Talking points ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix

Ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session for the 15th round of the Formula One season at the Marina Bay Circuit on Sunday, Graham Caygill looks at some of the areas that will shape the weekend.
Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing in action during the first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix night race on Friday. Diego Azubel / EPA
Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing in action during the first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix night race on Friday. Diego Azubel / EPA

Ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session for the 15th round of the Formula One season at the Marina Bay Circuit on Sunday, here are some of the areas that will shape the weekend:

Red Bull’s chance Red Bull Racing have usually been strong contenders anytime the F1 fraternity visits a circuit that does not require strong engine horsepower to be competitive. With 23 turns, the Marina Bay Circuit ticks that box and Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will hope to challenge for the win on Sunday.

Worst performance Mercedes-GP struggled last year in Singapore, with neither Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg qualifying in the top four, and Rosberg finishing fourth in the race for the team’s worst performance in 2015. World championship leader Hamilton is confident the team have learnt from last year’s errors, but qualifying will give a clearer picture if they have.

Momentum Hamilton takes a two-point lead in the standings over Rosberg into the race. Hamilton has won twice before at the venue, with McLaren in 2009, and then with Mercedes in 2014. He needs to regain the momentum in the championship fight after Rosberg has been the victor at the past two races in Belgium and Italy.

Good omen for leader Hamilton effectively lost any chance of winning in Italy two weekends ago as his poor start from pole dropped him to sixth. A good getaway is vital in Singapore, with overtaking difficult at the street track. The man who has led into the first corner in the previous eight stagings of the race has gone on to prevail six times.

Safety cars Given that there has been at least one safety car appearance in every Singapore race to date, the teams and drivers will be planning for a full-course caution period in their strategies for the 61-lap race. The timing of one, if it does materialise, could shake up the order if drivers are allowed to pit.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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Published: September 16, 2016 04:00 AM

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