Formula 1

Mercedes rivalry set to shine under F1 floodlights in Singapore

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will take centre stage once again as Formula 1 prepares to go night racing at the Singapore Grand Prix.

After the high-speed circuits of Spa and Monza, the tight and twisty streets of Marina Bay offer a very different challenge to teams and drivers but Mercedes will again head in as favourites.

Monaco of the East

Often considered the Monaco of the East, Singapore puts on a show few races can match and now heading into its seventh edition, the sport's only full night race continues to dazzle.

One of the reasons why this race has been such a success is because it’s about much more than just the action on the track, live concerts featuring some of the biggest names in music allied to some of the most famous celebrities in the world make the Singapore Grand Prix all about the glitz and glamour and a must visit for fans.

The incredible setting also makes this race special from the towering skyscrapers, to the Singapore Flyer and the purpose-built 30,000-seater grandstand, which the cars goes under, all add to the atmosphere of this great weekend.

Lighting up the night

But the most spectacular part of the Singapore experience is the thrill of watching Formula 1 machines race at night.

While Abu Dhabi and Bahrain may also race under floodlights, to see the streets lit up so brightly and the narrow stretch of road stand out against the night sky really is a sight to behold.

The system is run off a series of generators around the circuit, powering 1,600 lights and such is the power, over three million watts, the specially devised lighting produces approximately 300 lux, around four times that of a football stadium floodlight.

Indeed so bright are the lights some drivers actually complain of the circuit being too well illuminated and instead prefer the more stadium-esque lighting used at Yas Marina and Sakhir.

However, it isn't just merely producing enough light to allow the drivers to go racing, the system has to be set-up so should it rain, which it does a lot in Singapore, then the glare of the lights on the wet surface is as minimal as possible

Endurance race

By the rules every race has to last 300km plus one lap, the only exception being Monaco, and so when the cars went slower around the circuit than was anticipated, the 61-lap Grand Prix really became F1's closest thing to an endurance race.

With lap-times likely approaching 1:45- 1:50, the race gets close to the two-hour limit even before the impact of safety car periods, which have occurred at every race so far, are taken into account.

Add to that the energy-sapping heat and humidity in Singapore which is still in the 30 degrees - 80% range despite being held at night and it is one of the toughest races of the year on the drivers.

Car-breaker

The cars too, take one of the biggest beatings they endure all year. Singapore is the toughest circuit on the brakes and the stop/ start layout also puts a lot of stress on gearboxes and cooling particularly when you add in the heat, the confines of a street circuit and the lack of long straights.

This could be particularly relevant this year, as drivers are close to exceeding their allocation of engine parts and no-one has a completely fresh power unit ready to take on the extreme challenge.

Daniil Kvyat became the first man to take a ten-place grid drop for using a sixth Internal Combustion Engine at Monza and don't rule out other drivers suffering the same fate in Singapore.

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With all that to worry about, it’s easy to forget the resumption of the major championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Advantage Rosberg?

After Hamilton got payback for the events at Spa in Italy just over a week ago, the form-book of the two drivers in Singapore could swing the pendulum back towards Rosberg.

While Hamilton does have a win to his name back in 2009, his run of results since have been retirement, fifth, retirement, fifth, therefore he will not be hoping that pattern continues this weekend.

As for Rosberg he is always strong at Marina Bay, finishing second in the controversial inaugural race in 2008 and only an in-race penalty for crossing the white line on the pit-exit in 2009 means he hasn't scored in every race.

I also believe the mistake that gifted Lewis Hamilton victory in Monza was a result of the pressure he had been under since Belgium and therefore with that out of his mind, can now fully focus on trying to beat his team-mate in Singapore.

Red Bull revival?

After the power circuits of the last two races, Singapore's streets offer a much more friendly challenge to the Renault-powered Red Bull's.

Indeed last year Sebastian Vettel, currently on a streak of three-straight wins at Marina Bay, was truly dominant as the chicanes and 90-degree turns suited the blown diffuser-ed RB9 perfectly.

The question is, looking to this year however; will the RB10 be able to mount any kind of challenge to the Mercedes W05?

The lack of straights will undoubtedly help as will the number of corners, 23 in all, however, I still think for Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel they may find themselves watching out for the Williams and the Ferrari's behind rather than battling with the Merc's.

Sauber's last chance saloon?

Towards the back, Singapore could well offer Sauber with their last best chance to try and score the three points needed to overhaul Marussia in the Constructors' championship.

With attrition usually quite high at Marina Bay, keeping out of trouble and capitalising on the opportunities that may come will be imperative for the Swiss team.

At the same time, however, the same applies to Caterham and Marussia who will also consider this one of their last races where scoring a best result and potentially points is possible.

Asian Jewel in the crown

But all eyes will be on the Silver Arrows with so much at stake and an increased chance for a potentially championship defining moment, the race that has become Asia's 'jewel in the crown' will be an unfishable two hours of action in one of the most spectacular settings in the world.

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