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. 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. 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. 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.