This weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix has a turning point feel about it for me. Like the first European race of the season, Singapore seems to have become a race which teams still fighting for the championship, or at the other end of the grid, trying to salvage something from the end of the season, bring significant updates to. It was in Singapore last year, for example that the Red Bull really kicked on a gear, the McLaren became a real contender.
This year’s championship is the closest for many years, with five races to go and the perfect result in Monza (from a championship point of view at least) means that Alonso and Button are now right back in it.
“The last few starts haven’t been like they were at the start of the year, when we were making good starts; the team are working on it and we’re confident we can address it in the future.”
But the view that it’s Webber’s to lose is based on the expectation that we will see the Red Bull car in Singapore again with something in hand again over its rivals.
The updates the leading teams bring this weekend have to work and have to make the difference; anything less could see them lose ground. But it will be very interesting to see whether the new FIA tests for flexi wings and flexi floors have knocked something off red Bull’s performance.
Certainly in Spa and Monza their optimum lap time plotted on a graph relative to the best was the lowest it has been this season. Was that just the circuit characteristics or was it the effect of the new FIA tests? This weekend we will get our answer. Spa and Monza were not optimum Red Bull tracks, but Singapore is.
Webber is confident, as well he might be; he was dominant in Monaco and Budapest. The McLaren looked a quick car in Spa and Monza, but it doesn’t like the bumps and that will be a handicap this weekend. Ferrari meanwhile has an update it is confident about and the feelgood factor from the Monza win is very strong. And then there is the imponderable of Sebastian Vettel, who if the car is dominant again, is quite capable of winning four of the next five races and turning everything on its head. But will he?
Further down the field, I would put a few quid on Williams to get a good result this weekend. This seems to be one of those tracks they always go well on – Rosberg could have won last year and certainly should have finished on the podium, but for a mistake as he drove through the pits. It’s an important weekend for them to take away the maximum they can manage as they battle with Force India over sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.