Talking points ahead of the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - INTERNATIONAL SPORT - By Philip Dun­can, PA Sport F1 Cor­re­spon­dent, Sin­ga­pore

1. Hamilton's Mercedes team braced for dif­fi­cult week­end

races in Asia, and he will have done so well aware that he could be in for a tough week­end. The slow na­ture of the Ma­rina Bay street cir­cuit is one ex­pected to suit Vet­tel's Fer­rari car, and play against Mercedes' strengths. Hamilton's record in Sin­ga­pore is poor in re­cent years, too. He re­tired from the race in 2014, and was only third last sea­son. Hamilton has been in out­stand­ing form since the sum­mer break, but Sun­day's race could be a case of dam­age lim­i­ta­tion.

2. McLaren's en­gine fu­ture to be re­solved

main with the Bri­tish team for at least one more year, and the an­nounce­ment of his new con­tract is likely to be re­vealed in Sin­ga­pore.

McLaren have en­dured a mis­er­able year, and are last but one in the con­struc­tors' cham­pi­onship. They hope a switch to Re­nault engines will pro­vide them with the nec­es­sary mus­cle and re­li­a­bil­ity to com­pete with Red Bull, also pow­ered by Re­nault, next year.

The Formula One cir­cus heads to Sin­ga­pore fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the Euro­pean leg of the sea­son at the Ital­ian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton's Monza vic­tory moved him to the sum­mit of the cham­pi­onship for the first time this year, but will Fer­rari's Se­bas­tian Vet­tel strike back un­der the lights of the Ma­rina Bay street cir­cuit?

Here, Press As­so­ci­a­tion Sport looks at the key talking points ahead of the 14th round of the cam­paign.

3. The end game for Palmer?

Sainz's heav­ily-mooted move from Toro Rosso to Re­nault would see him re­place English­man Jolyon Palmer, with re­ports in­di­cat­ing that the switch could be trig­gered in time for the Malaysian Grand Prix. With Red Bull ju­nior Pierre Gasly in the frame for Sainz's va­cant Toro Rosso seat, Sun­day's race in Sin­ga­pore could mark Palmer's last in the sport.

The 26-year-old English­man is one of only two driv­ers yet to score a point this sea­son, and he has been out-qual­i­fied by his Re­nault team-mate Nico Hulken­berg at every round this year. Hulken­berg has also scored 34 points. Palmer's fa­ther Jonathan Palmer - the for­mer F1 McLaren are set to an­nounce their sepa­ra­tion from be­lea­guered part­ner Honda this week. The Bri­tish team have run out of pa­tience with the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer fol­low­ing three years plagued by an un­der-per­form­ing and un­re­li­able en­gine, and are poised to be pow­ered by Re­nault next term. Honda are ex­pected to re­main in the sport and team up with Red Bull's sis­ter out­fit Toro Rosso, while Car­los Sainz is likely to join Re­nault as a sweet­ener for the French man­u­fac­turer. McLaren's move to Re­nault is also set to be enough to per­suade Fer­nando Alonso to re- It has been non-stop for Hamilton since his win at Monza took him three points clear of Vet­tel in the race for this year's ti­tle. First, the Bri­ton was needed at the Paul Ri­card cir­cuit in the south of France for a Pirelli tyre test be­fore head­ing to Amer­ica for New York Fashion Week. On Mon­day, he touched base at Mercedes' Northamp­ton­shire HQ, and then on to Frank­furt to launch Mercedes' £2.4mil­lion Pro­ject One hy­per­car. On Tues­day, Hamilton jet­ted out to the Far East for the first of three driver and cir­cuit owner - could yet find the funds to se­cure Palmer a seat for 2018 - but with most drives rub­ber-stamped for next term, his op­tions could be run­ning out.

4. Red Bull ready to pounce

While Fer­rari will start the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix week­end as favourites, do not be sur­prised to see Red Bull in the mix, too. The for­mer cham­pi­ons im­pressed at Monza with Daniel Ric­cia­rdo voted Driver of the Day fol­low­ing his charge from 16th to fourth. The twisty sur­round­ings of the Ma­rina Bay track will also suit the Red Bull, as Ric­cia­rdo proved last year when he split the Mercedes cars to fin­ish sec­ond. Red Bull took a se­ries of en­gine penal­ties at the last round in Monza to en­sure they are in the best shape for Sin­ga­pore. Now they must make it count.

5. Hulken­berg set for un­wanted record

Hulken­berg is set to be­come the new holder of a rather un­wanted record fol­low­ing Sun­day's race when, bar­ring a mir­a­cle, he will move above his Ger­man coun­try­man Adrian Su­til as the driver with the most F1 starts yet to record a podium. The Re­nault driver, who won the fa­mous Le Mans 24 hours race in 2015, has fin­ished fourth on three oc­ca­sions, but has failed to step on to the ros­trum in his pre­vi­ous 128 F1 starts.

AFP Photo / Lluis Gene

(L to R) Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Lewis Hamilton cel­e­brate af­ter the Span­ish Formula One Grand Prix in May

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Spain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.