After a two-week gap, Formula One is back this weekend and we return to Singapore for the first time since Sebastian Vettel won under the lights in 2019.
While this season’s titles seem more or less decided (Max Verstappen can secure his second consecutive title this weekend), the return to racing under the lights promises to be an unmissable one, with Ferrari ready to throw the kitchen sink at Red Bull.
As we head to the iconic Marina Bay Circuit under the lights, let’s take a look at a few possibilities this weekend.
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The 2022 season has been Red Bull and Max Verstappen‘s, no two ways about it. It could have been a very different story, though, had Ferrari built on that early-season momentum. Ferrari won two of the opening three races and Charles Leclerc was seemingly looking like a proper title contender. Turn the clock five months, though, and Verstappen is inches away from securing his second consecutive Drivers’ title, while Red Bull also seem all but certain to take their first Constructors’ title since 2013 and make it a double title winning season since Vettel’s fourth title nine years ago.
All isn’t lost for the Scuderia, though. While reliability issues and team strategies have seen them fall off the title fight, the Italian team still have a strong race-car which is more than capable of fighting for wins. Ferrari might not be on the same level as Red Bull and Verstappen, but they have shown strong race pace recently. Leclerc was two seconds behind Verstappen in Italy and, most recently in Belgium, he charged from P15 to finish P6.
Singapore has been a strong circuit for the Italians, them having been the last team to win at the location when the race last took place in 2019; the track should suit Ferrari once again.
Both the titles might have slipped away from them, but do expect Ferrari to perform strongly at Singapore.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari
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Where is the Silver lining?
2022 has been one of Mercedes’ toughest seasons in a long time. While the team have been clear of the rest of the midfield battle, they haven’t been able to find answers to the new regulations, which sees them not be able to fight for wins.
The team have brought in multiple upgrades, addressing the issues faced, and that has helped them close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari up front. What still ails the Silver Arrows is the fact that, whenever they have found a solution to move one step ahead, they have moved two steps backwards in the races post that.
While Mercedes were three-tenths off pole in the Netherlands and finished second via George Russell‘s podium finish, in the following race in Italy, they were more than a second behind in pole and struggled on Sunday as well.
The Singapore track hasn’t been a strong track for Mercedes in the past, and they have struggled in street circuits this season. Hamilton was 50 seconds behind race-winner Verstappen in Monaco, and both him and Russell were 45 seconds and a minute and 11 seconds behind Verstappen in Baku. Singapore should be another tough circuit for the Brackley-based team, and even a podium finish would be a win for them.
The fight for P4 in the Constructors’ battle has been a tug of war between McLaren and Alpine, with the two exchanging spots after every race. Heading into the summer break, Alpine took the lead in the Constructors’ Championship, with the French team beginning to find pace, while the British team were struggling to keep up with their counterparts.
Post the summer break, McLaren have found their footing once again; coming off a strong showing in Italy will boost the British team’s chances in Singapore. What will boost their chances in Singapore more would be the fact that they have been strong at the street circuits this season, with Lando Norris out-qualifying both the Mercedes drivers in Monaco and finishing in front of one, while the team enjoyed a strong double points finish in Baku as well.
McLaren should go well in Singapore once again and may even spring a surprise podium should it be an eventful race up ahead.
Dark horses for podium: McLaren / Alpine
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Race details: When and where to watch (India)
Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Practice Session 1 time: 15:30 (IST), 30 September 2022
Practice Session 2 time: 18:30 (IST), 30 September 2022
Practice Session 3 time: 15:30 (IST), 1 October 2022
Qualifying time: 18:30 (IST), 1 October 2022
Main race time: 17:30 (IST), 2 October 2022
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar