#30 - F1 2018 Singapore Airlines Grand Prix
Updated: Feb 24, 2019
The finish line to the 2018 season is fast approaching, Europe is behind us and now we turn our attention to the Asian leg of the F1 calendar, with 7 races left. With a 30 points lead, is it over or is there hope for the Vettel fans?
Before we answer this question, let us take a moment an reflect what has been evolving in the world of F1 in the past month and a half.
Charles Leclerc will be a Ferrari driver in 2019! It was the worst kept secret in the paddock, but now that it is official, I can't wait to see how the young Monegasque performs against Vettel. Kudos to Ferrari for taking the plunge into hiring a rookie driver. This shows that there still can be fairy tale stories in F1. Watch Youtube videos of him in F2 and you will understand the natural talent of this kid. This will be the person to watch out for in 2019 (unless Mick Schumacher comes along).
Kimi Raikkonen is completing the loop in heading back to Sauber (he started his career there). While a lot of people will be surprised by this announcement I am not. Here are my 4 reasons:
Firstly, Kimi has become a family man wanting to spend as much time as possible with his loved ones, which brings me to this: he lives 51 mins from Hinwil-Sauber City (just google it, everyone in Switzerland knows where he lives) therefore while the children are at school and Madame is shopping he can easily go to the factory.
Sauber is now backed by Alfa Romeo (Ferrari) such alliance is gaining momentum and will allow the team to regularly fight within the top 10 positions or even top 5 starting next season.
Sources tell me that Kimi is going to become a minority shareholder within the Sauber team as well.
Last but not least the dude still has the burning passion to race in F1 we saw that over the weekend in Monza and throughout 2018. The name and individual in itself is its own brand, he attracts unbelievable amount of fans all year long and F1 would lose a great asset if he would have retired.
Esteban Ocon, what a waste of talent. As much as I am a pro/ultra Mercedes AMG F1 fan, I have to give them a big red card. The Mercedes Young Driver program is simply killing talented drivers, their program is almost a scam. Two years ago, Pascal Wehrlein was in the exact same situation and now finds himself driving in DTM and will soon part ways with Mercedes in order to reboot his career. For those not familiar with the situation of Ocon leaving the team: Force India (Esteban Ocon's current team) went bankrupt and was bought by a consortium of investors led by Williams F1 Lance Stroll's father, its a question of days/ weeks until Lance Stroll will replace Esteban Ocon possibly as soon as in Sotchi in two weeks times or in 2019. One thing is for sure, Lance Stroll already had a seat fitting at the Froce India factory, so now it's only a matter of sorting the legal bit. Esteban will be left without a drive and no one is willing to take him. As the problem is that Ocon's association with Mercedes closes most of the doors for him to drive for rival teams. Right now, his best bet in staying in F1 will be as a reserve driver for Mercedes AMG F1 team or with Williams (but politics/$$$ prevent that). His performance during Qualifying in Belgium was unbelievable, even Vettel and Hamilton praised his talent. So how is that young talented drivers in F1 cannot stay?
I am very surprised that Williams F1 is not jumping on the occasion to seize a driver such as Ocon, Williams runs a Mercedes engine, they need someone fast to seize every opportunity to score points whenever possible. However, Williams business model is based on balancing the budget by hiring pay drivers. Next year it seems that both drivers will be Russians (current driver Sirotkin alongside Markelov), both brining in millions. I will be very direct and say that Claire Williams needs to leave the team, she hasn't demonstrated the leadership necessary to bring back Williams to its past glories and do not see anything improving. Ocon is the most recent example of how any strong leader thinking long term would seize such an opportunity.
Before we reach the final driver news, I would like to discuss McLaren here. For the past three years, every single year saw them adopt a radical change within the team. Starting in 2016, with Ron Dennis being fired from his position subsequently after a failed attempt on his part to gain majority shareholding of the McLaren group, but failed. Ron knew how to foster a championship winning team, he was a visionary and the genius in making McLaren great. In 2017, McLaren decided to abolish the engine partnership with Honda (where they had the exclusivity of the engine for the next 5 seasons) because of lack of performance and impatience they left to Renault. In 2018, Alonso decided to leave F1 altogether, rather than pursuing with continuity in the capable hands of Vandoorne (was part of the Mclaren Young Program), they preferred to terminate his contract and go for a new line up for 2019. So if we follow this trend, what surprise change will they make next year that will further widen the gap to the old golden era of McLaren. It would not surprise me that one day we have a Harvard Business Case Study on how not to manage a situation such as the one McLaren is in right now.
Finally, the Daniel Ricciardo story. At the end of the season he will be joining to everyone's surprise the Renault F1 team. I fully understand his decision, for the past two years he has manifested the desire to be in a championship winning car, emulating what Lewis Hamilton did by switching from McLaren to Mercedes. Renault F1, might not be at the forefront yet, but their progress has been significant and within the next two seasons we could see them emerging as a new title contender. As much as Red Bull gave him a good foundation, Verstappen presence and number 1 status was most likely weighing on him and the doubt about the Honda engine in the back of the Red Bull car further put more questions marks to his decision to stay with the Austrian team. I think it's a brave decision, even a gamble, but sometimes you have to risk it to make your dreams come true. Best of luck Dani-Boy.
F1 in 2021, not much has yet filtered on the next era of F1 that will debut in three years time until today. Behold the concept car proposed for this new era, the only question mark will remain on what type of engine will power these beast?
And now let us move our attention to the Asian Night Jewel that is the Singapore GP.
This is the country home to 15'000 lights illuminating the first F1 night race since 2008. Spectacular isn't powerful enough to describe this high downforce circuit, where the humidity and heat test the drivers physical and mental resistance within a street-circuit Monaco-style.
It is also unique among the F1 drivers & crew, as they stay on European Time, therefore, they wont see much of the sun during the 5 days they will be spending there.
Somes stats for you F1 nerds
Sebastian Vettel holds the record for most Singapore GP wins and poles (4 each), and has led the most laps in Marina Bay history (221).
Monza pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen has never qualified on the front row in eight previous visits to Singapore.
Daniel Ricciardo has finished on the podium at Singapore in all four of his previous visits with Red Bull – the only circuit on which he has achieved this – although he has never won at Marina Bay and he’s only ever led one lap here (in 2014).
Carlos Sainz & Max Verstappen will celebrate their 75th Grand Prix start
Another celebration this weekend goes to Nico Hulkenberg marking his 150th Grand Prix start this weekend, the 36th driver in F1 history to reach that number, but the first man ever to do so without ever scoring a podium finish (he’s now a long way ahead of second-placed Adrian Sutil, on 128).
Pole position is vital in Singapore. 7 out 9 last pole sitters have won from pole.
The Safety Car has appeared in every Marina Bay F1 race ever held, with 12 laps of Safety Car running last season (more than 20% of the entire race). Furthermore, Lap 1 accidents have caused a Safety Car deployment in each of the last two years. Prediction:
Downforce circuit,should suit Ferrari and also Red Bull. The big question mark is in regards to Mercedes AMG F1, historically this is the track that has least suited them. Thinking of the big picture and also to that Abu Dhabi final showdown. Lets say that it will be a Ferrari 1- 2, in order for Vettel to lower the gap with Lewis Hamilton.