F1: Singapore Preview

One of many breathtaking views of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

The Formula 1 circus heads to the picturesque 5.065 kilometer, 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit this weekend for the 2014 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. This will be the seventh time downtown Singapore has hosted an F1 Grand Prix. Once again, the race will be run during the evening local time, yet at a time similar to that when F1’s European races typically take place.

Who runs well in Singapore?

The Renault boys in 2008, pre shenanigans.

There are three previous winners in the field. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has won each of the part three races at the Marina Bay Circuit. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won in 2010 and also won later became known the controversial inaugural event in 2008, which later became known as ‘Crashgate’. That was of course, when Alonso’s then-Renault teammate Nelson Piquet, Jr. was ordered to deliberately spin by then-Renault boss Flavio Briatore, for the purposes of vaulting Alonso to the lead.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2009 race.

Sebastian Vettel celebrating his third straight Singapore win last year.

In addition to his three victories, Vettel has two pole positions and finished second in 2010. Alonso has started from pole once and finished third twice. Hamilton has two pole positions and one third.
Williams’ Felipe Massa won pole for the 2008 race. McLaren’s Jenson Button has not scored a win in Singapore but has finished second twice. World Championship leader Nico Rosberg of Mercedes finished second driving for Williams in 2008. Kimi Raikkonen finished third one year ago.

No other drivers in this year’s field have scored a podium finish at Singapore.

What are some of the storylines coming into this weekend?

Nico Rosberg struggled last year with the hot temperatures.

Well, to begin there is the Marina Bay circuit itself.

To begin, Singapore is one of the longer Grand Prix on the calendar. While the distance is about the same as other Grand Prix, the twisty circuit means the time needed to complete the race is longer. Each of the previous two races at Singapore have been over 100 minutes. By comparison, the last race at Monza was won by Hamilton in under 80 minutes.

In addition to the length, there is also the humidity. You might remember last year Rosberg complained of heat exhaustion during the race. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the high 80s.

The Championship

Its a battle between the Mercedes teammates for the 2014 championship.

With six races remaining, Rosberg holds a 22-point advantage over Hamilton. While it’s not exactly crunch time yet it is getting near time, when Hamilton giving ground to the German would be back-breaking for the Brit’s title hopes.

As noted earlier, Hamilton has run well at Singapore in the past. And it is getting to that time of year, where he cannot afford to give ground to Rosberg.

Any chance someone ruins the Mercedes parade at the front of the field?

At Monza, Mercedes-powered teams swept the top-4 positions at the high-speed Monza circuit. And while Mercedes has dominated essentially everywhere in 2014 (they’ve won 10 of 13 races, and 12 of 13 poles), many believe the technical Marina Bay Circuit provides an opportunity for the Red Bull chassis to break up the Mercedes domination. Of course, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull has scored each of the three non-Mercedes wins in 2014.

Do you expect Ricciardo and/or Red Bull to dethrone Mercedes?

The unmistakable smile of Daniel Ricciardo.

No.

In the two recent Ricciardo victories (Hungary and Belgium), Rosberg still qualified a full half-second at Hungary and two seconds at Spa ahead of Vettel, the fastest Red Bull qualifier at both races. Yes, the Spa session was in the rain. But when you also consider that the Mercedes duo collided while running 1-2 at Spa, you realize the Silver Arrows gap on the field remains substantial.

What about Ferrari?

It's been something of a forgettable year at Ferrari.

Yes, what about Ferrari.

These haven’t been the best of times at Maranello. Two weeks ago at Monza lead driver Alonso failed to finish while Raikkonen came home an uninspired ninth. The result dropped Ferrari to fourth in the Constructors standings behind Williams.

By now, it’s pretty clear the Scuderia don’t have the package necessary to regularly challenge Red Bull and Mercedes. The question in my opinion coming to the end of the year is not whether Ferrari can salvage a forgettable season with some strong results. Rather, can everyone at Maranello keep things from not getting too much uglier than they already are?

So, who wins?

Hamilton.

The Brit has run well at Singapore previously. He takes the pole and victory this weekend to tighten up the championship battle with Rosberg.

Brian Carroccio is a columnist for AutoRacing1. He can be contacted at BrianC@AutoRacing1.com.

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