifying sessions left the teams with a limited number of new wet and intermediate tires to use for the race.
AlphaTauri have no new mids available for Pierre Gasly or Yuki Tsunoda, while Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi, Alex Albon and Zhou Guanyu still have two new sets of mids, with Ocon and Bottas having three.
Everyone else has a series of new intermediates, with all drivers except Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon having three new sets of rains for the other two of their rivals.
These five were the five pilots who only came out on inters in FP3.