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Singapore a must-win for Ferrari

THE F1 paddock heads to the floodlit streets of Singapore where Ferrari have it all to do if it has any designs on either one of the 2018 titles.

At 5.073 km Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit is, arguably, the most demanding on the calendar.

The relentless barrage of twenty-three corners demands utter concentration for every one of the 61 laps.

Coupled with the humid conditions of South-East Asia, the Singapore Grand Prix is easily one of the most physically demanding races of the year.

Traditionally, Singapore and its Marina Bay Circuit have been more suited to Ferrari and Red Bull. The reappearance of the Hyper and Ultrasoft tyres also moves the odds of success more towards Ferrari and Red Bull.

Though there are two relatively long straits in the lap, the plethora of corners makes Singapore less power sensitive which plays into the hands of Red Bull who, otherwise, have an excellent chassis and aero package. Barring power unit penalties both Verstappen and Ricciardo should feature this weekend.

Mercedes’ inability to go well in Singapore centres on tyre temperatures and their inability to get the four Pirelli tyres in the correct range at the right time.

But Mercedes is leaving no stone unturned in its drive to win in Singapore and for the remainder of the season. “We will turn the whole factories in Brixworth and Brackley upside down to extract performance, and go to Singapore with the aim of doing the best,” said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

Ferrari, who is probably still smarting from Monza, should also do well on the Marina Bay Circuit. Singapore is a place where Vettel has shone in the past.

With a thirty-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton the Singapore Grand Prix could once again prove significant in the title race.

It’s almost ironic that the Singapore Grand Prix has the potential to play such an important role in the outcome of the 2018 season. After all, it was here, one year ago, that the fight for the 2017 driver’s title went sideways for Ferrari when Sebastian Vettel wiped out himself, Max Verstappen, and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

At the time, it was seen as the seminal moment of the championship and possibly the point where it began to slide away from him.

This Grand Prix is a must-win for Vettel after which Ferrari will hope that Red Bull can get ahead of Mercedes and they’ll want Raikkonen in the mix too. But there are so many additional elements and “issues” swirling around Ferrari, off-track, that it threatens to draw attention away from what needs to happen on track.

There is little to deny that Ferrari currently, by a slight margin, has the quickest car. But in Formula 1, having the fastest car isn’t enough. Though it now seems less likely, speculation has been rampant over the last few weeks that rookie Charles Leclerc will replace Raikkonen in 2019. While it probably won’t impact on Raikkonen’s driving, it’s an unnecessary distraction that the team cannot afford. Add to that Ferrari’s incessant and costly strategic mistakes and it’s enough to decide the title fight.

Ferrari must get their house in order and they must outwit Mercedes on strategy. If not, Mercedes are more than able to scoop both 2018 titles.

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