F1 Power Rankings: Singapore Grand Prix

With seven races left in the 2012 Formula One World Championship, the F1 travelling circus has left Europe for races in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. The first race of the home stretch is under the lights on the streets of Singapore. McLaren have won the last three races, including at the slow and slippery Hungaroring. However, the three street races so far have been split between McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari. So who is looking strongest heading into this weekend’s race?

#1 Fernando Alonso (Last Race #1)
Lost in the one-stop charge to the front by Sergio Perez and the Hamilton win was that Alonso’s car wouldn’t hold together all weekend. He had an anti-rollbar mounting failure on the final lap of qualifying which relegated him to a 10th place start. On Sunday, he suffered suspension damage as a result of being forced off the track by Vettel. If the car stays in one piece on Saturday, he was likely to start on the first two rows which would have put him in the fight for the win. If he stayed on the road Sunday, he probably would have finished 2nd. He’s driving the wheels off that car this year. Now, it’s a matter of Ferrari giving him a car fast enough to hold onto the title.

#2 Lewis Hamilton (LR #6)
Old Louise Hamilton is making a late charge for the title and rates his chances well this weekend: “I enjoy the Marina Bay circuit in the same way that I like racing at the Hungaroring – it’s a darty track that requires you to really be on top of the car to get the best from it. It requires more finesse, though: most of the braking zones are approached at very high speed, and the walls are never far away. Factor in the heat and humidity and it’s a very challenging weekend.”

#3 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #2)
The Iceman looks back at the last two street races and thinks he has a shot at the podium this time out: “Monaco was not that good for us, but Valencia was one of the best weekends so far. Obviously, there is no reason why Singapore should be any different compared to Valencia. Like at every street circuit, it’s very difficult to pass other cars there, so starting the race as high as possible on the grid is a very important factor to get a good result.”

#4 Sebastian Vettel (LR #3)
Seb talks about some of the less obvious unique aspects of this race: “Singapore is one of the highlights on the calendar, because the atmosphere of a night race is amazing. I also like it because the track is really great to race on – which is partly to do with the fact that we race anticlockwise there… We all stay on European time for the weekend and because the race doesn’t start until 8pm, most of the drivers tend to get up around 2pm – it’s pretty unusual.”

#5 Jenson Button (LR #4)
Jenson makes the Marina Bay circuit sound like rush hour driving: You drive fast for a bit but you’re crawling along for most of it: “The Marina Bay track is unique – there are a couple of long straights, so it’s very fast, but all the corners are generally taken in second or third gear, so you’re trying to find the best set-up compromise – particularly as you need good end-of-straight speed for overtaking into Turn Seven. That’s the best opportunity for passing as it also comes at the end of the DRS zone.”

#6 Mark Webber (LR #5)
@AussieGrit also have some unique things to say about SIngapore the city and Singapore’s location: “I like going to Singapore, it’s clean and it’s safe. Everyone embraces the event, but I also love the fact that we have a lot of Australians attending, especially from the West Coast as it’s an easy flight from there. That’s quite unique.”

#7 Felipe Massa (LR #8)
Old Phil Massa talks about what he expects from the tyres and pit strategies this weekend: “Last year, the race was very tough from a tyre point of view and even though our car is quite different this year, I still expect a difficult race this weekend in terms of the tyres, when we will have the same compounds as last year, namely the Soft and Supersoft. Because this track is hard on tyres, I expect we will see more pits stops than in the past couple of races.”

#8 Michael Schumacher (LR #7)
Old Seven-Time talks about the challenges of actually running in Singapore: “At first sight, everything seems more relaxed because the action happens at night, but of course it’s not like that at all. The reality is that you have to work hard to stay on European time and in the right bio-rhythms, so that you can perform perfectly in the race – because it’s unusual to be competing at this time of day.”

#9 Romain Grosjean (LR Banned)
Grosjean just wants to get back into the car and do his job: “I haven’t got much experience of the circuit so far; my first race here was back in 2009 and that was a difficult weekend, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the car, learning the track a bit better and putting everything in place for the rest of the season. It’s another circuit, another race and a chance for me to get back out there and do my best.”

#10 Nico Rosberg (LR #10)
Keke’s kid mentions the 2008 race in which he benefitted from the infamous Piquet safety car and a delayed penalty for pitting while the pits were closed: “The city is fantastic, and I finished second in the race here in 2008 which was a great experience and has given me some really nice memories of this event. I really enjoy the Marina Bay track, it’s a street circuit with a difference and with the intense heat and humidity, the sheer number of corners and racing under the lights, it really is a challenge.”

#11 Sergio Perez (LR #14)
Most guys would be saying “FUCK YEAH! SECOND PLACE, BITCHES!” after the last race. Checo isn’t most guys, it seems: “I generally like street circuits and the one in Singapore is physically quite demanding, but I feel prepared for that. Also for our car it should be an okay track to race on. I am very much looking forward to it and I want to get in another good result for the team at that very prestigious race.”

#12 Paul di Resta (LR #12)
Dario didn’t win the IndyCar title this year which was the first time in his last four IndyCar seasons that he didn’t win. Anyway, Dario’s cousin talks about racing at night as opposed to the day: “You don’t really notice. It’s almost better than if you are driving during the day with cloud cover. It’s just something you get used to really quickly. The other thing is you arrive there and stay on European time, and the night becomes your day so you don’t really suffer with jet lag.”

#13 Bruno Senna (LR #13)
Bruno is hoping that Signapore is similar enough in terms of downforce to Barcelona that the car can run upfront again: “Singapore should suit our car because it’s a high downforce and load circuit and that’s where the car feels at home the most. Of course it’s hard to judge where we will be as others teams are improving all the time, but if we can score points in Monza then we should be looking to get further into the top ten in Singapore.

#14 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #9)
Nico talks about the physical challenges of the Singapore GP: “For me Singapore is the toughest race of the year – physically and mentally. I think it’s because there are 23 corners on the track and it’s one of the longest races of the year – always close to the two hour limit. So you certainly feel it after the race because of the high temperatures and humidity.”

#15 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #11)
Kobayashi Maru thinks that he’ll have some travelling support to spur him on in Singapore: “Personally I like the place. Also it’s not too far from my home country, and there are always a lot of Japanese fans. The track is quite demanding with a lot of corners, and mostly slow ones. In the past this kind of track didn’t really suit our car, but with this year’s Sauber C31 things have changed. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be competitive there.”

#16 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #16)
Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery talks about the unique challenges presented at the Singapore GP: “Due to the unusual circumstances in which the race is run, under more than a thousand spotlights, the teams and drivers have to think very hard about strategy – as track conditions and evolution are somewhat different than you would find in a normal daytime race… As average speeds are not very high, degradation should not be an issue if wheelspin is controlled out of the slower corners, which can lead to overheating.”

#17 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #17)

#18 Pastor Maldonado (LR #18)
Nothing particularly insightful from Pastor but he’s trying to invoke Barcelona which means he’s hoping that he can turn his season around this weekend: “The race is unique because it takes place at night and you have to adapt to the temperature change and of course the time difference because we stay on European time all week. The track requires high downforce which is good for us and it’s similar to Barcelona in terms of aerodynamics so this should be a track where we can show the potential of our car.”

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)

#20 Vitaly Petrov (LR #20)

#21 Charles Pic (LR #22)
Chuckie’s improving performance has moved him up by one spot in the Power Rankings. It may not last long as he’s back to new tracks: “We are back into unknown territory for me, which I’m really excited about. The early part of the season and Canada were the same for me, but I am happy with the way I have been acclimatising to new circuits and getting up to speed quite quickly. Singapore adds another dimension due to the transition to European hours, but it’s all part of the learning experience which has been going very well for me.”

#22 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock is something of a Singapore specialist: “I have great memories from this race as I finished on the points in the first year and on the podium in 2009. Every year it’s great to come back and without doubt it is my favourite race on the calendar. Over the last races we had some real potential in our package, so I’m looking forward to showing more of that and hopefully we can have a good result there.”

#23 Pedro de la Rosa (LR #23)
Pedro knows that slow tracks keeps the HRTs close to the rest of the pack: “I’ve never raced at Singapore but I know the circuit because of my simulator work as a test driver for McLaren. It’s a spectacular track and probably the toughest circuit on the brakes in the entire Championship besides being a very physically demanding race because of the heat and humidity. We should have a good performance as there are many slow corners and it is quite similar to Monaco.”

#24 Narain Karthikeyan (LR #24)
Narain knows he’s in for a difficult and physical race in Singapore: “Singapore has a spectacular atmosphere as the race takes place under artificial lighting. The Marina Bay Street Circuit is bumpy and very complicated. You can’t make any mistakes as it is a street circuit. Besides, it’s also very demanding physically because of the high temperatures and humidity.”

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