SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: Lewis Hamilton took the lead in the drivers championship for the first time this season at Monza, moving just three points ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel. Given this season’s ebbs and flows, it seems appropriate that once the lead in the championship changes, we move on to a series of races that should favour the now trailing Ferrari. Vettel’s Gina (his affectionately named car) is expected to perform much better at the windy tracks of Singapore, Japan and the US, as reflected in the race winner market where Vettel is a favourite for the first time in quite a number of races.
Taking place around the tight streets of Singapore, the Marina Bay Street Circuit is often a nail biting and spectacular experience. Beginning just after dusk, the sight of the glistening cars under the lights whizzing inches past tight corners would raise anyone’s blood pressure, and under pressure is an apt description of Vettel’s position at the moment. Having endured some damage limitation at tracks like Monza and Belgium, now is the time for the Italian team to strike a blow back to Mercedes or risk the championship drifting out of their control. Seb will likely be feeling confident having won the most races here at four. Things can rapidly go awry around here, however. The most carefully laid plans can be thwarted by an ill timed safety car, of which there are many. There have been fourteen safety cars here in the last nine races so it is more of a question of when will there be a safety car, rather than if.
There are a couple of drivers who will be rearing to go to a track like this. Daniel Ricciardo (right) is a stand out name among them. Red Bull have been in a class of their own, clearly weaker than the leading two teams, yet clearly better than the midfield pack. The demands of this circuit typifies the strengths of the RB13; high downforce, sharp turn in and stable cornering. Moreover, Ricciardo himself is something of a street circuit master having finished second here the last two years in a row, and having narrowly missed a Monaco win last year. That makes him an solid pick for a podium finish and a pretty reasonable outside shot at a win if he can qualify well, or benefit from a safety car.
Nico Hulkenberg has been a stellar qualifier this season who has let down by the power unit and drives backwards once the lights go out. That engine deficit will be significantly lessened here and it is much easier to stay ahead of a faster car by getting your elbows out. A great pick for a points finish.
Fernando Alonso will also be looking forward to a track that doesn’t ask as much of the power unit as other races. In fact, if they can prevent the engine from giving up the ghost, McLaren Honda could be in for their best race of the year. Alonso is a fantastic driver at all tracks and Stoffel Vandoorne has developed a lot in his rookie year. Look for the team to pick up the pieces if it becomes a messy race.
Finally, Force India has been a well rounded team this year with a very talented driver lineup. After being told to respect each other after multiple incidents, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez are likely candidates to safely bring home a double points finish.
The odds have finally swung back to Vettel for a race and he is the wise pick. He is a bigger favourite than the odds suggest, he likes this track and most importantly, he is fierce competitor with a strong chance in the championship. He will be utterly chomping at the bit for a resurgence so well worth a price of 2.36. If longer shots are more up your street, Daniel Ricciardo is the stand out choice currently at 8.6 on the exchange. If there is one person who can pick up the pieces after incidents on track, it is this man.
Singapore is a special kind of track and so it’s only appropriate we have some track specific specials this week. “A Messy Singapore” allows you to back a safety car to come out in the race and for less than 16 drivers to finish the race at a price of 1.95. Red Bull look to be a strong team this weekend, although still significant dogs to the front runners. “Team Dark Horse” lets you back both cars to finish on the podium at a price of 5.0, which will most likely after strategically navigating some incidents mid-race. We also have the usual swathe of classic specials, such as the “McHonda reliability meal” which incredibly still remains a long bet after 13 races at a price of 2.9.
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