Singapore GP: Can Rosberg carry the momentum?

Rosberg has never scored a win at this venue and will look to seize the lead of the championship once again. in 2014, it was at this race he lost a 22-point championship lead to Hamilton due to a retirement, and never recovered from it.

Nico Rosberg won the last two races (Belgian and Italian GP) to reduce the 19-point deficit to his teammate Lewis Hamilton before the summer break, to just two points.   -  Getty Images

The European leg of the season ended with a snoozefest of a race at Monza, Italy as Mercedes and Ferrari completed the top four with no real contest.

The race also was drowned out by the news of Felipe Massa’s retirement, Jenson Button’s sabbatical next year and the sale of Formula One’s commercial entity to Liberty Media.

Even as news off the track has dominated the headlines over the last fortnight, the battle for the driver’s championship has been invigorated after Nico Rosberg won the last two races (Belgian and Italian GP) reducing the 19-point deficit to his teammate Lewis Hamilton before the summer break, to just two points. Now, the F1 circus kick starts the Asian flyaway races starting this weekend at the Marina Bay circuit, here in Singapore.

Rosberg, who starts his 200th grand prix this weekend, has never scored a win at this venue (best finish of second in the inaugural race here in 2008 with Williams) and will look to seize the lead of the championship once again. Two years back it was at this race he lost a 22-point championship lead to Hamilton due to a retirement, and never recovered from it. The German will need to carry the momentum if he harbours any hopes of ending his teammate’s third-straight title.

In the constructor’s battle, the battle for second place is the one to watch out for. Red Bull leads Ferrari by 11 points and will be relatively happy with it going into this weekend, on a track where its under-powered Renault engines’ handicap can be overcome by the strength of the chassis, and is even expected to give Mercedes a stern challenge.

Track info

The Singapore GP is one of the slowest tracks on the calendar with 23 corners, and the 61-lap race distance has often not been completed before the two-hour time limit.

Being a street circuit, the race has seen the safety car being deployed in every year of its running, slowing the eventual race time with three of the last four races ending by the clock and not laps.

While the race, held on the streets of the city-state, is not as unforgiving as the streets of Monaco, it is still a challenge for the drivers to keep out of the barriers.

Aside from the fact that it is a night race, the Singapore GP is unique in which all team personnel try to stay on European time to avoid battling jet lag.

Speaking about the unique nature and the challenge of the race, Force India’s Sergio Perez says, “Singapore is unique – starting from the very special schedule we have there. The European season may be over, but we keep to their times: it’s a weird routine – you wake up late, go to the track in the afternoon and stay up late into the night.

“It’s a very demanding race from a physical and mental perspective: it’s hot, races usually last up to two hours and you have nearly 25 corners to get right every lap. There is no margin for error and generally the racing is very intense, which takes a lot out of you as a driver.”