As the sun begins to set on the 2014 Formula 1 season, we venture to Singapore for the second night race of the year.
Since making its debut back in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has quickly established itself as one of the highlight events of the season, welcoming stars from all over the world to see the racing under the lights.
However, the true stars are the ones out on track. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue to toil and tussle for supremacy at the top of the drivers’ championship, and with just six races remaining, this weekend’s round could be crucial in deciding the destination of the title.
As ever, the MST writing team has the task of making its predictions for the race weekend. Here’s how we think things will play out in Singapore on Sunday.
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Riding high following his win at Monza, I’m backing Lewis to double up and claim his seventh win of the season. He has a good track record in Singapore, and sees to thrive under the pressure of a street race. Rosberg will run him close, though.
Surprising finish: Sebastian Vettel. If Seb is going to win anywhere, it’s here. After struggling at Monza and Spa, the German driver could bounce back this weekend at a track more suited to the RB10 car. A fourth straight Singapore GP victory may be unlikely, but he should be the man to round out the podium behind the Silver Arrows.
Most to prove: Nico Rosberg. Harsh? Yes. But after throwing away a possible victory in Italy, Nico needs to prove that he can handle the pressure of a championship fight. With six races to go, it’s his to lose. 22 points shouldn’t disappear overnight – but they just might this Sunday.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Has traditionally run well in Singapore even if the results don’t show it. Provided his qualifying is up to par, he should be good for two-in-a-row as he continues to close the points gap.
Surprising finish: Sebastian Vettel. Seems a bit weird to say that about the four-time defending World Champion and three-time defending race winner. But this is a track that should suit the Red Bull chassis particularly well (no major straights), and my money is on Vettel returning to the podium for the first time since Canada way back in June.
Most to prove: Kevin Magnussen. With the silly season rumor mill swirling out of control, Magnussen needs a good race weekend where he beats teammate Jenson Button. He’s not finished better than the Englishman since Austria, and could turn some heads with a solid effort on this new circuit to him.
Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)
Race winner: Nico Rosberg. The pack should be closer to Mercedes this weekend on the tight, twisty Singapore street circuit, but I think Rosberg will have a proper response to Lewis Hamilton’s Monza win from two weeks ago.
Surprising finish: Jules Bianchi. He couldn’t possibly replicate his stellar drive at Monaco, could he? Well, why not? Singapore tends to have its share of accidents, and that attrition could help the talented Frenchman once again crack the points for Marussia.
Most to prove: Jean-Eric Vergne. He and Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat have been out of the points in the last two races, but both should threaten for Top-10 runs in Singapore; that’s especially critical for JEV as he continues the fight to save his spot on the F1 grid.
Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes pilot is closing in on teammate Nico Rosberg, and just in time as the season begins to wind down (six races remain). The way I look at it, this isn’t Rosberg’s championship to lose, but Hamilton’s to win. If Hamilton can win and Rosberg finishes off the podium (Singapore isn’t exactly Rosberg’s strongest track, with just one podium finish in six starts), Hamilton can make this a very, very tight race going forward.
Surprising finish: Jenson Button. It’s too little, too late for this season, but Button is looking to salvage as much as he can for 2014. He was one of only three drivers who moved up one place in the standings after the last race, up to seventh. It’s doubtful he can finish the season in the top-five, but it’s better late than never for him to mount a late-season surge of sorts.
Most to prove: Sebastian Vettel. Can the German native make it four wins in a row at Singapore? He’s been untouchable the last three races in Singapore. But all good things must come to an end. Is it time for Vettel to give up his Singapore domination? And is it time for someone like Hamilton, who has a Singapore win on his resume, to start a new winner’s tradition?