Nighttime action for F1 in Singapore
Singapore (Sports Network) - Formula One is running under the lights this weekend in Singapore.
The 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix, which is contested on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, is considered one of the longest and toughest races on the F1 calendar. It's also the only event of the season that starts and finishes at nighttime.
With seven races to go, Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull holds a comfortable 53- point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and an 81-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes. Vettel, the three-time defending F1 world champion, Alonso and Hamilton are the only drivers who have won in Singapore since the racing circuit began competing here in 2008.
Vettel has won the last two events on this 3.259-mile, 23-turn temporary street circuit. His victory here one year ago began a four-race winning streak. After Singapore, he won in Japan, Korea and India. Vettel claimed the 2012 F1 title by just three points over Alonso.
"My wins in 2011 and 2012 were the best, because I think it's one of the toughest races of the year," Vettel said. "It's a very long race. The full two hours of the race just seems to go on forever. The circuit itself is a killer, because there are so many bumps. There's no room for mistakes."
Vettel has six wins this season, including victories in the last two grand prix (Belgium and Italy).
Alonso won the inaugural Singapore GP five years ago when he drove for Renault. His second victory here came in 2010, his first season with Ferrari. He has finished no worse than fourth at this circuit.
"This is a very demanding race from the physical point of view and also mentally, because as it takes place at night, it changes your rhythm a bit over the weekend," Alonso said. "It's a very special race with no room for mistakes, but it's a track I like and where I have usually gone quite well, getting four podiums from five starts. So again this year, I'm tackling the weekend in a positive frame of mind, with great confidence that I can do well again."
Hamilton won the Singapore GP in 2009, driving for McLaren.
After winning four consecutive poles, Hamilton qualified 12th for the Italian GP two weeks ago. It was his worst qualifying result of the season. He finished ninth in that race. Hamilton placed third in Belgium one week after he scored his first victory of the year and with Mercedes in Hungary.
"We've had a tough couple of weekends in Belgium and Italy, but I know that everyone at the team is determined to bounce back from here and make the most of the opportunities over the last seven races of the season," Hamilton said.
Three of the last four Singapore GPs have been won from the pole position. Vettel's victory in it last year came from the third starting spot.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Sept. 22. Race: Singapore Grand Prix. Site: Marina Bay Street Circuit. Track: 3.259-mile (5.065-kilometer), 23-turn street circuit. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 61. Miles: 191.158 (308.828 km). 2012 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC Sports Network.
09/20 12:15:47 ET