The Singapore Grand Prix marks the end of the European season and the start of the fly away races in Formula 1. It’s also where we hit the final third of the season and it’s tough going for the teams, especially for the ones who are in a tight fight in the championship. For the others with nothing to fight for, such as Sauber, their pressures will mostly be back at the factory, where attentions start to turn more and more to next season’s car design.
In many ways the Singapore Grand Prix is the toughest race of the season. It’s the longest as it often goes to the two hour maximum time limit. Add that to the heat, humidity and the fact that it has the most corners of any circuit on the calendar and what you end up with are exhausted drivers at the finish.
Last time out in Monza we saw Lewis Hamilton take the championship lead off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the first time this year. However this weekend should see Ferrari back on the front foot. The slow speed nature of the Singapore street track perfectly suits the Prancing Horse in full downforce. This year they have had the edge over Mercedes in the long slow and medium speed corners. They’ve also been good in hot conditions such as in Hungary and there’s plenty of heat here in Singapore.
Assuming Mercedes hasn’t suddenly found extra pace for this kind of high down force conditions, will Ferrari have it all their own way? Perhaps not. Red Bull have been making progress with their cars since Silverstone and in high down force trim I feel they will be a threat. We just haven’t seen much of them lately because Spa and Monza are horsepower tracks, which just doesn’t suit them.
Both of their driver’s Danial Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are chomping at the bit to get a win this weekend. Ricciardo has finished second here for the last two years and he knows he has an excellent chance to go one better this weekend. And Verstappen has had such bad reliability this year it must surely end at some point. Why not here in Singapore, where Red Bull will have their best chance of winning on merit. He knows it and I expect the Dutchman to be at maximum attack.
However, most eyes will be on the Championship fight and in a way Sebastian Vettel will want the Red Bulls to be competitive. An ideal result for the German would be if he won and there were some cars (such as Red Bull, because there is no guarantee of Raikkonen being strong enough) in-between himself and championship rival, Hamilton.
The title fight is so close this year that it will be won on these kinds of results where you get other cars to take points off your rival.