The Formula 1 field makes a return to Asia this week to take on the Marina Bay Circuit out in Singapore on the 17th of September 2017.
The title race is balanced on a knife edge as we head back to Asia with Lewis Hamilton just three points ahead of Sebastian Vettel on the Drivers’ Championship standings. The Brit was in all-conquering form out in Italy, and his pole and race win would have been daggers to the hearts of the local crowd, for whom supporting Ferrari is not a choice but an honour bestowed upon them by their car crazy ancestors.
This week’s crowd should be a lot less partisan with the Marina Bay complex generally dotted with Ferrari, Mercedes and even the occasional Honda fans clad in their team’s merchandise.
Well, if you had asked Ferrari Team Principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, which track would he most want one of his drivers to claim top honours at this season, he surely would have answered his side’s home base, Monza. Ferrari’s home circuit has been dominated by Mercedes for near on half a decade now, with Lewis Hamiton’s victory at the track a fortnight ago being the fourth successive Italian Grand Prix title for Mercedes. Hopefully, Mr Arrivabene doesn’t frequent the Hollywoodbets Sports Blog as he is not going to like the rest of this race summary one Iota.
So, as you can tell from the introduction, Monza wasn’t the happiest of hunting grounds for the Prancing Stag as their main man Sebastian Vettel could only muster up a third place finish, despite the locals screaming ‘Forza Ferrari’ for the majority of the race weekend.
And while the German put in a solid performance during the main race, his hopes of claiming a race victory were ultimately put to pain by Ferrari’s poor showing in weather affected Q3, which saw him line up sixth on the grid – he could have been even further back had the two Red Bull drivers not been hit with massive grid penalties.
So with Vettel starting in sixth, all Hamilton – who qualified on pole – needed was a solid launch off the starting line and he’d be halfway to victory. The ‘Brit managed to do just that while his title rival Vettel got caught up in the midfield traffic. With Vettel way behind him and his teammate duking it out with Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton was able to open up a substantial lead.
Things were rather subdued at the front end of the field with both Qualifying surprise packages Esteban Ocon (started third on the grid) and Lance Stroll (Started second on the grid) dropping further behind Hamilton. The duo was eventually overtaken by the two Ferraris and the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas.
It was far less subdued in the middle of the field as Daniel Ricciardo – who had started in 16th-place – was scything his way past car after car. The grinning Aussie would go onto steal fourth place off Kimi Raikkonen, whose tyres had well and truly run out of tread by the closing few laps. Raikkonen managed to soldier to fifth-place despite his tyres resembling something out of the ‘Saw’ movie franchise.
Spare a thought for our next drivers across the line, as they would have harboured massive hopes of finishing on the podium. The two men I am talking about are Esteban Ocon (6th) and Lance Stroll (7th). The duo gave it their respective best shots but ultimately their lack of experience and slower cars cost them a spot on the Monza podium.
Anyway, that’s enough coverage of the also-rans, let’s move onto the top three. So Lewis was never in any real trouble and he was able to take race honours without really having to move through the gears. His teammate, on the other hand, was forced to put in one of his best drives on the way to claiming second place. The result will have meant a lot to Bottas who had a bit of a nightmare out in Belgium. And as you know by now, Sebastian Vettel salvaged an inkling of pride for Ferrari by claiming the final podium berth.
Singapore Grand Prix | Sunday 17 September | Marina Bay Circuit |
To Win Race
Sebastian Vettel 15/10 | Lewis Hamilton 7/4 | Max Verstappen 15/2 | Daniel Ricciardo 15/2 | Valterri Bottas 8/1 | Kimi Raikonnen 16/1 | Sergio Perez 500/1 | Nico Hulkenberg 500/1
Mercedes may have had it go all their way out in Italy but they are unlikely to have an easy time at The Marina Bay Street Circuit. The track is another one of Formula One’s favourite architect Hermann Tilke’s designs. And while Mercedes have enjoyed great success at most of the German architect’s course, this is not one of them. The extreme temperatures have wrecked havoc on the Silver Arrows’ braking systems in the recent past so Hamilton will need to manage his brakes which means, he will not be able to push his car to its limits, lest he risk brake failure on the closing few laps.
The circuit covers a total distance of 308 kilometres, with each lap equating to 5.065 kilometres and containing a staggering 23 turns. The amount of turns which require sharp braking are the reason for Mercedes struggles with their brake-by-wire systems.
I can tell you from personal experience – I’m currently based in Vietnam – that it is slap bang in the middle of rainy season out in South East Asia, which means we are more than likely to see the wets make an appearance in both Qualifying and the main race.
To add a bit of contradiction to this here preview, last year’s race was actually won by a Mercedes driver with the recently retired Nico Rosberg bring his Silver Arrow across the line in first place. He was followed across the chequered flag by Daniel Ricciardo, while the podium was rounded out by Lewis Hamilton.
Podium Finish – Daniel Ricciardo – Yes @ 11/10
I simply cannot believe that Ricciardo is priced up at over even money to claim a podium finish in Singapore. The Aussie has a fine record at the track and has achieved a podium finish in all of the last three races held at the Marina Bay Circuit. This bet is a gift horse and it really shouldn’t be looked in the mouth.
Race Winner – Sebastian Vettel @ 15/10
The Marina Bay circuit has proven to be an extremely happy hunting ground for the German, who has won four of the last six races held at the track. He’s likely to be at his devastating best this weekend as he knows a win here would see him regain top spot on the Drivers’ standings. And with Lewis Hamilton not having the healthiest record out in Singapore, I think this race is destined to go the way of the Ferrari ace.
Fastest Lap – Max Verstappen & Daniel Ricciardo @ 8/1 & 8/1
This is may look speculative on paper but a bit of research will show you why I’m backing the Red Bull youngster or his Australian teammate to claim the fastest lap. Red Bull tend to fare well on this track with Daniel Ricciardo racking up podium finishes for fun in recent year’s, and former driver Sebastian Vettel dominating here prior to that.
The last two Fastest Laps at the Marina Bay complex have been set by Ricciardo. A small strike on either of the Red Bull drivers to claim podium here looks a smart bet as their team has proven that they have a car that can go around this track extremely quickly.