PREVIEW: 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship – Singapore Grand Prix


Singapore Grand Prix - Backdrop - Thumbnail
Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Round fifteen of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship heads to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the Singapore Grand Prix. With the European season now over, F1 will how head for the flyaway races starting in South East Asia in Singapore to kick start the finale of the championship. Here is your preview of what’s to come ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR IN SINGAPORE?

Last year’s Singapore Grand Prix saw a moment that re-defined the championship race as the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, as well as Max Verstappen crashed into each other in the run towards Turn 1, taking all three cars out of the race. Lewis Hamilton was able to benefit from the crash after a bad qualifying to take the lead of the race on the opening lap.

Hamilton was able to benefit from Vettel’s retirement to take a surprising dominant win at Singapore ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. Carlos Sainz Jr. grabbed his best ever result in the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda with fourth place whilst Jolyon Palmer claimed his only points of 2017 with sixth place.

Singapore 2017 - Opening Lap Crash
The Moment that shook up the 2017 F1 World Championship as the Two Ferrari’s and Max Verstappen collide. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME OUT IN ITALY?

Kimi Räikkönen started the race on pole position, leading a Ferrari one-two ahead of Vettel. On the opening lap, Hamilton managed to pass Vettel at the second chicane, but the German made contact with Hamilton’s Mercedes, spinning the Ferrari driver to the back of the pack in the process.

Räikkönen and Hamilton battled for the lead of the race together, with the Finn deciding to pit early during the race. Hamilton soon followed but was behind Räikkönen when he came out of the pit lane. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas played a critical role in the race by holding back Räikkönen into the path of his Mercedes team-mate, damaging the tyres on the Ferrari.

With a handful of laps to go, Hamilton found his way pass the Finn for the lead of the race, turning into a win ahead of Räikkönen and Bottas, who surpassed Max Verstappen after being handed a penalty for making contact with the Mercedes and sending off the track. Sebastian Vettel completed his comeback to finish the race in fourth place ahead of Verstappen. Romain Grosjean in the Haas F1 Team car was disqualified from eighth place after the race for an illegal floor, after a protest was launch by Renault Sport Formula One Team regarding the legalisation of the VF-18.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?

The Singapore Grand Prix is regarded by the drivers as one of the toughest races of the season due to the intense heat and physicality that is required for the drivers. The track has twenty three corners, the most of any circuit on the calendar and most on the track require heavy braking switch can affect the tyres on track due to traction. Some drivers like Sergey Sirotkin, Charles Leclerc, Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly will experience this for the first time their careers racing in these conditions.

Sebastian Vettel will be looking to bounce back after losing out on points in the championship at the Italian Grand Prix. Whilst his rival Hamilton claimed victory on Ferrari’s turf, Vettel had to claw his way back through the field after an opening lap collision with the Brit sent him to the back of the pack. Ferrari should be strong around Singapore after their strong lap pace at Singapore last year, but the nightmares of the opening lap crash between the two cars that started their title collapse last year will still be around to haunt them. Vettel can’t afford to repeat any errors again this weekend if he wants to stay in this championship fight.

Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - Italy Paddock
Sebastian Vettel needs to win at Singapore this weekend to keep his championship hopes alive. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Carlos Sainz Jr. achieved his best ever result last year with fourth place in the mixed conditions and will hope to repeat that again this year with Renault. The Spaniard will pilot the R.S.18 fitted with new barge boards as they aim to clinch fourth place in the constructors championship against rivals Haas.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will be aiming for a strong result in what could be their last chance for a win on the calendar. The twisty streets of Singapore has often favoured the Red Bull cars in the past, with Daniel Ricciardo making the podium in the last four years, but never on the top spot. Ricciardo hopes in his final race around Singapore in Red Bull colours that he can get a win whilst team-mate Max Verstappen feels confident that the team can get onto the podium this weekend.

Singapore is often described as a bogey track for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport as over the years, they struggled to deliver a result. 2017 saw Hamilton and Bottas qualifying down on the third row and off the pace, but the crash upfront allowed Hamilton to take the lead on the opening lap of the race and hold his place to grab a vital win on his way to the title. But we saw in 2015 that the pace wasn’t there that weekend, which resulted in the first ever non-Mercedes podium in the V6 Hybrid era. Whether this will be repeated again, we will have to see.

Nico Hülkenberg will celebrate his 150th Grand Prix in F1 this weekend. The German will be aiming for a decent result around Singapore after two disappointing results in Belgium and Italy. Hülkenberg is the longest serving driver in F1 to never record a podium finish, but he has claimed one pole position in his career in F1 back in 2010.

Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 150GP Start
Nico Hulkenberg will celebrate his 150th Grand Prix Start this weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEKEND?

FRIDAY 14 SEPTEMBER

Free Practice 1: 09:30AM (UK Time)/4:30PM (Singapore Time)
Free Practice 2: 1:30PM (UK Time)/8:30PM (Singapore Time)

SATURDAYS 15 SEPTEMBER

Free Practice 3: 11:00AM (UK Time)/6:00PM (Singapore Time)
Qualifying: 2:00PM (UK Time)/9:00PM (Singapore Time)

SUNDAY 16 SEPTEMBER

Race Start: 1:10PM (UK Time)/8:10PM (Singapore Time)

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE FORMULA 1 RACE?

Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 will show all sessions live throughout the weekend on TV. Sky will broadcast repeats of sessions throughout the day.

HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?

The Checkered Flag will provide all the session updates, news and announcements that’ll happen throughout the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Lance Stroll - Qualifying - Singapore 2017
Who will conquer the night at the Singapore Grand Prix? Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.