Sebastian Vettel’s defence of the Formula 1 world championship has been a tame one. After winning four titles on the bounce, the German driver’s form has dwindled in 2014, leaving him sixth in the standings with just two podium finishes and not a single win to his name.
Unsurprisingly, in his plight, his strongest critics have come out of the woodwork once again to cite how his success in the past few years has been thanks to the Red Bull car, not the driver. The fact that he is being beaten hands down by teammate Daniel Ricciardo (who has three wins) in 2014 does not help Sebastian’s cause.
However, could next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix be the race where the tide changes?
Vettel’s record at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is second to none. The German driver has won every edition of the race since 2011, and finished a close second to Fernando Alonso in 2010, and he has some very fond memories of racing at this challenging circuit.
“The race track is a bumpy ride and you are being jogged around a lot in the driver’s seat,” Vettel explained. “The circuit is fun but at the same time very challenging. You have to get close to your limits and risk a lot, in order to get the greatest efficiency out of your car.
“The toughest challenges in Singapore are the heat and the amount of turns. The chicanes are very difficult to drive and you barely get to catch your breath. Very important for a fast lap is the last turn before heading to the start finish line. There is an extremely high curb, which you should not hit otherwise the car lifts up.
“My greatest memories are the wins of 2011, 2012 and 2013, because I think it’s one of the toughest races of the year. It’s very long, there’s no space for mistakes and the race just seems to go on forever.”
It’s a challenge, but it is one that Vettel is up to. Red Bull struggled at Monza as the Mercedes-powered cars came to the fore as the track rewarded those with the best engine. However, in Singapore, where aerodynamics are king, the team could bounce back.
Even at Spa, where Daniel Ricciardo claimed a shock victory, the focus always was on Singapore for Red Bull. Adrian Newey said in Belgium that “possibly [in] Singapore we have a chance… I think it goes without saying that the circuits that have the shorter straights are the ones that suit us best.”
Mercedes will still be the team to beat, but don’t be surprised if Vettel can find some of his magic from ’13 to bounce back to the top under the lights next weekend.