Preview: 2019 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – Marina Bay Street Circuit

by Harry Slade
Marina Bay Street Circuit

Following Scuderia Ferrari‘s back-to-back triumphs at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza respectively to book-end the European segment of this season’s Formula 1 World Championship, the paddock heads to the far-east for Formula 1’s return to Asia at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Fast becoming a modern classic, the challenging, yet resplendent Marina Bay Street Circuit offers the drivers a challenge like no other on the Formula 1 calendar with its almost never ending corners, coupled with the heat that is so synonymous with this part of the world. This combination makes the Singapore Grand Prix an almost unfathomable challenge for the drivers as this is the race that will truly test their fitness as well as their skills behind the wheel.

The circuit itself is arguably most remembered for the infamous ‘Crashgate’ scandal which saw Fernando Alonso claim the win following a crash for team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. However, this doesn’t do the circuit justice. The 2010 edition of the race was an instant classic with Alonso holding off the advances of title-rival Sebastian Vettel to claim a second win on the famous streets.

Vettel himself is the most successful driver at the Singapore Grand Prix, the last of his victories coming in 2015, yet it’s his error off the line in 2017 which was his most memorable moment as he wiped out himself, Alonso, Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen on the first lap.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR IN SINGAPORE?

Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel
Octane Photographic Ltd.

The 2018 Singapore Grand Prix was a contrast to the wet and wild edition that transpired the previous year. However, it did offer a glimpse into Formula 1’s future.

Lewis Hamilton took pole position in a lap of the same ilk as Ayrton Senna‘s remarkable Monaco pole lap thirty years prior, besting his rivals by over three tenths in a car you could argue wasn’t suited to the circuit. The race itself saw Hamilton best Verstappen in an inter-generational clash, with the Brit taking victory despite the best efforts of some backmarkers.

Meanwhile, Vettel took third place, to round out the podium, as the Spanish pairing of Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jr. starred to seventh and eighth respectively.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME OUT IN ITALY?

Charles Leclerc took an incredibly popular win for Ferrari in front of their beloved Tifosi, as the two Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers faltered in their challenge to usurp the Monegasque, with Valtteri Bottas beating Hamilton to second.

Renault F1 Team took their best result since they returned to the sport with fourth and fifth in a showing that will bring them back into the battle for fourth in the constructors. Meanwhile, Vettel produced a dismal display, spinning at the Ascari chicane and then dangerously coming back onto the circuit into the path of Lance Stroll‘s Racing Point, leaving the German out of the points at Monza.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?

Fernando Alonso
Octane photographic Ltd.

This weekend’s action is expected to be characterised by the on-track battle between Mercedes and Aston Martin Red Bull Honda. Both teams will equally expect to bounce back from the failures at Monza with a win at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and with the slow-speed corners you could suggest it is all to play for. The circuit falls into a similar category to the Hungaroring and Monaco. Those races in particular saw Hamilton edge Verstappen, can the Dutchman win their third duel?

However, arguably a more interesting subplot to this weekend is the first direct head-to-head clash of Alex Albon and Max Verstappen. While engine penalties have restricted them to a false start in their budding intra-team rivalry, Singapore offers the first chance at a true comparison between the pair, one that Albon will be relishing.

In the midfield, Renault and McLaren’s scrap continues to bubble for the coveted ‘best of the rest’ moniker. As we head to the Marina, it is the Enstone outfit with the momentum on their side following a brilliant result at Monza to cut the gap to their customer team. Whether or not McLaren can find a retort in Singapore will be crucial to their season in this head-to-head.

Finally, ROKit Williams Racing have had a turbulent seasons, with only one point on the board they’ve struggled dramatically due to an issue with creating too much drag with their FW42. However, this could see them shining on a circuit where the penalty for a draggy car is less than it is at circuits such as Spa and Monza. The Grove outfit arguably performed strongest this season in Hungary. As they head to a circuit with similar characteristics they must be aiming to highlight their continued progress.

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEKEND?

FRIDAY 20 SEPTEMBER

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

SATURDAYS 21 SEPTEMBER

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

SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER

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

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE FORMULA 1 RACE?

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

Marcus Ericsson
Octane Photographic Ltd.

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 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

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