Five classic moments from the Singapore Grand Prix

The 2019 Singapore Grand Prix will be the 12th staging of a race that has become a gem of the Formula 1 calendar.

It may be a street circuit but overtaking is commonplace around Marina Bay, while drama is also plentiful in supply.

And just to prove it, we have five classic moments gifted to us by the Singapore Grand Prix…

Crashgate

Let’s begin with one of the most memorable moments in Formula 1 history, never mind in the 11-year history of the Singapore GP.

During the 2008 Singapore GP, the first staging of this event, Renault’s Nelson Piquet, Jr crashed out of the race on Lap 14.

It was a simple mistake said the Brazilian, and why would you doubt it? Perhaps because his team-mate Fernando Alonso was the only one to have pitted for fuel at the time of the crash and, with this advantage, Alonso went on to win the race.

Piquet would leave Renault in 2009, but shortly after an FIA investigation into the incident confirmed the allegations of race fixing.

Piquet said during the investigation that he had been ordered to stage the crash by Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds, and on 4 September 2009 Renault were charged with conspiracy and race fixing.

Briatore and Renault said that they would take legal action against Piquet, Jr for making false allegations before they faced the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009.

But, before the hearing Renault announced that they would accept the charges, while they also confirmed that Briatore and Symonds had left the team.

Ferrari’s disastrous 2017 race

Thunder, lightning and a bit of rain is nothing new in Singapore, but in 2017 it was for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The heavens opened just minutes before the formation lap begun to give us the first ever wet race under the Singapore lights, and it proved to be very bad news for Ferrari.

Running three-abreast down the straight, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen got themselves into a Max Verstappen sandwich, resulting in Raikkonen and Vettel colliding.

Raikkonen would skid back on track to finish Verstappen off for good and also wipe out Alonso, while Vettel soon spun again and went reversing around Turn 5 with no front wing – that was the end of his and Ferrari’s race.

It was quite the gift for Lewis Hamilton who went on to claim victory.

Hamilton’s ridiculous 2018 pole lap

Let’s stick with the Brit and his insane qualifying lap that put him on pole for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.

A blistering 1:36.015 saw Hamilton come out of nowhere to take his 79th pole from Verstappen, but that lap itself had many more layers than just a time for a P1 grid slot.

That lap was 3.476 seconds faster than the previous year’s pole lap set by Vettel, while Hamilton made an improvement of 1.2s from his fastest Q2 time to set it.

Hamilton first took pole at Singapore in 2009 – his 2018 effort was 11.876 seconds faster. Of course back in those days we had the ‘Singapore Sling’ chicane and qualifying was done on race fuel, but still, it’s mightily impressive.

Massa vs Hamilton 2011

After the pair had pitted Hamilton in his McLaren, the Brit set about overtaking Felipe Massa, but it didn’t quite go to plan with the pair colliding at Turn 7 when Hamilton tried to go around the outside.

The incident meant a damaged front wing for Hamilton, while Massa with a right-rear puncture dropped all the way down to P19.

Hamilton received a drive-through penalty for his efforts but finished P5, while Massa recovered to finish P9.

It’s safe to say Massa wasn’t very impressed with his rival, and although “attack” is a little bit of an exaggeration in the YouTube video, Hamilton was probably off the Brazilian’s Christmas card list for a while.

Massa’s crazy overtake 2012

Massa has had his fair share of incidents at the Singapore Grand Prix. The aforementioned tussle with Hamilton, the botched pit stop in 2008 being released with the fuel hose still attached and this quite frankly ridiculous overtake on Bruno Senna in the 2012 edition.

The Brazilian was forced to fight his way back through the field after suffering a puncture on the first lap and had to go to the extreme to get past the Williams car for P9 following a second Safety Car restart.

Through the narrowest (and we mean the narrowest) of gaps, Massa got the job done basically with his car sideways as he wrestled through with full opposite lock.

Talk about supreme control!

 

Jamie Woodhouse

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Five classic moments from the Singapore Grand Prix appeared first on PlanetF1.

It’s time for Red Bull to deliver at the Singapore GP

It’s over to Red Bull now to deliver on their confidence heading into the Singapore GP, but the momentum is with Ferrari and Mercedes.

Neither the Belgian or Italian GP’s were going to be a strong ally to Red Bull – Honda believe they are getting close to a par with the Mercedes power unit, but Ferrari’s output remains beyond reach.

So, they decided to take their penalties strategically – Alex Albon was forced to start from the back on his Red Bull debut at Spa after taking the new Honda Spec 4 power unit, while Max Verstappen received the same punishment a week later.

Ferrari maximised their straight-line speed advantage as Charles Leclerc claimed back-to-back victories, while Mercedes continued to show their solid race pace but just couldn’t find the extra horsepower to make the overtakes on such power sensitive circuits.

But, the Marina Bay Street Circuit offers a different challenge – twisty, technical, a demand for downforce and a solid chassis – this is a challenge Red Bull graciously accept.

Armed with the more powerful, low-mileage Honda Spec 4 PU, Red Bull hope to shine under the bright lights.

But, it hasn’t always been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Austrian outfit. Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin did their best last season to hold up Lewis Hamilton to the point where Verstappen could make a pass, but the Brit held on to P1 and went on to win with a comfortable margin.

In fact, Red Bull haven’t won here since Sebastian Vettel dominated in 2013, so Verstappen, or even Albon, in a clean race will be desperate to put an end to that baron run.

Hamilton actually recorded his 4th win in Singapore last season, putting him level with Vettel for most wins at this circuit, but the situations for both drivers couldn’t be any different heading into the 2019 event.

Hamilton heads into the race with confidence high – he is on course for a sixth Drivers’ Championship and minus a late error in Monza on struggling tyres, he made Leclerc work very hard for his first Formula 1 victories.

Vettel meanwhile is at rock bottom. His clash with Lance Stroll in Italy was just unacceptable for a four-time World Champion and over the past two races, which Ferrari identified as their strongest battlegrounds of 2019, Leclerc flourished while Vettel crumbled.

The Scuderia’s low-downforce approach is unlikely to serve them well in Singapore, but that doesn’t mean Vettel can hide behind it as an excuse, because as much as he claims he isn’t concerned by the persistent mistakes, even he will know within himself that he needs a stronger showing.

The top three had an unfamiliar challenge at Monza in the form of Renault. Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were mixing it up with the big boys throughout qualifying as Ricciardo went on to secure P4 on the grid.

As expected they couldn’t quite hang on Sunday, but thanks to a clean race and a gift from Vettel Renault secured their best points haul since 2008 with Ricciardo finishing P4 and Hulkenberg P5.

It would be a big surprise if the French manufacturer could keep up that level of performance at the Marina Bay Circuit, but their 22-point haul at Monza did wonders for them in the Constructors’ Championship, lifting them to P5 and putting them right back in contention with McLaren.

Speaking of McLaren, they need a good weekend in Singapore to get back on track. Back-to-back P5’s for Carlos Sainz have made way for double-DNF’s, while the team were fined €5000 for their unsafe release of Sainz from his pit box with a loose wheel.

Lando Norris remains cheerful, but P10 and a single point at Monza following his Spa heartbreak was still a little underwhelming.

McLaren simply have to get momentum back on their side in Singapore.

If not, then SportPesa Racing Point and Toro Rosso are starting to gather momentum as well and could yet make their life in the Constructors’ standings difficult.

Sergio Perez made it back-to-back points finishes with P7 at Monza to add 14 points to Racing Point’s total, while Dannil Kvyat was robbed of the chance to pull off a similar achievement after retiring from the Italian GP with an engine issue.

But the main thing is both teams are showing a marked improvement in performance, and that can be highly effective in a crowded midfield.

As for those going the other way, Haas are untouchable at the art of going backwards this season, at least Rich Energy have now, at long last, officially ended their relationship with the team.

Kimi Raikkonen is also going through quite the rough patch. Twice he brought out the red flags at Monza with a pair of Parabolica crashes, while in the race he started at the back with a new engine and gearbox, only to receive a ten-second stop/go penalty because Alfa Romeo went and fitted the wrong tyres.

“Well that was a sh** weekend…Looking forward to Singapore, as it can’t get worse.” Those were Kimi’s words, but all eyes on Singapore because you know how the saying goes, ‘things can always get worse’.

Finally we make it to Williams – George Russell’s performance at Monza offered further evidence that they are slowly making progress, but heading into the Singapore GP their concerning financial situation was laid bare after announcing a loss of £18.8m across the whole company for the first half of 2019.

Their decline to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship last season took a big hit on their prize money and sponsorship, and it now becomes clear just how badly they need to turn this situation around.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post It’s time for Red Bull to deliver at the Singapore GP appeared first on PlanetF1.

Kubica could be set for DTM switch with Audi

Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass has held talks with Robert Kubica’s management about a switch to DTM.

Kubica has lagged well behind Williams team-mate George Russell for the majority of 2019, and though he is still in contention for a 2020 drive with the team, Kubica has been looking at opportunities outside of Formula 1.

The Polish driver did a DTM test with Mercedes in 2013 which at the time put him in contention for a drive with the team, and Autosport report that Audi held informal discussions with Kubica’s management team as DTM headed for the Nurburgring.

When quizzed by Autosport on the rumours, Gass said: “[Kubica is an] Interesting driver for sure, for the DTM in general.

“It’s a bit early to comment too much into details of the driver situation for our factory drivers.

“But, if I look back, I think one of the differences [in Audi winning the manufacturers’ title this year] was that we had a very strong and balanced line-up.

“Every driver has been able to go on the podium or score big points, so it’s not easy to not continue without one of them at the end of the day.”

Gass admitted that he hadn’t held talks with Kubica himself, only his management.

“I personally have not spoken to Kubica, but I have spoken to his management.

“You start to see that the interest in the DTM is increasing, even in the categories that are supposed to be above the DTM, and I think this itself is a very good sign.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Kubica could be set for DTM switch with Audi appeared first on PlanetF1.

Ecclestone: Adding more races is devaluing F1

Former Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has said that the constant expansion of the Formula 1 calendar is only devaluing the series.

From 2020 the calendar will feature a record 22 races with the Vietnam and Dutch GP’s joining the fold.

Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel believes 16 races would be more than enough for a season, a figure which Ecclestone agrees on because he feels that adding more and more races lowers Formula 1’s value.

“It’s definitely too much,” Ecclestone told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Sixteen races are enough. The more races there are, the more the product is devalued.

“We have already experienced this super saturation in tennis. There are 100 tournaments, yet hardly 10 really matter.

“If there are only 16 races, the organizers have to pay more accordingly. And they will do it. Because their event would be all the more valuable due to the limited number of Grands Prix.”

2021 will see a drastic overhaul of Formula 1, but Ecclestone believes that the quality of races in 2019 is an argument for leaving things as they are.

“The last races were like Formula 1 should be,” he stated.

“If it stays that way then I do not see any problem with it becoming as popular again as it used to be.

“I see no reason for big changes. If so, then you would have to change something dramatically. For example, go back to naturally aspirated engines. But there’s no courage for that.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Ecclestone: Adding more races is devaluing F1 appeared first on PlanetF1.

Vettel: F1 will realise it needs the German GP

Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 will quickly realise that it needs the German Grand Prix.

The German Grand Prix was the only race to drop off the 2020 calendar which will feature a record 22 rounds.

The British, Spanish, Italian and Mexican GP‘s all secured extensions to their contracts which were up at the end of 2019, yet the German GP, which provided the most thrilling race of this season, was not offered a new deal.

This is something which Vettel believes Formula 1 will regret in the future.

Asked by Autosport.com what should be done to bring the German GP back, Vettel said: “Maybe nothing needs to be done.

“Maybe next year or the future will show that F1 needs to be in Germany, and F1 will start looking into it again.

“I think it is not possible for F1 to lose races in countries where there is a big history, like the UK, like Italy, like Germany, so it is a big shame. Probably it’s a money question.

“As I said maybe nothing needs to happen, and just realising that we need to race in Germany, we need to race in these countries, is enough to bring the GP back.

“I would hope so. In the mean time obviously we lose out.

“I just hope that wherever we go as replacements will have as good of a race as in Germany, with as many people in the grandstands, which I’m not sure is a given, to be honest.”

Vettel has already stated his desire to return to a 16-race season, not for the sake of him or other drivers, but instead citing the pressure 22 races will place on team members like “mechanics”.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Vettel: F1 will realise it needs the German GP appeared first on PlanetF1.

Steiner: ‘Racing like this kills you’

Haas principal Guenther Steiner admits that the team’s struggles throughout 2019 have been killing him.

This season Haas really have mastered the art of going backwards on a race day, and it’s a trend which they still haven’t found a fix for.

At Monza they recorded their third non-points finish in a row and the team believe their issues may be partly due to an inability to get the tyres into the right operating window.

Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have grown increasingly frustrated with their inability to compete during a race, and Steiner admits it’s a very bitter pill to swallow.

“At the moment this is our struggle,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com. “We will try to get solutions to it as soon as possible to see if we can better it. I think we understand, but I don’t know if we can get solutions this year.

“But racing like this, it kills you. Everyone knows how I like to race, and this is something [else].”

Qualifying pace has at times been strong for Haas this season, but for Steiner the frustration comes when all that pace goes away after a few laps.

“You go out with new tyres, the tyres work for two laps then the temperatures go down and you are done again,” he said.

“We are always so on the edge with everything that a little thing happens and we are gone. The drop off is not a tenth or two, it is drop off that can mean a second.

“We are so on the edge that I don’t know where we are. Just track temperature can make a difference for us, being in or out. So we are there or thereabouts or we are out.”

However, Haas’ recent experiments involving sending Grosjean back to the Australia-spec VF-19 have shown that the development throughout this season hasn’t been good enough, so at least Steiner knows now that their problems aren’t 100% tyre related.

“Since two or three races we know pretty well where we are,” he said. “Changing over to the Melbourne spec helped a lot to understand it and get the reality of where we are. That is why it was done.

“The Melbourne spec is as good as this [current] one. We know what that means: we didn’t make any progress, everybody else did.

“In the first year with the new regulations you have to make progress and we didn’t. That is where we are. That is why the car was good for testing and Melbourne and then we stood still.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Steiner: ‘Racing like this kills you’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

Mercedes expect Red Bull battle in Singapore

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff expects Red Bull to be their main rival at the Singapore GP, but hasn’t ruled out Ferrari.

Despite their best efforts the Silver Arrows were unable to derail Ferrari and Charles Leclerc as the 21-year-old claimed back-to-back wins at Spa and Monza.

However, Formula 1 now heads to the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and the twisty, technical circuit under the bright lights is expected to shift the balance of power back in Mercedes and Red Bull’s favour.

Wolff is excited to find out if his team are “demolishing” Red Bull at a circuit where the Austrian outfit expect to be strong, but Mercedes don’t want to write Ferrari off just yet even though the track is unlikely to suit their low downforce model.

“We knew that Spa and Monza would be difficult for us,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “On paper, we should be strong in Singapore – as should Red Bull be. Let’s see if we are really demolishing them there.

“But I have no doubt that Ferrari will have learned and will have a good package there, better than Hungary.”

Leclerc has stated already though that he expects Ferrari to struggle around the streets of Singapore.

“We need to stay realistic,” he insisted.”I think we expected that Spa and Monza would be very good races for our car but we also know that the next few races will be a lot more difficult for our car.

“It’s not going to be easy. especially Singapore. I think it will be a nice surprise if we are better than what we expect – but what we expect – is to struggle there.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Mercedes expect Red Bull battle in Singapore appeared first on PlanetF1.