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F1 2019, Singapore GP: 5 Qualifying predictions

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Sept. 21, 2019

Singapore Grand Prix is upon us and it is time to watch the sparks fly under the artificial lights of the Marina Bay circuit. As racing returns to a street track, the drivers would be pushed to their limits, especially in the hot and humid conditions of Singapore.
The start of the weekend saw the scales tipped in Red Bull Racing ’s favour, with Max Verstappen comfortably leading the pack during FP1. However, as the day progressed, Mercedes found a huge chunk of speed to bump Lewis Hamilton up to the top of the timing sheet in the second practice session.
The day was not without incident, as Valtteri Bottas collided into the barriers at Turn 19 and Charles Leclerc had to cut short his run in FP1 due to reliability issues. Alex Albon, too, lost his front wing during FP2 but was able to quickly return to the track and complete a good number of laps.
Both Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc also encountered issues with traffic during their timed runs. Traffic is expected to be a major factor during the Qualifying session too, especially when all twenty cars will take to the track.
While Red Bull and Mercedes look like strong contenders for pole position at the moment, here are a few predictions for the Singapore Grand Prix qualifying:
#5 Antonio Giovinazzi outperforms Kimi Räikkönen
Antonio Giovinazzi is a long way away from truly competing with Kimi Räikkönen. The gulf of points between the two Alfa Romeo drivers seems to continually be increasing with time. Although Antonio has not yet made a compelling case in his favour, he has slowly started scoring a few points.
Throughout the two practise sessions on Friday, the Italian produced better-timed laps than Kimi and the same can be expected come Saturday. If Antonio can pull off a better starting position over his teammate, it will be a significant boost on the street circuit. A good haul of points is necessary for the Italian and track position would be the first step to achieve that.
#4 Haas continue to struggle
Haas may have provided clarity to their drivers regarding their future with the team, but that might not help boost their performance come Sunday. The American team has managed to score points only in four races of the season so far - Australia, Spain, Monaco and Germany.
They are currently second last on the constructor’s table and are not showing any signs of improvement for now. The race may turn out to be a different story, but as for the Saturday session, at least one of their drivers is likely to be in the bottom five.
Romain Grosjean has not had a season to remember till now but he would be keen to repay the faith that Haas has shown in him by handing him a fresh contract for the next season. The chances of him or Kevin Magnussen reaching the top 10 are slim and yet they would have their eyes set on race day for producing a good result.
#3 Alex Albon impresses for Red Bull
Singapore will provide for a proper teammate battle between Alex Albon and Max Verstappen . We haven’t yet seen the two Red Bull Racing drivers go head-to-head in a qualifying session because of the penalties either of them have copped up since Alex joined the team.
Currently, expecting Alex to match up to Verstappen’s speed would be a big ask from him but all eyes would be on the 23-year-old to see how well he fares. The Thai driver has impressed many with his bold overtakes in the two Grands Prix that he has raced in the Red Bull colours. Now is the time to showcase his skill concerning one-lap speed.
With speculation a constant nowadays regarding changes to the driver line-up in the energy drinks team, quickly impressing the bigwigs at Red Bull is necessary. Alex will have to give Max a run for his money or at least be right on his heels to become a permanent fixture in the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
#2 Renault taking the fight to McLaren
Renault and McLaren were caught up in a fight of their own during practice on Friday. While Renault got a confidence boost from the result last time around in Monza, McLaren would be keen to make a comeback with a strong finish this time around.
The two midfield teams going head-to-head for a big portion of the rest track position would make for an entertaining watch. While Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz have taken turns leading each other in the two practice sessions, neither Lando Norris not Daniel Ricciardo can be discounted during qualifying.
Earlier, McLaren seemed to be running away with fourth place in the constructor’s championship, but during the second half of the season, Renault have slowly been creeping upon them. Only 18 points separate the two teams using a Renault engine and it remains to be seen who will emerge on top by the end of the year.
#1 Battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for pole
Max Verstappen would be itching to have a proper go at qualifying after grid penalties cut short his chances during the Italian GP. The Honda Spec 4 engine seems to have brought Red Bull Racing to the fore at the Marina Bay circuit. The Dutch driver has had a horrid run since the summer break and Singapore would be a good opportunity to turn his luck around.
Lewis Hamilton , on the other hand, showed pace and was comfortable with the setup on his car. The Mercedes crew ensured a good turnaround between the two parts of qualifying and Lewis would extract as much from the car as possible come qualifying. He has experience of being on pole in Singapore before and can be a likely candidate yet again this weekend.
However, Lewis remained wary of the threat that Red Bull pose after practice. The edge may remain with the Briton, but Max is capable of dismantling well-laid plans. A straight shootout between Max and Lewis can be expected for pole position.
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