Who are F1’s street fighters?
The streets of Singapore welcome Formula One for the 14th round of this gruelling 20-race championship.
Introduced in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has rapidly become a favourite among drivers, teams and fans. The combination of night racing with exotic F1 cars and Singapore’s futuristic skyline is a winner.
The course itself is one of the more punishing on the calendar. It packs 25 corners per lap, most of them slow and tight. That combined with high ambient temperatures means the brakes take a pounding.
So do the drivers, as this is a particularly bumpy track and the race distance nudges close to the two-hour time limit.
This is a true street circuit. That mean it’s bordered not by the usual vast expanses of tarmac and grass run-off, but solid and unyielding barriers.
It takes a particular skill to extract the most from a Formula 1 car on this kind of circuit. So which of F1’s current drivers have marked themselves out as Singapore street fighters?
Let’s get one thing clear right away: yes, Alonso’s 2008 win was facilitated by a notorious piece of cheating on the part of his team.
For anyone who doesn’t recall, Renault had Alonso’s team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr throw his car into the barriers to bring out the safety car and hand Alonso an unlikely win.
Putting that shameful business to one side, Alonso’s qualities at this track are impossible to ignore.
In 2009 he dragged the lousy Renault R29 onto the podium for the one and only time that season.
The following year he scored one of his best wins to date. On a weekend when the Red Bull had the edge on pure performance, Alonso snatched pole position from Sebastian Vettel and withstood fierce, race-long pressure to win.
He couldn’t keep his podium run intact last year – he came in fourth behind the clearly quicker Red Bulls and Jenson Button’s McLaren.
But this year his F2012 is back on terms with the front-runners. Ferrari remain one of the quickest teams in the pits, which should serve them well here.
That plus Alonso’s Singapore skills make him worthy of an early punt on victory at odds of 5.0.
Hamilton has had both highs and lows at Singapore. He won the 2009 race from pole position despite having to cope with a malfunctioning Kinetic Energy Recovery System.
But his 2010 title bid was derailed when he came off worst in a tangle with Mark Webber. Last year’s race is best forgotten – he ruined it after yet another tangle with Felipe Massa.
As usual there’s no mistaking Hamilton’s raw potential or his potential to squander it. But he’s largely steered clear of such errors this year, and arrives at this year’s race with two wins in his last three starts.
That’s why he’s tipped as favourite to win with odds of 2.85.
On the occasions he’s had a decent car at his disposal, Timo Glock has usually excelled at Singapore.
He scored a career-best second for Toyota in the 2009 race, one year after finishing fourth in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix.
Since then Glock’s had to make do with back-of-the-grid machinery. But that hasn’t kept him down
For nine glorious laps in 2010 he held 11th place for Virgin, keeping the likes of Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg at bay – despite them having cars up to two seconds per lap faster.
But as long as he continues plugging away with Virgin’s successors Marussia, merely scoring points is a distant dream. His odds of winning this weekend are an astronomical 7,500. Best to steer clear of that one.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic