F1 Night race
Singapore 26th September 2010
Not to blog about the only Formula 1 night race in the world would be a sin. This year I have chosen to watch the race on TV from the comfort of my sofa. This is the third year now but I was one of the lucky few to see the first ever night race right from the grandstand opposite the Ferrari pits, a fantastic experience. For an experienced lighting designer the lighting for the race track seems a relatively textbook affair but still it was a first. In addition the lighting is not designed just for the drivers but also to make it enjoyable for the public and TV audience to watch!
Three years ago I wrote in my Lighting Today column that the main concern for the race track lighting is definitely safety and security. For the drivers the lighting has to provide sufficient lighting to see any obstacles well ahead and being able to anticipate in advance the manoeuvres required coming in at very high speeds. The lighting level standard applied for the Singapore night race is 3000 lux, with a near perfect uniformity. This is about twice the lighting levels applied in a sports stadium. The uniformity is crucial to avoid any form of what is called the “zebra effect”, where light and dark patches follow each other as you drive along the road. This is resolved by spacing the floodlights very close to each other so the light distributions overlap and an overall longitudinal uniformity is achieved. A total of more the 1500 floodlights have been used side by side along the track. Rather then to use poles, the floodlights are fixed to a truss system allowing parallel adjustments as necessary. The main characteristic of the track floodlights is that they project the beam asymmetrically forward, crosswise over the track, with a strong sideways cut off as not to glare the oncoming F1 driver. This is achieved by keeping the mounting height of the floodlights relatively low. In general the height is about equal to the road width, in this case the track width.
Having been at track site I can say that the view from the public stands is great without any glare. As I am watching the race on TV now the track and city skyline images are impressive as well. Lighting really gives the race another dimension…..