This time Vettel must grab his chance to take points lead

2017 Singapore Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Hamilton must seize his chance to take points lead,” was the headline for this article two weeks ago ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver duly capitalised on his opportunity to move to the top of the points table at a track which suited Mercedes. Now Sebastian Vettel has to do the same at a circuit which flatters the Ferrari.

Singapore GP qualifying in pictures
The Red Bull looks great here too, and it’s from there which Vettel’s biggest threat will surely come in the race. The grid is framed like a repeat of 2015, but this time Vettel faces an even stronger Red Bull contingent with both its cars immediately behind him.

In that race Red Bull expected to be stronger during a stint but never got to exploit that potential as Vettel was able to make both his pit stops during Safety Car periods. However this year Pirelli expect drivers will only need to make a single stop.

The tyre manufacturer suggests that the rate of degradation on the ultra-soft will determine how early the drivers make their first stop and that in turn will influence whether they opt for super-softs or more durable softs. But of course the circumstances of the race are bound to have an effect.

That includes the possibility of a Safety Car appearance. But while this race have never gone the distance without one, last year the Safety Car was never seen after lap two.

A common theme this year has been that as the six quickest cars draw away from the slower runners it create a substantial gap for the leaders to make their pit stops. If Vettel is ahead, will he may have to take the first opportunity to pit and come out in clear air even if it means coming in early and worry about the subsequent tyre degradation later.

However if the top three hold their positions at the start, as they did in the last two races here, Red Bull could have the option to attack Vettel by bringing one driver in aggressively early and leaving the other out late.

“If we get the start right tomorrow then we can put some pressure on him through our strategy,” observed Daniel Ricciardo after being disappointed to miss out on a front row start. ” still believe we have a good chance to win this race.”

For Lewis Hamilton the race will be a question of taking whatever opportunities arise and minimising the likely losses to Vettel in the championship fight.

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While Vettel has two Red Bulls to resist at the front, Nico Hulkenberg is in a similar situation with respect to the two McLarens, who he was very pleased to beat to seventh place. He’s not had a great record here recently, however: Last year he failed to make it to turn one and the year before that he was eliminated in a collision with Felipe Massa.

This should be McLaren’s best chance of getting a big points haul in the second half of the year but Fernando Alonso is wary about the long stints expected. “Yesterday’s long runs were not long enough,” he noted. “Added to the difficulty of overtaking on this track, positions will be more or less set after the first lap.”

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’43.336 1’40.529 (-2.807) 1’39.491 (-1.038)
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’42.010 1’40.332 (-1.678) 1’39.814 (-0.518)
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1’42.063 1’40.385 (-1.678) 1’39.840 (-0.545)
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’43.328 1’40.525 (-2.803) 1’40.069 (-0.456)
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’42.455 1’40.577 (-1.878) 1’40.126 (-0.451)
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’43.137 1’41.409 (-1.728) 1’40.810 (-0.599)
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’42.586 1’41.277 (-1.309) 1’41.013 (-0.264)
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1’42.086 1’41.442 (-0.644) 1’41.179 (-0.263)
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1’42.222 1’41.227 (-0.995) 1’41.398 (+0.171)
10 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso 1’42.176 1’41.826 (-0.350) 1’42.056 (+0.230)
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’42.472 1’42.107 (-0.365)
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1’43.594 1’42.246 (-1.348)
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’42.544 1’42.338 (-0.206)
14 Esteban Ocon Force India 1’43.626 1’42.760 (-0.866)
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1’43.627 1’43.883 (+0.256)
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’43.756
17 Felipe Massa Williams 1’44.014
18 Lance Stroll Williams 1’44.728
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1’45.059
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1’45.570

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 26.751 (1) 38.344 (1) 34.396 (3)
Max Verstappen 26.978 (4) 38.362 (3) 34.356 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo 27.002 (5) 38.357 (2) 34.350 (1)
Kimi Raikkonen 26.782 (2) 38.512 (4) 34.660 (6)
Lewis Hamilton 26.937 (3) 38.563 (5) 34.599 (5)
Valtteri Bottas 27.116 (6) 38.845 (7) 34.764 (7)
Nico Hulkenberg 27.564 (12) 38.741 (6) 34.591 (4)
Fernando Alonso 27.352 (8) 39.015 (9) 34.806 (8)
Stoffel Vandoorne 27.290 (7) 38.982 (8) 34.898 (9)
Carlos Sainz Jnr 27.453 (9) 39.059 (10) 35.011 (10)
Sergio Perez 27.476 (10) 39.337 (12) 35.433 (13)
Daniil Kvyat 27.504 (11) 39.311 (11) 35.252 (12)
Esteban Ocon 27.617 (13) 39.728 (13) 35.246 (11)
Romain Grosjean 27.702 (14) 39.866 (15) 35.717 (14)
Kevin Magnussen 27.790 (15) 39.971 (16) 35.995 (15)
Felipe Massa 27.867 (16) 39.728 (13) 36.419 (18)
Lance Stroll 28.112 (17) 40.161 (17) 36.174 (16)
Pascal Wehrlein 28.408 (19) 40.460 (18) 36.191 (17)
Marcus Ericsson 28.374 (18) 40.634 (19) 36.562 (19)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 308.3 (191.6)
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 308.0 (191.4) -0.3
3 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 307.7 (191.2) -0.6
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 307.4 (191.0) -0.9
5 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 307.0 (190.8) -1.3
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 306.9 (190.7) -1.4
7 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 305.7 (190.0) -2.6
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 305.6 (189.9) -2.7
9 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 303.8 (188.8) -4.5
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 303.2 (188.4) -5.1
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer 303.2 (188.4) -5.1
12 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso Renault 302.7 (188.1) -5.6
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 302.4 (187.9) -5.9
14 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer 301.9 (187.6) -6.4
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 301.0 (187.0) -7.3
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 300.6 (186.8) -7.7
17 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 297.5 (184.9) -10.8
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 297.0 (184.5) -11.3
19 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 296.1 (184.0) -12.2

NB. Data for Jolyon Palmer is not currently available

Driver Team Soft Super-soft Ultra-soft
New Used New Used New Used
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 0 1 0 0 4
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 0 1 0 0 4
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0 1 1 0 0 4
Max Verstappen Red Bull 0 1 1 0 0 4
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0 1 1 0 0 4
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0 1 1 0 0 4
Sergio Perez Force India 1 0 1 0 2 3
Esteban Ocon Force India 1 0 1 0 2 3
Felipe Massa Williams 0 1 1 0 3 2
Lance Stroll Williams 0 1 1 0 2 3
Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 0 1 0 0 4
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1 0 1 0 0 4
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 0 1 0 0 4
Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso 1 0 1 0 1 4
Romain Grosjean Haas 1 0 1 0 1 4
Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 0 1 0 3 2
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 0 1 0 0 4
Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 0 1 0 1 4
Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 0 1 0 2 3
Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1 0 1 0 4 1

Over to you

Will Vettel resist Red Bull again to take his fifth Singapore Grand Prix win? And how many times will we see the Safety Car on Sunday?

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

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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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...

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23 comments on “This time Vettel must grab his chance to take points lead”

  1. Is it just me or is this race one to miss – on TV at least?

    I expect being in Singapore on the GP weekend is quite a place to be, but watching the race on TV, all I can see is barriers, concrete, walls, fences. I’m reminded of the dreary Valencia concrete canyon, except this time it’s at night. The cutaways to glamorous Singapore offer some relief, but really… The contrast with Spa, Monaco, or Monza could scarcely be greater.

    1. It’s funny… I was just watching the on-board from Vettel’s pole lap & thinking how dreary the circuit looks. Just concrete walls & catch fences.

    2. I disagree, I love watching this race, but I do wish they didn’t light the track so brightly. If you consider the city is lit at a normal level but the F1 cameras show it as almost pitch black because of how bright the track is (and drivers have previously complained there is too much light). I think if they dimmed the track and showed off the backdrop and surroundings it would appear very different (less concrete walls, more of the city).

      Sadly (for me) though, I won’t be able to watch this race tomorrow and I don’t think it’s going to be possible to avoid the result online :(

    3. @rsp123 I like this race. It throws surprises… with the arrival of the Virtual Safety Car, tho, that might not be the case anymore, as we usually saw a good number of SC periods, but now they can live with just a short VSC to sort out any problem… plus we have 6 cars less than we used to have, so it’s always going to be less chaotic.

      But you never know… it’s one of those races I’d not miss (if I wasn’t a F1Fanatic and didn’t watch every single one of them like I do, of course…)

    4. I disagree. As someone who has been to this GP 7 years in a row now, I have to say I am impressed every single time. Usually at most circuits there are “prime locations” and then some others. At this one, the experience you get at the Paddock Club (which I have been a couple of times and haven’t really been impressed given it is full of suits who are simply networking and not much interested in the race rather than the start) is pretty much the same with a simple walk-about ticket. Simply because you are so close to the track and the cars no matter where you may be. The cars look beautiful under the dark skies (because of the superb lighting of course) and the backdrop is simply stunning. You’ve got the Singapore Flyer at one end (if you are at one end of the pit grandstand), the CBD (padang), the Marina (Bay grandstand) and the whole start finish straight with the Flyer (turn 1 and 2 grandstand). Also, the live commentary and the TV screens are pretty good too! For a viewer physically present, it is a treat to the eyes if not as much to the viewer at home. I’d take that any day over staying at home and catching the race on TV!

      1. Since I mentioned the Paddock Club, I am reminded of my first experience there in 2014. My Wife and I are big fans and were provided Paddock Club tickets two years in a row by a very generous Friend. The first time we went, we were in shorts, team gear (Red Bull, given we were massive Vettel fans) and a massive flag. The minute we entered we had no idea that it wasn’t the way this was supposed to be. We were sat at a table with free flow of champagne and food, surrounded by people in suits just wanting to network). My job is such that I need to do this quite often but I was definitely not up for leaving the race aside and soon something I did pretty much every day of my life. We simply sneaked out to the outside Paddock Club area (there wasn’t anyone there because, you know, the rich and famous cannot bear the heat) and watched the whole race from there shouting like idiots and cheering the Drivers on! The next year, we just went straight to that place foregoing the delicious food and unlimited drinks (and were rewarded with a Sebastian Vettel victory).

    5. I really enjoy watching this GP on TV, the cars are almost iridescent under the strikingly bright lights and the race is usually very good. Compared to watching other city circuits like Monaco, your right it is mostly concrete barriers and fencing that you see. I do have a large TV and undoubtedly that helps the spectacle.

    6. Couldn’t disagree more.

      When I was a kid this is what I imagined F1 of the future looking like, I also like the layout of the track and it usually throws up a few safety cars. What’s not to like?

      1. i don’t like any of these modern St circuits, the walls are nearly claustrophobic there is a severe lack run off and no spectator access or involvement..
        They are relatively cheap to set up and sometimes have good access to transport. But overall I much prefer a well designed and maintained full time race track.

        1. Each to their own, but on balance I would say Singapore has given us much more exciting races than Monaco over the last decade and on the strength of this year, Maybe Baku will start to do so as well.

          I don’t believe in writing something off simply because it hasn’t been around that long.

        2. modern St circuits

          the walls are nearly claustrophobic

          What street circuit <10km isn't like that apart from Spa (or I guess Albert Park)?

          Long beach, Monaco, Dallas, Las Vegas wasn't exactly modern I'd say

      2. the layout is so bland… even after 10 years when i see the onboards i have no idea where on the circuit the cars are

  2. Pretty dramatic headline. The article implies that Hamilton had to do the same when he grabbed the lead. That’s all well and good but he did not have two good cars starting next to him that are pretty much equal in their performance.

  3. Yes, he will resist if it stays dry. Ferrari will just cover off the first RB and the second RB won’t be able to overtake Vettel on the straights even if it runs longer and they switch positions. Ferrari’s battery deployment is superior. The S tyre benefits from the conditions in Singapore and will not be overcut. The SC only can cause havoc is it falls between Seb and probably Ricciardo’s stop, and even then Seb needs to have passed the pit-lane entry already.

    The only chance for RB is the chance of rain. Then they will form the good old Trulli-Train as they would gain on Vettel in S3 and into the long straight and even then he just needs to hold the outside into Nicoli Highway as T8 is right again so he could push the outside car into the wall with ease, but does he want to win at all risky costs? That would be the deciding question then. Normally no, but I think he still holds a grudge against Verstappen for some things, so this could turn ugly then.

    1. I have to agree unfortunately, there will probably be a safety car from Max’s car breaking down at some stage though..

      1. Max’s car breaking down at some stage though

        And if the telemetry then says otherwise…..

        Oh wait, Flavio’s not in RBR? I guess we needn’t expect that to happen then

        1. Haha. No conspiracy, just a comment on the kid’s mechanical hex this year. I sincerely hope he gets to show us what he can do.

          1. Come to think of it though is Flavio still ALO’s manager? I mean, McLaren might want to win again for once :p @offdutyrockstar

          2. @davidnotcoulthard he is indeed. I know because I asked him that in person a couple weeks ago! I already knew the answer but just wanted something interesting to say. 😂

  4. So much depends on the start. The dirty side of the grid has usually been an extremely bad place to start, so instead of two Red Bulls pressuring Vettel they might have one of their cars behind a relatively slow Hamilton, for example.

    And the last twenty or so laps will probably throw some surprises again, if we get a late safety car or someone in the midfield decides to go for another set of ultra softs.

  5. Will Vettel resist Red Bull again to take his fifth Singapore Grand Prix win? Yes
    And how many times will we see the Safety Car on Sunday? At least once as has been the case all the time so far. I’m sure that someday we will finally get a SC-period less Singapore GP, but still not this time around.

  6. WET START! Finally!

    1. Well that didn’t disappoint. 😁

Comments are closed.