With the European leg complete, Formula One heads to Marina Bay, Singapore for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.
As the drivers’ and constructor championships battle between Mercedes and Ferrari hotting up with seven races left, every point matters as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel go after their fifth title.
There are also some huge fights shaping up further down the grid as Renault fight Haas for fourth whilst 7-10th in drivers standing are still up for grabs.
Now, here are some major things to watch out for this weekend.
Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Number of Laps: 61
Race Distance: 308.828km
Tyres: Soft, Ultrasoft and Hypersoft
We could have a three team fight in store because Red Bull will be aiming to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes on a street circuit, which isn’t all about speed with its slow corners and bumpy surface.
Ferrari will be favourites given how strong their car is at adapting to various tracks but there could be a potential rivalry brewing at Maranello.
Kimi Raikkonen is currently the form man with 96 points amassed from six podium finishes in last seven races (only Lewis Hamilton has taken more points in that period).
Sebastian Vettel however is Ferrari’s title hope and has the better experience around here, having won four times in ten visits.
Just to add fuel to the fire, both Ferraris collided at the start under wet conditions last year and took Max Verstappen out with them. It was the first time in F1 history that neither Ferrari completed the opening lap.
With Ferrari potentially facing trouble amongst drivers, could any clash end up playing into Red Bull’s hand?
The Bulls have qualified in the top four for last three Singapore Grands Prix and with this track being similar to Monaco, expect Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen to battle for victory here if their power unit holds up.
Mercedes meanwhile have won three of the four Singapore races so far in the hybrid era, but have only taken pole around here in 2014 and 16, which both ended in an even number. Could that therefore prove ominous despite Toto Wolf talking down the Silver Arrows’ chances?
Either way, we are in for a tasty duel under the lights.
Racing Point Force India will be hoping to maintain their strong momentum here, after recording double points finishes in Belgium and Italy to move seventh in constructors’ championship. .
Momentum is something that Sergio Perez definitely has around these streets, having scored points on all of his previous trips here and with a new aero package coming here, he is expecting “to be fighting for a good amount of points…” again this year.
Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer is also confident ahead of the weekend as they try “to build on this momentum and keep scoring points.”
Szafnauer however is downplaying his belief in getting an instant boost from the upgrade, saying; “It’s never easy to introduce and understand new parts during Friday practice, but hopefully we can unlock some performance straight away.”
Either way, Singapore could be the Launchpad for a massive boost in Force India’s attempt to at least overhaul McLaren for sixth place.
McLaren have had a torrid restart after the summer break but Singapore could offer them brief respite.
Like Red Bull, McLaren saw a boost in Monaco although Hungary isn’t really comparable after a rain affected qualifying mixed the grid up.
Reliability however has been McLaren’s Achilles heel at these type of circuits this season, with Alonso retiring in Monaco and Vandoorne doing same in Hungary.
The Spaniard has acknowledged that issue in McLaren’s preview, saying; “The important thing for us to focus on is reliability, especially since Marina Bay street circuit should be better for us and our package, so we need to maximise our performance.”
If the Woking based outfit can overcome those issues then expect a solid weekend, especially with Force India now hot on their tail in the teams’ championship.
Missed any of the first ten race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend/s.