Singapore GP: Title rivals prepare to turn up the heat

Spectacular Singapore GP preview

Singapore's spectacular street circuit will play host to the next round of the season-long battle between Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The sport's first night race has fast become a favourite among drivers and fans alike with its lively atmosphere, tricky track layout and stunning backdrop.

Mercedes remain the team beat with a healthy lead in the constructors' championship after their seventh one-two of the season in Italy and will be looking for a repeat performance.

The latest in the Hamilton-Rosberg saga...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gestures to fans as he passes team-mate Nico Rosberg of Germany
Lewis Hamilton makes a gesture to fans as he passes Nico Rosberg during a sponsorship event on Wednesday

Hamilton and Rosberg arrived at the Italian Grand Prix with all eyes on them after they collided at Spa a fortnight earlier.

But the pair were allowed to continue to race each other, a decision which was relished at Monza.

Hamilton started on pole following his blistering performance in both practice and qualifying but a technical glitch on the grid saw him passed by Rosberg and drop down to fourth.

Lewis Hamilton takes lead after Nico Rosberg error

The Briton fought back to second and then began putting pressure on his team-mate, with Rosberg eventually cracking.

Hamilton went on to take his sixth win of the season and closed the gap to 22 points with six races to go.

Reasons to watch the Singapore GP

BBC Sport chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:
The Singapore Grand Prix is a brutally demanding test of man and machine in one of the world's most exotic locations.High temperatures, sapping tropical humidity and the longest race on the calendar already make Singapore unique, and that's without considering the fact the race takes place at night.This adds an atmosphere all of its own. The cars glisten under the powerful lights, the circuit is lined with large, coloured lanterns, Singapore's skyline provides a neon-hued, Bladerunner backdrop. Everything takes on a different feel.Other than sharing the surreal experience of staying on European time - getting up in the early afternoon, going to bed just as it's getting light - the drivers have little chance to appreciate all that. Back in the refuelling days, Fernando Alonso was among many drivers to ask for it to be shortened, so demanding was it physically.The Pirelli era has softened those demands a little, but Singapore, on a bumpy street circuit with 23 corners and lined with concrete walls, still vies with Malaysia for the honour of being the toughest race of the season.

At almost two hours, the race is comfortably the longest on the calendar and with the added challenge of bright floodlights and unusual timetable that plays havoc with the body-clock, the Singapore GP has all the ingredients of a classic.

All eyes will be on Rosberg to see how he responds to the psychological blow Hamilton inflicted on him in Italy.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo will aim to gatecrash the party, though. The Australian impressed again in Monza, with BBC F1 analyst David Coulthard tipping him as a "future multiple champion" as he went from 12th to fifth in 25 laps.

The spectacle of Singapore

The Singapore Grand Prix takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the inaugural F1 night race.

Lit by thousands of powerful floodlights, the track is glamorous but its mix of high-speed straights and bumpy slow corners makes it a real challenge for the drivers as they weave their way between the barriers.

Marina Bay fast fact
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has won the last three races in Singapore

The circuit has hosted a grand prix every season since 2008, when Renault's Fernando Alonso won his first race of the year.

He also won it in 2010, to sandwich Hamilton's victory, before Sebastian Vettel dominated with three wins in the last three years.

What the drivers have been doing...

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo proudly showed off his sweat patches as he prepared himself for the heat and humidity of Singapore. "Been preppin' for the Singapore heat this week, killer sweat patches," he tweeted.external-link

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton took his mind off the title battle by taking in Arsenal's game against Manchester City on Saturday, 13 September. He tweeted:external-link "Went to my first game EVER [of] my team since Ian Wright days. Great day."

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, appeared to take a trip out into the desert to race a radio controlled car.

A classic Singapore Grand Prix

Formula 1 broke new ground in 2008 when Singapore hosted the sport's first ever night race - and it turned out to be an event no one would ever forget.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa had looked set to dominate, leading from pole position and pulling away from title rival Hamilton early on.

But during his first pit stop, he was given the green light to leave before the team had removed the refuelling hose.

The Brazilian pulled away, knocking over a mechanic and dragging the hose down the pit-lane. He stopped at the exit and was forced to wait while his mechanics ran after him to remove it.

His afternoon was made worse when he was given a drive-through penalty for leaving the pit dangerously and ultimately finished 13th.

Hamilton finished third to extend his lead in the world championship, behind race winner Alonso of Renault and Williams' Rosberg.

Alonso's chances of victory had looked bleak when he qualified 15th but the race opened up for him when an early safety-car period tallied perfectly with the team's strategy.

But it later transpired that his Renault team had fixed the race, with team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr crashing deliberately, under team orders, to bring out the safety car.

Team boss Flavio Briatore was banned from the sport indefinitely, while director of engineering Pat Symonds was given a five-year ban. Both punishments, however, were overturned on appeal.

Singapore Grand Prix coverage details.

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