Ferrari and Renault are in two different leagues in F1. The former is a contender for the world championship while the latter is trying hard to stay in the mid field. But both of them have one thing in common this weekend, their drivers are under pressure.
Ferrari is considering Singapore circuit as their best chance to stay in the title battle with the Silver Arrows team. For the first time this season, Mercedes is leading in both the constructor’s championship and driver’s championship points.
Monza gave Lewis Hamilton a 3 point lead over Sebastian Vettel. More embarrassingly the German was 36 seconds behind the British driver in Ferrari’s home race.
The tide could turn to favour Ferrari now. Equipped with 1600 lights, the night race on the streets of Singapore is what Ferrari’s dreams are made of. Like Monaco and Hungary, the high downforce, low-speed corners and the heat, all favour the Italian team over its German rival. Most importantly, it’s a certified Vettel circuit.
Vettel has won 4 races in this circuit, the last one being in 2015. In his last race here, Vettel raced from the back of the grid to 5th moving up 17 places on a track where overtaking is extremely hard.
Ferrari has shown excellent results in another high downforce track, Monaco where Kimi Raikkonen took the pole position and ended second while Vettel claimed the 1st place.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff acknowledges that the track is not the best fit for their cars. But also insists they have “raised the level of performance significantly” in Hungaroring where Valtteri Bottas came in third and Hamilton took 4th. They also have a history of two wins in the last four years in the Singapore track.
So there is a lot of pressure on Vettel to deliver this race for Ferrari.
Another driver who is also under pressure is Nico Hulkenberg. The German is about to set a record for most starts in Grand Prix, 129 races, without a single podium finish. Hulkenberg has been a consistent driver in his seven-year career, ending many races within top 10. But for some reason, he is unable to crack into the top 3 places.
His performance has been significantly better than his teammate Jolyon Palmer. The British driver didn’t score a single point this season and according to sources, it is only a matter of time before he loses his racing seat at Renault.
Renault recently announced they are planning to leapfrog to fifth place from their current 8th. One of their plans is to get Carlos Sainz into Renault early on, so they can replace Palmer by Malaysian Grand prix. A couple of double point finishes could help them overtake the nearby competition and land at the fifth.