Since joining the Formula 1 calendar back in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has quickly established itself as one of the most exciting and unique races in the 65-year history of the sport.
Singapore hosted F1’s very first night race, and although it no longer is the only one on the calendar – Bahrain is an night race; Abu Dhabi a twilight race – it remains the original. It is a modern wonder that has become one of the biggest jewels in F1’s crown.
Last year’s race proved to be one of the biggest turning points in the championship fight as Lewis Hamilton moved into the lead of the championship when Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was forced to retire due to an electrical issue. It was the gamechanger.
Fast forward 12 months, and the gamechanger has already occurred. Hamilton’s victory at Monza two weeks ago, combined with Rosberg’s retirement with three laps remaining, saw the Briton move into a 53-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.
With seven races remaining in 2015, Hamilton is closing in on a third world championship. A third win in Singapore would see his lead swell to over 60 points, but Rosberg has vowed not to give up in this race.
Here are a few things to look out for in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
2015 Singapore Grand Prix – Talking Points
A Hamilton hat-trick?
Hamilton’s recent form and record in Singapore suggest that a third victory on Sunday is little more than a formality. The defending world champion is undeniably in the form of his life, and it is difficult to bet against him.
Rosberg has proven on occasion that he can compete with Hamilton in 2015, and with overtaking around the tight streets of Marina Bay coming at a premium, whoever wins the drag race down to the first corner will be in a strong position to convert it into a race win.
Right now, victory won’t change much for Rosberg. What he really needs is for Hamilton to hit trouble and cancel out his own DNF in Italy. Otherwise, it will become all the more certain that we will be crowning a three-time champion in Abu Dhabi.
History in the making
This weekend’s race is an important one for Hamilton regardless of his title aspirations. This marks his 161st grand prix – the same number of races that his hero Ayrton Senna took part in between 1984 and 1994.
It would also be his 41st career victory should he win – the same number of victories that Senna claimed. The similarities are quite interesting to note. Comparing the two defining drivers of their respective eras is impossible and unfair to even attempt, but Hamilton will be reaching a big personal milestone if he wins on Sunday.
2,982 days since an American driver last lined up on the grid to start a Formula 1 grand prix, Alexander Rossi will finally (finally!) end the drought when he races for Manor on Sunday.
After so many near-misses in 2014 and a snub from Haas F1 Team just last week, Rossi will get the chance he has worked all his life for. He will be a grand prix driver.
The pace of the car means that there’s no chance of us hearing Star Spangled Banner from the top step of the podium, nor is there any real likelihood of him scoring any points. Nevertheless, it is a start, and a big breakthrough.
This will be a weekend of trial and error for Rossi, given that he has not stepped in an F1 car since August 2014, but we will watch with great curiosity to see how he fares.
Movers and shakers
This weekend could see the pecking order shift around a bit due to the unique nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Williams has been particularly poor on the more technical tracks so far in 2015, so it could be a tricky weekend for Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
On the flip side of that, the likes of Force India and Lotus will be hoping to capitalize and work their way up into the top five. Ferrari will be hoping to create another opportunity for itself like it did in Hungary, and even McLaren will fancy its chances more than usual in Singapore.
Under the lights, sparks will inevitably fly.
Hazed no more
Heading into the race weekend in Singapore, there were concerns about the high levels of air pollution and heavy haze that had built up due to the forest burning in nearby Indonesia.
Over the past few days, the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) level that measures the pollution has fallen after local officials seeded the clouds, meaning that we are poised for a trouble-free and unaffected weekend of running.
2015 Singapore Grand Prix – Facts and Figures
Track: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Lap Record: N/A (modified layout for 2015)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:45.681
2014 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:50.417
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T11 to T1); T7 to T8
2015 Singapore Grand Prix – TV Times
Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 6am ET 9/18
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 9:30am ET 9/18
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 6am ET 9/19
Qualifying: CNBC 9am ET 9/19
Race: NBCSN 7:30am ET 9/20