Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Here we go again gear-heads,
This weekend’s build up was solely focused on a few things going into Singapore. 2019 was the last time F1 raced in Singapore and there has been a lot of excitement on its return. The Singapore Grand Prix started 2008 and is a street circuit like Jeddah, Miami, and Baku just to name a few but because it’s taking place on the other side of the planet we are going to be treated to a night race. Weather conditions forecasted for the weekend were wet during the day but drying up at night, would we have an additional factor in the title race?
Alex Albon made a speedy recovery after his appendicitis and further medical problems after the procedure; so seeing him recover was a welcomed addition. Lewis Hamilton had a great qualifying performance on Saturday and looked quick enough to get his first win of the season, he is running out of time though as his streak of winning a Grand Prix in every season he’s competed is being threatened. Fernando Alonso made his 350th Grand Prix appearance and making him the outright holder of this record after overtaking Kimi Raikkonen, would he conjure a magical drive to send him into the podium places?
Would this be the title winning race for Max and Red Bull or would Ferrari prevent the team from Milton Keys from getting their second world title in a row?
Another street circuit win for the Mexican is developing a pattern of winning these kinds of races. Overall this was the best performance in his career. Having qualified in P2 with his teammate out of contention with a fuel issue, Checo would only have LeClerc in front of him. To make things more complicated, the sheer amount of rain coming down at race time threw a spanner into the works. A delay of an hour and five minutes allowed the rain to subside but left the track like a slip and slide. The intermediate tyres were the choice for Checo and his exit from
the starting line proved to be the right one as he easily overtook Charles at the first turn and never really looked back. Even with the safety cars this meant fresh tyres for the Mexican at the time at which other drivers did the same.
The day wasn’t without some controversy when Sergio made some encroaching moves while the safety car was deployed which would later lead to a 5 second penalty after the race. Once the track was dry enough the transition to medium slicks was made and although LeClerc got close at one point, Sergio’s class showed and finished a whole 7 seconds clear so his penalty would not play any factor. P1 for his second win of the year.
With both cars finishing in the points, there’s no doubt that they should be in the winners group today. This team has lofty goals and expectations here in Singapore after such a qualifying run was that a finish in the points was on the cards. Stroll raced well and avoided a lot of what befell
several drivers today and made it safely to P6. While Vettel had a P8 finish and classic duel with this year’s front runner for the title in Max Verstappen to take P7 from Vettel on the last lap. The
German had had so much success on this circuit not too long ago and it was refreshing to see that he could still make some magic even on one of his final races. This weekend looks to be
something that puts Aston Martin in a positive direction and hopefully making them a contender for the best of the rest crown.
There haven’t been many weekends where McLaren have had positive press on the track but this
was one of them. Lando Norris raced fantastically throughout the race in the top half of the grid
and were it not for Carlos Sainz keeping the gap defended he could have had a podium position. P4 for Lando is a fine result and it’s in keeping with where the team is at the moment. And then there’s Daniel Ricciardo who recorded his best position this year P5. The Australian driver had a terrible qualifying at P15 but roared up the track being super aggressive from the start of the race. Both drivers showed immense patience and were ultimately rewarded for it. I sincerely hope that this will bode well for Daniel in finding him a seat for next season, though it doesn’t look promising at the moment. Here’s hoping that we still get to see him in the paddock, and yeah I am biased because I love the guy.
Finally, a weekend where there is something to celebrate for the ‘Tifosi’! A more than decent showing in the constructor’s championship by finishing in the second and third positions: P2 and
P3 on the podium. The only blemish was that LeClerc couldn’t protect his pole position and that’s
now the 14th time the Monegasque driver has gotten pole position only for someone else to win it, it just so happens that it is Sergio for the 3rd. Although there were some thoughts that Sergio would have received a harsher penalty for encroaching on the safety car and this would have given LeClerc the win, it wasn’t to be. He would have to settle for second. As for Carlos, he raced with composure like we have become accustomed to seeing even though he admitted that he couldn’t get into a rhythm. It certainly didn’t look so uncomfortable from the broadcast but hey what do I know, a P3 finish is at the very least he should have finished.
Now gear-heads, off to the losers from the weekend!
Unfortunately, with all the celebration of Alonso’s 350th Grand Prix appearance in combination with his superb qualifying lap on Saturday; transformed to a nightmare DNF for the Spaniard. It’s
another engine failure for the French team and this compounded with the engine failure of his
French teammate. Clearly this is a disaster and with McLaren getting their most points this team
has lost ground on fourth place in the constructors’ championship. It’s still unclear who is taking
that seat next to Ocon with Alonso departing for Aston Martin, but if all the rumors are true it will be Pierre Gasly leaving the Red Bull family for Renault and Alpine.
Two DNF’s for the last place team; Albon crashed into the barriers which could be chalked up to the wet conditions. But it was Latifi who provided the lowlight; the Canadian driver caused a collision with Zhou Guanyu ending the Chinese driver’s day early. I know there was a talented driver in Latifi but this has been an utter nightmare for him. Minus once day where he was about to get some points or have a decent qualifying lap, it’s all been really poor. His exit from the team
is not only obvious but necessary with the team’s lofty goals and steeped history.
It felt from the media buzz that Lewis would be in a fantastic position to seal his first win but the seven-time world champion made a big mistake and slid right into the barriers on lap 33. They had to change the front wing and he lost the places close to the podium and never made up the positions. P9 would have to suffice for Hamilton.
As for Russell, he was to start out of the pit because of his new power unit penalty and unfortunately couldn’t do much from the back of the pack. Finishing P15 after so many collisions isn’t the best obviously, but he was the bell weather for other drivers when he was the first to switch to slicks. A brave call for the Silver arrow that clearly did not work out other than preventing a fastest lap for Checo and an additional point for Red Bull; bet Toto is happy about that. But when you are in a position like this why not take the chance.
There are 5 more races, will Hamilton finally get his race win or will Russell continue collecting podium finishes, he has 7 and at the start of the year no one would have taken the bet on him getting more podiums than Hamilton; all to play yet.
Another weekend in the books and this race definitely didn’t disappoint. Max was held off for one
more weekend as his coronation is pushed to Japan and Suzuka where we should expect more wet weather. If Max wins at Suzuka and has the fastest lap to boot, he will be crowned World
Champion for a second year running. There are a lot of permutations that could see him win but
they depend on a whole host of crazy outcomes that I am not sure he would put to chance. The
constructors’ championship has taken a turn in that movement between fourth and fifth has
changed with McLaren finally getting back to where they projected themselves going into the
season. As well, Aston Martin has leap frogged Haas for the eighth position. Although it doesn’t
seem like much finishing in these positions but it could be the cost of millions of pounds in prize money that could see better research and development for their liveries in addition to better results coming from that. Every point counts and this is why the sport is so addictive; it’s not just the action on the track!
Next up is Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix! Due to COVID-19 this will be the first time back in
Japan since the start of the pandemic because of course some places deal with pathogen
differently this circuit has been left off the calendar. But it’s coming back with a bang and I for one can’t wait. There is only one corner where you have to slow down to make and the others all high speed turns. The change in the elevation of the track is all going to throw a challenge in the mix for those drivers who are yet to experience what this track has to offer.
Check in next week to find out who left track as a winner or loser. Till next week gear-heads!