2015 Singapore Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in second place and Williams driver Felipe Massa in third place. Force India, Lotus and Sauber also scored some much needed points at the event.

Heading into the Grand Prix weekend, it has been announced that the race will go ahead even though there are smog issues in Singapore at the moment. For more information on this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/singapore-gp-to-go-ahead-this-weekend-despite-smog/.

It was announced yesterday that Renault will no longer be supplying F1 engines; which in turn affects their relationship with Red Bull. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/renault-confirms-that-they-will-not-be-supplying-f1-engines-no-more/.

Also it was announced yesterday that Alexander Rossi will make his F1 debut in Singapore this weekend and will also finish the last four races with the Manor F1 team. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/rossi-handed-f1-debut-in-singapore-with-manor-f1/.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is very demanding with several 90-degree corners and a bumpy track which runs close to the walls. It is a typical street circuit with practically no run-off areas; therefore the drivers have to concentrate all the time as there is no margin for error. As with Monaco or Valencia, tyres and aerodynamics are the key factors at the Marina Bay Circuit.

The race is run at night which means that if the track get wet it will take a long time to dry given both the humidity and lack of sunshine.

However, the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the slowest of the Formula One season, with a stop-start nature that never gives the drivers a chance to relax. Engines will be at full throttle for just over 50 percent of the lap. The average lap speed is only about 175 km/h, although top speeds approach 300 km/h down Raffles Boulevard.

The circuit length is 5.07 kilometres and the direction is anti-clockwise. It is quite a long track for one in a city. There are some overtaking opportunities for example at turn four, turn seven, and towards the end of the lap is where the drivers will be looking to gain some places in the race on Sunday.

In 2008; Fernando Alonso won the first ever Formula One night race just 2.9 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg. During the spectacular event, 108,423 meters of power cables, 240 steel pylons and around 1,600 light projectors with a total power requirement of 3,180,000 watts was used.

The timing of the night event means it can be broadcast at a convenient time for European television audiences as well as thrilling local fans. Adding to the feel of the race is the Singapore Flyer, which is currently the tallest ferris wheel in the world. It is situated right next to the track and affords great views of the circuit for the many fans who will be attending the race weekend.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Nico Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.47.995 followed closely by Lewis Hamilton with a gap of 0.319 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.336 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was in fourth 0.499 seconds behind and Kimi Raikkonen was in fifth place 0.790 seconds behind Rosberg.

Valtteri Bottas was in sixth 1.385 seconds behind, Max Verstappen was in seventh 1.471 seconds behind, Nico Hulkenberg was eighth  with a gap of 1.859 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was ninth 2.024 seconds behind and Pastor Maldonado was in tenth 2.073 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP1, we saw in the last ten minutes of the session Sebastian Vettel understeering going into Turn 5. Luckily Vettel was able to catch the car and was able to continue on during the session.

However, Alexander Rossi at the end of the session clouted the barriers at Turn 18 and caused significant damage to his right hand suspension. At this point in the session, Rossi was doing brilliantly and was only 0.015 seconds behind his team mate Will Stevens. This then brought out the red flag in order to clear the damage but the session did not restart as a result.

Daniil Kvyat tops the timesheets in FP2.

Daniil Kvyat tops the timesheets in FP2.

In Practice 2 we saw Daniil Kvyat tops the timesheet with a time of 1.46.142 followed closely by  Raikkonen with a gap of 0.039 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.114 seconds behind, Hamilton was in fourth 0.337 seconds behind and Vettel was in fifth place 0.790 seconds behind Kvyat.

Sergio Perez was in sixth 0.517 seconds behind, Rosberg was in seventh 0.639 seconds behind, Fernando Alonso was eighth  with a gap of 0.817 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was ninth 1.152 seconds behind and Verstappen was in tenth 1.285 seconds behind Kvyat.

In the first ten minutes of FP2, we saw Will Stevens stopping on the circuit at Turn 14. Stevens lost the rear of the car into Turns 11 and 12 and as a result of this hit the barriers. This then brought out the Red Flags in order for the Manor to recovered from the track.

In the last ten minutes of the session, we saw Nico Rosberg pushing the limit after exiting Turn 18. When going into the corner, Rosberg locked up his outside wheel which left him having to reverse back onto the track.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3.

In Practice 3 we saw Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.45.682 followed closely by  Raikkonen with a gap of 0.450 seconds behind, Kvyat was in third with a gap of 0.485 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in fourth 0.677 seconds behind and Hamilton was in fifth place 1.120 seconds behind Vettel.

Rosberg was in sixth 1.541 seconds behind, Alonso was in seventh 1.555 seconds behind, Sainz Jr was eighth  with a gap of 1.619 seconds behind, Verstappen was ninth 1.782 seconds behind and Ericsson was in tenth 1.886 seconds behind Vettel.

During FP3, we saw many drivers such as Max Verstappen going off at Turn 7 but were able to keep going during the session despite this.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race.

But Vettel is looking strong this weekend and could snatch pole from them. However, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Raikkonen and even Verstappen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that McLaren, Sauber or Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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