Hamilton and Rosberg set for their closest fight yet

2014 Singapore Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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At the end of practice, Nico Rosberg’s best lap time of the weekend was just two-thousandths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton’s.

In qualifying the pendulum swung almost imperceptibly. Pole position went to Hamilton – by seven-thousandths of a second. This on a circuit with one of the highest lap times of the year.

The 2014 championship contenders are heading into their closest fight of the season. Hamilton needs to keep chipping away at his team mate’s 22-point advantage and can ill-afford a fourth no-score.

But Rosberg knows from last year he can beat Hamilton to the first corner – and that could be the key to victory.

The start

On a dusty street circuit starting off-line is normally far from ideal. But the Singapore track operators work diligently to keep the grid clean.

This year as last, Nico Rosberg will start from second place on the ‘dirty’ side of the grid. “Last year I overtook Sebastian at turn one,” he recalled, “so it’s definitely possible to win from here”. To do that, however, he’ll need to make sure he doesn’t lose the position at turn three as he did last time.

It will be crucial sprint to the first corner for the two Mercedes drivers, for not only is overtaking very difficult around the track, but the lead driver will have the benefit of the team’s optimum strategy.

The Mercedes drivers may not have the fight entirely to themselves this time. A threatening pair of Red Bulls line up immediately behind them, and this weekend’s surprise package – the Ferraris – are also well-placed to exploit any problems for the three-pointed star.

And hot, bumpy Singapore is exactly the sort of venue that will expose any vulnerability. Hamilton knows that well – he was struck down with a technical problem while leading at this track two years ago.

Significantly, all the drivers will be able to receive information from their engineers on how to perfect their starts – something the FIA originally intended to ban from this weekend.

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The last two Singapore Grands Prix have been won using two-stop strategies. But Pirelli believes it will be quicker for teams to pit three times on Sunday, running the super-soft tyre for the first three stints.

“It’s going to be all about managing the tyres and I learned some good lessons in my long runs yesterday,” said Rosberg. However those lessons may not apply so well as the track was doused by a downpour shortly after qualifying finished, meaning another reset to the grip levels the F1 cars had been built up. And, unlike in recent seasons, there are no GP2 cars to accelerate the rubbering-in process.

Rosberg may have more to worry about than his team mate – particularly if the Red Bull drivers make better starts. Daniel Ricciardo says the team are even closer to the championship leaders’ pace than they expected to be.

“Coming into the weekend we thought that if we could be within two or three tenths of Mercedes then there was a realistic chance to stay with them in the race,” he said. “We actually ended up closer to them than we thought in qualifying.”

“If the start goes okay then it’s about trying to be smart and doing something with the strategy.”

A three-stop strategy may be fastest on paper but the appearance of the Safety Car could wreck those plans – and it has been required at least once during each of the six previous occasions this race has been run.

However a Safety Car period would give the teams some assistance with another of this race’s biggest challenges – fuel consumption. The stop-start nature of the track means this is one venue where the 100kg fuel limit will be especially tough, and the opportunity for a few slower laps behind the Safety Car would certainly be welcomed by some.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’46.9211’46.287 (-0.634)1’45.681 (-0.606)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’47.2441’45.825 (-1.419)1’45.688 (-0.137)
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’47.4881’46.493 (-0.995)1’45.854 (-0.639)
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’47.4761’46.586 (-0.890)1’45.902 (-0.684)
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’46.8891’46.328 (-0.561)1’45.907 (-0.421)
6Felipe MassaWilliams1’47.6151’46.472 (-1.143)1’46.000 (-0.472)
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.6851’46.359 (-0.326)1’46.170 (-0.189)
8Valtteri BottasWilliams1’47.1961’46.622 (-0.574)1’46.187 (-0.435)
9Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’47.9761’46.700 (-1.276)1’46.250 (-0.450)
10Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’47.6561’46.926 (-0.730)1’47.362 (+0.436)
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’47.1611’46.943 (-0.218)
12Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’47.4071’46.989 (-0.418)
13Nico HulkenbergForce India1’47.3701’47.308 (-0.062)
14Esteban GutierrezSauber1’47.9701’47.333 (-0.637)
15Sergio PerezForce India1’48.1431’47.575 (-0.568)
16Romain GrosjeanLotus1’47.8621’47.812 (-0.050)
17Adrian SutilSauber1’48.324
18Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’49.063
19Jules BianchiMarussia1’49.440
20Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’50.405
21Max ChiltonMarussia1’50.473
22Marcus EricssonCaterham1’52.287

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton28.207 (1)40.360 (2)36.994 (4)
Nico Rosberg28.292 (2)40.466 (5)36.880 (1)
Daniel Ricciardo28.437 (8)40.349 (1)36.951 (3)
Sebastian Vettel28.461 (9)40.536 (6)36.905 (2)
Fernando Alonso28.308 (3)40.369 (3)37.031 (5)
Felipe Massa28.355 (6)40.413 (4)37.127 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen28.332 (4)40.641 (9)37.197 (7)
Valtteri Bottas28.341 (5)40.622 (8)37.224 (8)
Kevin Magnussen28.407 (7)40.546 (7)37.297 (9)
Daniil Kvyat28.500 (10)40.922 (11)37.354 (10)
Jenson Button28.525 (12)40.861 (10)37.458 (12)
Jean-Eric Vergne28.516 (11)41.088 (14)37.365 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg28.561 (13)41.009 (13)37.670 (14)
Esteban Gutierrez28.660 (16)40.980 (12)37.693 (15)
Sergio Perez28.621 (15)41.123 (15)37.641 (13)
Romain Grosjean28.578 (14)41.365 (17)37.726 (16)
Adrian Sutil28.942 (17)41.287 (16)37.935 (17)
Pastor Maldonado28.972 (18)41.573 (18)38.017 (18)
Jules Bianchi29.151 (19)41.700 (19)38.589 (20)
Kamui Kobayashi29.458 (21)42.204 (21)38.563 (19)
Max Chilton29.421 (20)42.083 (20)38.876 (21)
Marcus Ericsson29.847 (22)42.895 (22)39.360 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes308.5 (191.7)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes306.3 (190.3)-2.2
3Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes304.9 (189.5)-3.6
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes303.7 (188.7)-4.8
5Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault302.2 (187.8)-6.3
6Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes301.5 (187.3)-7.0
7Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes301.3 (187.2)-7.2
8Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault300.8 (186.9)-7.7
9Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes300.7 (186.8)-7.8
10Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault300.0 (186.4)-8.5
11Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari299.7 (186.2)-8.8
12Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes299.1 (185.9)-9.4
13Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari298.6 (185.5)-9.9
14Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault297.9 (185.1)-10.6
15Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari297.6 (184.9)-10.9
16Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault296.7 (184.4)-11.8
17Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault296.1 (184.0)-12.4
18Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault295.8 (183.8)-12.7
19Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault295.7 (183.7)-12.8
20Adrian SutilSauberFerrari295.5 (183.6)-13.0
21Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari294.0 (182.7)-14.5
22Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari293.0 (182.1)-15.5

Over to you

Can Red Bull or Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes in Singapore? Who will win the all-important sprint to turn one?

Share your views on the Singapore Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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Image © Singapore GP/Sutton

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Hamilton and Rosberg set for their closest fight yet”

  1. I hope the Mercedes have a clean get away and then see team play at work where Rosberg protecting Hamilton until he retires as usual and then Alonso and Riccardo out smart a tired Rosberg and share the Podium all. This would make Mercedes change plans and order Hamilton to play #2 from now

    1. From now on as the competition gets tight.
      Massa fourth with a grumpy Vettel in 5th :)

      1. Grumpy?

        I know he blamed himself for not having done better.

    2. how about a change for once: rosberg jumps hamilton at the start but retires 10 laps from the end gifting hamilton the win.

    3. Formula Indonesia (@)
      21st September 2014, 1:14

      What about if the Mercedes led for 40 seconds and at the final lap, they tangle each other, and then 3rd – 5th place covered by less than a second

  2. Rosberg blew pole at turn 10, he made a mistake that was more costly than either drivers lockup, he was quite abit quicker than Lewis in sector 3 who made no mistakes.

    1. Rosberg forgot to use DRS when he crossed the line.
      Did you notice that? XD

      Anyway,you say a tenth of a second is “quite a bit”, how big two tenth of a second or bigger gap is?

      The qualifying in last race at monza, the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg was nealy three tenth of a second.
      Yes, he made a mistake at ascari -which is a part of S3- that cost him to loose one tenth or even more.
      But Rosberg didnt make a single mistake in S2, nevertheless, he lost more than one thenth.

      I know that you want to argue that Rosberg was quicker than Hamilton but his one mistake blew it up.
      Maybe that is true.
      But I think there are similar situaions that Hamilton was quiker but his mistakes blew it up.
      Well, how do you think?

  3. Damn. Alonso could have done a 1:45.748 if he had nailed his best sector times together.

  4. It has indeed been remarkably close between the Mercedes so far, but the third placed Ricciardo is well placed to split the Mercedes starting from the clean side of the grid. With no GP2 (which I thought was an effort not to embarrass the F1 cars after the underwhelming FP1 times), the lack of a Sunday morning sprint race will dramatically stack the odds in favour of the cleaner side of the grid.

    1. Will there be a big difference after that heavy rain ? I watched a replay from last year and it looked like p2 has the advantage as they get the inside line into T1. As long as Rosberg gets along side there will be little Hamilton can do.

  5. I predict a dead heat. 12½ points each.

  6. I hope for an interesting race and I suspect this could be the venue. The top 6 or 7 are all close, traffic will come into play, tires will come into play along with the pit stops, the tempered radio chat is another wild card. Fractions lost may add up regardless the team because of the setup of this track. Looking forward to it, which I have not had a chance to say much this season.

  7. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Mercedes take each other out in turn one, Ricciardo’s engine fail, and Alonso win ;)

    1. Either Alonso or Vettel. They are strong in Singapore.

    2. Formula Indonesia (@)
      21st September 2014, 1:15

      What about the Williams??

  8. Because mechanical grip is so important, tyre strategy will play a big role in the race. Without safety car, I expect most drivers to pit three times. The Mercedes strategists may have a hard time in the race. Should they cover the other teams, or should they stick to their own predetermined race plan? It will be very hard to keep the other teams at bay without giving one driver an advantage over the other.

  9. I hope both Mercs have a clean, fast start. There is a chance of rain tomorrow but I don’t know how much.

  10. If it comes to it will Rosberg cede T1? At how much overlap? This has to be in Toto’s dreams I think.

    1. Totos nightmares !!!!

      Whichever Merc is a wheel in front , the other has to yield , and get pounced on by the hounds behind ,
      If Lewis and Nico squabble over the first lap then it could be very bad news for one of them ,

      They need to help each other escape the pack then fight it out from about 1/3 distance .
      But i fear there may be a little tension so a racing incident may not be out of the question.

      Massive pressure for Merc

      Fail to win and Wdc gaps may close !

      No matter what bernie is doing to screw this up , this is an epic season ,

      At seasons start Nico was nearly $5 for WDC
      Lewis was $1.75

      They both now $1.09

  11. Really difficult and nervous race for the Mercedes drivers who have by far the most to lose. Putting aside the SC – more of a question of when it appears than if – and mechanical issues, the pressure may well mean we see another Rosberg venture into the run off. Another such moment appeared in this qualifying session, that’s after two similar incidents under pressure in the last race, the chicane incident in Canada, and, of course, the incident in Monaco qualifying.

    1. Might be getting a bit far ahead here ,
      But what of Lewis’ engine counts?

      Are we going to see merc select new engine and take a penalty on a power track that suits them ?

      Doing overtime making sure they got fresh engines for abu dbl

      1. Merc should pick a track sooner rather than later, perhaps Suzuka and
        fresh engine BOTH rosberg and hamilton for the last races. Both take the hit, at the same track. Merc have it in hand, let them race equally through the field.

  12. Qualifying last night was very close and exciting but once more confirmed my dislike of this circuit and its night time format, I think part of the problem for me is that the barriers make every part of the circuit look the same,
    ( so much so that it looks a lot like a video simulation ) and most of the corners are blind on the approach and we have to swap cameras mid corner to follow the action, that combined with the “point and squirt” nature of the track make it hard for me to enjoy, thank goodness the times are close, I just hope the tyres and multiple pit-stops don’t string the cars out all round the track making the laptime/position banner the most interesting thing to watch.

  13. Kimi crash on purpose, Alonso wins (deja vu 2008)…

  14. Wish they would change the first corner. It’s not very inspiring and drivers will inevitably cut on the first corner, leading to confusion of who lets who back passed and penalties.

    I’d prefer something along these lines:

  15. This race has potential to be the best race of 2014.

    The fascinating scenario I can see is that: If Red Bull wants to win it in pure pace, they must to focus in Daniel’s hability to conserve tyres – something Vettel hasnt.

    So, considering that Daniel will have one of those catastrophic starts, we could se Vettel giving room to him lately on the race.

    …fuel consumption. The stop-start nature of the track means this is one venue where the 100kg fuel limit will be especially tough…

    Help me guys: is allowed info about fuel consumption via radio to drivers?

    Because the pattern this year is Lewis always better that Nico on this field!

  16. Call me crazy but I can see RIC winning today and BUT getting up the field on new tires.

  17. I will be sorely dissappointed if Sky doesn’t play a Bond theme at some point during the warmup ;)
    (Ham catching pole by 007 thousands of a second)

  18. I expect a HAM-ROS battle at front, with RIC some seconds behind them. Then a bit down the road there will be VET, ALO and RAI in a massive battle for 4th.

Comments are closed.