Analysis: Singapore GP – The one chance for another F1 team to beat Mercedes?
Vette, Ricciardo Singapore 2015
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Sep 2016   |  2:18 pm GMT  |  59 comments

Will this weekend see a team other than Mercedes win a Grand Prix?

Mercedes has had it pretty much its own way this season, apart from a blip in Spain, where the drivers hit each other on the opening lap. This weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix offers a chance for their rivals to take a win, with Red Bull and Ferrari looking to exploit any weakness in the Mercedes weekend.

Red Bull’s car should be ideally suited to the 5km Marina Bay circuit, while Ferrari won the race last year with Sebastian Vettel and benefits from an updated engine from the last race in Monza. Vettel is also a Singapore specialist with four wins and three poles. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished second last season at the F1 Night race and after his stunning performance in Monaco with pole and what should have been a race win, but for a botched strategy and pit stop, he starts as many people’s favourite for the event. But the execution will have to be perfect.

Sebastian Vettel

The race is all about strategy and there is always an element of chance, especially due to the inevitable Safety Car. Every one of the eight Singapore Grands Prix to date has featured a Safety Car for at least four laps. With Pirelli having brought the UltraSoft tyre to Singapore, along with the Supersoft and Soft, the softest tyres in the Pirelli range which cannot do the 308km marathon in one stop and add in one of the slowest pit stops of the season and you can see why the Singapore Grand Prix is always a strategy challenge.

Safety Car Singapore GP

The trick will be to get to the finish on two stops with the faster UltraSoft-Supersoft-Supersoft combination, but the latter has proved a poor race tyre on a number of occasions this season and it will be finely balanced. Another route is to try to one stop with the Soft tyres, which will be slower but the teams know them very well now.

The start is particularly crucial at Singapore as it’s very hard to overtake on this circuit and the field spreads out a lot over the opening laps, so gaining places on the run down to Turn 1 is vital.

Vette Ricciardo Singapore GP

The undercut is a very useful tactic here to gain places; you pit before the cars ahead of you, use the performance of the new tyres versus old and then gain places when they pit. We have seen drivers get podiums based on this tactic.

We’ve also seen a counter strategy work a few times in the past, especially for Force India, where they start on the harder tyre and switch to the softer one on later on. The danger with this strategy is being drawn into stopping too early by a Safety Car or an undercut attempt. Then you run out of tyre performance in the closing laps and are vulnerable to attack from the two stopping cars.

Overtaking is a problem at this track with the DRS zone between Turns 5 and 7 the only place to make a pass. Last year only 14 overtakes happened in almost two hours of racing.

Singapore GP

The Singapore Grand Prix in numbers
The Singapore Grand Prix is the longest race of the year in terms of time. The fastest race of the eight held since the inaugural event in 2008 came a year later when Lewis Hamilton won for McLaren in 1h56m06s, at an average speed of 99.323mph.

The 2012 Singapore event was the first F1 race to be held to the two-hour time limit in dry weather since the 1991 US GP, which was won by Ayrton Senna. The two-hour limit also meant the 2014 Singapore race was shortened by one lap and last year’s event hit that mark on the final scheduled lap.

That race was won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and it remains the most recent F1 victory for both the four times world champion and for the Scuderia.

Last year, Vettel also started from pole at the Marina Bay track, which is one of only two poles out of 52 Grands Prix in the V6 turbo hybrid era, not claimed by a Mercedes-powered car, the other came courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this season.

Since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, only Vettel and Hamilton have either won or taken pole on the Marina Bay track since Alonso won in 2010, with the two drivers alternating at the head of the grid in the subsequent five events.

There are a number of significant F1 milestones that can be reached this weekend. If a Mercedes powered car claims pole position, it will give the German manufacturer its 150th pole position as an F1 engine supplier, which is third on the all-time list.

Mercedes F1 Singapore GP

A Mercedes works team pole would mean Hamilton and Rosberg would set a new record of 58 F1 poles by teammates, which would surpass the current record set by Vettel and Mark Webber for Red Bull.

Hamilton can also reach his 100th front row start in F1, and he would join Michael Schumacher (116) as the only drivers in the history of the sport to achieve that milestone. At Ferrari, Raikkonen heads to Singapore looking for the 200th top-10 start of his career.

Rosberg will make his 200th Grand Prix start this weekend, which will make him the second German to reach that marker, the other being Schumacher, who made 306 during his F1 career.

At Sauber, Marcus Ericsson will also makes his 50th Grand Prix start this weekend, and he will become the fourth Swedish driver to do so after Jo Bonnier (104 starts), Ronnie Peterson (123) and Stefan Johansson (79).

Last time out at Monza, Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap, which was the first one the Spaniard had achieved since the 2013 race in Abu Dhabi. It was also the first fastest lap for McLaren since the Malaysian race in 2013, which came via Sergio Perez, and the first for Honda since Senna set the fastest lap at Portugal in 1992.


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Better odds than normal for this race with even Hamilton fairly attractive odds. Ricciardo has been priced shorter than Rosberg which is surprising, even when taking last year’s race into consideration.

Hamilton 13/8
Ricciardo 11/4
Rosberg 4/1
Verstappen 6/1
Vettel 8/1
Raikkonen 18/1

I can see a lot of money coming for Rosberg at those odds. Although I hear there is a chance of rain this weekend which will scupper his chances.


Rain during the race? All reports I saw were for rain every afternoon all race weekend, but clear during on track times.


Fair enough, I was just reading an article previewing the race and they mentioned there’s rain around over the weekend.

If it does rain I envisage absolute chaos what with all the white lines and drain/man hole covers scattered along the circuit!


The Merc’s took a dive last year at Bernie’s request yeah?


@ james…any chance you can post a story on the ‘mercedes active suspension’ being touted in the F1 press? Would like to know where the ‘loophole’ is within the R & R. Could you also post the results of the discussion that was supposed to have taken place in the teams meeting on tuesday regarding this element ?


If there is an ‘active suspension’ it’s interesting that we’ve just found out about it now and from a German source. Suggests to me (if it really does exist) Merc willing to not have it in 2017 now that everyone knows what it is and how it works.

Also, is this ‘active suspension’ the reason the Merc isn’t great at following through corners?

Is this ‘active suspension’ even a story from this year?

Big game on Friday James, el Kloppo just said Friday nights are a great night for football and we’re up for it. Perfect weekend. Football and F1!!!


hats off to Mercedes, impressive car they have built


Alonso’s win for renault 2008.
Sure he got lucky with the timing of the safety car, but this was a case of “making your own luck”.


“Sure he got lucky with the timing of the safety car”….

Errrr…mate, do you have any idea how that ‘luck’ was created? Go read about Singapore 2008…there’s plenty on it!


That’s what they wanted us to believe!!
Timing of the safety car was influenced to benefit him!!


And Alonso clearly knew all about it… He never once questioned why he was called in for a Pitstop at such a strange moment… The team were effectively gambling everything on a safety car that lap, and it turned out there was… Because they had arranged it!
Lucky nobody got hurt, because the subsequent investigation would have nailed that [Mod]


I Know. i would have thought the sarcasm was clear enough……..


I wont be surprised if Mercs win this one…Merc has improved there car by a lot from last year..they are able to drive in dirty air without damaging the tyres which was biggest issue last year


I think the major thing that would help them this year in Singapore is having the ultrasoft tire as opposed to just the supersoft as the option. They have been able to work the ultrasoft quite well (Austria, Monaco), whereas it still seems the supersoft is their weakest tire.


Would love to see Ricciardo get back the win that was so clumsily snatched from his hands by Redbull strategy not once but twice in Monaco.

That or see Seb have a repeat of last year.



Very good analysis as always. With the increased use of the Virtual Safety Car, though, rather than the Safety Car, I suspect that the unpredictability factor may be somewhat decreased.

Be interested to hear your thoughts, maybe even in a long article, about the move to VSC rather than full SC. Personally, I prefer the SC and the resetting effect it has.


Resetting effect great when dominant lead car is miles away and pulls pack back together, terrible when dominant car is behind and catches up with slower cars in front and just muscles through on restart

SC on Indy races are fun because cars are more or less equal, in F1 my opinion is not so much, Mercs will pass Manors anyway


Yes I was thinking of that

I know just the man to speak to – he thought of it!


James, has there ever been discussions in the paddock of having two abreast restarts instead of the current single file ones?

Would certainly bring another element to them considering they can be quite predictable and sterile.


Yes, they were going to introduce grid based standing restarts remember?


Thanks for the Slingapore GP full of stats.
However if the stats ment anything Lew and Ros would fight to start the race out of Pole Position, since it seems to be a curse for the pole sitter.

PS.: My anti-virus beeped yesterday when trying to access your site.


Maybe your anti virus was saying Hello 👈👉


Did you try giving it a cookie? 🙂


Have to research a bit, but i believe some driver always crashes in Turn 18[?] right before the tunnel entry.
So Safety Car / Local Yellow Flag is almost a certainty.

I’ll never forget the scenes when the Ferrari crew hunt down the Anaconda that bit Felipes Baby car xD


Not an anaconda….
Thats the ferrari boys attempt at a beer snake! Not a bad effort!


I saw one of those things snaking it’s way around half the Gabba earlier this year for a big bash game.
It’s was very impressive, even for Australian standards 👌


Didn’t massa get pole at austria 14? That makes 3.


Its says in the article the only 2 poles without mercedes power. Williams has a merc in the back.

Hoping for a good race but i think last year was a blip. Mercedes will walk it come sunday.


my mistake, i read it as the only two poles not from mercedes, as in the team


The Williams F1 is powered by Mercedes, not Martini.


I know it’s not strictly relevant to the topic, but I couldn’t help but notice that Sebastian Vettel is wearing a yellow tinted visor for last year’s race – I’d forgotten about that. A tiny detail, yes, but a good one. I’m always surprised for drivers that plump for a standard clear visor – a yellow tint helps to reduce glare and even mild headaches from those 1600 + beacons of illuminating energy.


The yellow tint as also been tested to show no real gains. They even tested it on Mythbusters to show it made no difference. So it must just be a preference.


“Marginal gains”


Some Singapore stats:

Been racing since 2008

i) Vettel 4 wins, Alonso 2 wins,
Lewis 2 wins

ii) So far, the only back to back
winner is Vettel with 3 wins

iii) In 8 years, five different teams
have won the race

iv) 6 out of 8 have won from pole
and most successful poles are
Vettel and Lewis with 3 poles each.

v) Vettel is the only driver on the
grid to have won on the street
circuits of Monaco and Singapore
in the same season >>> matter of
fact, Vettel has the record of
having won in the same year, all
the street circuits of Australia,
Monaco, Valencia, Singapore and
only missed out on Canada in

vi) So far, only world champions
have won the race and coincidentally, their number of wins is similar to their number of championships and that’s why I think Lewis owes Singapore another win.


Canada’s not a street circuit, so it looks like he got them all!


@ robby boy

Aah but it’s held on the street roads hence the name street circuit


When used for GP races in the late 1930s, Donington Park was described as a parkland circuit because it used private roads around a private house and farms. The same would apply to Oulton Park and many UK hillclimb tracks. GPs in Canada and Australia are conducted on similar roads in public areas which makes them parkland circuits.

The Monaco, Baku and Singapore GPs are conducted on public roads — ones where people drive to the shops — which makes them street races.

Query for the web editor: Is it possible to adjust the width of Name and Email boxes so that I can visibly type them in, please?


@ Phil Beesley

Thanks for the information


Having lived in Melbourne I can tell you the roads used for the Australian Gp aren’t ‘ parkland ‘ roads Phil.

They might conduct the race in the setting of Albert Park, which also encompasses a cricket oval and golf course but the race itself is conducted on roads used for everyday commutes so I agree with Feret in saying it’s very much a street circuit.


It’s our best chance this year of watching a better driver without Mercedes power and active suspension win a race.!!


I guess this active suspension story will be the flag to rally ’round for the bashers, for the next few weeks/months. *sigh*


KRB, if there was anything to it, then surely there would be an article on it on here?


To be fair, there’s a great article on it by Giorgio Piola on

Main points to take away are that it is fully legal, it’s not active but passive, and that it won’t likely be banned until 2018 at the earliest.


I have heard the “active suspension” thing is from an article a few years old.


@ Bob…. source?


Red Bull were using this tech’ when Seb was drIving for them. It’s a Newey upgrade, rather old now. Seb kitted the Ferrari out with it and since then it has been identified by Mercedes. I believe Lewis’ car first ran it at Canada this year, Rosberg received it on his car the next race – hallmarks of rush job! Lewis may have been trialling fitment to rear axle at Baku.
It is not active but passive although no doubt it will be manually adjustable to suit either driver or track.


With the benefit of hindsight, it was probably massa and his krusty the known comedy pit stop in 2008 that spelt the end of the refuelling era. It was very fortunate no fuel spilt out, with the hot engines and exhaust causing a fireball. Hydrocarbon fuel can burn at around 800c…….it is easy to laugh now at such a disaster of a pit stop operation, but it could have ended with a fireball on the scale of Jos the boss conflagration at hockenheim.

If you want to earn a potential high return, ask the local bookmaker what the odds are on the sc not making a cameo during the race – very, very high odds. As for the race, whoever can optimise their package in the oppressive jungle humidity with regards to engine and brake cooling will be in good shape.


I’d like to think RIC can come away with a win, but since Silverstone, the Mercs look like they are in another league further ahead. Think Silver will cross line first again.


It’s the best chance we have this year of watching a race that possibly could be won by better driver without Mercedes power & active suspension.!!


Yeah really…define better driver. Also what active suspension?


There’s quite few on the track.


Better driver = race winners without the Mercedes 2 second advantage.!!


(musical accompaniment)




Andrew, what has made you think Mercedes have a two second advantage.


They are sandbagging when the advantage is 0.9sec


Rosberg won nothing before he got into a V6 Mercedes. Hamilton struggled to beat Button. Now they are the best two drivers in the world.??? You work it out.!!


Rosberg won 3 races before 2014, and was only beaten on points up to then by Hamilton in 2013, and in his rookie year in a poor Williams car.

I don’t think anyone here is claiming Rosberg as one of the top 2 drivers in the world. He is very good in some driving aspects, but poor or average in others.

Don’t just go by actual results. Of course the car helps greatly in terms of the results they’re able to achieve. It has always been like that in F1, that the drivers with the best car don’t have that pressure to want to overdrive the car, as those chasing behind will have, from time to time.

So yeah, factor that into the performances they show, and for the performances of those in the chasing pack.

On the flipside, don’t totally discount the performances of Lewis and Nico, just because they have the benefit of the best car currently.

A reasonable observer of F1 can make educated calculations to account for the discrepancy in car performance, that sails close enough to total objectivity so as to be regarded as a considered, mainstream view.

Do that, and you will not go wrong.


Define better driver?

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