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With its twists and turns, Singapore could end Ferrari’s run

The Marina Bay track plays well to Mercedes’ strengths but Red Bull could pose a threat.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2019, 11.35 PM IST
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Charles Leclerc revelled in the giddy highs of success after taking back to back wins for Ferrari in Belgium and Italy, but the Monegasque is braced for a return to earth in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old’s run of double triumphs ended Ferrari’s victory drought. But they came at circuits that played to their car’s strengths. Spa and Monza, with their long straights and flat-out blasts handed Ferrari, whose car has proven exceptionally quick in a straight line, a rare edge. But with their car struggling through the corners, a repeat this weekend in Singapore looks unlikely.

The Marina Bay track, which winds its way through the heart of the glittering city state, has more corners than any other venue on the calendar. The last time Ferrari raced around a similar layout, the Hungaroring in Hungary, they finished over a minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

“It might be a bit more difficult for us this weekend,” said Leclerc, whose win at the last race in Italy was Ferrari’s first on home soil since 2010. “There’s quite a lot of corners, a lot less straights.

“We know we are quite strong on power-limited tracks but it is not one of them here. We are going to struggle a bit more but anything is possible everywhere." “We will give everything here for the win.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, should once again be the team to beat. The dominant champions have won 10 of this season’s 14 races. Their successive defeats in Spa and Monza were the first time this year that they have been beaten in successive races. Hamilton, who leads team mate Valtteri Bottas by 63 points in the overall standings with seven races left, together with Vettel is the most successful driver in Singapore with the pair each having chalked up four wins.

The Briton, winner in Singapore for the last two years, had also not been beaten in successive races until the Belgian and Italian events. On Sunday, he will be gunning to return Mercedes to the top step of the podium with an unprecedented fifth Singapore win.

“For a long time, Singapore used to be one of our weakest tracks,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “But we’ve made some inroads into that and performed well last year. “However, there are no home runs at a track like Singapore. “We ... take absolutely nothing for granted in our approach to the weekend.” Mercedes’ caution could be well founded.

The Marina Bay track has generally been one of the few tracks where their rivals have run them close. While their car this year has had the edge through the corners rather than on the straights as used to be the case, Red Bull could pose a threat.

The former champions have traditionally tended to do well in Singapore with the track’s twists suiting their nimble car.

They have finished second there for the last five years and Max Verstappen, who battled Hamilton hard for victory in Hungary, will want to go one better on Sunday.

“It’s a race where we tend to do better than say, Monza and Spa,” said Verstappen, who finished runner up to Hamilton in Singapore last year. “Hopefully we can have another good weekend. Overtaking is very tricky, so qualifying is the key. “You have to nail it.”
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