MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Singapore GP

© Getty Images
1 Comment

The Singapore Grand Prix may only have joined the F1 calendar in 2008, but it has quickly established itself as one of the most popular and unique events in the history of the sport.

Singapore is the original F1 night race, testing the drivers’ talents under the lights and the will of those in the paddock as regular sleeping patterns are left at home. Remaining on European time is a must, making anything before 6am an ‘early night’.

Lewis Hamilton arrives in Singapore with a healthy lead of 53 points over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship, and will be gunning to continue his march to a third world title on Sunday.

Victory would see Hamilton draw level with his hero, Ayrton Senna, for 41 grand prix victories in 161 race starts, and bolster his championship lead to at least 60 points.

As ever, the MotorSportsTalk writing team has made its predictions for this weekend’s race. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Lewis is in the form of his life and has a good record in Singapore. With the boosted Mercedes engine in the back of his W06 Hybrid, I can’t see him missing out on a 41st grand prix victory this weekend.

Surprising FinishNico Hulkenberg. With Williams struggling at the more technical tracks in 2015, I’m backing Force India to be the third-fastest team this weekend. Hulkenberg could break into the top five with a clean race, and perhaps finish even higher up the order if Mercedes and/or Ferrari hit trouble.

Most to ProveMcLaren. Singapore is set to be McLaren’s ‘least-worst’ (because ‘best’ isn’t a word you can use to describe McLaren-Honda) grand prix in the run to the end of the season. Let’s see if Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button can do anything with their cars.

Additional Storyline to WatchRossi debuts. At long last, an American driver will line up on the grid once again in F1. Alexander Rossi will be hoping to make the most of it as he realises a life-long dream in Singapore.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Why stop the roll now? Lewis is into that “keep picking him until he doesn’t win” mode, and a 41st Grand Prix victory would put him level with Ayrton Senna in as many career starts. It’ll also equal him with one of the other modern greats, Sebastian Vettel.

Surprising FinishDaniel Ricciardo. Expect the Red Bulls to excel at a track where horsepower isn’t as important. Daniel is bullish on the team’s chances – a second podium for him this year is possible but more likely a top-five result is a realistic aim.

Most to ProvePastor Maldonado. Maldonado is in a rough patch of five DNFs in his last eight Grands Prix, and hasn’t made it past Lap 2 since before the summer break in Hungary. Finishing is a must, with points a bonus for the driver who at least tends to excel at tracks like Singapore.

Additional Storyline to WatchThe haze. Haze situation is an unfortunate element lingering ahead of the weekend. We’ll see how the field handles it.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Roger Penske vows new downtown Detroit GP will be bigger than the Super Bowl for city


DETROIT – He helped spearhead bringing the town a Super Bowl 17 years ago, but Roger Penske believes the reimagined Chevrolet Detroit GP is his greatest gift to the Motor City.

“It’s bigger than the Super Bowl from an impact within the city,” Penske told NBC Sports. “Maybe not with the sponsors and TV, but for the city of Detroit, it’s bigger than the Super Bowl.

“We’ve got to give back individually and collectively, and I think we as a company in Michigan and in Detroit, it’s something we know how to do. It shows we’re committed. Someone needs to take that flag and run it down through town. And that’s what we’re trying to do as a company. We’re trying to give back to the city.”

After 30 years of being run on Belle Isle, the race course has been moved to a new nine-turn, 1.7-mile downtown layout that will be the centerpiece of an event weekend that is designed to promote a festival and community atmosphere.

There will be concerts in the adjacent Hart Plaza. Local businesses from Detroit’s seven districts have been invited to hawk their wares to new clientele. Boys and Girls Clubs from the city have designed murals that will line the track’s walls with images of diversity, inclusion and what Detroit means through the eyes of youth.

And in the biggest show of altruism, more than half the circuit will be open for free admission. The track is building 4-foot viewing platforms that can hold 150 people for watching the long Jefferson Avenue straightaway and other sections of the track.

Detroit GP chairman Bud Denker, a longtime key lieutenant across Penske’s various companies, has overseen more than $20 million invested in infrastructure.

The race is essentially Penske’s love letter to the city where he made much of his fame as one of Detroit’s most famous automotive icons, both as a captain of industry with a global dealership network and as a racing magnate (who just won his record 19th Indy 500 with Josef Newgarden breaking through for his first victory on the Brickyard oval).

During six decades in racing, Penske, 86, also has run many racetracks (most notably Indianapolis Motor Speedway but also speedways in Michigan, California and Pennsylvania), and much of that expertise has been applied in Detroit.

“And then the ability for us to reach out to our sponsor base, and then the business community, which Bud is tied in with the key executives in the city of Detroit, bringing them all together,” Penske said. “It makes a big difference.

“The Super Bowl is really about the people that fly in for the Super Bowl. It’s a big corporate event, and the tickets are expensive. And the TV is obviously the best in the world. What we’ve done is taken that same playbook but made it important to everyone in Detroit. Anyone that wants to can come to the race for free, can stand on a platform or they can buy a ticket and sit in the grandstands or be in a suite. It’s really multiple choice, but it is giving it to the city of Detroit. I think it’s important when you think of these big cities across the country today that are having a lot of these issues.”

Denker said the Detroit Grand Prix is hoping for “an amazingly attended event” but is unsure of crowd estimates with much of the track offering free viewing. The race easily could handle a crowd of at least 50,000 daily (which is what the Movement Music Festival draws in Hart Plaza) and probably tens of thousands more in a sprawling track footprint along the city’s riverwalk.

Penske is hoping for a larger crowd than Belle Isle, which was limited to about 30,000 fans daily because of off-site parking and restricted fan access at a track that was located in a public park.

The downtown course will have some unique features, including a “split” pit lane on an all-new concrete (part of $15 million spent on resurfaced roads, new barriers and catchfencing … as well as 252 manhole covers that were welded down).

A $5 million, 80,000-square-foot hospitality chalet will be located adjacent to the paddock and pit area. The two-story structure, which was imported from the 16th hole of the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, will offer 70 chalets (up from 23 suites at Belle Isle last year). It was built by InProduction, the same company that installed the popular HyVee-branded grandstands and suites at Iowa Speedway last year.

Penske said the state, city, county and General Motors each owned parts of the track, and their cooperation was needed to move streetlights and in changing apexes of corners. Denker has spent the past 18 months meeting with city council members who represent Detroit’s seven districts, along with Mayor Mike Duggan. Penske said the local support could include an appearance by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmer.

Denker and Detroit GP  president Michael Montri were inspired to move the Detroit course downtown after attending the inaugural Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee.

“We saw what an impact it made on that city in August of 2021 and we came back from there and said boy could it ever work to bring it downtown in Detroit again,” Denker said. “We’ve really involved the whole community of Detroit, and the idea of bringing our city together is what the mayor and city council and our governor are so excited about. The dream we have is now coming to fruition.

“When you see the infrastructure downtown and the bridges over the roads we’ve built and the graphics, and everything is centered around the Renaissance Center as your backdrop, it’s just amazing.”