Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will bid to keep the momentum going for McLaren-Mercedes in Singapore this weekend after mopping up the last three legs of the 20-race season between them. Victory in Italy a fortnight ago gave Hamilton his third success, and with just seven races left, he is still in with a major chance of making up ground on the leader Fernando Alonso.
With 142pts, Hamilton, lying in second place in the table is 37pts adrift of Alonso who has also picked up three victories this year. Both have winning form around the streets of Marina Bay, Alonso having won in 2009, while Hamilton came out on top two years ago. Button meanwhile was runner-up to Sebastian Vettel 12 months ago, and really needs to add to his wins in Australia and more recently Belgium if he is to entertain any hopes of a top three-finish in the driver’s championship, lying as he does in sixth at present.
The street circuit is not as twist-and-turn as Monaco but nevertheless requires slick change up and down the gears, and more coincidentally, an ability to perform well in Hungary. A look back at recent records there reveals that Button was second there last year, while team mate Hamilton captured both events three years ago. Again, that augurs well for the chance of the latter in particular, given his triumph in Budapest.
Alonso came third in Italy a fortnight ago to maintain his lead in the championship table, and the Ferrari man knows that another podium finish will put more pressure on those immediately behind in the table. That includes Kimi Raikkonen who is third, just one point behind Hamilton ahead of Sunday. The Lotus driver has yet to win any of the 13 races staged so far this year, but has been a model of consistency of late, making the podium four times in his last six starts.
Raikkonen, who set the lap record here in 2008, will be difficult to keep out of the first three, while of the rest, Red Bull’s Mark Webber makes some appeal based on his win round the streets of Monte Carlo, although he did start on pole. All in all though, Hamilton lines up in top form and will be driven on by the need to make up ground points-wise on Alonso, so if he gets to line up at the front of the grid after Saturday’s qualifying, the hint should be taken.
As a bonus for television viewers, the race is set to start at 8pm local time under lights, which means that for UK viewers it is the usual scenario of the engines screaming into life at 1pm.