SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

By Pat Espresso

Formula One enters the final stage of the championship this weekend.
The European campaign is over and the five contenders for the drivers’ championship know that any mishap in the final five ‘flyaway’ races could prove fatal to their hopes of victory.

The importance of Singapore, the only night-time race of the season, is underlined by the upgrades that the teams in contention are bringing to the street circuit. Teams at the back of the grid are also under pressure, knowing that time is running out this season to salvage some points and appease sponsors ready for renewed hope next year.

Red Bull start the weekend clear favourites. The twisty point-and-squirt circuit is ideally suited for Adrian Newey’s wondercar. Mark Webber knows he must capitalise here, banking a big number of points to set himself up for what is looking more and more like a fight to the last race in Abu Dhabi. Singapore will show whether the tough new tests for flexible wings and floors have curbed some of the RB6’s amazing speed. Webber is confident it won’t. His wobbly teammate Vettel sees Singapore as a chance to challenge for team dominance. Perhaps the inter-team battle is the only hope for rivals Ferrari and McLaren to overcome the Red Bulls.

After a perfect result in Monza, Alonso is right back in the championship race. Ferrari appear to have performed best in this year’s upgrade race, with the F10 now almost a match for the Red Bulls. With Massa reduced to ‘domestique’ status, Alonso must be counted a forceful challenger. A good result in Singapore will wipe out the Spaniard’s uncharacteristic mistakes earlier in the season. If he puts a string of good results together, he will be very hard to stop.

At McLaren, Button’s campaign has been resurrected by a strong showing in Monza. He needs to put in several solid performances to ensure he’s still in with a shout at the season’s showdown in the Gulf. His teammate will be desperate to erase the memory of Italy, his only mistake of the season so far. Hamilton remains Webber’s closest rival but as we’ve seen in earlier races with the new points system, the standings can change dramatically with each race. It is unlikely that Hamilton will not be in the mix at the end.

Renault, Force India, Mercedes, Williams and Sauber – with new driver Nick Heidfeld eager to make a successful start  – continue to make progress. They are hoping for the unpredictable weather in Singapore to come to their aid on raceday. The torrential downpours that are a daily feature of the city state can make this race a lottery. These teams have a decent shout for a podium place if it gets wet.

At the back of the grid, surely the time is right for Lotus to pick up points? Buoyed by their new deal for Renault engines next year, the Norfolk-based team want to end their debut season with the points to show how much progress they’ve made this year. Singapore often throws up surprising results, Lotus will be hoping for some luck this weekend.

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Comments
One Response to “SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW”
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