Jenson Button

2013 Singapore Grand Prix Preview


As the only night race on the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s glamour events alongside Monaco and Abu Dhabi. The Marina Bay Street Circuit comes alive when the sun goes down, illuminated by thousands of lights in one of the most challenging races on the calendar. As Sebastian Vettel closes in on his fourth world championship, the German driver will be keen on claiming his third straight win in Singapore, but he can be certain that Mercedes and Ferrari will be doing all they can to cut the gap under the starry sky.

Singapore Grand Prix Talking Points

Massa a changed man?

This is the first grand prix since it was confirmed that Felipe Massa would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season to be replaced by Kimi Raikkonen. Massa has admitted that he feels under less pressure after his future was decided, meaning that we could see the Brazilian driver displaying a renewed vigor and perhaps even some pace harking back to his title charge in 2008.

Mercedes look to deliver on their promise

After a difficult few races, Mercedes have earmarked Singapore as being their chance to return to the front of the pack. Given the fashion of Nico Rosberg’s win at Monaco and Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Hungary, the circuit in Singapore (also high downforce) should suit the W04 car, so expect the Silver Arrows to run strongly under the lights.

First race for new super-soft tires

Since reverting back to the 2012 tire constructions in Hungary, this will be the first race for Pirelli’s super-soft tires. Although the safety aspect is no real concern, this does however pose a fresh challenge to the teams. Force India have been hit hard by the changes made, dropping off the pace and back towards the depths of the midfield. Therefore, the first usage of the softest compound could accentuate these issues, as well as affecting the team’s rivals.

Seb looks to triple up

As mentioned earlier, Sebastian Vettel is chasing a third straight victory in Singapore this weekend. After dominating the race in 2011, he was somewhat fortuitous last season when leader Lewis Hamilton retired due to a gearbox failure. The circuit does suit the partialities of the Red Bull RB9 car, meaning that he will (once again) be fighting at the front. It just appears to be a question of whether or not Mercedes and Ferrari can pose a challenge to the defending world champions.

Right place, right time?

One of the biggest challenges for all personnel involved with the Singapore Grand Prix is adapting to the timings of a night race. Despite being in Singapore, most choose to live on European time, waking up in the middle of the afternoon and not going to bed until dawn. Therefore, it is a challenge for the drivers to adapt quickly and be prepared for the race on Sunday.

Track: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Laps: 61
Corners: 23
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:45.59 (2008)
Tire Compounds: Super-soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2012 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:46.362
2012 Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1:51.033
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T11 to T1); T7 to T8

Friday – Free Practice 1: 06:00am ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 09:30am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 06:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 09:00am ET (LIVE on NBC Sports Live Extra)
Sunday – Race: 08:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.