The Singaporean Grand Prix this weekend, despite being only in its fourth year, has quickly become one of the best GPs of the year.
Only Monaco rivals it for the glamour and prestige as celebrities turn out in large numbers for the race. Additionally, big companies are also present with their huge hospitality tents as they aim to maximize the chance to be a part of the thrilling race around the streets of downtown Singapore.
Singapore is also alone with Monaco as the only true street track, with armco barriers or concrete walls all the way around the track and no room for error. Nonetheless, Singapore is probably the toughest challenge on the F1 calendar.
The 23 turns around the track for almost two hours of racing makes it a supreme test of concentration and focus for all the drivers. Add to that the incredible heat of this tropical country, and you have a recipe that makes getting through the whole race without a mistake from the drivers incredibly difficult.
If it stays dry during the weekend and the track rubbers up as it usually does, then the track is not a high tyre wear circuit, which means that some drivers will only go for one stop while the majority will be on a two stop strategy.
The length of the pitlane is also long, which will penalize drivers who do too many stops and as we saw in Monaco with Vettel’s win, you can make the rubber last.
Alonso has won here twice now and will fancy his chances for another win, but it will be tough against Vettel, who is driving supremely well at the moment. Red Bull also start as favorites because of their incredible record in qualifying where they have been on pole for every race this year.
But Singapore is not traditionally a Red Bull circuit because there are no fast long corners here, which should neutralize their advantage in qualifying. As a result, it will be a very close fight between Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.
However, we have said that before and come Saturday, Vettel always seems to give 100%, which was a feature of another great qualifier, Aryton Senna.