Singapore Grand Prix 2013: Preview


Is it worth watching a story unfold if you already know how it ends?

Ron Howard, director of Rush, will no doubt tell you that it is, and it would appear that Formula 1 fans at the front of the queues for screenings of this film – those people who will be most familiar with the 1976 season and the characters of Niki Lauda and James Hunt – agree.

Does the same premise apply to the 2013 season? We think we already know the destination of the championship, but we are still to learn exactly where or when Sebastian Vettel will secure his fourth championship crown, and what other events will surprise us in the final seven races.

That story continues this weekend as F1 heads out of Europe and back to Asia for Round 13: the Singapore Grand Prix.

The race at the Marina Bay circuit is always something to behold. Held at night, the beauty and majesty of this great city is enhanced by the glowing outline of a temporary racetrack, snaking its way around skyscrapers and other landmarks.

This is the true power of F1, when a major world city, one of the financial centres of Eastern Asia, is willing to close major roads for nearly a week, erect the usual paraphernalia of crash barriers, giant TV screens, and grandstands, and then provide enough artificial lighting to make it seem to the drivers that they are racing during the day.

The engineering and construction involved is no mean (or cheap) feat, and Singapore embraces its race more than many other countries on the calendar. This event is also coupled with a plethora of off-track activities, including concerts from famous artists every evening, and truly is something to behold.

Vettel took the win last year, but only after Hamilton retired - Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Vettel took the win last year, but only after Hamilton retired – Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

This year, we may find extra intrigue surrounding the paddock. Following the news that Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso are soon to be teammates, we could see the seeds of this (possibly) beautiful partnership starting to be sewn as early as this weekend. Body language between the pair will be scrutinised, questions will be asked of both drivers, and their on-track behaviour towards one another will be totally over-analysed.

And there will be further speculation over other movements in the driver market. Lotus now has an important seat to fill for 2014, and there are still plenty of drivers unsure of a seat for next season – they will be driving to impress from Singapore onward.

In terms of the championship battle, there will also be hopes that the inevitable can be delayed. The warm temperatures and high-down force requirements of this street circuit could play into the hands of Mercedes this weekend and, after a couple of quiet races, they could re-ignite their battle with Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg may be the drivers to watch during qualifying in particular, and possibly also on race day.

Hamilton in particular has some Singapore demons to conquer. He was on course for victory in this race last season before a gearbox problem in his McLaren unceremoniously dumped him out of the race. Vettel was naturally there to pick up the pieces, and kick-started his 2012 campaign by winning that race… and the next three.

There will be other personal contests and challenges in play this weekend. Mark Webber would like to secure another win or two before he bows out of the sport, and maybe Felipe Massa, with all the pressure of Ferrari potentially now off him, could recapture some of the form that almost delivered him the 2008 title.

As Rush shows, the telling of the story is just as, if not more important, than how that story ends. There is unlikely to be a film to tell the story of the 2013 season, but it is still possible that history could remember it for more than just the season where Sebastian Vettel won title number four. It could be that Singapore provides some of the events that enhance that narrative.

 

2013 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
Timetable (all times BST)
Friday 20th September
Free Practice 1 11:00
Free Practice 2 14:30
Saturday 21st September
Free Practice 3 11:00
Qualifying 14:00
Sunday 22nd September
Race 13:00
Coverage (UK)
Live: Sky Sports F1 HD Highlights: BBC One Radio: BBC Radio 5 Live / Sports Extra