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16 Sep 2018
'Trumpets' race report - Singapore

Down on their luck, Ferrari have described the Singapore GP as boring, but as Matt 'Trumpets' Ragsdale proves, it was nothing but, with action going on up and down the field.
Ambient 29° Track 33° Humidity 65% Wind 1.3 m/s

Prelude

The Singapore night sparkled with the fire of a thousand diamonds, illuminating the paddock with a heightened and subtly altered reality, dragging unseen hues from the liveries of the cars and bouncing pools of crystalline light off every reflective surface...

The race engineers were well into it, cars on the grid as the fallout from yesterday's qualifying echoed throughout the internet, with Raikkonen confirming they did have issues getting the tyres where they wanted them, echoed by KMag on the grid as he spoke with Brundle. Verstappen's PU issues very much a mapping thing according to Horner, but he was unusually uncritical of the French manufacturer as Red Bull were the earliest adopters of the Spec C engine, and were quite happy with it's increased power, feeling that it was a numbers issue that Renault could and would sort.

Toro Rosso were also on the move, the Kvyat move rampant on Twitter but also rumours of a Wehrlein move, now that he had officially cut ties with Mercedes. Silly season is always silly.....

One stop will be the preference of all the teams with a pit delta of nearly 27 seconds, but reports on the Hypersoft degradation indicates that it will be balanced on a knife edge. Of course, given the 100% Safety Car record at Singapore, look for the teams to try and take advantage for a reduced price pit stop unless, as is likely, it happens on the first lap, as the Softs show very little degradation. It was clearly Red Bull's preferred strategy to go one stop, as they still lack the last tenth or two to fight directly with Ferrari and Mercedes and Verstappen was fastest of all on the Soft tyre.

For the midfielder's starting on the Ultra's it offers a huge advantage, and Alonso in P11 was well positioned to convert this for McLaren, a points position very much on offer if he and the rest of the midfield can survive the almost certain carnage of Lap 1.

Turn 1 being essentially single file, all eyes will certainly be on Verstappen vs Hamilton at the start, as the advantage of nothing to lose was very much in the corner of the Dutchman, tempered by the fact that no one has ever won from the dirty side of the grid, never mind the large pool of air conditioning condensation dropped by the Safety Car (did I mention it was a Mercedes, haha) directly on his grid spot.... Stroll on the Soft tyre at the start and the only other break in the wall of purple in the bottom teams was the Toro Rosso duo starting on the Hypers...

Summary

Lights Out!!!! Decent start from Hamilton as Vettel got the jump for P2 as they careened toward T1. Verstappen was on it and positioned his car well, smartly blocking off the Ferrari as the first turns unwound. Behind, the rest of the top 6 followed safely through with no change and then Ocon and Perez got into it and into the wall went Esteban on the exit of T3. Ahead, into T7 Vettel got Verstappen by draining his battery and taking P2 just as the Safety Car was out to cover the Force India intramural carnage. On replay, Perez went into T3 with Esteban on his outside and with a wee twitch of the wheel from Sergio contact with Ocon was made as their front tyres clashed which sent the Frenchman directly into the wall. Alonso and Sainz into the points with the fallout from that and Sirotkin somehow with a deranged wing that was definitely going to require a pitstop. 
Lap 4 the Safety Car was in and the restart games were on, with Lewis catching the Ferrari perhaps a bit unawares. During the Safety Car interval, Verstappen was again complaining that he was getting "forced neutral" between gearshifts, which admittedly does sound a bit distracting. As they rocketed through the first full lap at speed, the gaps were already going out, with Vettel working hard to keep Hamilton within DRS as he had already missed his best chance to get by on the restart. 1:48 for Lewis on full tanks and he was gone, outside DRS as he hit S2 of the following lap. Behind, it was tight as Verstappen tried to tighten the screws on Vettel and Bottas and Raikkonen behind all were well within a second of one another.

Those gaps expanded as the next lap ticked over and then it was just Verstappen who was close, for a moment, before the engineers enforced a management phase no doubt mandated by the fragile Hypersofts hitting their limits. With the sharp end working towards a one stop the action had devolved to Hulkenberg, in P11 and on the Hypers, leading a train of Gasly, Leclerc, Ericsson and Magnussen all within DRS as Lap 9 rolled into the books.

With the difficulty of overtaking, the undercut game was very seriously on, and with the pit window for the Hypers opening on lap 10 all the top runners were on their guard. The biggest gap in the top 6 was Ricciardo, at just over 2 seconds off Raikkonen ahead. But the bigger consideration for the frontrunners was the traffic they would encounter with the long pitstop. Into lap 11 and looking back 28 or so seconds it would be P17 and a bit of a sit behind the Vandoorne on the Ultras for whoever decided to pull the trigger first. But the clever boffins had been clever and Hamilton reported plenty of life in his tyre. Or was it the opposite, as Vettel then was told Hamilton had said the opposite and Seb flatly replied "I don't believe them".

Regardless, Hamilton was into the 1:45's on lap 14 as Vettel let the leash slip, now 2 seconds back as he seemingly sought to maximise his tyre advantage. Ricciardo was the only one of the top 6 who looked genuinely off the pace, at 3.5 seconds astern of Raikkonen. Lap 15 and Vettel pulled the trigger on a pitstop, going for the undercut and he was out ahead of Grosjean with a gap to drive into, albeit with Perez to clear. Lewis responded with a fast lap and in he went..... tick tick tick... and out in front of both Perez and Vettel rocking a new pair of Softs.

Perez was rather nonchalant about being stuck between the two while ahead, not only was Hamilton making hay, but at the front with clear air, Verstappen was doing his best to claw back P2 as he had yet to pit and was driving into clear air at the front of the race. Lap 17 and Vettel was by into T1, but the damage was done, 4.5 seconds to Hamilton and making it worse, Verstappen was in... neck and neck on the way out and Max just edged him on the exit, with Vettel desperately trying to hold on round the outside of T3 and failing. Making matters worse, Ferrari had chucked him on the Ultras, which were on edge to make the end of the race, especially relative to the Softs that his closest competitors were running.

Confirming the bad news, Vettel radioed in lap 19 that he felt that the tyres would not last, and rather sarcastically enquired if anyone else was tight that he should no about, strongly implying Ferrari had missed Red Bull's move. In the midfield, the pit stops had started as well and the wash from that was Hulkenberg had gained a spot on RoGro, with all the one stoppers running behind Sirotkin, who pitted early under the Safety Car, and Stroll, both going long on the Soft tyre. Both Perez and Hulkenberg had chosen the Ultras whilst Grosjean had gone with the Softs, potentially a big advantage at the tail end of the race.

Lap 22 and Raikkonen continued to lead, though he warned the team that his tyres could go "at any time". His report made it seem as if he had gone through a graining phase and they had improved, but in he went but for a pair of Softs, based on the reports from Vettel, no doubt. Out behind Bottas with fresher tyres and about 4 seconds of clear air to run into he went, as Perez checked the team for putting him out behind Sirotkin, who was proving quite the obstacle for Perez.

Lap 25 and it was Verstappen, engine issues aside, slowly closing on Hamilton, provoking a touch of anxiety from the WDC leader that perhaps he HAD stopped too early. But it was the Perez debacle that was taking center stage as ahead of Perez, Alonso was about 1 lap from being able to clear Perez and Sirotkin with his pitstop, which would put him effectively P7 as small spits of rain were expected between T8-T11.

2 laps later Gasly's tyres gave it up, and it was just 2 corners for Leclerc to take advantage and rock by on exit of the bridge by cutting inside as Gasly locked it up and went wide. At the front Ricciardo continued to lead, but it was to be his last as onto the Ultras he went, having extended his stint to lap 28 and being well set to take advantage of his fresher, faster tyres.

Gasly was in and out on a set of Ultras, well behind his teammate as Perez continued to be bottled behind Sirotkin and Alonso looked well provisioned to steal best of the rest from the entire midfield. Sainz, 4 seconds back and potentially LeClerc also had the potential to take advantage as Perez began to whine incessantly about Sirotkin's defending as he saw he race receding into the massive gap ahead of the Williams driver.

Lap 34 and it was Sainz also well clear of the Sirotkin bottleneck in his pit window when Perez finally lost his mind and in a desperate bid to pass dove up the inside into T13 and plunged directly into the side of the Williams. Puncture for Perez and although Sirotkin did his best with his wounded Williams, Hulkenberg was quick to get round although the next obstacle on the road was the other Williams, driven by Stroll. Ricciardo put in fast lap the following 2 laps as he began to extract some performance from his Ultras, but the gap to Raikkonen was still rather large, albeit with plenty of laps to go.

Lap 37 and the fun was over, as Ricky Danny had to dial it back as his tyres hit the top of their windows. At the front, Hamilton reported a step loss in performance, with his engineers telling him that his tyres were actually on the cold side, meaning they had retained more life. More problematic, he was also onto the back of the train led by Sirotkin.

Gasly and the Toro Rosso's yielded within the regulations, but in a fit of glorious timing Grosjean had just attacked Sirotkin and as the red mist descended, they completely ignored the blue flages screaming at them from the side of the track. It was a multi-turn battle, and it completely opened the door for Verstappen, with Hamilton completely balked by the furious action that only ended when Sirotkin rather firmly eased RoGro off the track entirely. As they rolled onto lap 38 the damage was tremendous, Max was dead onto Hamilton as that battle had cost him all of his 5+ second lead. The silver lining for Hamilton, however, was Verstappen, too was delayed behind Sirotkin, crucially giving a bit of breathing room to the race leader.

Lap 40 continiued the rain of bad news for Perez, a drive thru for utterly losing his mind. Taking advantage of all the fuss, both Alonso, Sainz and Leclerc were in, with just Ericsson and Vandoorne to go, oh yes and Stroll. Barring any further acts of insanity, that put them the last of the points leaders, and with a nice tyre strategy battle to boot: Alonso on the Softs, Sainz also on the Softs and rolling the dice, Leclerc on the Hypers.

Lap 45 and Grosjean bore the full brunt of the steward's wrath, a 5 second time penalty as Sirotkin continued to be the widest car on the circuit, taking Brendon Hartley amazingly wide and fairly on the limit in terms of legality as he continued to hold up the Toro Rosso, which was on brand new Hypers and not wanting to waste much more time. The stewards were not impressed, and he was investigated fairly rapidly for forcing another driver off track. Not turning in now officially off the table in terms of defensive tactics as he racked up a 5 second penalty for his extreme efforts.

2 laps on, and a juicy radio message from Red Bull, as Verstappen cracked off a lap a full half second up on the race leader and his engineer told him not to bolt TOO early, although he allowed an occasional fast lap was not going to hurt their strategy. Ricciardo, too was once again dialing it up, closing in on Raikkonen, with a 5 lap advantage on tyre life and a full compound faster life looked to be getting a bit warm for the Iceman, as the final act of the race began to unfold. Plot twist, Ferrari then radioed Kimi to tell him to ignore the brake alarm, for the moment.

Bottas meanwhile had rocked up behind Hulkenberg, who was rather cleverly trying to keep him out of the blue flag zone as Raikkonen was closing from behind. That didn't last long as the first blue flag was waved shortly thereafter. At the sharp end, Verstappen continued to whittle away at Hamilton's lead, within 3 seconds with 9 laps to go. But Hamilton had responded even into S2 of the following lap, and by the end of it had reclaimed all of the gap plus a bit extra. Kmag, having been pitted for a set of fresh Hypers, set fastest lap by a rather astonishing 3 seconds or so, a powerful demonstration of just how much management was taking place at the sharp end. IT was Magnussens's first fast lap, and a nice present from HAAS, assuming it lasted to the end. Bottas, meanwhile, had just gotten the news that a 1.2 second gap was required before blue flags would be waved for Hulkenberg. Valterri was not happy, as he complained bitterly that he if he got that close he'd be off the track, the walls of the circuit complicating the dirty air picture to the point that 8 seconds was the standard for having clean air in qualifying.

Lap 56 and Bottas continued his radio offensive, saying it was unacceptable as his frustration mounted. Lewis had run his gap up to 6 seconds at the front and the only remaining fireworks was the potential for Lewis to catch Alonso before the end of the race, and Raikkonen to catch Bottas. With Bottas stuck behind Hulkenberg, Vettel had essentially switched off in order to get to the end without the need for another stop, and was 23 seconds off the back of his championship rival, a loss of an additional 3 points and a dagger through the heart of Ferrari fans everywhere.

2 laps to go, and 1.5 seconds between Raikkonen and Bottas. It was nothing doing though, and as Hamilton began his last turn around the circuit, the gap had changed not at all, another evil tease from the race gods. In fact, it was as much operational issues as a technical gap that was becoming the focus at Ferrari, perhaps the inevitable fallout of the unexpected loss of Marchionne at the helm washing through the team as the pressure mounted to take it to their rivals before their chances had once again evaporated.

Completely anticlimactic checquers then, as another cerebral chess match failed to appear thanks to Ferrari's attempt to force the issue. Less so for Formula B, where clear headed thinking at McLaren, or from Alonso, saw the marque take the palmares for best of the rest, helped enormously by the incredibly stubborn, and eventually pigheaded defending by Sirotkin. Also helping was the spectacularly bad call at Force India to pit Perez lap 17 with the Williams in his pit window, although it may well have been the fact that his tyres left them no real option. In fact, with a bit of hindsight he was starting to lose time to the Williams on lap 15, and Vettel's overtake at the start of lap 17 cost him nearly a second, and he continued to bleed time until he pitted at the end of his lap 17, when the damage had been done. With a bit of tinfoil, given they rock Mercedes engines one could be forgiven for thinking perhaps Force India were just doing a bit of a favour for their PU overlords.... But that's just crazy (albeit entertaining) talk and the truth is that Perez couldn't maintain the pace needed to make their optimal strategy work.

What's perhaps most interesting, and worth serious consideration, is that the tyres Pirelli brought created the strategic opportunities they were meant to, but only in the midfield, where those who started on the Ultras were able to convert by running long with good pace and switching to the Softs. One also wonders what might've been had the Renault Spec C not had its issues for Verstappen, given Hamilton's issues with keeping the Soft tyres warm. But with the number of races dwindling and his lead at 40 points, such things are quickly forgotten.

In the woulda coulda department, it is also quite interesting that for the second race running Ferrari had brought but a single set of Softs for each of their drivers, which went unused on Vettel's side of the garage. As tiresome (ZOMG I just DID that) as the discussion of tyres is, they were key to the race, and it appears that Ferrari have misunderstimated their needs 2 races running. Oh yes, and a wee shout for Magnussen, salvaging what little dignity he could for HAAS by grabbing fast lap as much like their parent team, they continue to struggle with inconsistencies that are robbing them of much needed points from the rapidly dwindling pool....


Discuss!!!

And remember to play nice in the comments!!

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15 Sep 2018
'Trumpets' Qualifying notebook - Singapore

Matt 'Trumpets' Ragsdale does a Hamilton and absolutely nails his qualifying report in double quick time
Ambient 29° Track 33° Humidity 70% Wind 01.3 m/s

Prelude

Night in the paddock at the Singapore Grand Prix is always a highly surreal scene. The artificial light creates its own universe, crystalline pools of light flashing off the liveries, suspending time in man made daylight, fierce activity and the short sharp bursts of pneumatic wrenches punctuated the pre-race homily as the teams delivered the final adjustments to the cars to ready them for battle.

Ferrari, specifically Vettel, crushed FP3, nearly half a second up on Hamilton and nearly as much up on Raikkonen, who was but a tenth up on Lewis. Mercedes was losing all the time in Sector 1, actually a hair faster around the rest of the track and they were struggling to find traction from the rear tyres, to the point where they had, according to SKY, abandoned warming the wheels in a bid to find that magic window where all the things worked for the full lap.

Hypersoft looked to be the choice for qualifying, fairly significant gaps between all the compounds, and teams looking to limit pitstops and maximise track position, as Singapore is a track that lends itself to defense over offense, even with DRS. Despite "good race pace" Red Bull suffered from a rather tragic FP3, struggling with drivability, and Verstappen, having apparently learned from Alonso, reported the "product in the back" as the source of their issues, along with a series of rather unpleasant noises. Grosjean was best of the rest, by a decent margin and there was nothing but a tenth between Ocon and KMag, just behind. Again the battle for the midfield looks to be the tightest, and at the sharp end it will be all in for Ferrari v Mercedes, with Vettel looking to have the advantage as qualifying rolled around...

Also significant was the movement of personnel, with Norris officially confirmed at McLaren and Leclerc at Ferrari. Of the drivers on the outs, Raikkonen had already found a seat (and possibly some team ownership, though rumours only at this point) whilst both Ocon and Vandoorne appeared to be losing out in the game of musical chairs currently being played in the paddock. Toto Wolff was rather vocal in his support of Ocon, accusing several teams of not honouring prior commitments, though without naming names. Of course, without a signed contract it's all a bit of sound and fury, but in this case it does signify that Mercedes continue to view Ocon as the logical successor to Bottas, though a full year out of F1 will do him little good.

Significant as well, in a rather hysterical way, was Ferrari's response to the FIA edict that their yellow ice bag would no longer be permitted to block the view of the FIA camera by sitting atop the airbox. In a very Formula 1 response, they engineered a complex machine to attach to the airbox that, quel surprise, entirely blocks the view of the camera, but does NOT sit atop the airbox. And when you're finished chuckling over that, consider that the strongest current rumour concerning Toro Rosso's driver vacancy is Daniil Kvyat....that's right, it's entirely possible that the Russian Rocket might be returning to the team that first demoted, than dropped him like a hot potato.... Never change F1, never change.

Summary

Green Light!! Grosjean and K-Mag were first out of the gate when the pitlane opened, followed by Leclerc and Ericsson. Traffic loomed as an issue, having been problematic for several drivers on their FP3 Quali sim runs. Raikkonen and Perez were the next to hit the track, and as Grosjean rounded the final turn to kick off the fun, Vettel was just onto his outlap, his car having been in a rather large amount of pieces between the end of FP3 and the start of qualifying.

RoGro continued his turn of form, ahead of K-Mag, clocking a 1:39.817, but it was Kmag making it all up in the last sector, and going to the top, a tenth up on his teammate. Raikkonen then surpassed the pair, and both the Force Indias rocked ahead of the HAAS pair, Ocon leading Perez on the timing sheets. Ocon into the 38's and just 0.378 seconds off Raikkonen's time, which looked to be slightly problematic for the Red Bull's and indeed Vettel, who came a rather insipid P4 on his first effort.

10 minutes to go and off went Hamilton, on the Ultras, not the Hypers, and the times reflected that, with Hamilton to P5 with a 1:39.717 as Bottas trundled around, having given up on his first go. Ricciardo then put it to the top, with a 1:38.153 whilst Vettel, having apparently been given permission to turn all the things up, rocked into P2 just a tenth back of the Red Bull.

At the other end, Ericsson, Hartley, Stroll, Sirotkin, and Bottas, who abandoned his first effort, were all on the outside looking in. Bottas got the job done fairly easily, up to P8 on his Ultras with Hamilton down to P10. RoGro improved to better than the rest, ahead of a confused sounding Verstappen, not sure where his pace had wandered off to, relative to his teammate (coincidentally, heading to Renault and not complaining about the PU)...

Minute to go and again the Mercedes were on it to and desperate to make their tyre gamble pay off. Bottas across the line, no improvement as the midfield hammered around in their own, private battle to move on. Hulk to P7, Hamilton P11???!!! Gasly P13 with Leclerc next to P11.

No improvement for Vandoorne, as last minute heroics from Ericsson put Kmag out of the running as Stroll drove off the track. P14 for Hamilton, and he sounded less than happy about Mercedes leaving him out on those tyres. Quite a gamble for the WDC points leader.

Off for some Curry Laksa went Magnussen, Hartley, Vandoorne, Sirotkin and Stroll, whilst the rest turned it round for Q2. Particularly loathesome performance from Williams, a frightening 1.4 seconds off the tail of Vandoorne, whilst Kmag was lost as to where his pace had gone on the weekend...

Raikkonen was first off for Q2, on the Ultras this time round. Contra that move, Hamilton and Bottas were both off on the Hypers, while Vettel matched his teammate and the strategic battle was on.

Kimi looked fast early on, but a bit wide he went in S2 and into S3 he went, still faster than Hamilton on the Hypers in S1 but having abandoned the remainder of his lap due to his mistake. Hamilton went P1, no surprise, with a 1:37.344 but the best Vettel could do was a 1:38.544 and on the radio, Raikkonen rather matter of factly pointed out what had become obvious, the Ultras were way too slow. To the pits they went as Verstappen, possibly with a bit of software massaging between sessions, now had some use of his engine and to the top he went, 0.13 up on Hamilton, with Ricciardo taking P3. Bottas was rather far off in P4, having made an error in his first effort. Hulkenberg had outpointed Ocon for best of the rest as HAAS had dropped to P11 and suddenly looked rather vulnerable.

After RoGro, it was Leclerc, Ericsson, Gasly and Raikkonen on the outside looking in, with Vettel on the bubble, and Alonso next up in the window of anxiety.

3 minutes to go and off Raikkonen was on his hotlap, now on the Hypers and purpling the sectors on his way to a much more respectable 1:37.194, P1 despite leaving margins round the tighter turns. Vettel, too, appeared to be playing it careful as he was slower than Raikkonen and it was a big helping of traffic he hit, costing him nearly half a second to his teammate, leaving him P5 and 0.682 seconds back...

Checquers and Bottas was improving and up to P3 he went. Leclerc to P11 as Ocon improved to P8. Alonso was next to P10 , then RoGro to P8, which knocked Alonso right back out. Gasly was last man on track, but it was P15 the best he could do. Off for some Tiger beers to drown their sorrow, while the creme de la creme got ready to tilt for the ultimate palmares of Q3.

Q3 and Ocon led the way, followed by Hamilton. The rest of the field wasted little time following suit, with Raikkonen performing a number of overtakes on the way, getting ahead of Hamilton by turn 14 to guarantee himself nothing but clear air. Ocon hit the line first, followed by Raikkonen then Hulkenberg and Perez, as Mercedes looked to need a rather slow lap to get their tyres where they wanted them. Much slower for Kimi in S1 than his previous effort in Q2 as Hamilton lit the board purple. Lewis kept the hammer down as Vettel continued to try and match him, but there was nothing in it as the Mercedes driver crushed it with a 1:36.015. Vettel was 0.613 seconds back but it was clearly not a happy lap for the Ferrari driver, as Verstappen plopped himself in between, going P2 with a 1:36.334. Bottas, Raikkonen and Ricciardo topped off the sharp end with Hulkenberg, best of the rest, the gap to the midfield a rather stark 1.2 seconds.

On the way into the pits, Vettel suggested he needed a better outlap, and perhaps a slower outlap, after seeing the destruction wrought by Mercedes.

2 minutes to go and it was a replay, with Raikkonen again passing Bottas and Hamilton to get in front before kicking off on his hotlap. RoGro, true to HAAS usual method, clocked his first time in the interlud and as the outlaps for the rest were on it was P7 for the HAAS driver, properly ahead of Renault and in a no-man's land relative to the rest of the midfield. Second time round, Kimi nearly matched Hamilton's time in S1 and then it was Vettel, suddenly lighting the board purple through S1 as Hamilton, finding no improvement, gave up his lap in S2, thinking his chances were perhaps done...

P5 for Raikkonen as Verstappen was on it, pushing Hamilton off the top in S2 as Vettel meanwhile lost time in S2 with a lockup. Verstappen was suddenly the last threat to Mercedes and it was Vettel under his heel, as the Red Bull driver slewed it through the final turn and took his chariot to P2. Completely unobserved, Perez stuck a massive thorn into the side of HAAS, as he snuck his now properly funded Force India into P7, 0.335 seconds ahead of RoGro. Looking at the fastest sectors, It was Vettel S1, Verstappen S2 and Hamilton S3. It was S2 that started the trend that sunk Vettel at the end, losing a tenth to his previous effort and nearly 0.4 seconds to Hamilton and the bleeding continued into the last sector where his best effort was roughly 0.25 seconds off. The championship calculus has swung once again and despite the brave statements of hurr hurr racepace, lotta thinking going on at Ferrari tonight as their entire presentation of qualifying made them look out of sorts and ill prepared. Between the UltraSoft gamble, which saw Vettel argue he had the pace to get through and Ferrari putting the kibosh on that, to the quibbling about the outlap in Q3, the pressure has come home to roost and it's clear that Ferrari are feeling the brunt of it.

On the bright side, with Verstappen next to Hamilton into T1 plenty of chances for shenanigans at the start of the race. With nothing to lose, the Red Bull driver will no doubt chuck it all into T1 off the start and the resulting chaos could well work to the advantage of Ferrari, despite their seeming penchant for self sabotage. What is undeniable is that Hamilton's lap was staggeringly fast, so fast that comparisons to years past flashed across the intertubes, 11.9 seconds faster than his 2009 time and well on 5 seconds faster than 2015, Singapore Sling excepted. What is also undeniable, is that Hamilton is absolutely at the top of his game as a driver and is feeling no pain.

Game on in the midfield as well, with the no longer illegal HAAS (they're appealing, so don't think THAT story is entirely done yet) now having the once again upstart Force India to deal with, after having had a waiver for the first half the year due to the lack of budget the Silverstone based team endured. IT's not all bad news as Force India will now serve as a foild to Renault, who were lagging 0.268 seconds off the pace of RoGro and the Force India's.

Toss in the possibility of a bit of rain, chuck in the ever shifting whims of the race gods and stir for what's shaping up to be a keenly interesting race tomorrow....

Discuss!!

Remember, Play Nice in the Comments!
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14 Sep 2018
2021: A vision of the future?..


2021 is set to be a bold new step in a different direction for Formula One, as it marks a distinct line in the sand between the 'Bernie era' and that of its new owners. With the bi-lateral agreements that tie everyone into the sport coming to their natural conclusion at the end of 2020 the future of the sport relies heavily on what comes next.

As part of this massive shake-up the commercial rights holder has seen an opportunity to make what they consider to be positive changes to the technical regulations and improve the abilty for drivers to dice wheel-to-wheel. A technical working group, headed by Ross Brawn has been looking at ways in which they can achieve this objective but also deliver a design that stirs the emotions of onlookers.

The first imagery of this vision for the future has landed in Singapore in the form of three concepts, which I'll dissect a little more...

Continue reading
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13 Sep 2018
PRIXview - Singapore

Welcome to the Singapore Prixview, where we'll get you upto speed with everything you need to know ahead of the weekend.

Formula 1's night race is 2 metres shorter this year, as an alteration has had to be made between turns 16 & 17, whilst resurfacing work has also been carried out around Turn 1, between Turns 5 and 7, Turns 15 and 17, and around Turn 23.

There are two DRS zones, the first detection point will be at the exit of Turn Four and the first activation point will be 53m after Turn Five. The second detection point will be 180m before the apex of Turn 22 and the activation point will be 48m after apex of Turn 23.

This weekends race stewards are:
DR GERD ENNSER
STEVE CHOPPING
DEREK WARWICK

Pirelli have opted for the Hypersoft (85-105 degrees) and Ultra Soft (90-110 degrees) at the bottom end of the range before jumping up to the Soft tyre (105-135 degrees).
This has led to some interesting tyre choices, as Ferrari go super aggressive, taking only one set of the Soft tyres into their allocation and nine of the Hypers. Meanwhile, Mercedes have been much conservative with three sets of the softs and only six of the Hypers.


So, what have the teams got to say about the challenge ahead?...

Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1
"Singapore has features that we’ve struggled with in the past. The short straights, the slow, tight corners and the bumpy surface all make the Marina Bay Street Circuit one of the trickiest tracks of the season for us. On paper, the track should favour the Ferraris, but the Championship fight is so close that predictions are almost meaningless."
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
"I really enjoy Singapore, the track has a lot of corners and is quite bumpy, but it makes it all the more interesting to find a good set-up for the car. The night race and hot temperatures really test you to the limit, for me Singapore is physically the hardest race of the season. I have been preparing for quite a while."
 Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1
"We are looking forward to Singapore, a track we believe should suit our package. You can never tell what the competition is going to do, but we know we have another few updates coming that should further enhance our performance for this race and also going forward."
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 team
"Mentally, it’s very difficult, as much as it is physical. It’s clearly one of the races where you need to be at your fittest in the season."
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
"The field is becoming very competitive as we progress through the season so we know we need to work hard to maintain the pace of development compared to our competitors. I’m looking forward to racing under the lights in Singapore and it’s always a fantastic weekend of racing for the fans."
Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso
"We knew the last two races in Spa and Monza were going to be complicated but, on paper, Singapore should suit our car a bit better. I'm looking forward to seeing how we go. I've been training for the heat, wearing lots of clothes and sweating a lot, making sure I felt much too hot and I will be doing that sort of training right up until the weekend, as well as spending time in the sauna."
Otmar Szafnauer, Force India
“I think Singapore is another opportunity to build on this momentum and keep scoring points. Traditionally we have always gone well there and both drivers enjoy street circuits. We have more performance to bring to the car this weekend with an updated aero package."
 Charles LeClerc, Sauber F1 team
"The circuit in Singapore will be completely new to me. I have done some simulator work on the track, but it will be a special experience to drive there in real life. It will also be my first real night race, which is exciting. I look forward to that very much. It is one of the most renowned and popular Grands Prix on the calendar, and it will be a pleasure to meet the fans there. The track looks interesting, and the city vibrant – I can’t wait for this race weekend to begin."
Paddy Lowe, Williams Racing
"The circuit requires high downforce and good mechanical grip, and is tough on the cars, team members and drivers. Mentally it is one of the toughest races for the drivers as well, with very little opportunity to relax over the course of a lap, combined with the heat and humidity they must contend with, even once the sun has set."


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