What to watch for: Singapore GP (NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET)

© Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel tore up the formbook in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night as he stormed to their first pole position since joining Ferrari at the beginning of the 2015 season.

This season has been all about one team: Mercedes. The dominance that the German marque enjoyed in 2014 has extended into the current season, and although Vettel has swooped to two victories, few expected him to take pole as convincingly as he did at Marina Bay.

Even fewer could have predicted Mercedes struggling so much in qualifying, for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could only finish fifth and sixth in Q3, leaving them on the third row of the grid for today’s race.

It was left to Ferrari and Red Bull in the fight for top honors, and although Daniel Ricciardo did put up a fight and score his first front row start in 18 months, no-one could stop Vettel. The margin of half a second prompted the re-emergence of his famous ‘finger’ celebration, harking back to his heyday in 2013 when such results were the norm.

Qualifying lived up to all of the expectations that we had, and has created a fascinating state of play ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday (live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET).

2015 Singapore Grand Prix – What To Watch For


Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix was arguably one of his best for Red Bull. After a safety car period wiped away his advantage, the German driver pulled away from the field at two seconds per lap to give himself a crushing victory. It was Vettel at the very peak of his powers.

On Saturday in Singapore, we saw that same Vettel return (if he has ever left, that is). He has proved many of his critics wrong with Ferrari in 2015, and the manner of his pole position arguably makes it his biggest success to date. Converting it into a third victory would be a considerable achievement, and judging by his pace, it would take a brave man to bet against him.


Don’t discount Red Bull just yet though. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniel Kvyat qualified second and fourth respectively on Saturday, split by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari car. The pace shown by both drivers in practice over the long runs on Friday is certainly encouraging, suggest we’re in for a close fight for the win on Sunday.

Ricciardo spoke on Saturday about his new-found comfort with the RB11 car since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, and with the nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit masking the deficiencies of the Renault power unit, Red Bull could, much like Vettel, throw it back to 2013 with a win in Singapore.

Ferrari remains the favorite, but it’s far from being a foregone conclusion.


“Damage limitation” and “Mercedes” don’t ordinarily mix in F1 nowadays. And yet on Sunday in Singapore, it appears to be about all that the German marque can truly hope for. Both Hamilton and Rosberg struggled to find any kind of pace in qualifying, finishing 1.4 seconds behind Vettel’s pace.

To make matters worse, no-one at Mercedes seemed capable of putting their finger on the problem. Was it the tires? Was it the setup? Whatever it was, it’s unlikely to have changed much for the race on Sunday.

A good start could take both Hamilton and Rosberg into the scrap for the podium, but barring a drastic change in fortunes, the points swing in the championship will be just a handful of points. For Rosberg, it’s probably a good thing – falling 60 points behind Hamilton would leave his already-blighted title bid surely in tatters.


The close battle in the midfield is only set to rage on in Singapore on Sunday as the race to follow home Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes (the likely top six finishers) looks hard to predict.

Williams and Toro Rosso appeared to enjoy the edge on their midfield rivals in qualifying on Saturday, but with Force India showing good signs of pace throughout the weekend, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg could yet come into play once the lights go out on Sunday.

The team to keep an eye on will be McLaren as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button go in search of their third points finishes of the 2015 season. Just as we’re seeing with Red Bull, McLaren’s power unit problems are less damaging in Singapore, giving the team hope of a top ten finish.


2,982 days since the last American driver started a grand prix, Alexander Rossi will bring the drought to an end when he realizes a life-long dream and lines up on the grid on Sunday. Although his maiden qualifying outing with Manor was largely disappointing (he finished last), Rossi has made a big impression given his lack of recent F1 experience.

Rossi will be hoping to run teammate Will Stevens close in the race, and their intra-team scrap will offer a good insight into just how he compares to a full-time driver.

Regardless of his result, the American flag will be flying high once again in Singapore on Sunday.


1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
4. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams
8. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
9. Felipe Massa Williams
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus
11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
12. Fernando Alonso McLaren
13. Sergio Perez Force India
14. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
15. Jenson Button McLaren
16. Felipe Nasr Sauber
17. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
18. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
19. Will Stevens Manor
20. Alexander Rossi Manor

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”