June 19, 2018

Singapore Grand Prix 2017: Daniel Ricciardo leads FP1, Vettel second, Hamilton fourth

16 September 2017, 01:19 | Kristopher Drake

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While the title race may be focused on Hamilton and Vettel, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas is also eyeing his shot at his first race win here in Singapore, and a first world championship title. Add to that the record of Vettel himself during his career in Asia, everything points to a hard few weeks for the Mercedes team as a whole.

Asked how important it was to win in Singapore on Sunday in order to regain the championship lead, Vettel said: "I think it's more important to have the lead on Sunday night after Abu Dhabi [the final race], so whatever happens along the way happens, the target is clear".

As teams begin to arrive at the exotic circuit in Marina Bay, the Singapore Grand Prix holds the promise of continuing the excitement the season has held so far.

The same man who calls himself "the most stylish driver on the grid" at the private meet-and-greet session for Hugo Boss and Mercedes-Benz at The Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore yesterday must surely fancy becoming the greatest driver ever.

The Finn was an 11th-hour signing to replace Nico Rosberg this year, but has now been given yet another one-year deal amid rumours that Mercedes want Max Verstappen for 2019.

Only four drivers have won at the Marina Bay circuit. Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo can get you 15/2 and 8/1 respectively, though 12/1 on Kimi Raikkonen might be worth a punt given that he will also be driving a Ferrari.

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The Singapore Grand Prix news agenda is likely to be dominated by McLaren's impending divorce from Honda and the various other parts of that complicated jigsaw puzzle set to be made official in the next few days.

Another key takeaway heading into the weekend is both Vettel and Hamilton have won multiple times at Singapore. The race has been won from pole position on seven occasions. Race day was little better as one vehicle finished fourth while the other retired. In terms of out-of-the-blue slumps of form, there has been little to beat it in recent F1 history after Mercedes, on pole position at all of that season's previous races, arrived in Singapore with the same auto and lapped 1.5 seconds off Ferrari's qualifying pace. Past year it was deployed on the opening lap.

Romain Grosjean set his best time with five minutes remaining, although suffered three off-track moments during the session - taking to the run-off at Turn 1 early on before a spin at Turn 16 shortly after and then going off at Turn 18 late on.

According to leading SA bookies Sportingbet, Vettel can be backed at 6/4 while Hamilton is on offer at 9/5.

'In 2015, Singapore provided us with one of the most painful experiences in recent seasons, so we rolled up the sleeves, learned from it and managed to bounce back with a great win previous year. The German has been on the podium six times to the Briton's four. "I just want to collect as many points as possible and hopefully that will take me far". The Renault driver is currently tied on 128 with Germany's now-departed Adrian Sutil.

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