(Singapore) Red Bull has a first chance to claim a second title in a row in the World Constructors’ Championship in Formula 1 this weekend in Singapore, on the “perilous” urban track of Marina Bay, scene of the 15e round of the season.
Although there is now no longer any doubt that they will be world champions again this season, the Austrian team (583 points overall) already has a first match point with eight rounds to go before the end of the season.
But to achieve this, its drivers Max Verstappen, solid leader in the drivers’ championship, and Sergio Pérez, second overall, must finish in the first two places at the end of the Grand Prix on Sunday.
At the same time, if Mercedes, second in the championship (273 points), does not score any points (or only one if Red Bull also recovers the point for best time), the team will then be declared champions for the sixth time in its history .
As for Red Bull, the task may prove within their reach, since the team has yet to concede any victory to the competition this season. During the last GP, in Italy at the beginning of September, the Austrian team even settled on the first two steps of the podium – Verstappen ahead of Pérez.
But its chances of being crowned this weekend are still low since this season, Mercedes has never scored less than eight points in a round.
End of Verstappen hegemony?
These are all the weaker as if Pérez won in 2022, Verstappen – whose first chance to be titled could come in Japan next weekend – has never done better than a third place in the Singapore furnace.
On “one of the most difficult (circuits) on the calendar”, recalled Red Bull boss Christian Horner, – “and we saw how dangerous it can be” – Verstappen made a mistake on last year. Forced to return to the pits, he finished 7e.
The double reigning champion could therefore see his performance of ten consecutive victories – an absolute record in F1 – come to an end this weekend.
“Singapore will probably be the most difficult weekend of the remaining races (…), because the peloton is generally very close, not to mention the heat and humidity,” explained the Dutchman. Especially since, like last year, the rain could once again play spoilsport.
It also remains to assimilate the new features of the Marina Bay route, shortened and modified due to works – going from 23 to 19 turns, with a longer straight line after the removal of chicanes in the third sector.
“The tour will be much faster than before,” warned Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alpine).
Enough to modify the hierarchy? Behind Red Bull in any case, everything remains to be played for. Its three pursuers, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin, are separated by 56 points.
Ferrari also enjoyed an excellent weekend on home soil at the beginning of September – Carlos Sainz finished 3e at Monza ahead of Charles Leclerc, 4e – to regain third place in the constructor’s championship from Aston Martin.
“It motivated us even more, because it’s a positive result – and what’s more, we got away from home,” Leclerc, 6, explained to AFP.e of the driver rankings.
Author of the last two poles in Singapore (before COVID-19, in 2019 and 2022), the Monegasque was also delighted to return to “one of his favorite tracks”. However, “we seem to have more difficulty on circuits like here where we have more aerodynamic downforce – so it risks being more difficult than at Monza,” he conceded.
In 2008, it was Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) who was the first to win here. An episode tainted by cheating – “Crashgate” – and recently returned to the forefront of the F1 scene.
According to the specialized press, the Brazilian Felipe Massa, vice-world champion in 2008, sent a letter this summer to the governing bodies of sport, demanding damages in this affair which, according to him, deprived him of the title in 2008 .
That year, Lewis Hamilton won the first coronation of his career during the last GP of the season. For only a small point of difference.