High stakes on the streets of Singapore
There is all to play for in Singapore as Red Bull prepares to put its Mercedes opponent under maximum pressure
No one, least of all Christian Horner, had counted on Daniel Ricciardo coming away victorious from Montreal and SpaFrancorchamps. After all, these are two tracks which in theory should have played to the grunt advantage of the Mercedes-Benz power unit, which is said to be at least 50kW to the good of its Ferrari and Renault opposition. But just as Horner has been pleasantly surprised by Ricciardo’s unexpected 25-points bonus haul on those two venues (along with the win at the Hungaroring), the Red Bull Racing boss is really looking forward to some of the later-season races, held on circuits likely to better suit the Red Bull RB10’s more supple handling. Singapore is one of those places. With six races to go, and with Mercedes-Benz pairing Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton having all but declared war upon one another, the Singapore Grand Prix looms as a crucial contest on the 2014 calendar. If Ricciardo can take his fourth victory of the season here, there remains a chance that the Australian can achieve what would be arguably the greatest upset in the history of the world championship. For Ricciardo to be crowned world champion there are a few things which will need to go his way. First and foremost, he will have to rely on Nico and Lewis suffering further misfortune along with the way – and if at Singapore the Merc pair don’t trip over one another ala Spa, it could be that they are let down not by one another but by their machinery. Reliability could easily prove the decisive issue here. The Singapore street circuit is hard on equipment at the best of times, but factor in the heat and humidity and the new-era 1.6-litre turbo machines will be tested in a way they have not been tested in any of the earlier races. Overall the reliability of the new cars has exceeded expectations, but the fact is that they are not as bulletproof as were the old 2.4-litre V8 – and the Merc-powered ones have tended to suffer more in this respect than their opposition. If Ricciardo and Vettel – let us not forget the reigning world champion, who surely at some point will turn around what thus far has been a mystifyingly poor season – do have the pace to push the Mercs, they’ll be as much trying to
break them as beat them on the track. Let’s also not forget that Sebastian Vettel is shooting for a fourth consecutive victory at Singapore. It all should make for a fascinating contest, and that’s before we even consider a Fernando Alonso who has nothing to lose, a Williams team which has been on the podium at ve of the last six races but without a win, and a McLaren team which despite a decidedly lacklustre season is trying to attract both Alonso and Vettel for 2015. The Marina Bay harbourside street circuit’s Monaco-like atmosphere – but with the added attraction of being at night and under lights – always makes this, the closest non-Australian grand prix to our shores, a tantalising prospect. But the 2014 race holds the potential to be a season defining event.