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F1 2013 Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Preview

F1 turns on its lights at night over the course of this weekend at the spectacular Marina Bay circuit in Singapore.

Local Time: 9 PM (Singapore)

Top Three Qualifying Finish: Kimi Raikkonen @ 4.10 See the Latest Odds

TV: Sky F1 (UK), NBC (USA)

The Singapore Grand Prix is, along with Monaco, one of the jewels in the Formula 1 calendar. It serves as the only pure night race of the season, with Abu Dhabi officially cast as a 'dusk' Grand Prix.

Once every year the streets of urban Singapore are transformed into one of the most testing streets circuits in world, and Marina Bay comes to life.

F1 2013 Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Preview

The weekend is more than just pretty lights, however. Underneath the veneer of glamour and glitz lies the most physically intense race of the year, the one that puts drivers on the verge of exhaustion.

That’s what makes the Singapore Grand Prix such a unique event. Every year we come with the threat of monsoon style storms, but it never seems to come fruition. This year similar weather patterns hover, but the sessions will almost definitely be subject to the humidity and that alone.

The most important alteration to the circuit, which is incredibly demanding on the down force of cars, is the removal of the mid-turn chicane at turn 10. A unique feature which has caught many a driver out over the years, its removal can be heard with a universal sigh of relief for the 22 about to take the track for qualifying.

The expectation coming into the race in terms of performance was perhaps a swing back to Mercedes, who dominated the last high down force race Hungary. Red Bull’s dominance was expected to slightly subside with the RB9 being by far and away the fastest car over the course of the two low down force races in Spa and Monza.

Friday practise reflected a measure of what was expected as Mercedes certainly re-entered the fray, but Red Bull still appeared dominant. Vettel and Webber absolutely blitzed Free Practise 2 with Vettel over a second clear of Nico Rosberg in P3 in a comprehensive showing.

Although Hamilton got the jump on the Red Bulls in FP1, it was Mercedes who really had to make the statement that they were competitive again. Red Bull just sat by and watched what Mercedes had to offer.

Ferrari, on the other hand, showed no real signs of any improvement. Fernando Alonso was quite a bit down in P6 and doesn’t look like having a car that on performance alone challenge for the podium, although that’s never stopped him before. The Scuderia are really dancing with fire when it comes to their championship ambitions, with this weekend being the do or die scenario for them. If Vettel’s lead was to stretch any further, it will be all over.

The other contender for the podium positions Lotus, who have slipped away in the last few races and are really down in the dumps with the recent news that their star man Kimi Raikkonen has decided to leave, also had an average showing. With Romain Grosjean in P5 and Raikkonen in P8, they are perhaps ahead of the Ferraris yet still down on the Red Bulls and Mercedes.

Qualifying in Singapore is typically an affair where the expected front runners get the job done. Over the course of the track, which has an average speed only just above that of Monaco, the slow corners generally create substantial differentiation between the cars.

It would take a very brave soothsayer to predict against a Red Bull front row lockout, the only possible intrusion coming from a Mercedes. Yet the promise of the Lotus is too hard to ignore. While they won’t be on pole, Kimi Raikkonen is quietly confident that he has a car that’s capable of putting him up there and with a lot of value, Raikkonen is a good bet to finish in the top three in qualifying.

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