The Singapore Grand Prix throws up one of the most unique races of the year but is also one of the most unpredictable weekends on the calendar. It throws up a number of unique challenges, and it comprises a 23-corner tight and twisty layout through the streets of downtown Singapore. While Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest in the first session, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the quickest and the benchmark for the second session.
In theory, Red Bull and Ferrari always come to this weekend expecting to dominate while Mercedes are always underwhelmed coming to this tropical circuit. However according to statistics, the Silver Arrows outfit has won three out of the last four races at this track despite the technical aspects of the circuit being unsuitable for them.
The first session saw many drivers go off track at several turns such as Turn 1 and 2, Turn 14 and 18. Charles Leclerc brought at the yellow flags at the end of the first session, while Sebastian Vettel who was on his qualifying simulation lap in the second session, clipped the rear of his car into the wall. The German was able to complete only 12 laps and had to sit out the session, while his car was worked on. With four poles and four wins, Vettel is the most successful driver around this circuit, however taking a tight racing line too close to the barriers, hit the right rear of his car at the final corner of the circuit.
The Mercedes drivers did put in some decent mileage on their cars on both the tyre compounds in the long runs or race simulations, but their performance was underwhelming compared to the Red Bull Racing and Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton who had several off-track moments in the first session, also had some heavy braking moments in the second one where he lost one set of ultrasoft tyres and one set of hyper soft tyres, as he suffered flat spots. For the reigning champion this could be a dilemma and he could have lesser sets to strategies his qualifying and race tyre choices.
In the long runs Ricciardo’s long runs on the ultrasoft and hyper soft tyres looked the best, however the Ferraris and Mercedes were losing time on the hyper soft compound. On the hyper soft compounds, the Ferrari looked more competitive, but the two Red Bull drivers weren’t far off either. Red Bull Racing team always here to this circuit enthusiastic capitalise on wins and podiums. Their aerodynamically efficient chassis play to their advantage when it comes to tyre management in the warm and humid temperatures. On the hyper soft tyre, although Raikkonen looked competitive, the Mercedes and his times were dropping towards the end of the set. The two Mercedes did some decent mileage on the hyper soft tyre, but the ultrasoft tyre might be the right choice for them at this particular race.
This race has never failed to throw drama, and it poses some physical challenges for both the driver and the car. Over 61 laps, the tyres engine and chassis contribute equal amount in determining the performance around this circuit. Most predictions are binned come race day, if there are first corner incidents or crashes at the race restarts. In the 11th edition of its running, the Singapore race has a record of a safety car at every event, which is the reason why the track action for Sunday remains the most unpredictable.