With 2018 Singapore Grand Prix weekend now over, lessons will have been learned as Formula One now enter the home run.
Despite a dull race, some teams can take heart from their performance whilst others have some work to do to improve for Russia, so just what did we learn from Marina Bay?
With Marina Bay favouring Ferrari and Red Bull this was a track where Mercedes expected to struggle, yet Lewis Hamilton surprised everyone with his performance.
Although many are probably surprised by Hamilton’s performance, he has been right up there throughout the weekend, even if on different programme to Ferrari and Red Bull for much of practice.
Qualifying and race meanwhile demonstrated how Hamilton is able to overcome difficulties posed by the track to extract a strong result, even if aided by Ferrari seemingly bottling it which could be a concern given what happened from here on in this time last season.
One particular moment in which Hamilton impressed was keeping his cool when backmarkers failed to get out of way. That approach is a key quality of someone who knows not to throw away a hard fought win unlike Vettel who would of been ranting over radio about them.
Now the pressure is on Ferrari because if Hamilton finishes remaining races in second, Vettel must win all six if he is going to take the title away.
For Red Bull, Singapore has been one of their strongest races this decade and this year was no different as they notched up their 12th podium of the decade to extend their 100% record of having at least one driver on the podium around here.
Realistically this is a race that they could of won but strategy, backmarkers and Hamilton’s impressive pace ultimately limited Max Verstappen to a second placed finish, despite driveability issues.
Verstappen however “never really thought the pass would be possible” around this tight track so he has to be commended for wisely accepting the runner-up spot rather than risking a collision or worse.
With this being Red Bull’s last real chance at a race victory, there is no doubt that they have shown potential to be right there for a podium fight in future if Ferrari or Mercedes slip up.
Racing Point Force India will be disappointed with how this weekend has turned out after arriving in Singapore high on confidence and a new aero upgrade.
After a strong qualifying, Team Principal – Otmar Szafnauer rightly described the race as “extremely disappointing” because Sergio Perez had an unusual shocker by his standards.
First, he should of been aware that Esteban Ocon was going round the outside through turn three and left room rather than put the Frenchman into the wall. Admittedly, they have behaved since the events of Spa last year but for Perez to put his teammate out on opening lap is rightly “unacceptable”.
As for the Mexican’s mid-race clash with Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, it was a silly move because he should of waited and made the block a bit later when had been further ahead.
Anyway, that collision effectively finished Perez’s 100% Singapore points record and has left Szafnauer understandably angry with use of words quoted above plus “disastrous” in his post race reflection.
The team however should take some heart from the car’s pace as shown by Perez after pitting following his clash with Sirotkin and subsequent drive through penalty.
After a brilliant double points finish in Monza, Williams certainly had a nightmare under the lights of Singapore.
With Marina Bay street circuit favouring low downforce, both Williams cars have been off the pace all weekend with Lance Stroll or Sergey Sirotkin propping up the timesheets in every session apart from FP1.
Sirotkin in fact described it as more of a “survival” battle throughout both qualifying and race.
Qualifying was just appalling and instead of attacking each lap, Sirotkin had to “try and finish with as little damage and losses” which speaks volumes about the car’s ability.
As for the race, Sirotkin was doing a good job holding up faster cars including Perez till that collision so he should be praised for that effort, but if the car as he described was “falling apart”, Williams ought to of retired him and picked up a nicely timed free gearbox change for the final six rounds.
In summary, a race to forget and work is needed because no driver should have to describe their qualifying or race as a case of “survival”.
On a weekend when attention was firmly elsewhere, McLaren benefitted from Renault power to produce a quietly solid weekend with Fernando Alonso finishing best of rest.
With the top ten all having to start on hypersofts and pit early, Alonso maximised the full advantage of starting 11th to get himself into seventh and able to comfortably control his race.
Alonso speaking post race, was elated with the result and described finishing as best of rest as a “small win.”
Now, McLaren should aim to try and push on in remaining races because they have a decent chance at some circuits more than others unless rain mixes things up.
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.