Vettel can expect race-long pressure from Ricciardo

2015 Singapore Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Posted on

| Written by

Amid the elation of having secured Ferrari’s first pole position in a dry qualifying session in five years, Sebastian Vettel was quick to trot out the standard Saturday mantra of a Formula One driver: “It’s only Saturday and the main job is coming tomorrow”.

Vettel has tended to go well at Singapore, and today showed that’s only partly due to the nature of the cars he’s had to drive over the past few years. He’s finished the last five races here in the top two positions, and could claim his fourth victory tomorrow.

However the long-time Red Bull driver will be alert to the threat of the car starting alongside him. Daniel Ricciardo has not been one of the fastest-starting drivers this year, nor is the RB11 likely to trouble the Ferrari on the straights. But it’s performance over a race stint is superb, as Ricciardo demonstrated on Friday.

“They’ve been way too comfortable and too strong for a long time”
Previously this year that pace has allowed Red Bull to make up places in the race by pitting early to gain the advantage of the ‘undercut’, secure in the knowledge that they can run longer on their next set of tyres than their rivals without getting into trouble.

That is all the more valuable at this race, where the probability of a Safety Car period is high. There has never been a Singapore Grand Prix without one, though F1’s ever-dwindling grid means the risk is steadily getting lower.

Last year several drivers tried to eke out their tyres after a Safety Car period but ended up being mugged by those who pitted for fresh rubber – including, ironically, the very driver who had caused the Safety Car period in the first place.

Vettel, therefore, may rue the fact he doesn’t have his team mate starting alongside him as a potential buffer to the first Red Bull: Kimi Raikkonen was a huge 0.782 seconds behind. He lines up third, on the cleaner side of the grid, however that advantage is not as great as it was in the first few years of the race – a glance back at the pictures from 2008 and 2009 shows how much dustier it was off-line back then.

If you tried to design a corner which encourages drivers to cut it to gain an advantage, you’d probably end up with something similar to the first three turns at Singapore. But after years of drivers cutting the second turn to gain positions – notably Fernando Alonso at the start of last year’s race – this time drivers have been warned they must not rejoin until turn three if they do go off, ensuring they won’t benefit. About time too.

But where do Mercedes fit in to the fight for victory? Remarkably, this looks like being the first time they could lose a race on sheer pace since the end of 2013. Yes, they’ve lost races since then but not without some kind of mistake on their part: be it a driving error, poor strategy or reliability problem.

But in Singapore they just aren’t quick enough. In Monza Ferrari were far more competitive over a single lap in qualifying than they were over the race distance, and that may explain part of the difference here, but this is more a case of Mercedes losing performance than Ferrari finding it. The Mercedes were particularly weak at the end of their flying lap on super-soft tyres, but Lewis Hamilton feels they are also vulnerable on the harder compound.

Not that Vettel will be losing any sleep over that. “They’ve been way too comfortable and too strong for a long time,” he remarked after qualifying. “But I wouldn’t rule them out for tomorrow…”

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’46.0171’44.743 (-1.274)1’43.885 (-0.858)
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’46.1661’45.291 (-0.875)1’44.428 (-0.863)
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.4671’45.140 (-1.327)1’44.667 (-0.473)
4Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’45.3401’44.979 (-0.361)1’44.745 (-0.234)
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.7651’45.650 (-0.115)1’45.300 (-0.350)
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’46.2011’45.653 (-0.548)1’45.415 (-0.238)
7Valtteri BottasWilliams1’46.2311’45.887 (-0.344)1’45.676 (-0.211)
8Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’46.4831’45.635 (-0.848)1’45.798 (+0.163)
9Felipe MassaWilliams1’46.8791’45.701 (-1.178)1’46.077 (+0.376)
10Romain GrosjeanLotus1’46.8601’45.805 (-1.055)1’46.413 (+0.608)
11Nico HulkenbergForce India1’46.6691’46.305 (-0.364)
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’46.6001’46.328 (-0.272)
13Sergio PerezForce India1’46.5761’46.385 (-0.191)
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’46.4651’46.894 (+0.429)
15Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’46.8911’47.019 (+0.128)
16Felipe NasrSauber1’46.965
17Marcus EricssonSauber1’47.088
18Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’47.323
19Will StevensManor1’51.021
20Alexander RossiManor1’51.523

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel27.665 (1)39.945 (1)36.275 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo28.076 (9)40.108 (2)36.185 (1)
Kimi Raikkonen27.814 (2)40.148 (3)36.615 (4)
Daniil Kvyat27.925 (5)40.203 (4)36.412 (3)
Lewis Hamilton27.883 (4)40.319 (5)36.810 (6)
Nico Rosberg27.941 (6)40.590 (8)36.738 (5)
Valtteri Bottas28.037 (8)40.583 (7)36.869 (8)
Max Verstappen28.291 (12)40.476 (6)36.821 (7)
Felipe Massa27.875 (3)40.639 (9)37.011 (11)
Romain Grosjean27.979 (7)40.692 (10)36.966 (9)
Nico Hulkenberg28.200 (11)40.962 (15)37.140 (13)
Fernando Alonso28.315 (13)40.767 (13)37.030 (12)
Sergio Perez28.154 (10)40.765 (12)37.224 (16)
Carlos Sainz Jnr28.375 (14)40.715 (11)36.979 (10)
Jenson Button28.545 (18)40.927 (14)37.196 (14)
Felipe Nasr28.384 (15)41.365 (18)37.216 (15)
Marcus Ericsson28.422 (16)41.288 (16)37.378 (17)
Pastor Maldonado28.519 (17)41.331 (17)37.473 (18)
Will Stevens29.592 (20)42.833 (19)38.596 (19)
Alexander Rossi29.553 (19)43.027 (20)38.943 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes310.6 (193.0)
2Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes310.4 (192.9)-0.2
3Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes310.2 (192.7)-0.4
4Romain GrosjeanLotusMercedes308.8 (191.9)-1.8
5Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes307.4 (191.0)-3.2
6Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari307.1 (190.8)-3.5
7Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes306.6 (190.5)-4.0
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari305.9 (190.1)-4.7
9Pastor MaldonadoLotusMercedes304.6 (189.3)-6.0
10Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes304.3 (189.1)-6.3
11Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari303.1 (188.3)-7.5
12Felipe NasrSauberFerrari302.1 (187.7)-8.5
13Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda301.0 (187.0)-9.6
14Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda299.7 (186.2)-10.9
15Daniil KvyatRed BullRenault297.9 (185.1)-12.7
16Max VerstappenToro RossoRenault296.1 (184.0)-14.5
17Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault296.1 (184.0)-14.5
18Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault294.8 (183.2)-15.8
19Alexander RossiManorFerrari294.5 (183.0)-16.1
20Will StevensManorFerrari292.4 (181.7)-18.2

Over to you

Will it be Vettel versus Ricciardo for victory on Sunday? Can Mercedes win this from the third row?

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

2015 Singapore Grand Prix

    Browse all 2015 Singapore Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    59 comments on “Vettel can expect race-long pressure from Ricciardo”

    1. Vettel is very strong when he has clear air at the front, my guess is that he will manage to make a gap that will allow him to defend against an undercut from Riciardo.

      My guess: VET 1, RIC 2, HAM 3, KVY 4, RAI 5.

    2. Didn’t Mercedes lose to Ferrari on pace in Malaysia already?

      1. Nope. Check the race chart. It was like a funny game of “OK, I’ll let you have a 10-second lead and I’ll catch up… OK, now I switch strategy on the fly and let you have another 10 seconds and I’ll catch up… Ah, no,I’ve run out of time.”

        Merc planned to do the race on one more stop after pitting under the SC, but they underestimated tyre wear so switched to two more stops after already managing pace and nursing tyres (thus going slowly and allowing Vettel to pull an even larger gap) for a number of laps. They fell short by some 10 seconds in the end.

    3. You never know … Singapore always has SC and Vettel’s been rather unlucky with some Safety Cars, including this season. And on the contrary, Ricciardo has been really lucky with that sort of thing. Red Bull race pace and tyre deg might be better than Ferrari indeed. And if that’s the case, he might get an undercut and lose place. Raikkonen not being in between makes it all the worse, unfortunately for him. And Ferrari or Red Bull haven’t had the best reliability so far either.

      1. The reliability of the Ferrari is actually one of the best on the grid, apart from Mercedes. Vettel has only retired from a race once, and the only other issue was qualifying in Canada.

        1. Yeah but they had far more reliability issues than that. And some really problematic pit stops too.

        2. raikkonen had a few problems too during the season.

      2. Lol, bookies are taking bets on what lap Ricciardos engine fails. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Should be exciting no matter what.

      3. Ferrari and Red Bull actually showed much the same pace and deg on Friday. I think Keith’s not far off with the title here – Ricciardo should pound Vettel around Marina Bay, or – if he gets ahead – vice versa.

    4. I’ll probably get a lot of hate for this, but I hope Ricciardo wins.

      1. He will probably win. Since there will be a safety car.

      2. I hope Kvyat wins

        1. Me too. He’s every bit as good as his teamie.

      3. Nah, you’re right. I want him to win too.
        In particular because he is clearly a talented and strong driver but a lot of people tend to diminish his achievements last year saying that Vettel’s mind was not there, or was contemplating retirement, this things. These guys must be happy to see him struggle this year.

        I pay attention to this guy since Bahrein 2012. He is a class act. Hope he wins tomorrow. Don’t care for the rest.

    5. If vettel wins tomorrow, he will have won as many races as rosberg this year. wow.

      1. and as many as Senna when he broke the Williams pole streak. LOL.

        1. Was it really Senna? LOL OMFG that’s HILARIOUS! :D

        2. That’s some irony. Now Vettel doing what Senna did. When it was supposed to be all about Mercedes and Hamilton….

    6. Hoping Ric can put an audacious move on Vettel so we don’t have to see that finger again …

      1. @ Dan
        “we” ? lol
        you mean the royal we?

        1. :D Good catch.

        2. No. The proletarian ‘we’ who favour the Aussie charger over the sulky Kraut.

          1. Kraut? Wow. What do you have against Germans and what did Australians did so good then?
            Ricciardo over Vettel obviously has nothing to do with proletariat, but whatever.

          2. You’ve got a high salt intake there Dan.

      2. I hope he doesn’t end Vettel’s race.

    7. Guys, you forgot about Lewis-Senna story. Ham is going to win.

      1. With that sort of pace from RBR and Ferrari, Hamilton will need the helping hand of Senna to win. Atleast Senna’s soul should be sitting in Hamilton’s cockpit for inspiration.

        1. Or Senna’s soul might be sitting in with Vettel.

          Or maybe Rossi. The start of a legend…

          1. Apparently Senna was with Vettel as he pushed him to end the ongoing pole record from the dominant team as he himself did 12 years ago :P

            1. Sorry. 22. Wow. That’s a long time ago.

      2. It would be funny if Vettel won and surpassed Senna this weekend.

    8. I’m expecting Ricciardo to end behind RAI at the start and by the time he gets passed Vettel will be out of reach. Hamilton surely will be somehwere in the mix for a top 4 spot.

      1. I hope Ricciardo doesn’t end Vettel’s and his race :P

        But I somewhat expect Red Bull to get ahead somehow. Maybe an undercut or a safety car or maybe even the start. Less likely to be on track.

    9. Wow just wow..well done Ferrari and RBR. Just a pity I can’t watch it live, Damn you BBC ;)

    10. Hilarious thing by the way. On a weekend Mercedes was on course to their 24th pole position a la Williams (92-93) and Hamilton was all about Senna records, it is Vettel who smashed Mercedes and Hamilton records by getting the pole like Senna did against Williams. And if he wins, he will surpass Senna in terms of total victories in F1. That’s a bit ironic.

      1. “Hamilton was all about Senna records”

        Erm, how about no. Lewis only knew about the record streak because of the media reminding him about it every 5 minutes. The only record Hamilton said he cares about matching Senna with is world titles, and, even then he said its meaningless given Senna’s life was cut short. The same applies to Vettel bettering Sennas records. Infact, the same applies to any statistic in this sport where the car plays a major role in a drivers ability to set them.

    11. Well, that happened huh… WOW! WOW!!

    12. In all my time watching F1 since 1991, this is probably the first time I’ve wanted a Ferrari to win a race. Definitely warming to Vettel this season, the work ethic, the skill and saying all the right things when they needed to be said.

      As much as I’m a fan of Hamilton, I do feel he’s due being knocked down a peg or two. I believe that might be a British trait… we don’t like people to be too successful even if we support them!

      1. Well as things stand Seb has more wins and is more successful, so I reckon you’re jumping out of the frying pan into the fire on that one @johnrkh! :)

        Kvyat would be a lot of fun, and perhaps even give a bit of atmosphere at Sochi.

        1. I always see Kvyat like a “little Vettel”, dunno why.

          1. Except that he looks taller, no? But yeah, he has that same aura. Very interesting. Ricciardo and Kvyat are like junior Webber and Vettel for some reason.

    13. Guybrush Threepwood
      19th September 2015, 23:32

      Kvyat is over rated. The only time he has beaten his team mate this year is when Ricciardo has had major issues. Never beaten him in a straight fight.

      At least there will be no Mercedes to run Ricciardo off the road at this race ;)

    14. Button crash, Alonso win.
      Remember, you read here first…

      1. lol that would be great!!

    15. Start:
      Vettel gets the whole shot off the line.
      Kimi jumps Ricciardo
      One of the Mercedes (Rosberg or Hamilton) goes backwards due to terrible start

      Ferrari might split strategy between Vettel and Kimi, maybe 3 stop and 2 stop?
      Mercedes will struggle with tyres
      One of the Red Bulls will likely jump Kimi on strategy if kimi does a 2 stop.

      It should be a very straight forward race for Vettel but incase of a safety car his only challengers will be one of the Red Bull’s, more likely Ricciardo.
      If Kimi is behind Sebastian after a safety car, he will most likely be ordered not to overtake!
      I expect their to be a great battle for 2nd, 3rd, 4th between Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Kvyat, becuase Vettel will probably run away from the start unless a safety car is deployed

      Race Result
      1. Sebastian Vettel (Grand Slam)
      2. Ricciardo
      3. Raikkonen
      4. Kvyat
      5. Hamilton
      6. Rosberg

      This will be a thrilling race!! :) :)

      1. 1. There WILL be a safety car.
        2. It might not be a grand slam, because Ricciardo/Raikkonen might do a different strategy with supersofts in the end.

    16. Nothing about rosberg being mentioned after quali lol. Even when Mercedes are not performing well he is behind Hamilton

      1. No one’s talking about Hamilton either.

    17. People who said Ricciardo will win forgets that Vettel has a special affection with this track and it takes special drives from the other drivers to win.

      But with his pace, he’ll probably get his 3rd Grand Chelem for Singapore.

      1. Alright, 2nd*

      2. It won’t be a grand slam because they don’t have better tyre deg than Red Bull, and Vettel won’t have the supersofts for the last part in any case, unlike Ricciardo.

        1. He would as he saved a set as well.

    18. I hope one of the Toro Rosso drivers overtakes Rosberg or Hamilton, to make the weekend complete.

      1. LOL LMAO that’d be hilarious!

      2. that would fantastic

    19. I am really bad at predictions but i predict anyways. Here is my prediction, Riciardo and Vettel will fight hard and take each other off giving an opportunity to Raikkonen to win the race :)

    Comments are closed.