2018 Singapore GP – Preview

Once again, in a pressure-filled race at the home of Italian motorsport where the two main championship contenders needed to win in order to hold the supremacy heading into the flyaway races, it was Lewis Hamilton who handled the pressure the best, while Sebastian Vettel spun his grip of the championship, in terms of momentum, firmly out of his grasp, and now looks at Singapore as a race he must win in order to stay in contention for a fifth world championship.

Hamilton (256 points) leads the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship for Mercedes by a healthy 30 points over Ferrari’s Vettel (226 points) after winning the Italian Grand Prix for the fifth-time, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record for most wins at the Italian Grand Prix, while Vettel managed to recover from his spin on the opening lap to finish in fourth.

Vettel has had not so much of a habit, but an ability under pressure to make some mistakes, like we saw when he was leading the German Grand Prix back in July, sliding out of the race in inclement conditions, and last year at the Singapore Grand Prix, which saw both Ferrari’s retire on the opening lap for the first time in history, and saw the front row of Vettel and Max Verstappen wiped out on the opening lap.

However, the spin which saw Vettel having to charge back through the field at Monza was not too dissimilar to the spin he had on the opening lap of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix when he was fighting for the world championship in the final race of the season with Fernando Alonso. Luckily for Vettel, he managed to do just enough to win what was his third world championship, finishing in seventh, but when Vettel is under pressure, he is vulnerable to a mistake, and right now, Vettel is under the most pressure heading into Singapore.

Looking behind the battle for the championship, there is a close battle for third in the championship between Kimi Räikkönen (164 points) and Valtteri Bottas (159 points) for Ferrari and Mercedes respectively after finishing second and third at Monza, with the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer duo of Max Verstappen (130 points) and Daniel Ricciardo (118 points) starting to slip away from that battle due to mistakes and/or reliability issues, with Singapore a key race for them to keep their hopes of third in the drivers’ world championship alive.

Going back to Räikkönen, he will be moving back to Sauber in 2019, the same team which gave him his start in Formula One back in 2001, and will be replaced by Charles Leclerc, who has impressed in a number of races this year in the Sauber-Ferrari, a car which is certainly nowhere near the class of the front-runners.

Below the top six in the world championship, there is a five-way battle for seventh with Nico Hülkenberg (52 points) for Renault, Kevin Magnussen (49 points) for Haas-Ferrari, and the two Force India-Mercedes of Sergio Pérez (46 points) and Esteban Ocon (45 points) completing the top 10 in the championship, with McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (44 points) slipping out of the top 10 after consecutive retirements.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (415 points) lead by 25 points over Ferrari (390 points), with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (248 points) in a very comfortable third. They are ahead of a tight battle for fourth between Renault (86 points) and Haas-Ferrari (76 points), with McLaren-Renault (52 points) in sixth ahead of Force India-Mercedes (32 points) in seventh, with Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (30 points), Sauber-Ferrari (19 points), and Williams-Mercedes (seven points) completing the standings.

So, who will win the Singapore Grand Prix?

In my opinion, it is a must win race for Sebastian Vettel if he wants to stay in touch with Lewis Hamilton in the championship, and Ferrari should be stronger here than Mercedes, but the only complication here for Ferrari is that Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer should be strong here, like they were in Monaco, another street circuit with similar characteristics.

I think given recent events, and mechanical reliability, I am going to tip Max Verstappen to win his first Singapore Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel in a close second, Daniel Ricciardo, providing that his power-unit is reliable, and that he doesn’t have a grid penalty, in third, with Lewis Hamilton finishing in fourth.

 

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2017 Singapore Grand Prix – Preview

The 14th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend under the floodlights at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, and the battle for the world championship between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, as well as their respective Mercedes and Ferrari, as the fly-away races at the end of the season are about to begin.

Hamilton has taken the lead of the drivers’ world championship for the first time this season after becoming the first driver to score consecutive victories in 2017 after winning in Belgium, and then in Italy. The Mercedes driver leads the world championship on 238 points, just a mere three points ahead of Vettel, who is on 235 points.

While Hamilton had a marvellous weekend in Monza last time out, in which he became the record-holder for the most pole positions in Formula One by achieving his 69th career pole position in wet conditions, before taking victory in dry conditions on Sunday, Vettel and Ferrari, by their standards, had an absolute shocker, struggling in wet conditions to qualify eighth, and could only finish third in the race after starting in sixth, finishing over 36 seconds behind Hamilton.

Vettel and Ferrari will be looking to hit back in Singapore, at a track that should really suit the Ferrari, and on paper at a track which doesn’t suit Mercedes quite as well.

Third in the championship is Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who is on 197 points after helping Mercedes to a one-two finish at Monza. However, it appears that Bottas has now been cast into being the second driver within the team, but has been superb in his first season at Mercedes, and will need to continue driving well if he wants to see Hamilton claim his fourth world championship, which would be his third in the last four years.

Daniel Ricciardo (144 points) is fourth in the world championship for Red Bull after a scintillating drive to finish fourth in the Italian Grand Prix, including an audacious pass on Kimi Räikkönen in Turn One on Lap 41, after starting 16th due to power-unit related penalties, plus a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, despite qualifying third. I believe Ricciardo has a strong chance of winning the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.

Talking about Räikkönen, he is fifth in the championship for Ferrari on 138 points, and just like his teammate Vettel, struggled at Monza, qualifying seventh, started fifth, and finished just over a minute behind Hamilton in a lacklustre fifth. Räikkönen is clearly the number two driver at Ferrari, but must lift his game if he wants to see Vettel claim his fifth world championship, which would be his first since 2013.

Max Verstappen (68 points) is sixth in the world championship, but simply cannot take a trick at the moment, tangling at Turn One with Felipe Massa on Lap Three of the Italian Grand Prix after starting 13th, making up five positions on the opening lap, and was eighth when he tangled with Massa, causing a right front tyre puncture, and could only fight his way back up to 10th, and was lapped. If luck is with him, Verstappen is a strong chance of winning in Singapore this weekend.

In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads the way on 435 points, 62 points ahead of Ferrari, who are on 373 points. They are followed by Red Bull (212 points), who are comfortably behind Ferrari, but comfortably ahead of Force India (113 points), who are well ahead of a four-way battle for fifth in the championship between Williams (55 points), Toro Rosso (40 points), Haas (35 points), and Renault (34 points). Then follows McLaren (11 points) and Sauber (five points), who are second-last, and last in the Constructors’ Championship.

Talking about my predictions for who will win the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, I think Mercedes will be stronger than they think they will be, and I certainly think Hamilton will be in contention for the race victory if he is on top form. I also believe Ferrari will be better than what they were in Italy.

However, I believe that after their performance in Italy that Red Bull may be stronger than both of them at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

I am predicting a win for Daniel Ricciardo in the race held in the same timezone as his home city of Perth.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 4:30pm and 8:30pm local time (6:30pm and 10:30pm AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 6pm and 9pm local time (8pm and 11pm AEST).

The 61 lap race is on Sunday from 8pm local time (10pm AEST).