Singapore Grand Prix Preview

Preview the Formula One night race, the Singapore Grand Prix.

A tense title fight, narrow streets and 1,600 light projectors, Formula One hits Marina Bay for the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix. A race dominated by three men, but a year ago the expected front-runners faltered leaving Ferrari and Red Bull to scrap for victory. But has Mercedes overcome the issues faced in the Bay, or will someone new master the Marina.

Form heading out of Europe suggests that Mercedes still carry a speed advantage over their rivals. Despite Renault’s improved power unit moving Red Bull closer to a return at the front.

Ferrari too had brought upgrades to their power unit at the Italian Grand Prix. But the Scuderia could not challenge Mercedes for home glory as Nico Rosberg claimed victory and reduce Hamilton’s championship lead to two single points. Meaning the title battle starts here.

Nico Rosberg celebrating Italian Grand Prix victory. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Nico Rosberg celebrating Italian Grand Prix victory. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

But when you back up down the calendar, Red Bull came into Europe by snatching the only non-Mercedes victory of the year so far. Once both Silver Arrows crashed out on the opening lap.

Then in Monaco, Red Bull should have claimed back-to-back wins. Only for Hamilton to snatch the win from a frustrated Ricciardo – who was controlling the race until a contrasting strategy left Lewis in the lead.

If Red Bull can replicate their Monaco form, Ricciardo or Verstappen could claim the first non-Mercedes victory since Verstappen’s debut win in Formula One. By doing so, either driver would also be the first driver other than Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso to win at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Added to Red Bull’s strengths in Monaco, Mercedes struggled with tyres last year in Singapore. Something they hope to have overcome since but could open the door to Red Bull or Ferrari fighting for the win once more.

“We didn’t have the greatest weekend there last year, so hopefully we’re on top of that now,” said Hamilton, referring to the 2015 race. “I guess we’ll find out in a few days’ time!
“Either way, it’s not going to be an easy breezy drive. Even when we won there back in 2014, it wasn’t straightforward.
“Ferrari and Red Bull will be on it I’m sure, so we’ve got a big fight on our hands if we are up at the front.

Lewis Hamilton, during the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Tecnica

Lewis Hamilton, during the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Tecnica

It is more likely than not that Mercedes have overcome the tyre issues they faced last year. Meaning they are likely to be challenging for the win. But stranger things have happened on the streets of Singapore before when Alonso claimed the very first F1 victory under the night’s sky.

The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix back in 2008 would later go on to be dubbed as ‘crash-gate’ thanks to Nelson Piquet Jnr. spinning into the barrier on lap 14. His wrecked Renault would then need recovering so a safety car was issued – leading to pole-sitting Massa, second placed Hamilton and reigning champion Raikkonen all pitting.

But when Massa edged away from his pit box too early, the fuel house went with it and his chances of winning were near enough over as he rejoined the action in last place.

Felipe’s 2008 title hopes too could be said as going with that fuel house as the Brazilian would go on to miss the Driver’s title by a single point come the final round at his home Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Paulo Alano.

Felipe Massa during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Paulo Alano.

The 2008 race would later be dubbed ‘crash-gate’ as it was later announced by Piquet Jnr. that he had been ordered to crash out of the race on purpose in a bid to help Fernando Alonso’s chances of victory – with the Spaniard having already pitted for fresh tyres prior to the incident and subsequent safety car.

Fernando would go on to secure the victory at the inaugural F1 night race, while Massa (13th) and Raikkonen (retired but classified 15th) would end the day outside of the points. But joining Alonso on the podium were Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. With the then Williams-Toyota Rosberg edging McLaren’s Hamilton to second .

Marina Bay Street Circuit track map. Copyright: Formula1.com.

Marina Bay Street Circuit track map. Copyright: Formula1.com.

This year’s race will be the second time Formula One races around the modified Marina Bay Street Circuit. With the run into turn eleven forcing drivers to the left, before switching back for the run over the Anderson Bridge.

With no changes to the circuit, the 23 corner, anti-clockwise track remains at 5.065-kilometres. Running by the waters edge and under the watch of the Marina Bay Sands.

Overtaking opportunities come at a premium around the narrow streets. With overtaking difficult, the changes at turn 11, 12 and 13 were made to try and increase the chances of a move being possible. While DRS into turns one and seven present the cleanest shot.

Sebastian Vettel during the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Tecnica.

Sebastian Vettel during the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Tecnica.

For the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix, the threat of the night’s sky containing drops of rain is high. With weather predictions suggesting a wet qualifying is likely. Although any overnight rain should clear on Sunday before the race begins.

Regardless of rain in Singapore, the race will be broadcasted live in England on Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. With Channel 4 covering qualifying and the race via highlight shows.

Wednesday 14th, September
20:30 – F1 Report: Preview

Thursday 15th, September
11:00 – Driver Press Conference
20:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
20:45 – Paddock Uncut

Friday 16th, September
10:45 – Singapore GP – Practice 1
10:55 – Singapore GP – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:15 – Singapore GP – Practice 2
16:15 – Team Press Conference
16:45 – The F1 Show

Saturday 17th, September
10:45 – Singapore GP – Practice 3
10:55 – Singapore GP – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13:00 – Singapore GP – Qualifying
17:15 – Singapore GP – Qualifying replay
17:30 – Singapore GP – Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)
18:35 – Singapore GP – Ted’s Notebook: Qualifying

Sunday 18th, September
11:30 – Singapore GP – Track Parade
12:00 –Singapore GP –  Pit Lane Live
12:30 – Singapore GP – Race
13:00 – Singapore GP – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)
15:30 – Singapore GP – Paddock Live
18:15 – Singapore GP – Race Highlights
18:30 – Singapore GP – Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Times above are for Sky Sports F1 unless stated.