Vettel braced for tough race as rivals pile on pressure to stop winning streak

Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix in 2011 and 2012

Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix in 2011 (pictured) and 2012

Sebastian Vettel will be confident of extending his healthy lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ standings in Singapore this week on a circuit that kick-started his imperious march to a third consecutive title a year ago.

In 2012, the German arrived in Southeast Asia 39 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso but drove a perfect race to capture the first of four straight wins as he sped past the Spaniard in the second half of the season.

A year on and the tables have been turned with the Red Bull driver boasting a 53-point advantage over his Ferrari rival and carrying plenty of momentum to a circuit where he will be seeking a hat-trick of victories.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is very much a Red Bull track and while Alonso remains hopeful of gaining ground on his title rival, the reality is that Vettel is likely to head to next month’s Korean Grand Prix with an even bigger lead.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the Italian GP

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the Italian GP

“It’s a very long race…the full two hours, so the race just seems to go on forever,” a cautious Vettel said earlier this week.

“The circuit itself is a killer because there are so many bumps, there’s no room for mistakes.

“I think it’s one of the toughest of the year to be honest, so to win is an amazing moment, and you feel [that] you deserve the champagne.”

Alonso can, however, take heart from the fact that he too has won twice under the floodlights in Singapore and claimed two more podiums and a fourth place finish since the race was added to the Formula One calendar in 2008.

His Ferrari cannot match the Red Bull’s speed in qualifying but has shown a tendency to perform far better in races, with Alonso often cutting a swathe through the field from a mediocre position on the starting grid to challenge for victories.

Fernando Alonso won the Singapore GP in 2008 (pictured) and 2010

Fernando Alonso won the Singapore GP in 2008 (pictured) and 2010

However, with just seven rounds of the 19-race season remaining, Alonso needs to add to his two wins so far in this campaign or a third world title will again slip from his grasp and leave the 32-year-old second in the standings for a third time since 2010.

“It’s a track I like and where I have usually gone quite well, getting four podiums from five starts, so again this year, I’m tackling the weekend in a positive frame of mind, with great confidence that I can do well again,” Alonso said.

The only other winner in Singapore, Lewis Hamilton, has made a smooth transition from McLaren to Mercedes this season and he and team mate Nico Rosberg will be banking on an improved performance from their cars to vie for victory on Sunday

Hamilton was unfortunate to miss out on a second Singapore victory a year ago, when a gearbox failure while leading from pole position all but ended his title ambitions, and this year’s challenge already looks over with the Briton a distant 81 points adrift of Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 Singapore GP

Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 Singapore GP

Mercedes struggled at the low downforce tracks in Belgium and Italy but motorsport chief Toto Wolff feels that there could be another shift in momentum as they challenge Ferrari for second place in the team standings.

“We expect the return to maximum downforce configuration to suit our car and we may see another shift in the competitive order between the teams,” he said.

“We will bring new developments to the car once again for this race and we are all focused on maximising the opportunities for both Lewis and Nico, in order to re-establish ourselves in second position in the Constructors’ standings.”

The tight, twisting circuit lends itself to driver errors and the Safety Car is often deployed and, although it has yet to happen in the five previous grands prix in Singapore, a seasonal downpour could have a huge bearing on Sunday’s outcome.

There will also be interest in Kimi Raikkonen’s performance after the Lotus driver was confirmed as Felipe Massa’s replacement at Ferrari next season, earlier this month. The Finn is returning to the team where he won a world title in 2007. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • KC

    Hamilton to take pole position, Vettel to start sixth after a gearbox change. Vettel will then win the race, causing all those who constantly bleat “Vettel has never won from lower than third” to conjure up some new excuse to denigrate him. “He’s never won from lower than sixth!”

  • Alonso_is_Slow

    Alonso’s picture above should have a big “cheater” stamp on it.

  • fools

    Troll still but hurt Alonso has 2 wins and podiums @ Singapore.

    Loser troll step off.

  • fools

    trolls and haters do not understand this…

    Alonso/His Ferrari cannot match the Red Bull’s speed in qualifying but has shown a tendency to perform far better in races, with Alonso often cutting a swathe through the field from a mediocre position on the starting grid to challenge for victories.

    This is what makes Alonso magical and the best complete driver in F1 today. Says the 2012 voting poleand Michael Shumi himself.

  • KC

    “Says the 2012 voting pole”

    I wonder what you’ll be saying after the 2013 voting poll?

  • Ukwhite

    Singapore? Time for another Piquet moment…

    Pitty, although Brazilian as Piquet, Massa can do only gearboxes and carpooling ;), having fan of course…

    Seb has lead 2/3 of the total time of Singapore races, naturally, we expect to come on top as usual. Poll, Seb or Lewis, race Seb.

  • pfft

    Prediction: Sebastian to start from sixth after gearbox change. Rages, throws tantrum, makes more racist remarks and threatens and official. In the race, gets a ahead if two cars thanks to pitstop strategy and stays in fourth until the finish…. behind a marussia that he can’t pass. Marko blames webber. Horner blames pirelli. Vettel sulks in trailer.

  • Mats Jacobson

    Alonso is a great driver, but make no mistake Vettel gets out ahead, builds a solid lead and then brings it home with no big risks. Who was it that said it is all about “winning at the slowest speed possible”. In order to finish first, you must first finish!

    Mat

  • CK

    So… Both Alonso and Hamilton won in 2008? Didn’t know that…

  • lawl

    @fools

    “This is what makes Alonso magical and the best complete driver in F1 today.”

    What exactly? winning with crashgate?. Duh. Retarded alonslow fans.

  • Butterfly

    fools:

    I don’t think there has ever been a racing driver to have such mindshare as Alonso does. It’s kind of scary. All the trolls are talking about him, all the time.

    Regarding Singapore, Fernando will do his thing and probably get on the podium even with that POS F138.

    You know, I’ve been reading various posts this week about Kimi vs Fernando, and most people seem to think Kimi’s going to outscore FA. Right.

    If I take Singapore alone as the place to test these two, FA would probably finish 30s ahead of Kimi.

    Didn’t Raikkonen crash his Ferrari in 2009 at Singapore for no reason? I guess those walls scared him.

    Alonso_is_Slow:

    If by cheater you mean he scares the living bejesus out of Hamilton and Raikkonen, then yes, Alonso is a cheater.
    I remember how scared Vettel was when asked if Alonso will join him at RBR in 2014. Marko jumped in and signed Ricciardo to protect the poor kid (i.e., Vettel).

    Ukwhite:

    I doubt we’ll have another Piquet moment, since Piquet is not in F1 anymore.

    lawl:

    I don’t feel retarded, to be honest.

  • fools

    Alonso for the 2013 WDC!