Formula One heads to Singapore for its marquee night race and the heat is definitely on Sébastien Vettel after an embarrassing display in Monza last time out that saw Ferrari finish 36 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari have had the clear advantage in the very high downforce circuits for majority of the most recent seasons.
Vettel, especially, winning more of these races than any other driver since his time at Red Bull. He already led Ferrari’s one-two at both Hungary and Monaco this season.
After seeing Kimi Raikkonen slipping out of podium positions behind Daniel Ricciardo in Monza, Ferrari would be desperate for a one-two at the Marina Bay to cut the 62 points gap between them and constructor’s championship leader, Mercedes.
Mercedes arrive in Singapore for the circuit they fear most. Non-executive Chairman, Nicki Lauda, has now famously said; “We are going to lose”.
Two years ago, Mercedes started on the third row and finished the race 25 seconds behind Sébastien Vettel although, last year Nico Rosberg won with less than half a second on Vettel while Lewis Hamilton struggled to hit top gear.
An improved performance is imperative for the Silver Arrows on Sunday and they can take positives from their performances in Hungary where they were much better than their woeful display in Monaco.
Red Bull had a fantastic race in Monza considering the grid penalties meted out to them. The Marina Bay is actually regarded as a ‘Red Bull track’, they have finished second in the last 3 years and won there in the previous 3, although the driver who won those three, Sébastien Vettel, now drives for Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen would need to start closer to the front and if they produce driving like in Monza, they definitely stand a good chance.
“It’s one of our best chances of a win in the second half of the season,” Ricciardo said. Given the Australian’s love of street circuits and recent Sunday form, it would be no surprise to see Ricciardo claim his second victory of the season.
The windy streets of Marina Bay could be the last opportunity for Jolyon Palmer to put himself in the shop window for a drive in 2018 as Carlos Sainz is reportedly set to replace him in 2018. Palmer has not recorded a single point In Formula one this year.
Renault will be hoping for a better showing than in the Italian GP but there’s an unwanted Formula one record in the offing for German driver, Niko Hulkenberg. Should he not finish in the top three on Sunday, he would have started 129 Grand Prix races without finishing on the podium. Hulkenberg has had opportunities to finish on the podium but has taken none, as witnessed in Azerbaijan this year when a podium finish was there for the taking with all the commotion that happened.
He was leading in Brazil in 2012 until he inexplicably collided with Lewis Hamilton and subsequently finished fifth. It is worthy of note that in his time with Force India, Sergio Perez has managed Four podium finishes with the same car.
The Marina Bay circuit is not much of a continuous long stretch so the abilities of the drivers are going to be more crucial than the top speed of the more expensively assembled cars. Anything can happen here and with Williams (5th) and Renault (8th) only separated by 21 points on a very tight constructor’s championship table, a somewhat level playing field might just help one of the mid-table teams to get a podium finish.
The Formula One is back in Singapore for the Singapore GP from September 15-17.