Over the summer, Formula 1 has visited some of its most historical and famous venues, with Silverstone, Hockenheim, the Hungaroring, Spa-Francorchamps, and Monza all playing host to some fantastic racing.
However, the sport lives up to its billing as one of the most exotic and exuberant around this weekend as it ventures to Asia for the Singapore Grand Prix.
The tiny nation to the south of Malaysia becomes dominated by F1 for the race weekend as a temporary street circuit around Marina Bay is constructed for the event. Starting at 8pm local time, the race was the first in F1’s history to be held at night, with Bahrain becoming the second earlier this year. However, it doesn’t quite boast the sparkle that Singapore does.
As with any street circuit, mistakes are all the more costly due to the close proximity of the walls. However, Singapore doesn’t do things by halves: not only is the race held at the hottest time of the year, but it is also one of the longest, just scraping in under the two hour time limit. Therefore, fuel consumption is a serious concern for the drivers, not to mention their own concentration throughout the 61 laps.
For this weekend’s race, an extra challenge has been given to the drivers following the FIA’s technical directive on radio communications. Drivers are now to be left largely in the dark about their settings, fuel usage and areas for improvement, which should allow the best to rise to the top without relying on their pit wall. Some concerns have been raised, and it is a step into the unknown, meaning controversy is possible (and in the eyes of many, inevitable).
2014 Singapore Grand Prix – Talking Points
Radio Ga Ga?
As mentioned, the ban on radio communications that could enhance a driver’s performance (or, to be more technical, breaches the regulation saying that drivers must race alone and unaided) could be a major sticking point this weekend. The engineers on the pit wall will have a list of dos and don’ts that they must adhere to, but how policeable really is it? Singapore will be the litmus test for the sport.
Lewis wants to shine the brightest
Following his victory at the Italian Grand Prix, the momentum firmly lies with Lewis Hamilton in the battle for the drivers’ championship. Teammate and rival Nico Rosberg may hold the mathematical lead, but he has been rattled. In fact, he bemoaned the fact that Lewis was “so damn lucky” in the cool-down room following the last race, suggesting that, for all the smiles and niceties, these two remain embroiled in a very bitter battle for the championship – just how we like it!
Can Seb really make it four in a row?
Yes. Sebastian Vettel really could win his fourth straight Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday. His chances are slim, admittedly, but this circuit should suit Red Bull far better than Monza did. If the team is going to beat Mercedes anywhere, it is here – although it may require a race of attrition for it happen. The smiley-faced Aussie assassin Daniel Ricciardo could yet hijack his illustrious teammate’s aspirations of a maiden win in 2014, though.
Williams vs Ferrari rages on
The Italian Grand Prix was a bit of a disaster for Ferrari. Not only did it limp home in front of its faithful fans with just two points, but Williams also surpassed it in the constructors’ championship, rising into third place. Since then, Luca di Montezemolo has confirmed that he will step down as president, and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat is now the top dog at Maranello. Amid this flux, can Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen rally in Singapore to salvage some much-needed points? Williams may struggle here, but quite whether Ferrari can make up the 15-point deficit remains to be seen. It is a big weekend for both teams.
Remember those days in college when you would stumble into bed at 6am and wake up in the middle of the afternoon? That is set to be the norm for the members of F1’s travelling circus over the next few days. As this is a night race, you must stick to European times to keep yourself in sync and, quite simply, awake. It only adds to the challenge of this quite enchanting race weekend.
Singapore – Facts and Figures
Track: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1:48.574 (2013)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:42.841
2013 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:48.574
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T23 to T1); T5 to T7
Singapore GP TV Times
Free Practice 1 – 19/9 6am ET Live Extra
Free Practice 2 – 19/9 9:30am ET NBCSN
Free Practice 3 – 20/9 5am ET Live Extra
Qualifying – 20/9 9am ET CNBC
Race – 21/9 7.30am ET NBCSN
For more details of NBC Sports’ broadcasting of the Singapore Grand Prix, click here.