The race for the Formula One title has been neck and neck all summer but in Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards another World Championship with victory at Italy last season. His victory extended the Briton's championship lead over Vettel (who finished fourth) to 30 points, more than a clear win, with seven races and a total of 175 points remaining in the season.
The race was decided early, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel colliding at the second chicane on the first lap at Monza, damaging the Ferrari's front wing, and from then on Hamilton was in a battle with the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. He would eventually overhaul the Finn with nine laps to go, and from then on, he took what might be one of his most crucial successes in the long run for the title.
However, over race distances the gap clearly decreases between the two and it’s hard not to think that 7/2 is a big price for Hamilton on the evidence of the Summer’s racing. Hamilton’s race craft is as good as it’s ever been and his Mercedes team have outplayed Ferrari in terms of strategy consistently when the heat has been on.
Last weekend their decision to run Hamilton until lap 28 – eight laps more than Raikkonen - whilst Bottas ran even longer, until lap 36, to hold up his fellow Finn, thus leaving Hamilton within striking distance. That was the latest in a number of smart moves and those two elements have consistently kept the playing field much more level than either the odds on the qualifying results would have suggested.
Singapore ought to suit the Ferrari’s perfectly (and it should be said that Vettel fought his way back from 18th after fitting a new front wing to finish fourth in Italy) but the same was said of Monza and also before the race last year and in a racing situation the two best drivers in the two best cars have been separated by little on the track.
Last year Hamilton started fifth after struggling in qualifying but was leading within four corners after Vettel collided with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the start and the 7/2 for Hamilton to further his grip on the title looks too big at SugarHouse.
Force India (now known as Racing Point Force India F1) have been through the mill, but they continue to put their money where their mouth is regarding their results on the track and another strong weekend looks to be on the cards.
They will be bringing an updated aero package to the race that will be trialled through qualifying but if those parts don’t work out they will be using the same machinery that earned them 32 points from Spa and Monza.
They were sixth in the Constructors Championship before they lost their points and would have been higher had it not been for several unlucky crashes – but they have already earned nearly a third of their season’s total in just two races and both Sebastian Perez and Esteban Ocon finished in the top 10 at Spa and Monza.
Perez and Ocon both earned top 10 finishes here last year, showing that their car can thrive around the streets of Singapore, and the 15/8 on a double points at finish looks to be a decent amount of value.
When the Singapore Grand Prix started, it was a history making occasion on two fronts. It’s inaugural race was the 800th in the history of the world championship, and the first to be held at night under floodlights.
It has since quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar. the fast right-hand kink of turn six and the braking zone of turn seven put pressures on the drivers and the cars respectively, with an ability to ride the kerbs being crucial as well. The circuit is also heavy on tyre wear.
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