Following Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Italy two weeks ago, the battle for the 2014 Formula One Drivers’ Championship continues at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton’s teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg (pictured) got the jump on him off the line in Italy, only to later out-brake himself into the first chicane, allowing Hamilton through to secure his sixth victory of the year. The result cut Rosberg’s championship lead to 22 points.
Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas took third and fourth for Williams, followed by the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo – whose superbly executed overtaking moves were one of the highlights of the weekend – and Sebastian Vettel. Some excellent defensive driving saw Sergio Perez take seventh for Force India, ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Button’s teammate Kevin Magnussen was punished by the stewards for a second consecutive Grand Prix after being adjudged to have forced Bottas off the circuit. He finished seventh on track, but was classified 10th after being handed a five-second penalty.
Ferrari endured a terrible home race. Fernando Alonso failed to finish for the first time this season due to an engine failure, while Kimi Raikonnen crept into the points in ninth.
The Singapore Grand Prix has been held at the Marina Bay street circuit since 2008. The inaugural event was Formula One’s first night race. It is one of the toughest races of the year, with the tight, twisty and bumpy circuit putting great strain on the cars, while the hot and humid conditions take their toll on the drivers.
Current weather forecasts suggest that rain could be seen during qualifying on Saturday but is unlikely to affect Sunday’s race. Pirelli have elected to bring their soft and supersoft tyres to this weekend’s event. Most cars are likely to two stop.
With just six races to go, tensions are running high in the Mercedes garage. Rosberg’s mistake in Italy came just two weeks after the collision between him and Hamilton that harmed both their chances in Belgium. The Marina Bay circuit provides little margin for error and it is difficult to state with any certainty that both Mercedes drivers will finish on Sunday.
With this in mind, the qualifying market looks the most attractive this weekend. Hamilton has two previous pole positions at the circuit to his credit and has never qualified lower than fifth. Rosberg also has a good record in Singapore, having out-qualified his teammate of the time in five of his six previous appearances at the track.
It was Rosberg who had the upper hand last year in their first season as teammates, qualifying second, three places ahead of Hamilton. He can be fancied to beat his teammate to pole position on Saturday.
Toro Rosso performed very impressively in Monaco earlier this year, with both drivers qualifying in the top 10, and should be similarly quick at another street circuit this weekend.
The team were handicapped by their relatively underpowered Renault engine during the recent races in Belgium and Italy. Before that, they had put together a run of six consecutive Grand Prix in which at least one of their cars had reached the final session of qualifying.
Jean-Eric Vergne has qualified in the top 10 seven times so far this season, while his teammate Daniel Kyvat has done so on five occasions. Kyvat last raced at the Marina Bay in Formula BMW back in 2010, while Vergne has the experience of two Grand Prix at the circuit to call upon. He looks well placed to reach the final session of qualifying on Saturday.
It would be fair to say that reigning four-time drivers’ champion Vettel has not enjoyed the best of seasons. He is yet to win a race and has just two podium finishes to his name. In contrast, his new teammate Ricciardo has secured three race victories and a further three podiums, and currently enjoys a 60-point advantage over Vettel in the standings.
Vettel will, then, be glad for a chance to restore some pride this weekend at a circuit at which he has triumphed in each of the last three seasons. Red Bull were the closest challengers to Mercedes in Monaco earlier this year and have a car that should be very much suited to the Marina Bay circuit. Vettel can be fancied to beat Ricciardo to a podium finish on Sunday.
Romain Grosjean has displayed strong pace in both of his Singapore Grand Prix appearances. He qualified eighth and finished seventh in 2012, while last year he qualified third and ran well in the race before retiring due to a pneumatics failure.
The Lotus team have endured a difficult year. Grosjean delivered their only two points finishes to date in Spain and Monaco back in May and they have been well off the pace in recent races. However, the circuits in Belgium and Italy were not well-suited to their car and there is optimism within the team that they could be set for a better weekend in Singapore.
If the car’s reliability holds, Grosjean has a decent chance of securing Lotus’ third top 10 finish of the season.
F1 Singapore Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Nico Rosberg to qualify on pole position @ 15/8 with BetVictor, Paddy Power, Coral or William Hill.
- Back Jean-Eric Vergne to reach qualifying session three @ 6/4 with Ladbrokes.
- Bet on Sebastian Vettel to finish on the podium @ best odds of 2/1 with BetVictor.
- Back Romain Grosjean to finish in the points @ 7/1 with Ladbrokes.