Singapore set to stun with F1 title battle on-edge
You can feel the crackle of electricity in Formula 1 at the moment, the tension skyrocketing between this year’s title protagonists, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Both have lots on the line, with Vettel gunning for a fifth world championship – his first for Ferrari, a step in replicating the achievements of his hero, Michael Schumacher, and putting him on par with “The Maestro”, Juan Manuel Fangio. But he’s already shown the pressure can get to him – banging wheels with his mercurial Mercedes’ rival in Azerbaijan, for which he earned a 10-second stop-and-go penalty that many thought was not enough.
Hamilton would be a four-time World Champion, his third crown in four years, levelling him with Vettel – and one more than his hero, the great Ayrton Senna. So pride is at stake.
It’s an exciting prospect, as the traditional European season comes to an end –and F1 touches down in the heat of Singapore, where we’re expecting the 10th edition of the event to be a milestone thriller.
Up to six drivers should be in for the win, with Vettel and Hamilton joined by teammates Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas, while Red Bull Racing is also desperate to break into the battle.
“I think we’re going to have a few more updates on the car by then, which will help,” says Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who took an unexpected win in Baku.
“So Budapest should be a good podium chance, at least. And then Singapore’s always a strong one for me and the team.”
The Australian will need all the strength he can get this year, though, with F1’s faster, more furious cars upping cornering speeds and g-forces – meaning the drivers are working harder than ever behind the wheel.
"It's normally the longest race of the season, and a pretty brutal and physical circuit so not much place to rest [through the lap],” he says.
“The aim is to be better prepared than everyone [there], and I believe I am but it’s certainly one that if a driver doesn’t quite take some of those real physical ones seriously, if they’re out enjoying their weekends more than they should, then I definitely feel it will show this year.”
The challenge is only made tougher in Singapore, where cockpit temperatures soar up to 55 degrees at racing speed, meaning that the drivers will lose up to 3kg in sweat with few places to rest across a two-hour race.
“The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is a great challenge, both physically and mentally, because it’s such a demanding track,” says Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who has proved himself this year with wins in Russia and Austria.
“It requires a lot of focus, because there’s no room for mistakes with the barriers so close. And because there are so many corners, 23 in total, it feels like it’s one after another. Getting a perfect lap around Singapore is very tricky, so when you do put one together it’s an amazing feeling!”
Behind the top teams, there’s also a brutal no-holds barred fight in the midfield –between Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas, Renault, Sauber and McLaren; form swinging from track to track. All of them primed to jump on opportunities spied as the race laps count down.
All of it happening in the heart of one of the world’s great cities, where the cars hurtle around Singapore’s stunning made-for-Instagram Marina Bay, against an imposing city backdrop. Trackside, it’s parties and activities galore to keep the whole family enthralled long into the night.
On track, the racing action never stops with F1 supported by Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and the super-competitive Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series.
Off-track, the fun continues long into the night, with this year’s entertainment line-up arguably one of the best-ever, featuring global DJ sensation Calvin Harris, pop superstar Ariana Grande, synth-pop veterans Duran Duran, US pop rockers OneRepublic, American DJ duo The Chainsmokers, British singer-songwriters Seal, and Lianne La Havas, and spoken word performer George the Poet.
It’s also easy to do on any budget with single-day walkabout tickets starting from just S$78, while petrolheads who want to enjoy great views of the Pit Lane, starting grid and finish line may also opt for 3-Day Pit Grandstand tickets priced at S$1,288.
The newly-launched Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Experience package also offers a specially curated experience including access to the Pit Grandstand, a Thursday night event at the Silver Arrows VIP Hospitality suite and a host of other benefits.
An instant classic from its debut on the F1 calendar in 2008, Singapore is never short of action, and 2017 should be no different.
The 2017 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX will be held from 15 to 17 September, with more information at www.singaporegp.sg
Editorial credit: Steward Bell
Photos credit: Singapore GP