F1 begins its tour of the Far East with the increasingly popular Singapore Grand Prix next on the calendar. We’re into the business end of the season now with just seven races remaining. Here are five things we’re excited to see in Singapore…
Will Nico Rosberg make it three Grand Prix wins in a row?
He’s yet to win on the streets of Singapore, but Nico Rosberg has every chance of doing so this weekend with back-to-back wins at Spa and Monza fresh in the memory.
He now trails teammate Lewis Hamilton by just two points and a win here would propel him back into the lead of the championship with just six races remaining. Simple eh? Well, not exactly…
Have Mercedes resolved their Singapore setup issues?
The reason why winning Sunday’s race might not be such a simple task for Rosberg is that his team are entering this weekend devoid of their usual favourites tag.
Both Mercedes drivers will be keen to avoid a repeat of last year when the best they could manage was fifth and sixth on the grid, and Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff warned his team this week: “We must not make the mistake of thinking we are favourites this weekend.”
Where will Mercedes’ biggest threat come from this weekend?
Last year’s race was one to remember for Ferrari, as Sebastian Vettel capitalised on Mercedes troubles to take his fourth Singapore Grand Prix win. This time, Mercedes are likely to be keeping a closer watch on Red Bull; and with Ferrari’s form fluctuating, the Milton Keynes-based squad now occupy second place in the constructors’ championship.
Their car seems well suited to low-downforce circuits as they demonstrated by taking pole position and almost winning the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year. Daniel Ricciardo seems confident of repeating that form this weekend and says that a win here would be ‘redemption’ for the pit stop error that cost him his first Monaco victory.
Will we see the first ever wet Singapore Grand Prix?
Despite Singapore’s location close to the equator, we’ve never had a rain affected Grand Prix here, but that could be about to change this weekend. Heavy rain showers are expected throughout the weekend, and if the race itself does remain dry, early forecasts suggest a high chance that practice and even qualifying could be affected by the weather.
With most of the sessions being held after dusk, the combination of rainfall and artificial lighting could prove a real challenge for the drivers. What’s almost certain is that any rainfall here is likely to mix up the order, as power unit performance will be somewhat equalised.
Who will announce their plans for next year?
As well as the on-track action, there’s also plenty to keep us interested off-track this weekend. After the announcements in Monza that both Felipe Massa and Jenson Button will be absent from the grid next year, we’re expecting one or two more announcements to follow this weekend.
It’s quite common for deals to be finalised in Singapore, with perhaps the most high-profile of recent times being Lewis Hamilton’s switch from McLaren coming just days after the race here back in 2012. Williams, Renault and Sauber all have seats available for next year, and I’m expecting one or two of those to be filled in the coming days.