F1: Can Vettel close the gap in Singapore?

Source: formula1.com

Perhaps the single most Championship defining moment in the 2017 season came at Singapore, where Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen collided just after race start. This weekend, as the F1 circus heads to the Marina Bay circuit, Vettel will certainly need a win to stay within striking distance of Lewis Hamilton.

The Italian Grand Prix just two weeks ago was eventful to say the least. Hamilton took victory at the Ferrari home ground after Raikkonen failed to hold him off in the later stages of the race. Meanwhile Vettel made his way to fifth after colliding with Hamilton on the first lap. Mercedes now hold a 25-point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ race, while Hamilton is 30 points ahead of Vettel.

This year’s silly season has been in full swing since Italy, with no signs of stopping. Just this week, possibly the worst kept secret in Formula 1 was finally confirmed, with Charles Leclerc and Kimi Raikkonen set to swap places in 2019. Raikkonen returns to Sauber, the very team he began his Formula 1 career at.

Meanwhile, McLaren announced that Stoffel Vandoorne would leave the team at the end of the year, with young gun Lando Norris set to replace him. Down the grid, further speculation continues to swirl around Toro Rosso, and just who will replace Pierre Gasly as he moves up to Red Bull to replace Daniel Ricciardo. Daniil Kvyat, currently a Ferrari test and development driver, is certainly in the running for the job.

No doubt this has been one of the most eventful silly seasons in recent history, and the 2019 championship will surely be one to watch with the sheer number of driver changes.

Onto Singapore, often regarded as one of the best and most physically demanding tracks on the calendar. With the weather set to be dry, albeit as humid as ever, Pirelli are bringing the Soft, Ultrasoft and Hypersoft tyres (their third appearance of the season) to Singapore.

Hamilton goes to Singapore having won there three times, and holds a relatively substantial, but not insurmountable, lead in the championship. Hoping not to experience a repeat of last year’s incident, Vettel will want to cut into Hamilton’s lead as much as possible with a win here. However, with just seven races to go, a Hamilton victory could start making the prospects of a Vettel championship rather bleak.

However, don’t discount Red Bull for this one either. Full of low and medium-speed corners, the Marina Bay circuit will be their best shot at another win this season. Daniel Ricciardo will certainly want a good result after experiencing his sixth DNF of the season in Italy.

In the midfield, Renault, a mere ten points ahead of Haas in the constructors’, will be looking for a strong finish here. Haas would also like to salvage some points, after Romain Grosjean was disqualified from the Italian GP for having an illegal floor, and Kevin Magnussen finished out of the top ten. McLaren also need a strong finish here if they are to have any chance of overtaking Haas in the standings.

For Racing Point Force India, a lot is riding on regaining their points lost after their rebrand, despite having jumped to seventh already, however Toro Rosso is just two points behind them in eighth. For both Sauber and Williams (who have just seven points), a top ten finish here could mean big things towards the end of the year, particularly for Williams.

The Singapore Grand Prix is many things, but never boring, and with a 100% Safety Car record here, there’s certain to be a few surprises in store. The tail end of the season is upon us, and it looks set to be an absolute cracker.