Of all the fly away races in Asia, the Singapore Grand Prix is beginning to be seen as the one that everyone wants to win. Not only is it Formula One’s first night race, but it also has the required glitz and glamour about it.
Apart from all this, the main reason why drivers want to win in Singapore is because it is also the toughest race on the calendar.
In general, street races in a F1 car have always been incredibly tough. At those sorts of speeds (Singapore is a fast street track as compared to the Monaco GP), it requires super human concentration to keep the cars off the walls. The race often goes to the two-hour maximum allowed time, providing truly hard conditions for the drivers to compete in, let alone win.
What also makes it worse is the heat. Although it’s at night, the heat really soaks into the track, the walls as well as the buildings fencing the track, as there is nowhere for it to go. Daniel Ricciardo described it as being the only track on the calendar where when you crack open the visor – and the air outside of the helmet is actually warmer than inside it.
After the power circuits of Spa and Monza, where we saw both Mercedes engine cars – along with the Ferrari team – dominate, the Singapore Grand Prix should allow some of the other teams a chance to get closer.
Mostly Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso should be in the mix, as their Renault-powered cars should be handicapped less than at the last two races. As well, McLaren Honda will fancy their chances of having a good race here. Both their drivers have been quick here before, with Alonso a two-time winner in 2008 and 2010.
After the last race in Italy, it was clear that Mercedes had increased the gap to its rivals with their latest engine upgrade. Add that to the fact that they have been strong at every track they go to, including street tracks, it’s hard to see if anyone can catch them.
Perhaps only Ferrari has a realistic chance of bringing the fight to the Silver Arrows, mostly because their engine upgrade in Monza wasn’t too bad either. The heat will likely favor them better as we have seen them closer to Mercedes with tyre degradation whenever it’s been hot this year. Let’s also not forget that Sebastian Vettel is the only three-time winner at Singapore, so I expect the German to be extracting every last bit from his Ferrari.
He will have it tough though as Lewis Hamilton looks in unstoppable form. He is driving very well and with Nico Rosberg retiring in Monza, Hamilton’s championship lead is substantial. So good is Hamilton’s form that some have been comparing him to his hero Aryton Senna, and I have to say, deservedly so.
Catch the F1 Singapore GP LIVE on Sun, Sept 20, 7:30pm (HKT)on FOX Sports