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Plenty has happened in the couple of weeks between the Italian Grand Prix and the Singapore Grand Prix. Most notably is Kimi Räikkönen’s departure from Ferrari and his return to Sauber. Many think this will mean that Kimi won’t bow down to team orders for the remainder of the season, but I’m not so sure…
Räikkönen’s return to where it all began is clearly a swan song for the 38-year-old Finn. But this could be a moment of genius from Ferrari. Bringing in Charles Leclerc offers fresh talent to put the pressure on Vettel. The German has been suffering from consistency issues, which could well cost him the title. Making regular mistakes, when in what is clearly the fastest car, will not have endeared Vettel with the Tifosi, or Ferrari themselves. Vettel has always been the “number one” driver, next year he could well be shown up by the 2017 Formula 2 Champion. I, for one, hope Ferrari give Leclerc their full support and don’t expect him to play second fiddle to Vettel.
Kimi Räikkönen entered F1 in 2001 for the Sauber Team, since then he's racked up:
20 Grand Prix wins
1 World Championship
Kimi Räikkönen will leave Ferrari at the end of the season to return to where it all began, after signing a 2-year deal with Sauber. pic.twitter.com/I1L3NcECSa
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) September 11, 2018
Kimi’s departure to Sauber is not truly a departure from Ferrari either. Haas is widely thought of to be a Ferrari B-Team, however, with regulation changes and the possibility of new engine suppliers from 2021 It’s hard to think that Haas won’t be looking for an American motor. Haas-Ford perhaps? This opens the door for greater collaboration between Ferrari and Alfa Romeo-Sauber, with Alfa also being part of the FIAT group. Could Kimi’s return to Sauber actually be a research and development role for Ferrari? If this is the case, expect Kimi to once again play ball when it comes to team orders now that his future has been decided.
At the time of writing it looks like it’s going to be a wet weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. This is likely to add some excitement and may throw up some unexpected results.
One thing I do expect is to see the Safety Car.The Safety Car has been deployed at every Singapore Grand Prix held since 2008. We’ve seen it 17 times across 10 Grand Prix. Unfortunately, stats like this mean that it’s not really much of a betting opportunity; at 1/9 the risk-reward factor could well be off-putting. Still, if you’re betting solely on statistical probability it’s hard to ignore even at such a short price.
Last year’s Singapore Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Max Verstappen collide in the run towards turn one, none of these three finished the race. In fact, eight drivers failed to complete the race, and over the past five years there has been an average of five drivers a year that have failed to see the chequered flag. This leans me towards the number of classified drivers market, however, it’s worth noting that if a driver completes 90% of the race they will be classified. This fact, and the odds being just 4/6 , means that I’ve found another reason not to back one of my own selections.
The last race proved that anything is possible in Formula One. Sebastian Vettel had by far the best car, but one those mistakes we spoke of earlier ruined his race. Vettel can’t afford a repeat in Singapore if he wants to keep his title fight alive. Ferrari did show good pace during practice and qualifying last year and so they’re likely to be there or there abouts.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit is more suited to the Red Bulls though. Low speed grip is something required to be quick at the Singapore Grand Prix, something that Red Bull have always had in spades. The inclement weather also suits the Red Bull, so I expect a good weekend for the Milton Keynes based team… assuming they don’t suffer another technical failure laden weekend.
Only four drivers have ever won the Singapore Grand Prix, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Rosberg. If the Red Bulls can stay in one piece, I envisage there being a fifth name to add to that list. Daniel Ricciardo is hoping for his fifth successive podium in Singapore, having twice managed to stand on the second step. Danny Ric has also recorded two fastest laps and topped the timing in the first two practice sessions last year. On a track that rewards the last of the late breakers, Ricciardo will surely excel once again.
I can’t see any reason not to be confident in backing Daniel Ricciardo over the likes of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to top the timing in Free Practice One, all of which are 7/2 to go fastest. Räikkönen at 8/1 looks like an enticing price, however, he’s never really looked comfortable at the Singapore Grand Prix – his highest ever finish at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is third, so I’ll swerve.
I’m sticking with my thought process when it comes to qualifying. The conditions and circuit will suit the Red Bulls, so it will come as no surprise that I’m backing one of their drivers to start at the front.
Max Verstappen can still become the youngest ever pole sitter, beating Vettel’s current record of 21 years and 72 days. Max doesn’t turn 21 until September 30th. The young Dutchman is undoubtedly quick, and his one-lap pace can often be truly stunning. I’m going to gamble on Verstappen breaking the record in his 75th Formula One start. This is far from one of my most confident selections ever, but the 4/1 on offer feels fair assuming the conditions are as expected.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg will make his 150th career start on Sunday. The German holds a record that he can’t be happy with; the most races without finishing on the podium. Sadly for him, I don’t see that changing in Singapore. His teammate, Carlos Sainz, finished fourth last year in mixed conditions, his best ever result, and will hope to repeat that again this year. At 5/2 for a top six finish, in a race that often sees a good amount of retirements, is well worth a nibble.
The winner of the race is a whole different kettle of fish. My head tells me Hamilton, being possibly the best wet weather driver, will continue his charge towards his fifth world championship. My heart wants Daniel Ricciardo to show why he deserves a car that can win the title. But, thanks to the unpredictability of the race, the closeness of the walls and the predicted inclement weather I’ll be backing anyone that doesn’t drive for Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. This may seem like an odd group of selections, and it is, but I’m going for small stakes high potential returns with each driver outside of the top three teams 1000/1 or more!