Lewis Hamilton’s victory at Monza was part of an historic weekend. The Brit broke the record for most poles, and took the lead in the Drivers’ Championship as Sebastian Vettel was separated from Hamilton by Valtteri Bottas to finish third.
With six race wins under his belt for the year, Mercedes’ superstar sits three points ahead of the German. Back-to-back race wins have been pivotal in the Formula One season, though Vettel’s third and second placed finishes in those two races have limited the damage to his title chances.
Now we turn to Singapore, for one of the most glamorous races in the glitziest sport of all.
In Friday’s first practice session, it was Daniel Ricciardo who led the timings in Singapore. Vettel followed by .109 of a second, and Max Verstappen was third. Hamilton set his time earlier in the session and was way off the pace.
Bottas, meanwhile, was not impressed with his car’s grip, which is an early cause for concern for the Mercedes cars. Fernando Alonso’s McLaren showed good pace, however, and could be a shock threat for a podium place at 33/1.
The Spaniard to finish the race at 3/5 is obviously the safer bet, especially given McLaren’s struggles throughout this season...
Ricciardo’s times in the first practice session could signal a strong weekend for the Red Bulls. His sole race victory at Baku reflects how far off the Ferrari and Mercedes cars have been, but the Australian is always competitive and has finished on the podium on seven occasions in 2017.
He is 3/5 to finish in the top three again in Singapore. The happiest man in sport could play a significant role in the Hamilton versus Vettel battle in the closing weeks of the season.
The struggling Bottas is out at 2/1 to make the podium, which is certainly one of the better prices for this weekend given his excellent drive at Monza. The Finn has settled comfortably into the role of second fiddle at Mercedes and recently confirmed that he would drive for the reigning constructors’ champions in 2018.
The early news from Singapore is primarily about driver moves and engine relationships ending ahead of 2018. The focus should be on a potentially enthralling title battle, however, especially with Vettel well set to retake the Championship lead with seven races to go.
The former Red Bull man is at 5/4 to take all 25 points on Sunday, and smash the ball back into Hamilton’s court.
Regardless of what happens at Singapore, Hamilton has to be seen as the favourite for the title. Mercedes have kept in touch with Vettel’s Ferrari even when their race pace is off, and taken full advantage when they have a marginal upper hand. Bottas’ consistency plays a role in restricting Vettel’s point scoring, too.
Enjoy the Singapore weekend, but aside from disaster it is unlikely to have too much impact on Hamilton’s crusade towards another world championship. We might just see a few shocks on the street circuit, it’s one of several must-watch sporting events this weekend.