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Verstappen's championship point - What to expect at the Singapore Grand Prix
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Verstappen's championship point - What to expect at the Singapore Grand Prix

Verstappen's championship point - What to expect at the Singapore Grand Prix

Verstappen's championship point - What to expect at the Singapore Grand Prix

Verstappen's championship point - What to expect at the Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix returns for the first time since 2019 and it marks the first opportunity for Max Verstappen to seal his second consecutive F1 drivers' title.

The Marina Bay race was a casualty of the Covid pandemic in each of the last two years.

With drivers out of practice around the high-speed street track, what can you expect from the coming weekend?

Verstappen's championship point

Verstappen arrives in Singapore with a lead of 116 points over Charles Leclerc. But with Sergio Perez and George Russell also still mathematically in title contention, the dominos need to fall favourably for the crown to be clinched this weekend.

A maximum score of 138 will be available after leaving Singapore, meaning that before factoring in his other contenders, Verstappen must outscore Leclerc by 22 points.

This can only be achieved with a race win, a feat that would put the Dutchman just one victory shy of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel's joint record for the most scored in a single season.

Couple Verstappen's incredible form with Ferrari's fragile reliability and a coronation under the lights cannot be ruled out.

A full rundown of how Verstappen can win the F1 title can be found here!

Mercedes in with a shot

George Russell may have labelled the Circuit of the Americas as Mercedes' best chance for a victory this season but the team should not be written off in Singapore.

Mercedes has been particularly strong at higher downforce tracks this year such as Hungary, where Lewis Hamilton and Russell finished second and third.

Four of the last six wins at the Marina Bay Circuit have been scored by the Silver Arrows with Hamilton securing three of this number. Red Bull's last win on this layout came in 2013 with Sebastian Vettel.

The German is the only driver to have beaten Mercedes to the top step in recent years, with wins in 2015 and '19 for Ferrari.

Ferrari strategy AGAIN under the microscope

Perceived blunders from the Ferrari pit wall have seen the team's strategy calls fall under close scrutiny this year.

At the team's home race at Monza last time out, the Scuderia switched Leclerc onto a two-stop strategy during an early virtual safety car period in a gamble to beat Verstappen. This did not work.

After the race, Ferrari conceded that the Dutchman had been "impossible to beat" no matter the strategy, but with the team's championship hopes hanging by a thread, nothing short of perfection will do in Singapore.

A stormy reception

The weather is expected to play a major role in the coming weekend with storms set to hit Singapore by day.

Although the worst of the weather is expected to have cleared up by the time the drivers take to the track on Friday and Saturday, there remain question marks over Sunday's forecast.

But even if the track has dried in time for each session, the grip will be minimal and the painted sponsor markings will be treacherous.

Add in the extreme humidity levels that are expected to be in the low 80 per cent range, and the challenge just keeps getting harder.

Retirements, safety cars and rookie errors

F1 has just one rookie in the field this year in Zhou Guanyu, but recent cancellations mean that neither Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher nor Yuki Tsunoda has driven the Singapore track in an F1 car.

Given the aforementioned tricky conditions, a lack of experience will further amplify this challenge and add to the risk of crashes and, if in the race, safety cars.

The conditions make this the toughest test not just for drivers but also for the cars and there has never been a Singapore Grand Prix in which every driver has reached the chequered flag.

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