F1 Power Rankings: Singapore Grand Prix

We have six races left in the 2011 Formula One World Championship. Both the World Drivers’ Championship and the World Constructors’ Championship are all but wrapped up. With a maximum 125 points left to be earned by the drivers, Sebastian Vettel leads the WDC by 112 points. All Vettel has to this weekend is finish on the podium and he’ll clinch his second championship. Meanwhile, Red Bull leads the WCC by 116 points over McLaren. It’s a long way from clinched but it’ll be hard for Macca to close the gap.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)
The back-to-back World Champion is a good driver but his math isn’t on the same level: Looking to the championship, there is still some way to go. We are in a very strong position, which we deserve because we’ve been working hard and made few mistakes. As long as we come out of the next race with a bigger lead then we start with, then we have done a good job, so let’s see.”

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #2)
The best driver over the history of the Singapore GP is one Fernando Alonso: “I have always managed to make the podium in the three previous editions and my objective is to make it four out of four. A third victory to go with those of 2008 and last year would clearly be fantastic but I know that it will be very hard. At Monaco we certainly came very close to victory – without the final red flag I think I would have had an excellent chance to overtake Sebastian – but it’s also true that you can’t always guarantee that things go the same way.”

#3 Jenson Button (LR #4)
Is it just me or does Jenson really not have a personality: “It’s strange to have concluded the European season and still have six more races remaining. Personally, I love this end-of-year series of flyaway races – the circuits we visit are really diverse and, from a drivers’ perspective, they’re some of the best tracks on the calendar… Of course, for Singapore, we’ll revert to the slightly unusual European timetable to ensure that we’re as fit, alert and focused for the night race as we would be for any other grand prix.”

#4 Mark Webber (LR #3)
@AussieGrit explains what makes Singapore a challenging race: “The Singapore night race is a challenging one. The track is bumpy and although the 1500-odd lights do a good job at illuminating the circuit, it’s not like racing in daylight and that makes it tiring. It’s also the longest race of the year, running close to the two-hour time- limit set by the FIA, and the intense heat and humidity makes it pretty warm in the cockpit. You have to watch your hydration during the build-up to the race.”

#5 Lewis Hamilton (LR #5)
The ironic word in Hambot’s quote is “patient”: “”I love street circuits and I really enjoy this place – it’s almost two tracks in one: there are quite a few fast corners, which require good set-up and a bit of commitment, but there are also lots of tighter 90-degree bends, which are slower and more technical. You’ve got to keep it precise through these and just be patient, waiting for the tyres to bite before getting on the throttle. If you’re impatient, then you end up losing time because you over-stress the tyres and you over-drive the car.”

#6 Felipe Massa (LR #6)

#7 Michael Schumacher (LR #8)
Old seven-time really likes night racing: “I really enjoyed my first experience of Formula One night racing in Singapore last year and it was an interesting weekend to be working on such a different time schedule. Surprisingly, it worked out very well and somehow even fun to drive and have meetings in the middle of the night. The street circuit is good fun and quite challenging, and as an event for the fans, it is also fantastic as they can get so close to the cars around the city streets and see a real racing spectacle.”

#8 Nico Rosberg (LR #7)
Nico’s track description makes it sound more like a drag strip with turns than a race track: “Singapore is a fantastic city and I always try to spend some extra time here with friends after the race. The track itself is good fun to drive and a real challenge. The stop-start nature means you have to concentrate hard throughout the lap and it feels very narrow and enclosed, like a true street circuit. We’ve made a good step forward with the car in the last few races and I hope we can take advantage of that again next weekend in Singapore.”

#9 Jaime Alguersuari (LR #11)

#10 Vitaly Petrov (LR #10)
Comrade Petrov on special preparations for this race: “I don’t think you can easily prepare for this race. The conditions will be the same as we faced in Malaysia, and we can’t simulate these weather conditions back in England! I like the fact that we will be working at night and sleeping during the day; I actually think that in adopting this pattern I will be able to sleep more! The best way to prepare is to arrive in Singapore as early as possible to acclimatise oneself. It will be the same for everyone so I don’t fear this race, not at all.”

#11 Adrian Sutil (LR #9)
Sutil thinks the strength of his car is the opposite of what his car’s strength is: “The low downforce configuration of Monza did not really work that well for us so Singapore should be better. It’s the opposite of how it was before: we are now more competitive on downforce circuits, so we should be quite strong. With a good strategy I think anything is possible there.”

#12 Bruno Senna (LR #14)
Senna on the biggest adjustment he’s had to make this season: “It has been quite tricky getting used to the tyres. Everyone started this season talking about tyres, tyres and tyres but, as with most things, the more practise you can get the easier it becomes. Getting the most out of the Pirelli tyres is not easy; it’s a big learning curve, but it’s apparent there is plenty of potential to come (from them), so I hope to piece it all together in the next few races.”

#13 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #13)
Maybe night racing isn’t a gimmick but something special: “Last year we were quite competitive in Singapore. I made it into Q3, which is a nice memory – very different, of course, to the outcome of the race when I was lying ninth, but made a mistake when the tyres were quite worn and crashed… Singapore has a very special atmosphere, because it is in the city and it is at night. Night racing I must say gives me an extra motivation, and I really enjoy it a lot.”

#14 Sebastien Buemi (LR #12)

#15 Paul di Resta (LR #16)
Dario’s cousin on how to prepare for a new track: “Just the usual stuff really, working on the simulator and looking at on-board videos. I was there last year watching and walked the track, so I know the layout. But it’s true that Singapore is probably going to be one of the more difficult tracks to get up to speed on because it’s such a long lap. Also, with any street circuit you need to build up your confidence over the weekend.”

#16 Sergio Perez (LR #15)
Sergio is a bit more interested in sightseeing than racing in Singapore: “”I believe the Singapore city circuit could be a good one for us. Actually I have not raced there yet, but I did a lot of work in the simulator and, knowing our car, I really hope we can have a positive weekend there… Regarding the city of Singapore, I only had a quick look around during a stop-over, so I can’t say much about it as this was only a few hours. This time I will make sure I come early enough to discover a bit more about it.”

#17 Rubens Barrichello (LR #17)
The Stig’s former most-hated person on the corners of the Singapore track: ” I don’t really have a favourite corner as all of them are very challenging. Turn 4, for example, is a medium speed corner with some bumps on the way in that makes you double your attention but you can gain a lot of time there. As it is a long lap you need to keep the car and tyres in good shape as the last corner is a high speed one that determines your speed onto the straight.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado (LR #18)
Pastor, being the master of statistics that he is, points out that this will be his first race at the Singapore Grand Prix: “Marina Bay is a new track for me so I will need to work hard to learn it ready for qualifying. It will be my first time in Singapore and my first time racing at night as well. Everyone has told me it is the most beautiful place so I’m looking forward to getting there. I really like street circuits so I think I can be quick there.”

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki takes us behind-the-scenes in prep for this race: “There are a few obvious talking points around the race weekend – it’s a night race so all the drivers and teams stay on European time. In practical terms that means heavy blackout blinds in the hotel rooms, breakfast at lunchtime and our normal race weekend schedule all shifting forwards several hours to replicate the European race schedules. The heat is pretty hardcore for the guys in the garages, but I like it. Physically I have felt good all season and while it’s obviously more challenging in the humidity and heat of Singapore, it’s a good challenge and it’s what F1 should be all about.”

#20 Jarno Trulli (LR #20)
Jarno’s pre-race quotage about the last race was more interesting than what he had to say about Singapore: “I left Italy after what had been a pretty intense weekend for me and the whole team! On track I enjoyed myself all weekend and if I hadn’t got hit by Massa I think I would have finished even better, but it was one of those races where we pretty much gave as much as we could, so I left feeling good about how we’d performed in all the sessions.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock loves Singapore because of how well he runs there: “It’s great to be back in Singapore where I finished in second position in 2009. The Singapore Grand Prix is clearly one of the highlights of the year and my favourite track on the calendar. It really is an amazing experience and I just can’t wait to get in the car and drive through the streets of Singapore at night again. It’s great fun!”

#22 Jerome d’Ambrosio (LR #22)
Jerome returns to the place where he made his F1 debut… Albeit, it was as Friday practice driver: “I have very good memories from Singapore – this time last year the team gave me the chance to jump into the car on Friday for the first time. It was a very special moment – a key moment in my career. One year later I return to Singapore as a Formula One driver and having learned an incredible amount in a very short space of time.”

#23 Tonio Liuzzi (LR #23)
Liuzzi explains what it’s like to drive under the bright lights of Singapore: “With the lighting system at the Marina Bay Street Circuit it feels like you’re driving at midday so the fact that it is held at night doesn’t affect the racing. It would make things different if it rained, with the reflection of the lights in the water, but for us it shouldn’t be a big difference.”

#24 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #24)
Danny hasn’t realized that driving an HRT anywhere is a challenge: “”I haven’t raced at the Marina Bay Street Circuit before, although I was there last year as a reserve driver. But I’ve spent some time on the simulator and it looks like an interesting and fun circuit with a lot of corners. It’s quite a confusing track but should be fun. I like street circuits and am yet to do one with HRT so it should be a good challenge.”

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