The Singapore Grand Prix is the event Aston Martin has had circled from the start of the calendar, and they probably are not the only team that has done so. The Marina Bay Street Circuit may be the great equalizer that Aston Martin, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are all anxiously hoping for as they try to stop Max Verstappen and the Red Bull Racing express.
"We seem to have a car that is maybe not the fastest on the straights," Alonso told formula1.com back in May ahead of the Grand Prix of Monaco. "We need to improve that, but we are very good on the corners. I would say that the slowest speeds of the championship — let's say Monaco, Budapest, Singapore [are our best chances]. These kind of circuits, I think, are we put our main hopes at the moment."
So, let's review how that worked out:
Monaco: Alonso was second to Verstappen, nearly 28 seconds behind.
Budapest: Another win for Verstappen as Aston Martin's performance dipped and Alonso struggled to a ninth-place finish.
So here we are at Singapore, with Verstappen now having won 10 on the trot. It could be that should none of the chasing crowd of Alonso, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr., Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and even Sergio Perez upset the apple cart now, it will be clear sailing for the Dutch two-time world champion to make it three titles in a row some time around Suzuka. He also could run the table and win the remaining events, although Las Vegas does present the wild card as it is the new circuit on the calendar and none of the teams know what to expect.
Aston Martin has redirected its focus to catching the immediate teams ahead of them in the championship: No. 2-running Mercedes, whom they are 45 points behind, and Ferrari, who are third in the Constructors' Cup standings and are a more reasonable 11 points ahead.
"The target is to try to get back to second in the constructors' championship," Tom McCullough, Aston Martin's performance director, told formula1.com. "That's a brave target, against some fierce competition, as Mercedes have had a couple of strong events, and Ferrari had their strongest event of the year at Monza, their home race. We're hoping to be more competitive as we return to some of the higher-downforce tracks going forward."
How to watch the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
- Date: Sunday, Sept. 17
- Location: 3.07 mile (4.94 kilometer), 19-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore
- Time: 8 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN/ESPN+
- Stream: fubo (try for free)
What to watch for
The Marina Bay Street Circuit couldn't be more different than Monza, the event before it. Instead of a high speed, high downforce track with sweeping turns, Marina Bay is narrow with turns that pinch and can easily take a bite out of a driver should they lose concentration. Missing this time around are four turns due to redevelopment in the area, hence the drop from 23 turns to 19, but the race distance has been increased from 61 laps to 62. Though a night race, Singapore is still known for high ambient temperatures and heavy humidity that takes its toll on a driver's fitness level. There is a time limit on the event as well, with two hours being the maximum. So, even with the increase in laps, there is a good chance it may not go the distance. Especially if there are any safety car periods, which Singapore is known for.
Tight corners means slow speeds, but that doesn't mean it won't be brutal on the tires. Heavy braking will take its measure out of the Pirellis, and the Italian manufacturer will be bringing the softest compounds in their inventory: the C3 whites (hard), the C4 yellows (medium) and the C5 reds (softs) that were also used at Monaco. The winning strategy around Singapore has been a one-stopper, and teams will likely opt to start on the soft C5 reds and hope to get 15-20 laps in before switching to the the C3 hard compound whites for the rest of the race. However, should there be a safety car period after that initial group of pit stops, and should it be within 20 laps of the finish or time limit, teams will be faced with the dilemma of diving in for another set of reds or staying out for track position.