Glitz, glamour and a haze of pollution await the teams in Singapore as Formula One returns to Asia for the season’s illustrious night race. Only six races remain as the season draws to a close, with 25 points for a win even more coveted than before as Rosberg and Hamilton battle it out for the Championship title. The challenging street circuit in Singapore won’t make it easy for the Mercedes team and competition from both the Williams and Red Bulls should keep things interesting up front.
Hamilton suffered an embarrassingly poor start, no doubt to the delight of Rosberg. However, the German’s satisfaction was short lived as Hamilton pulled out a stellar drive and regained the lost places, after a couple of mistakes from Rosberg, to take the checkered flag in front of a plethora of disappointed Ferrari fans. The Tifosi were forced to be content with a former Ferrari man on the podium after Alonso’s race ended early and Raikkonen barely made it into the points. Massa finished just behind the two Mercedes, with Bottas pulling off some spectacular overtaking manoeuvres to finish fourth, cementing the Williams team as a worthy challenger to the Silver Arrows.The Red Bulls slotted in behind the Williams teammates, with Ricciardo once again finishing ahead of Vettel. Former McLaren teammates Perez and Button battled wheel to wheel on multiple occasions, but Perez in his Force India came out ahead of the Brit in the final standings. The second McLaren, driven by youngster Kevin Magnussen, nabbed the final point of the day, finishing behind Raikkonen in tenth. The race was followed by an awkward podium ceremony, as the presenter poked fun at the Mercedes drivers’ recent disputes, much to the delight of the Italian crowd.
The track is a street circuit that winds around famous Singaporean landmarks and past the harbour, bringing to mind images of Monaco, which follows a similar format. The Marina Bay circuit has been been described as incredibly bumpy by many of the drivers, and like its European counterpart, it has few run-off areas and provides little room for mistakes. Despite its tough nature, the track is actually one of the slowest of the season, although the cars reach speeds of up to 300 km/h along the straight. If the circuit itself doesn’t provide enough of a challenge, the drivers must contend with the sweltering heat and humidity as they complete 61 laps, despite the race being held at night. Pirelli bring their soft and super-soft compounds to handle the slow corners in Singapore and two DRS zones situated on the straight and the entrance to Turn 7 will provide the drivers with decent overtaking opportunities.
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 13/20
Nico Rosberg 18/10
Daniel Ricciardo 10/1
Valtteri Bottas 22/1
Sebastian Vettel 22/1
Fernando Alonso 33/1
Felipe Massa 40/1
Kimi Raikkonen 150/1
Sebastian Vettel (22/1 a win, 15/10 a podium)
Vettel’s had a rather lacklustre season compared to the quadruple champion’s usual standards. However, the Marina Bay Street Circuit is a track where the German has been incredibly successful in the past, so much so that he’s taken the checkered flag here for the past three years. Another win in Singapore seems unlikely given Vettel’s recent form, but a podium for the Champion is well within reach. Put some money on Vettel to finish in the Top 3 this Sunday.
Fernando Alonso (33/1 a win, 4/1 a podium)
Alonso will be looking to improve after a disappointing weekend in Italy. The Ferrari driver won the first night race in 2008, and added another victory to his collection in Singapore in 2010 before Vettel began his three year long domination at the Asian street circuit. A second place in Singapore last season cemented Alonso as one of the drivers to watch at Marina Bay; this weekend I’d put money on the Spaniard to take a podium at a healthy 4/1.
Valtteri Bottas (22/1 a win, 5/2 a podium)
Bottas is one of the most impressive drivers in the line-up. The young Finn has consistently impressed this season, often finishing ahead of his veteran teammate. Although Bottas has yet to win a Grand Prix, a checkered flag is undoubtedly in his future. Whether he can pull off that well-deserved victory before the closing race of this season will remain to be seen, but should he accomplish such a feat I doubt many would be surprised. Another podium for the man who is currently fourth in the Championship (one point above double-winner Alonso) is a strong possibility and if risky bets are your thing, put some money on the Finn to win it. At 22/1 there’s a handsome payout waiting should the Mercedes drivers take each other out, again.
POLE POSITION/WIN: Nico Rosberg 7/4 & 18/10
It’s all fun and games in F1 until there’s a possibility of a championship title. Then there’s a good chance of bumping wheels with a teammate and claiming it was an “accident.” Rosberg is no stranger to this situation and with the rivalry between the two Mercedes still as fiery as ever, Rosberg will undoubtedly do everything in his power to prevent Hamilton from closing the 22-point gap between them in the Championship. Rosberg has yet to win in Singapore, but his tenacity and desire to claim his first drivers’ title should see the German finish strongly this weekend, as long as he doesn’t make any mistakes. I’m backing Rosberg to take the top spot in qualifying and the race.
Think we’ve got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.