After Italy brought the European season to a close, Formula 1 starts the final flyways of 2019 under the lights in Singapore this weekend.
For Ferrari, the high-speed circuits at Spa and Monza gave them and their new star Charles Leclerc two moments to remember with a pair of wonderful wins.
But, on the streets of Marina Bay, Red Bull are expected to step up and challenge Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton as he aims to take another step towards his sixth world title.
About the race:
F1’s original night race, it is remarkable to think this will be the 12th Singapore Grand Prix, having first taken place in 2008.
In that time, the city-state has become one of the premier locations on the calendar with the stars providing the off-track entertainment almost as big as those that shine in the sky above.
The racing is also equally as hot as the tropical climate which punishes the drivers, with Singapore rarely short on action.
Controversy came in the very first year with the ‘Crashgate’ saga of 11 years ago, when Renault intentionally told Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash, causing a Safety Car which helped teammate Fernando Alonso take the inaugural win.
Two years later, the Spaniard became a double winner in one of the most thrilling battles ever, as he held off Sebastian Vettel by less than 0.3s over the finish line.
The German soon became the master of Marina Bay though with three straight wins from 2011-2013 as Red Bull dominated on the high downforce layout.
But with the arrival of the hybrid era came a change in the guard as Mercedes has reigned supreme, winning all-but-one of the five Singapore GP’s since.
Despite that record, this has been one of their weaker circuits compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, with an emphasis on grip and high temperatures highlighting their main weaknesses.
In 2015, Vettel used that to claim a fourth win in his first season at Ferrari, and he perhaps should have made it five two years later.
Instead, 2017 is remembered as F1’s first-ever wet night race which led to the crash involving Sebastian, teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen on the run to Turn 1.
That paved the way for Hamilton to take one of his more fortuitous victories and after adding another last year, he has now joined his German rival with a fantastic four wins in Singapore.
All of this has taken place amid a stunning backdrop with the cityscape, the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Singapore Flyer all major landmarks around the circuit.
And with the race always pushing the two-hour time limit, this GP is one where you sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Top Pick: Max Verstappen ($25.8m)
After two races where his Red Bull hasn’t been a match for the top two manufacturers, Verstappen will be chomping at the bit to get back in the victory hunt in Singapore.
Certainly, his car is well-suited to the twisty streets and this year, thanks to the ever-improving Honda engine, this could be the Dutchman’s best chance yet to finally beat Mercedes at Marina Bay.
Medium pick: Carlos Sainz ($9m)
Though Renault dominated the midfield at Monza, Singapore should see a return to business as usual with McLaren the team to beat.
Of course, the competition remains fierce with the likes of Ricciardo, who goes well in Singapore, Perez in an improving Racing Point, and the ever consistent Raikkonen, whom we always recommend, but looking past Sainz for our top medium-price pick is near to impossible.
Low pick: George Russell ($7.2m)
Given the previous comments on McLaren, Norris at $5.5m is an absolute must-have if you can’t afford Sainz in your team.
But, for our low-price pick, we’ve gone for Russell based on the often incident-filled nature of Singapore which could pave the way for some unique opportunities.
Also, without the straights of the past two circuits to worry about, his Williams should be more competitive, allowing the Briton to score a strong result.
Alex Albon ($12.8m)
Now at an elevated price following his Red Bull move, Albon remains very good value for a driver that can deliver a strong top-six result, particularly if Ferrari are as weak as they were on a similar track in Hungary.
The Thai driver has also shown positive signs of being more competitive than his predecessor Gasly, but this will be the first weekend we get a proper read.
Lance Stroll ($9m)
Heading into this weekend, it does feel like Racing Point are a team to follow as they bring another significant upgrade to their improving car.
While they are typically stronger on low downforce tracks, they do have a good history in Singapore too and Stroll, if he can stay out of trouble, is a driver that can capitalise on opportunities in the race.