The bright lights of Singapore await as Formula 1 begins its run of flyaway races. Hamilton will be hoping to take a step closer to a sixth title, Red Bull will be looking for a big haul of points and Vettel will be searching for an upturn in fortunes. Here are the talking points ahead of the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix weekend!
As Formula 1 comes away from the iconic venues of Spa and Monza, it moves to arguably the most iconic venue of the new era – and the differences couldn’t be further apart! For the first of the late-season flyaway races, forests are replaced with rising skyscrapers and open spaces become the tight confines of the sport’s most challenging event.
The backdrop supplies one of the most stunning settings of the year at day, let alone at night as the cars tear through the floodlit city streets. A punishing race is in store for the drivers, who will lose up to 4% of their body weight over the course of the Grand Prix. Who will keep their cool and be victorious this weekend?
The championship charge is on
We’re down to the last seven races of the year. Singapore marks the point of the season where the championship becomes a focal point and title permutations start to be discussed.
Although Valtteri Bottas seemed to hold the upper hand in the opening races of the season, since then the destination of this year’s championship trophy has never really looked in doubt. Lewis Hamilton can finish second to his team-mate at every remaining round of the 2019 season and still be on course for a sixth title.
Hamilton will, presumably, be hoping to get the job done as soon as possible. If the next three weekends go as well as they did for him in 2018, the title will be all but a formality by the time we reach the Mexican Grand Prix. Hamilton won at all three upcoming events (Singapore, Russia and Japan) last year, and given his current form, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t do the same this time around. A win for the five-time World Champion this weekend would see him take the outright record for most wins at the Singapore Grand Prix.
A turning tide at Ferrari?
The current record for most wins in Singapore is shared between Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The German’s recent run of poor form was highlighted with a spin at the Italian Grand Prix, after which he rejoined the track in an unsafe manner and caused Lance Stroll to taking avoiding action.
Vettel is now just three penalty points away from a race ban – meaning any major faults in the next three races would see him sit out a race. Vettel can perhaps take comfort from the fact that he has exceptional form in Singapore, having finished in the top five on all but one occasion since the inaugural event in 2008. The Marina Bay Circuit is not expected to suit Ferrari’s 2019 package, but a win this weekend would surely restore some of the German’s reputation.
But is it now too late for Vettel to regain his status as Ferrari’s number one? Team-mate Charles Leclerc has won both of the last two races. If he wins again this weekend, he’ll become only the third driver in F1 history to have taken all of his first three Grand Prix victories at consecutive events. Is the tide beginning to turn in Leclerc’s favour at Ferrari?
A strong track for Red Bull
The gap from Ferrari to Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship currently stands at 65 points – but it could be significantly less than that by the end of the weekend. The Marina Bay Circuit is likely to see Ferrari struggle and Red Bull excel.
Red Bull have scored more points than any other team in Singapore, and have scored podium finishes in every season since 2010. While Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 victory is their most recent at the track, every year since then has seen a Red Bull driver finish as runner-up. Could they go one better this weekend?
With both Red Bull cars penalty-free having upgraded to latest spec of Honda engines, it could be a prime opportunity for Max Verstappen to secure his third win of the year. There may also be a chance for Alex Albon to score the first podium finish of his career – though that might be a difficult task, as Albon has never driven on this circuit before.
A refreshed look for Haas
Haas head to the Singapore Grand Prix with a revised livery, following the departure of their title sponsor Rich Energy. Following a tumultuous 319-day relationship, which featured multiple Twitter spats, a change of CEO and a court case over a stag logo, the two companies finally parted ways in “amicable” circumstances in the week after the Italian Grand Prix.
On track, Haas have had a season to forget, and currently sit second to last in the Constructors’ Championship. From the last eight races, the German Grand Prix is the only one in which the team have picked up points.
This weekend, they’ll bring a “hybrid” of their current and original specifications of the VF19 as they search for a good result. Based on their past form, points will be hard to come by; Romain Grosjean’s ninth place in the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix is the only time the team have finished in a points-paying position at the Marina Bay Circuit.