Any one of five different drivers could be leading the championship after this weekend’s race in Singapore.
But while none of them can win the title this weekend a poor result could fatally compromise their chances with opportunities to score points running out.
The high-downforce track should reveal which of the top three teams is in the strongest position heading into the championship end game.
The key question this weekend is how much of an effect the revised floor tests introduced at Monza have on the performance of the Red Bulls.
At the last high-downforce track, the Hungaroring, the RB6s were 1.2 seconds per lap faster than anything else in qualifying.
On paper, Singapore was made for the RB6 with lots of slow corners and little in the way of straights. If they still have a significant performance advantage it will not only serve them well here, but at several other forthcoming tracks.
If it turns out that Red Bull’s wings have been clipped, it will be good news for Ferrari. They have the momentum at present.
Fernando Alonso has scored more points than any other driver in the last four races (although, had it not been for their change of positions at Hockenheim, Felipe Massa would be doing even better).
Singapore should also be a good track for the F10, which ran well in high-downforce trim at Monaco. Brakes take a pounding around the 5.073km street track and that is another of their car’s strengths.
Alonso, third in the championship, has always gone well here. No-one needs reminding about the circumstances behind his 2008 win but the fact remains he was very quick that weekend.
The same was true in 2009 when he dragged the uncompetitive R29 to a podium finish, setting the circuit’s lap record on the way.
McLaren, meanwhile, must expect Singapore won’t be an ideal circuit for their MP4-25: too many slow corners, too few long straights and too many bumps. Although the re-surfacing of the track since the last race may help with the latter problem.
Robert Kubica has played down Renault’s chances this weekend. But after their excellent result in Monaco, and knowing Kubica’s affinity with street circuits, expect him to have a good weekend.
This is the third F1 race under floodlights on the streets of Singapore. While few people seem to have anything positive to say about 2008’s other addition to the calendar, Valencia, Singapore has marked itself out as a distinctive and popular Grand Prix.
None of the fears about night racing raised before that first event have been realised so far. But it remains to be seen how good visibility under lights would be if it rained heavily.
If it does rain, or if the safety car is deployed, it could push the race duration up to the two-hour maximum time limit. Last year’s race with one safety car interruption took an hour and 56 minutes, and with refuelling banned the race pace will probably be slower this year.
Nick Heidfeld returns to race action this week and there’ll be a new name in practice as Jerome d’Ambrosio appears for Virgin. Fairuz Fauzy will also be driving in the first practice session for Lotus but Paul di Resta will skip this one for Force India.
Drivers to watch
Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.
Lewis Hamilton – Monza was a serious blow to his championship hopes leaving him with a lot of work to do on circuits where the MP4-25 won’t be at its strongest. But he’s gone well here in the past, third in 2008 and winning last year.
Robert Kubica – Was spectacular to watch around the streets of Monaco. A good outside bet for a podium, possibly even a win.
Nico Rosberg – Another driver who’s gone well here in the past: second in 2008 and on course for a great result last year until he fluffed his pit lane exit.
Nick Heidfeld – How will he fare on his return for Sauber alongside Kamui Kobayashi?
The Singapore Grand Prix on F1 Fanatic
Join us to follow the action live throughout the Singapore Grand Prix weekend including the race, qualifying and all three practice sessions.
Before the race weekend starts look out for our unofficial race programme with quick links to all the important information.
We’ll have analysis of the times during Friday practice and extensive coverage of qualifying and the race.
Remember to keep an eye out for our “rate the race” feature after every Grand Prix and don’t forget to enter our predictions competition to win great prizes including F1 tickets, DVDs, paintings and books.
Don’t miss any of our Singapore Grand Prix coverage. Get the latest articles from F1 Fanatic for free via Twitter, RSS or our email subscription service. Click here for more information.
Are you going to the Singapore Grand Prix?
You can also upload pictures and video to the F1 Fanatic drop.io.
And don’t forget to join in the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix discussion
2010 Singapore Grand Prix
Images © Renault/LAT, Toyota F1 World