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Featured Singapore GP Debrief: Dominant Vettel makes it three in 2015

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    singaporepodium.jpg Bested just two weeks ago in Italy, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari flipped the script at Marina Bay

    Often accused of “sandbagging” since their run of dominance began in 2014, for one Sunday at least, it’s fair to wonder if Mercedes AMG forgot to take the sandbags off.

    Such was the advantage of Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari over the course of the Singapore GP weekend that compared to their previous two wins, this upset stands apart, as the surprise is that you can’t even really call it an upset. For once, instead of wondering just how much pace Mercedes kept in hand, we’re left to ponder whether they ever had a shot in the first place.

    Truly, it was a bizarre weekend in the wider context of the 2015 season. Bested not just by both Ferraris, even the Renault-powered Red Bulls seemed a step above Mercedes, with Daniel Ricciardo taking second on the first Mercedes-less podium since Brazil 2013. Such was the shock, rumour has it Paddy Lowe remains sequestered in a Singaporean hospital being treated for Champagne withdrawal.

    In any case, the 2015 Singapore GP provided us with plenty to discuss, so read on as we break down some of the major talking points from Marina Bay.

    vettelsingapore.jpg Vettel back to his Red Bull best in Singapore

    If the 2015 title fight is supposed to be over, Sebastian Vettel didn’t get the memo.

    Already with two come-from-behind victories to his name in 2015, the four-time world champion produced a throwback performance on Sunday to keep his narrow title ambitions alive.

    After mixing it up with the Mercedes’ in Friday practice, Saturday marked a turning point for the German as he finished almost a full half-second clear of teammate Kimi Raikkonen in FP3, before going on to be the only driver to break the 1m44s barrier in qualifying. With pole in his pocket, “il Dito” wasn’t about to let up.

    The race was trademark Vettel. Four seconds up on second-placed Ricciardo by the end of lap 3, the German was able to dictate pace as he pleased, so much so that guest commentator Lewis Hamilton voiced the opinion Vettel was intentionally backing the Australian into the clutches of Raikkonen. Vettel seemed to be toying with his ex-teammate – even when Ricciardo did gain ground, it was always with P1 just tantalisingly left out of reach.

    Of course, Vettel’s strategy was aided by two timely safety cars – with the latter a result of a fan who took the designation of Marina Bay as a “street” circuit a little too literally – but that does nothing to take away from his sheer pace. Comfortably matching Ricciardo’s personal bests, in the end Vettel’s victory never looked seriously in doubt. The sandbagged had become the sandbagger.

    A point short of three wins behind Hamilton heading into the weekend, the German heads to Japan within two victories of the championship lead, with six races remaining. And while that certainly remains an unlikely scenario, it has to be noted that his garage-partner Raikkonen found himself in an almost identical situation, before famously winning the title at the death in 2007. Surely after a performance like Sunday’s, it’s impossible to count Vettel out.

    totosingapore.jpg Alarm bells ringing at Mercedes?

    After saying goodbye to Europe for another year, Mercedes have endured a rough start to their Asian vacation.

    The reigning world champions were left scratching their heads after missing out on the front two rows in Saturday qualifying, and could hardly be any happier after a difficult Sunday, with just Nico Rosberg’s fourth to show for their efforts.

    Speaking after the race, team boss Toto Wolff admitted the team struggled with tyre degradation, yet while unable to offer any concrete explanation, was sure their difficulties would not extend to Suzuka.

    “I don't believe that you lose car performance from one race to the other so dramatically as we did - and I also don't believe that another team can find one and a half seconds in the same time. We have spoken to the drivers and both confirm that the degradation was massive - and in the end unexplainable for us.”

    Undoubtedly, Singapore’s extreme heat and humidity favour Ferrari, who are able to manage such conditions so as to not “overcook” the tyres – it’s been a strength of the team all year, as they took a slower package to the top step in similar conditions in Malaysia. Having said that, the team has clearly made significant gains – at Monza, the Scuderia’s engine upgrades saw them qualify just 0.234s off Hamilton, and in that context Singapore is something of a logical (albeit temporarily exacerbated) progression.

    So should Wolff be worried? Yes and no. While Ferrari has the finances to keep Mercedes on their toes, it’s not like Mercedes are going to sit still either. With the exception of the finale in Abu Dhabi, climate won’t play a part in any of the remaining races, and they will have a definite advantage at high-speed tracks like Suzuka and Mexico’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

    At the same time, Hamilton can’t afford sustained problems with reliability, as the aforementioned Vettel continues to lurk, but the real concern is the long term. As we look towards 2016, Ferrari’s gains over the course of this season bode ominously for Mercedes’ continued hegemony, even more so if the rumour of the Italians reuniting with Red Bull becomes a reality.

    Singapore could mark a real turning point in the V6 era, or it could be a minor speedbump for Mercedes. Thankfully with Suzuka right around the corner, we should find out which very soon.

    Romain Grosjean.jpg Money talks, Grosjean walks as Renault move in for Lotus takeover

    Already set for some significant changes in 2016, Lotus will reportedly be also looking for a new driver to partner with the returning Pastor Maldonado.

    As reported by French website F1i, Romain Grosjean has eschewed his team’s takeover by countrymen Renault for a spot at the new Haas F1 outfit in 2016. With the American team’s technical partnership with Ferrari, the move would certainly seem like Grosjean’s attempt to manoeuvre his way into contention for Kimi Raikkonen’s spot at the Scuderia in 2017.

    For such a highly-rated driver, joining a team that is unlikely to challenge for points-paying positions seems like an inordinate risk, and while the specifics of his move away from Lotus are far from clear, it would be odd if a French constructor didn’t want a French driver who brings in French money (Grosjean is sponsored by oil giants Total). If it was a move of Grosjean’s own volition, it belies either his complete lack of confidence in Renault’s abilities (having used their engines in each of his previous F1 seasons), or his supreme confidence in his own ability to impress the Scuderia.

    Considering he will be competing for the Ferrari seat with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and even Jean-Eric Vergne, it’s hard to be optimistic about Grosjean’s chances. He might not have had a choice, in which case Renault are mad, and regardless it’s admirable that he would show such determination in search of his first Grand Prix victory. Unfortunately, with the track record of new entries into F1 and such a competitive driver market, this move has all the makings of being the proverbial one step back, without ever taking two steps forward.

    Does Vettel have a shot at the 2015 driver’s championship? Or has Ferrari’s improved pace been overstated? Is Grosjean to Haas a smart move for the Frenchman? Let us know your opinion in the comments.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2015
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  2. Benutzername

    Online Martini Racing - Founder and driver

    It was clear after Monza tha either Hamilton wins the title easily or Vettel catches up - If the Ferrari is better, which seemed unlikely so far.
    I think Singapore was just one day. The track and the tyres werent matching to the Mercedes.
    But if Mercedes has a similar pace at the next tracks, Vettel could profit.

    Rosberg wont catch up, just if Hamilton gets some heavy bad luck. Otherwise he cant do much cause they have the same cars.

    I think after watching the FP's in Japan one can predict the championship, depending on Mercedes pace.
    Realistically.... Hamilton will win it anyway.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. 2nd as there was Hungary this year as well ;)

    I would love to see Vettel win the championship this year but it's unlikely. However you never know!
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  4. Dux

    The 1st MK Formula 1 rFactor Sim-Racing Champion Premium Member

    Vettel was brilliant. What he did was a masterstroke that i haven't seen in my 17years of watching F1. I mean, something close was done before. We've all seen managing tyres this and that yeah. Here and there, just go easy and do certain laptimes. This was different, what Vettel did was amazing. He literally controlled the race. Not that he only made Ricciardo think he had a shot on P1, since Vettel wasnt pulling too much or at all, in front and back in same time Kimi was not closing in. So the only thing Ricciardo realized was that he had an actual chance at it if he attacked. Then Ricciardo pressed a bit more, ruining his tyres more.

    Meanwhile that was ongoing, Vettel made Mercedes think they are not much faster and led them on different strategy thinking they might be better with PitStop less. Lap by lap easing off and keeping them in the mirrors, just enough for Hamilton to see them in close distance, thinking he might catch them. At one point saying on team radio "they are not much faster".

    And then, puf, Vettel drove 2 seconds away from Ricciardo in one lap. It was impossible. I thought both Kimi and Ricciardo did mistake. Because 2 seconds in one lap, just because he decided to?! That was brutal. Then maintaining the gap again.

    And that qual lap? I was out in nature following on F1app on mobile, seeing Kimi on lap 2 had purple Sector1 i was for a second afraid Vettel might lose the pole, and then, three purple sectors by Vettel meant -0.420 of his previous pole time. There is no faster driver than Vettel over one lap. He is unbeatable!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
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  5. Turk

    Premium Member

    I don't think Mercedes needs to start worrying just yet. They didn't outclass the field in this particular race, but overall they have had the best package to win on the majority of F1 tracks.

    I think vettel needs Hamilton to have a few more problems to have a chance at beating him. He has a very good chance of taking second off Rosberg though.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. and....Grosjean with Haas ??!!??!!??!!
    WTF ?! watching french tv saw Alain prost close to confirm it : "He had to do some choice, and he did a hard one"...So : Grosjean and ...Rossi ? (I still cannot imagine Haas without him)....will be the end of hopes for Vergne and Gutierrez...
  7. I don't think he will win, but i believe he is in the hunt now, he needs the new Mercedes engine on Hamilton's car to keep failing if he is to win.
  8. Bram

    Roaring Pipes Maniacs | #27 Staff Premium Member

    max verstappen.jpg
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  9. Dux

    The 1st MK Formula 1 rFactor Sim-Racing Champion Premium Member

    @Bram Everyone including me was really in doubt of the skills of this kid. But he proved us all wrong. Me either. I pay respect when its due. Kid is driving very very good and i like very much his mentality. But yet he has to beat Sainz. Since on a good, clear day, Sainz has the upper hand for now. Max isnt that much worse though, but its clearly not better. And Vettel is just another league for now.

    When we are at it, if it wasnt Vettel for me, Max would've been man of the day
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  10. Vergne or Ocon at Renault next year.
    They want a french driver. Badly.
  11. Timmieturner12

    Premium Member

    Mercedes just hadn't their weekend. Everyone has it, even Vettel had it in his o so dominant 2013. Hungary he just wasn't good enough. Mercedes weren't at Singapore, though I expect them to bounce back at Japan considering the gap they had in Monza. Such a gap doesn't close in one weekend. All in all I have to say Vettel drove brilliant and made no mistakes. Max also was awesome, though the sc saved his ass. Nevertheless, I see Hamilton taking this year as well, Nico simply isn't up to speed this year and Vettel can only win by profiting from the Merc's mistakes which I don't see happening anymore after Singapore.
  12. One thing that I feel everyone is overlooking, or just haven't mentioned (even the article itself) is the car underneath Vettel. Yes, Ferrari have have made great strides with their power unit, but man, that chassis; aero, diffuser, brakes, etc are solid. There is no way that car dips below 1.44 on raw engine power alone. The Red Bull manages it's tires well, but it wasn't attacking the track like the Ferrari. Therefore, the Ferrari is just as easy on it's tires as the Red Bull.

    Red Bull isn't as close to Ferrari as some think they are. The red Bull is Renault powered, that means great torque but slower to top speed. Their F1 engines have been that way for over a decade. Now, remember the race start; Daniel and Sebastian seemed to have gotten off the line simultaneously, however, Sebastian was still able to separate himself from the Red Bull before the first turn.

    Torque and a powerful mid-band, great straight line speed, and reliable. There are tracks that keep the Red Bull in the mirror, however, there is no track ( F1) that can put the Red Bulls ahead of Ferrari. This is obviously untrue with Ferrari and Mercedes. Ferrari definitely has the better car; watch Vettle's qualifying lap, one or two corrections at that torrid pace. Mercedes' power unit is still better.

    My point is, those red cars are just as good as the Mercs. The track dictates who has the edge. Singapore was Vettle's Monza. #Dominant #Win

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  13. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    I think this race was just a one off for Mercedes tbh, as much as I'd like to see a real title fight it is the reality
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  14. I think you missed my point entirely. Lewis, much to my chagrin, will win the title going away. I basically said there are tracks that even the odds, or better them. Same can't be said of the Bull/Renault. I also stick to the notion that Ferrari has a better car than Mercedes, excluding the power unit.
  15. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    I must say, I disagree here.
    I remember seeing a comparaison of laptimes at Bahrain between Lewis and Vettel. I was constantly hearing about the Ferrari having more understeer

    why Vettel is ahead sometimes are the conditions suiting Ferrari as they can save the tyres better. Singapore was probably just a one-off race, as Mercedes had no pace
  16. Qazdar Karim

    Qazdar Karim
    Premium Member

    I can't help thinking there was something fishy during this weekend ...

    Anyway, i think RBR had the best chassis on this track, really want to see how is their performance next season with a better engine hopefully!
  17. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    They had the best chassis in 2014 too. A better engine would probably mean RBR dominance all over again, and this time Ricciardo would be winning probably.
  18. Dux

    The 1st MK Formula 1 rFactor Sim-Racing Champion Premium Member

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  19. Qazdar Karim

    Qazdar Karim
    Premium Member

    All Vettel fans are funny :D

    You are telling us that you haven't seen such performance for like 17 years ... while Lewis was doing that for like 2 seasons now :D and Vettel himself before :p

    Mercedes was absent this weekend, it's normal that N°2 takes its place, but it doesn't make of Ferrari N°1 :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
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  20. There are 2 (yes ,two) cars per team. Strange that BOTH Mercs had an off day. I could understand one of them being off the pace, but both?
    Ferrari has been improving of late and no better driver than Vettel.
    Watch them go guys!
    At least I've got something to smile about this week. The boss was in town!