The Singapore Grand Prix has a habit of injecting fresh jeopardy into a title battle. Be it Felipe Massa driving off with his fuel hose still attached during Formula 1’s first-ever night race in 2008 – or Nico Rosberg’s faulty wiring loom that led to terminal clutch issues in 2016 – Singapore has the potential to turn a championship fight on its head.
Should 2017 championship leader Lewis Hamilton be crowned a four-time world champion in November, Sebastian Vettel’s dramatic first-lap elimination in Singapore will be looked upon as a season-defining moment.
Now trailing Hamilton by 28-points with just six races remaining, Vettel unquestionably finds himself hugely compromised. However, this is a title battle that is still far from declaring a winner.
It’s crazy to think that today’s chequered flag marks a quarter distance in 2017’s winter test programme. Melbourne seems an age away to fans but not for teams anxious to reach the bottom of their tick lists prior to making the trip down-under.
For McLaren’s sake, I hope their to-do-list is decidedly short, as limited running today as a result of yet more power unit woes has once again considerably hampered their progress. Honda left with egg on their face and embarrassing parallels to 2015 are already being drawn.
Here are FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day two of testing…
After a sublime resurgence in 2016, Red Bull have been widely tipped as Mercedes’ biggest threat heading into the new era of the sport. Considering that F1 is once again becoming an aero formula, the theory is rather water-tight.
As such, anticipation for the launch of the RB13 has been steadily building all week. Red Bull and Toro Rosso being the final teams to unveil their 2017 challengers has ensured that launch week would end with a crescendo and springboard F1 into it’s first winter test.
The RB13’s online launch was incredibly atmospheric. A video that was chilling and thrilling in equal measure. It’s proved a hit with fans but if you look beyond the lights and special effects, it prompts far more questions than answers.
Never give up. That is one of the prevailing messages after an intriguing 2016 F1 season. After being humbled by teammate and arch-rival Lewis Hamilton in 2015, losing the title and race victory on a day in Austin when he had the win sewn up, belief must have been in short supply.
However, Nico Rosberg used the disappointment of that day in October 2015 as a springboard. The German has finally beaten Lewis Hamilton over the course of a full season, taking the title in dramatic circumstances, as a desperate Hamilton did everything to spoil Rosberg’s coronation day.
Nico Rosberg is the 2016 World Champion and enters the sport’s Hall of Fame.
One of the frustrating elements of an otherwise excellent 2016 season has been regulatory inconsistencies. The rulebook has been evolving over the year, with modifications coming on a near-weekly basis.
Unprecedented levels of tinkering have given way to stewards decisions that more often than not set the precedents as opposed to following them. They have been redefining the goalposts week in, week out.
The Mexico Grand Prix featured inconsistencies within the same race and I can fully understand Max Verstappen’s frustration at being stripped of third place when all things are considered.
Max Verstappen’s breakthrough victory at the Spanish Grand Prix took the motorsport world by surprise. His already lofty stock has risen considerably in the past two weeks. The teenager’s new team Red Bull are certainly returning to form, out-qualifying both Ferrari’s in Spain and are preparing to fit an upgraded Renault powerunit into the RB12, which promises to deliver around half a second per lap of performance.
Statistics are key in any sport. One of the favourite past-times of the armchair pundit is to dissect all the key facts and figures and whenever a record is broken, it is quite the occasion. As such, Max Verstappen’s shock win at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix took on greater significance than the typical first time win. The 18 year old obliterated the previous record for youngest winner, in turn toppling top spot for the youngest driver to both stand on the podium and lead a lap, all in his first weekend at a new team.
The Dutchman is quite the record breaker, but follows in the footsteps of numerous other emerging talents who re-wrote the record books over the years.