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.