2017 Singapore Grand Prix Preview

Yes, it is yet another post previewing a Formula One Grand Prix without actually reviewing one. Due to time constraints, I have been unable to review the three last Grand Prix (Hungary, Belgium and Italy) so will provide a brief outline of what happened in these race weekends.

Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari's first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]
Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari’s first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]

• Sebastian Vettel won the final race before the summer break from pole position despite suffering from a steering issue in the race. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not get close enough to pass or was not allowed to by the pit wall (decide for yourselves) as they secured their first 1-2 race result in Hungary since 2004.
• Mercedes had no answer for Ferrari at the Hungaroring. The team’s pit wall allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass Valtteri Bottas in the second stint of the race as he was faster. He could not pass the Ferrari’s and subsequently and admirably handed the place back to the Finnish driver at the final turn of the race.
• The Red Bull drivers came to blows on the opening lap as Max Verstappen understeered into his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3 of the opening lap. Ricciardo’s race ended there while Verstappen climbed all the way up to 5th and close to the podium despite serving a penalty.
• On a track where power and straight line speed is not everything, Fernando Alonso was eventually able to showcase his abilities in the McLaren-Honda as he got the better of Carlos Sainz in a race-long duel for 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 10th for his first point of the season and first double points finish for the team.
• Hungary also saw the very brief return of Paul Di Resta to the cockpit of a Formula One car as he filled in for the unwell Felipe Massa. Despite not driving the 2017 Williams car in vein prior to Qualifying, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the race all considering before he was forced to retire from the race ten laps from the end.

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Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]
Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]

• Lewis Hamilton marked his 200th Grand Prix by matching Michael Schumacher’s pole position record of 68 with an incredible qualifying performance in which he was in a league of his own. He set the new track record at Spa-Francorchamps three times on his way to pole. Then, after some great defensive driving to hold off the Ferrari of Vettel on the opening lap and then again after the restart, he went on to win the race becoming only the fourth man to win his 200th Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg are the other three.
• The Safety Car was brought out by a collision between the two Force India drivers on the run down to Eau Rouge on lap 29. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had already come to blows on the opening lap but did so again. On the second occasion, Perez seemed to cut in front of Ocon and suffered a rear right tyre puncture. Ocon suffered front wing damage but managed to recover and finish the race 9th. Perez failed to finish. Post-race, Vijay Malaya spoke of introducing team orders to avoid a repeat having previously allowing his drivers to race freely.
• Daniel Ricciardo secured his 6th podium of the season in opportunistic fashion with a daring move on the restart from the Safety Car. On the climb up to Las Combes, the Australian made a double move to pass Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third place. He was able to hold on to that position until the end with Raikkonen finishing 4th and Bottas 5th.
• Max Verstappen however, experienced the all too familiar sinking feeling as he pulled up on lap 7 having lost power in his car. This was his 6th retirement of the season and all of them have been due to mechanical issues.
• The Haas F1 team could have been on for their second double points finish with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the top 10 during the Safety Car period. However, Magnussen braked too heavily at the final turn upon the race restart and required a fresh set of tyres which dropped him down to 15th. The main beneficiary was Carlos Sainz who finished 10th and scored 1 point. It proved more painful for Haas as the two sets of points would have made their Championship position stronger. Nico Hulkenberg finishing 6th for Renault meant the French they closed the gap to them in the battle for 7th in the Constructors Championship to one point.

italy flag

• Monza, F1’s spiritual home, the temple of speed was hit by rain on the Saturday of the Italian Grand Prix weekend. After Romain Grosjean aquaplaned on the start/finish straight early in Q1, Qualifying was suspended for 2 hours and 35 minutes before the session was resumed.

Lewis Hamilton on his way to a record breaking 69th career pole position [Image from f1fanatic.com]
Lewis Hamilton on his way to a record-breaking 69th career pole position [Image from f1fanatic.com]

• A number of spectators had been spotted leaving for the exits during the frustrating wait as the steward’s issued 15-minute delay followed by more 15-minute delays. They missed F1 history being made however as Lewis Hamilton got off the PlayStation to storm to a record-breaking 69th career pole position.
• With almost half the grid receiving grid penalties for engine element components, Lance Stroll’s fourth quickest time in Q3 meant he was elevated to becoming the youngest front row starter in F1 history. He was tentative at the start and braking early allowed Ocon to pass him at turn 1 which was defining to his result as he finished behind the Force India man in 7th.
• Daniel Ricciardo put in another stellar performance reminiscent of his comeback drive at Silverstone. He started 16th with his engine penalties and was up to 5th after pitting on lap 37. From there on the fresher tyres, he passed Raikkonen and almost challenged Vettel for the final spot on the podium. His teammate also had a comeback performance to be proud of. After picking up a picture with a collision when trying to overtake Massa on the second lap, he was last after pitting for fresh tyres. A lap down he managed to still climb through the field to eventually finish 10th.
• After a poor Qualifying in the wet where their drivers qualified 7th and 8th, Sebastian Vettel managed to finish on the podium for the 10th time this season despite being out-qualified by Raikkonen while the Finn had to settle for 5th.
• Mercedes led every lap of the race as Lewis Hamilton comfortably came home to secure his 6th victory of the season and the 59th of his career. The victory also meant he became the first driver to record back to back victories in 2017 and led the Drivers Championship for the first time this season.
• Through all this, life could not have been more difficult for Frederic Vasseur in his first three races since replacing Monisha Kaltenborn at Sauber as the team have consistently remained the slowest on the grid.


Championship tables

Drivers Championship coming into the Singapore Grand Prix [Image from BBC Sport]
Drivers Championship coming into the Singapore Grand Prix [Image from BBC Sport]

For the first time this season, Sebastian Vettel does not lead the Drivers Championship. The lead now belongs to Lewis Hamilton courtesy of his two wins since F1 returned from its summer break. The Mercedes man is on 238 points and has a three-point lead over his title rival. Valtteri Bottas is third with 197 points, almost two race wins adrift of his teammate while Daniel Ricciardo is 4th on 144 points. Ricciardo has a 6 point lead over Kim Raikkonen in 5th and has more than double the points of his teammate Max Verstappen in 6th. In the battle for Force India supremacy, Esteban Ocon is closing in on Sergio Perez for 7th in the Championship and is only three points behind on 55 points. Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa are all separated by five points in a three-way battle for 9th. Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean are locked on 24 points each in 11th and 12th. The remainder of the Championship is unchanged with Stoffel Vandoorne the last of 18 drivers to score points this year with 10th in Hungary. Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer remain the two regular drivers without points this season.

Cosntructors Championship coming into the Singapore Grand Prix [Image from BBC Sport]
Constructors Championship coming into the Singapore Grand Prix [Image from BBC Sport]

In the Constructors Championship, following their two victories in Belgium and Italy Mercedes hold a 62 point lead over Ferrari. The Silver Arrows sit on 435 points while Ferrari have 373. Red Bull sit comfortably in third on 212 points and Force India in 4th with 113. With their double points finish at Monza, Williams look slightly more comfortable in 5th place on 55 points. Below them, it is a three-way battle for 6th with Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault separated by just 6 points with the latter still aiming for 5th in the standings at the end of the season. The bottom two of McLaren and Sauber took a major shift in McLaren’s favour at the Hungaroring with the Woking outfit on 11 points to the Swiss teams 5.

F1 2017 in stats, so far…

Grand Prix’s: 13

Laps Raced: 776

Most Laps Lead: Lewis Hamilton 359 laps

Number of different Lap leaders: 6                                                          Lewis Hamilton 359, Sebastian Vettel 221, Valtteri Bottas 130, Kimi Raikkonen 39, Daniel Ricciardo 18, Max Verstappen 9

Most laps led by Team: Mercedes 395

Teams to have led racing laps: 3                                                        Mercedes 489, Ferrari 260, Red Bull 27

Most Laps raced: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel (776 laps each, both 100% race lap completion)

Least Laps raced: Jenson Button and Antoine Giovanazzi 58 laps (Button only raced in Monaco and Giovanazzi the opening two races)

Least Laps by  regular driver: Max Verstappen 456

Total Laps raced in 2017 by driver:                                                           Lewis Hamilton 776, Sebastian Vettel 776, Esteban Ocon 770, Sergio Perez 756, Valtteri Bottas 748, Kimi Raikkonen 705, Marcus Ericsson 704, Nico Hulkenberg 678, Kevin Magnussen 667, Daniil Kvyat 663, Lance Stroll 644, Daniel Ricciardo 627, Romain Grosjean 624, Stoffel Vandoorne 607, Felipe Massa 604, Jolyon Palmer 597, Pascal Werhlein 589, Carlos Sainz 586, Fernando Alonso 497, Max Verstappen 456, Paul Di Resta 60, Antoine Giovanazzi 58, Jenson Button 58.

Laps Raced by Constructors:                                                                       Force India 1,526, Mercedes 1,524, Ferrari 1,481, Sauber 1,351, Williams 1,308, Haas 1,291, Renault 1,275, Toro Rosso 1,249, McLaren 1,162, Red Bull 1,083 

Most driver Victories: Lewis Hamilton 6

Most Victories by Constructor: Mercedes 8

Number of different race winners: 4                                                        Lewis Hamilton 6, Sebastian Vettel 4, Valtteri Bottas 2, Daniel Ricciardo 1

Most Podiums (driver): Sebastian Vettel 10

Most Podiums (Constructor): Mercedes 17

Number of different drivers on the podium: 7                                     Sebastian Vettel 10, Lewis Hamilton 8, Valtteri Bottas 9, Daniel Ricciardo 6, Kimi Raikkonen 4, Max Verstappen 1, Lance Stroll 1

Teams to have scored a podium finish: 4                                             Mercedes 17, Ferrari 14, Red Bull 7, Williams 1

Drivers to have finished every race: 3                                                       Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon

Number of different drivers with fastest laps:  6                                     Lewis Hamilton 6 (China, Bahrain, Spain, Canada, Austria and Britain), Kimi Raikkonen 2 (Australia and Russia), Sergio Perez 1 (Monaco), Sebastian Vettel 2 (Azerbaijan and Belgium), Fernando Alonso 1 (Hungary), Daniel Ricciardo 1 (Italy)

Most 11th place finishes (the unlucky man just outside of the points): Jolyon Palmer 3

Most DNF’s (Driver/team): Fernando Alonso 8/ McLaren 8

Number of DNF’s (Driver):                                                                       Fernando Alonso 8, Max Verstappen 6, Lance Stroll 4,  Daniil Kvyat 4, Stoffel Vandoorne 4, Marcus Ericsson 4, Jolyon Palmer 4, Carlos Sainz 4, Romain Grosjean 3, Kevin Magnusson 3, Daniel Ricciardo 3, Nico Hulkenberg 3, Felipe Massa 2, Sergio Perez 2, Pascal Werhlein 2Kimi Raikkonen 1, Valtteri Bottas 1, Jenson Button 1,  Paul Di Resta 1, Antoine Giovanazzi 1, 

Number of DNF’s (Constructor):                                                       McLaren-Honda 12, Red Bull 9, Toro Rosso 8, Williams 7,  Sauber 7, Renault 7, Haas 6,  Mercedes 1, Ferrari 1, Force India 2

Most DNS (Driver/Team): Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 1 each/ McLaren Honda 2

DNS: Fernando Alonso 1, Stoffel Vandoorne 1, Jolyon Palmer 1,

McLaren 2, Renault 1 

Most Pole Positions (Driver): Lewis Hamilton 8

Number of Pole Sitters (Driver): 4                                                            Lewis Hamilton 8, Valtteri Bottas 2, Sebastian Vettel 2, Kimi Raikkonen 1

Most Pole Positions (Constructor): Mercedes 10

Most Q3 appearances: Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen 13 times each

Q3 appearances by driver:                                                                       Valtteri Bottas 13, Sebastian Vettel 13, Kimi Raikkonen 13, Daniel Ricciardo 12, Lewis Hamilton 12, Max Verstappen 12, Sergio Perez 9, Felipe Massa 8,  Esteban Ocon 8, Nico Hulkenberg 6, Romain Grosjean 5, Carlos Sainz 4, Lance Stroll 3, Daniil Kvyat 2, Jolyon Palmer 2, Fernando Alonso 2, Stoffel Vandoorne 4, Jenson Button 1, Kevin Magnusson 0, Marcus Ericsson 0, Pascal Werhlein 0, Antoine Giovanazzi 0

Q3 appearances by Constructor:                                                                Ferrari 26, Mercedes 25, Red Bull 24, Force India 17, Williams 11, Renault 8, Toro Rosso 6, Haas 5, McLaren-Honda 7, Sauber 0

Q1 Eliminations by Driver:                                                                         Marcus Ericsson 11, Jolyon Palmer 8, Lance Stroll 8, Pascal Werhlein 8, Stoffel Vandoorne 7,  Kevin Magnusson 6, Romain Grosjean 4, Esteban Ocon 2, Felipe Massa 2, Daniil Kvyat 2, Sergio Perez 1, Max Verstappen 1, Carlos Sainz 1,  Antoine Giovanazzi 1, Fernando Alonso 1, Daniel Ricciardo 1, Paul Di Resta 1

Q1 eliminations by Constructor:                                                               Sauber 20, McLaren-Honda 8, Renault 8, Haas 10,  Williams 11, Force India 3, Toro Rosso 3, Red Bull 2

Best Qualifier (average):* Sebastian Vettel 

Worst Qualifier (average):* Marcus Ericsson 

*More than one race weekend

And, F1 2017 season in stats will return in the in the Preview for the Malaysian Grand Prix

flag_of_singaporeSingapore Grand Prix History

It is the 10th Singapore Grand Prix this weekend and it does not feel like it has been nine years since F1 first raced in the Singapore night. The agreement to bring Formula One to Singapore was made in May 2007 between Bernie Ecclestone, a Singapore entrepreneur called Mr Ong Beng Seng and the Singapore tourism board. The agreement meant 2008 saw motor racing in Singapore for the first time in 35 years. There had been a Singapore Grand Prix from 1965 after gaining independence until the early 1970’s. It was not Formula One but Formula Libre which, is a mixed car championship. The race was cancelled in 1973 due to safety concerns.

The race became the first ever night race in Formula One history after they agreed to move the time to the Singapore evening to make it more attractive for European viewers. Hermann Tilke was tasked to design the circuit which incorporates the city’s Anderson Bridge and provides a difficult challenge for the drivers due to its twisty, narrow and bumpy nature. Indeed the layout has prompted the Safety car to be deployed in each running of the race and it is perhaps fitting that every driver to have won in Singapore was or has gone on to become World Champion. Only the best win in Singapore. The 1,500 light projectors that recreate daytime conditions around the circuit provide a stunning view of the cars and the visors the drivers were to adapt allow the viewers at home to see their face.

Circuit map of the Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit [Image from www.formula1com]
Circuit map of the Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit [Image from www.formula1com]

Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr S Iswaran envisaged the Grand Prix becoming ‘a national festival, and one that presents many opportunities for participation for everyone, both visitors and Singaporeans alike,’. It has certainly delivered that as big named stars such as Katy Perry, Beyonce and Pharrell Williams have performed at the after race party while last years event was attended by the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Kylie Minogue. On the track, it has seen some memorable moments from the infamous Crashgate scandal in the inaugural race to Alonso giving Mark Webber a sporting lift back to the garage and Daniel Ricciardo’s battle with Nico Rosberg for victory last year. The only change to the circuit layout was the removal of the infamous Singapore sling with just a single sweeping turn at turn 10.

Singapore Grand Prix in stats, numbers and facts

First Race: 2008

Number of editions since: 9

Number of Circuits: 1

Circuit name: Marina Bay Street Circuit

Number of turns: 23

Circuit length: 5.065km

Number of laps: 61

Race Distance: 308.828km

Full throttle: 49%

Gear changes per lap: 70

Average Speed: 177km/h

Qualifying start time: 14.00 UK time/21.00 Local time

Race start time: 13.00 UK time/20.00 Local time

Times Singapore Grand Prix won from pole: 7

Pole conversion rate: 77.77%

Peak Humidity: 84%

First Pole position: Felipe Massa

First race winner: Fernando Alonso

2016 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg 1:42.584

Fastest lap outright: Nico Rosberg 1:42.584

Fastest race lap: Daniel Ricciardo 1:47.187

2016 fastest race lap: Daniel Ricciardo 1:47.187

Number of different Constructors winners: 5

Number of different winning drivers: 4

Number of Constructors on the podium: 8

Number of drivers on the podium: 10

Number of Constructors on Pole Position: 4

Number of drivers on Pole Position: 5

Most wins by Drivers: Sebastian Vettel 4

Most wins by Constructors: Red Bull 3

Most podiums by a driver: Sebastian Vettel 6

Most podiums by a Constructor: Red Bull 10

Most Pole positions by a driver: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel 3 each

Most Pole positions by a Constructor: Ferrari 3

Singapore Grand Prix Winners

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel 4,

Fernando Alonso 2, Lewis Hamilton 2,

Nico Rosberg 1

Constructors: Red Bull 3,

Ferrari 2, Mercedes 2,

Renault 1, McLaren 1

Singapore Grand Prix Podiums

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel 6,

Fernando Alonso 5,

Lewis Hamilton 4,

Daniel Ricciardo 3, Mark Webber 2, Jenson Button 2, Kimi Raikkonen 2, Nico Rosberg 2,

Timo Glock 1,

Constructors: Red Bull 10,

Ferrari 5,

McLaren 4,

Mercedes 3,

Renault 2,

Williams 1, Toyota 1, Lotus 1

Singapore Grand Prix Pole Positions

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel 3, Lewis Hamilton 3,

Felipe Massa 1, Fernando Alonso 1, Nico Rosberg 1

Constructors: Ferrari 3,

McLaren 2, Red Bull 2, Mercedes 2

• The Safety Car has been deployed 14 times in the 9 races that have so far been hosted in Singapore; the grey car has appeared in each race.

• Over 1,500 light Projectors surround the circuit

• The 23 turns of the Marina Bay Street Circuit is the most corners of any circuit on the F1 calendar

• Five drivers on the current grid have competed were present for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 and they are: Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel

• Of those drivers, 4 have competed in each of the 9 previous races in Singapore: Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel

Singapore in F1

Number of Singapore drivers on the grid: 0

Number of Singapore drivers on the current grid: 0

Number of Constructors from Singapore in F1 History: 0

Last time in Singapore

Nico Rosberg celebrating in parc ferme after securing his first pole position in Singapore to become only the 4th different driver to do so after setting the lap record in Q3 [Image from formula1.com]
Nico Rosberg won last year in Singapore [Image from formula1.com]

Last year, Singapore saw another close finish with an epic battle for victory as Nico Rosberg eventually registered his 8th win of the season in the way to the Championship title. Daniel Ricciardo made him work for it though and finished less than half a second behind the Mercedes. The start was chaotic and organisationally worse. Nico Hulkenberg did not make it to the first turn before he was spun into the wall by… and a Marshall was still on the track when the race restarted. There was an excellent comeback drive from Sebastian Vettel to finish 5th having started 22nd after issues in Qualifying meant he did not run and Max Verstappen came face to face with Godzilla. All that and more can be found in my review of last years Singapore Grand Prix here.


Developments coming into Singapore

Before publishing this post, the McLaren, Toro Rosso, Honda and Renault triangle over engine suppliers and drivers unravelled and will, therefore, be mentioned in the review of this Grand Prix. Other than that, here is a selection of developments between racing in Monza and Singapore; they both concern Mercedes.

• Lewis Hamilton volunteered to do a test with tyre supplier Pirelli on their 2018 tyres much like Sebastian Vettel did last year. The test took place at the Paul Ricard Circuit and the Championship leader racked up 114 laps with teammate Bottas running the next day of the two-day test. The remaining tests will take place after the Mexican Grand Prix in which Sauber and Force India will be action followed by the final test after the Brazilian Grand Prix in which McLaren will be driving.

• It has eventually been signed after reportedly being offered before the Belgium Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas will be remaining at Mercedes to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2018.

Things to expect this weekend…

• With so much question marks over the weekend, announcements were sure to be made in Singapore. Whilst some have already been made I would not be surprised to see more.

• Mercedes believe they will struggle in Singa[ore this weekend with Nikki Lauda even saying in Monza they will ‘lose for sure’

• Ferrari and Red Bull then could be battling for the win and expect Sebastian Vettel to be going for a 5th Singapore Grand Prix win to retake the Championship lead

• Daniel Ricciardo has finished on the podium in Singapore in the past three races in Singapore. Could he make it a victory this time around?

• Will Force India be able to maintain their consistent performance in 2017 with a 11th double point finish or will the drivers be in contact again?

• Which of the midfield teams below them will have a good weekend: Williams, Haas, Renault or Toro Rosso?

• On a circuit with the most turns of the year and not as much throttle power, could McLaren be competitive in Singapore to challenge for points?

• Will Nico Hulkenberg finish the race this year having failed to do so in the past two years in Singapore?

• After a break by wire issue brought his race to an end before it even started last year, will Romain Grosjean start this year’s race?

• Will the 100% record of Safety Car deployments in the Singapore Grand Prix continue?

• Who will be leading the Championship after the Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton?

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