Red Bull Racing have had a poor season by their standards. If they’re not in contention for either title, they can’t be happy with themselves, nor can their drivers or fans. It has been a tough season for Ricciardo and particularly Verstappen, but Marina Bay could provide some light relief.
Firstly, it’s a circuit that doesn’t penalise a power deficit as much as other venues, and the Renault power unit in the back of the RB13 is still slightly weaker than the Ferrari and Mercedes equivalents. However, the chassis of the RB13 is much like the McLaren MCL32 this season, of a higher standard than the engine in the back.
At a circuit with many slow to mid-speed corners, and a windy layout barring the lengthy straight in the first sector, Red Bull could set up their car to be very strong through two-thirds of the lap, with its fondness for mechanical grip likely to push it slightly further up the running order this weekend.
Marina Bay is also a collectors item on the F1 calendar in that it is a bit of a bogey track for Mercedes. They went some way to rectify this statement last season given that Rosberg won the race, albeit by a paltry half-a-second from Daniel Ricciardo. But the Silver Arrows have always looked shaky here, and tend to have to settle for a second-row slot on the starting grid.
If Red Bull can have a solid weekend and challenge Mercedes, they will have put themselves in contention for only half of the battle, as Ferrari, and particularly Sebastian Vettel, could be very strong here too. The German has won four of the previous six Singapore Grand Prix’, a hat-trick with Red Bull in his title-winning years and a 2015 victory for Ferrari that emerged as their third and final win of that campaign.
Vettel will surely be the favourite approaching the weekend, but Daniel Ricciardo is hoping to do better than his old stablemate.
“I always prepare for the race with some acclimatization training. You feel the heat when you’re in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases you feel it even more. After the race I will easily sink five litres of water to rehydrate before I go to bed.
“I’ve started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
It is undeniable that Red Bull should be closer to Mercedes and Ferrari this weekend and this should provide a moment of rare relief for Max Verstappen if his car lasts the distance.
It’s been a horrible season in terms of attrition for the Dutchman, who currently possesses the unwanted record of most retirements in 2017 having completed only half of the races so far. There are a few good opportunities to overtake for the late-brakers on the grid, and he will be hoping to take some of the limelight from his teammate this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to getting to Singapore as it’s always a special weekend. The race has been a strong one for us in the past and I think we should be able to challenge for a podium this year.
The night race and hot temperatures really test you to the limit and for me Singapore is physically the hardest race of the season. I have been preparing already for a few weeks doing heat training in the sauna and getting ready to sweat so I can cope with the heat in both Singapore and Malaysia.
The track itself has a lot of corners which is why I enjoy driving there and like most street circuits it’s pretty bumpy which makes it even more challenging.”
– Max Verstappen
Red Bull have only registered a single victory in 2017 with Ricciardo’s steady drive in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix. We haven’t seen the team win purely on merit just yet, but for the sake of competition, hopefully this will be on the cards this weekend at Marina Bay.