Sensational Singapore

As sporting venues go, it is hard to think of many that are as spectacular as the Singapore street circuit.

The sport’s first night race is a perfect backdrop to the impossibly glamorous world of Formula One, and now in its sixth year, continues to go from strength to strength with strong ticket sales. But the question everyone in the grandstands will be asking tomorrow is can anyone stop Sebastian Vettel?

Given his dominance in the last two races and so far this weekend, it is a bit of a forlorn hope to see anybody beating Vettel on pure pace alone. But don’t take that as a reason not to tune in.

Drivers often talk about it being “a long race tomorrow” and it is a quote that is perhaps more relevant to Singapore than most venues Formula One visits. Despite the Singapore Sling’s demise, the race is likely to run to the two hour maximum time allowance once more.

Add in the heat and humidity, plus the statistics that show that the safety car is more likely to make an appearance here than at any other race on the calendar, and you have an incredibly challenging race for both the drivers and the cars.

On that note, there is a small glimmer of hope for Vettel’s rivals. As we saw at Monza, Red Bull’s reliability is not bulletproof. It was only his strong opening stint that prevented him from coming under real pressure when the gearbox problem kicked in late on.

Surely, Red Bull will still have memories of what happened to Vettel at Silverstone, when he retired with a mechanical problem while leading.

The man to capitalise on his misfortune that day was Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver starts on the front row alongside Vettel, and will need to repeat his Silverstone performance if he wants any chance of taking his third win of the year.

If Rosberg can stay with Vettel’s tremendous pace in the opening stint, he may well be stood on top of the podium if the championship leader hits trouble in the gruelling 61 lap race.  Remember also that that track characteristics of Singapore are close to those of Monaco and Hungary, two races Mercedes has won at so far in 2013.

Overtaking is tricky, but more common than you’d think from a street circuit, and add in the dark horse, Romain Grosjean, who has shown good pace so far this weekend, and we might finally see Vettel having a fight on his hand once again.

For the neutrals in those grandstands wishing to see the title fight reinvigorated, that is a tantalising prospect.