2012 Singapore Grand Prix preview – Mclaren again?

September 23, 2012 5:50 pm

Formula One races this weekend under the bright lights of the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore – the only night race on the F1 calendar. The event will be a slightly saddened affair after the death earlier this week of F1 doctor Professor Sid Watkins who pioneered many of the safety mechanisms that have saved the lives of past and present Grand Prix drivers.

The 2010 field leave the grid – Alonso to the fore

Mclaren will be looking to claim their fourth victory in a row after dominant wins in Hungary, Belgium and Italy over the last two months. British duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will begin their final title charge as we head into the last seven races of the season.

Last year’s race was another Red Bull affair as Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position before waltzing off into the darkness, although a late race challenge from Button brought him to within two seconds of the World Champion at the chequered flag.

A Formula One night race is a spectacle like nothing else in sport

He may have a greater chance of winning this year’s event given the incredible speed demonstrated by his Mclaren team in the previous Italian and Belgian Grand Prix, although he certainly won’t be hoping for a repeat of the mechanical woes that cost him a second place behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Monza a fortnight ago. Hamilton currently lies second in the title chase behind the rampant Fernando Alonso and has the momentum that may yet carry him to his second world title that he can add to his 2008 crown. The MP4-27 has exhibited improved qualifying pace this season compared to its rivals such as the Ferrari F2012 and Red Bull RB8 which has allowed Button and Hamilton to lead races from the front without difficult strategy calls that cost them in several races during 2011. Singapore however is a circuit quite different to Spa and Monza so the real winners will be those that can capitalise on the circuit’s insatiable appetite for downforce.

Hamilton is however only one point clear of Finnish ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen who is third in the table despite failing to win a race this season. The Lotus driver has racked up numerous podium finishes but was somewhat off the pace in Monza, although this can be explained away by the Renault engine’s lack of grunt on the long straights of the Italian circuit. Team-mate Romain Grosjean returns to the fray after his one-race ban for the first corner carnage he spawned in Spa earlier this month, and another expensive pile-up will certainly harm his chances of remaining within the Lotus lineup for 2013.

3,180,000 watts of light illuminate the Marina Bay circuit

Red Bull were another team to suffer at Monza thanks to the lack of relative power available through their Renault powerplant compared to the rival Mercedes and Ferrari packages, and although a better result beckons in Singapore the team aren’t letting their ambitions run away with them.  ‘We’ve had some good results in Singapore,’ adds Mark Webber in a recent interview. ‘It’s a very, very challenging circuit and one that the car should work well on. We’ve been solid on street circuits this year, so that gives us some confidence that the car will be towards the sharp end again.’ Red Bull head the constructors table by a sizeable margin and will be hoping that things go their way this weekend and allow them to win for the first time since the British Grand Prix in July.

 

The race takes place in the darkness; maybe the result will shed a little light on who is in the best shape as Formula One heads toward the final title reckoning.

Anthony French

All practice sessions and qualifying available live on TV via BBC One and SkyF1HD. Race starts at 20:00 GMT Sunday live on BBC One and SkyF1HD. Radio coverage via BBC Radio5Live.

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