Vettel refusing to buy into Singapore favorite hype

Valtteri Bottas left is trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton right and Sebastian Vettel in the drivers title race. Wong Maye  AP

The Straits Times' F1 columnist David Tremayne certainly feels that as the 20-round season swings towards its last seven races, Singapore can be a turning point, especially since the prancing horses of Ferrari won in the street circuits of Monaco and Hungary this year. "Whatever happens along the way happens".

"I've been here for quite a few years now and I think next year we need to make a bigger step than we did this year, to really convince me that I can win with them".

Ricciardo was, on average, half a second ahead of Hamilton as he seeks to disrupt the pattern of Mercedes and Ferrari trading blows, having done so at a dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.

'Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more hard at those places in 2017.

The circuit in Singapore involves tight, twisty corners and high downforce which suits Ferrari, thus leading many to predict that the team would surely return on track.

Mercedes has made little secret of the fact Singapore is its bogey circuit. But Vettel, who with four wins is also the most successful driver at Singapore, played down the "favourites" tag.

Hamilton has struck form as the championship enters its final straight.

With such onus being put on the red team to walk the weekend, there is the expectation for Vettel to regain the lead of the standings - if he is to be the victor for Ferrari.

A general view taken from Swissotel the Stamford shows the illuminated circuit for the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix night race on Sunday. Roslan Rahman  AFP
Red Bull and Renault set to split after 2018: Reports

Champions Mercedes have won eight of 13 races this season. "It's about understanding the vehicle and the more we clock mileage the more we learn about it". Red Bull will be fast this weekend so it won't be the easiest of weekends possibly.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia steers his auto into the pit lane during the second practice session at the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit Singapore, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

The German ended up 11th quickest after aborting one timed lap for traffic and then spinning into the barriers on the second.

McLaren and power-unit supplier Honda announced earlier that they were ending their partnership at the end of the season.

As part of the multi-faceted deal, highly rated Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz was loaned to the Renault team for 2018, elbowing out British pilot Jolyon Palmer.

McLaren's partnership with Honda has been beset by performance and reliability problems and they will hope that a link up with Renault can provide the team with the foundation to be a contender with Alonso at the wheel. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, though, the four-time champion was refusing to buy into the hype.

"In theory it should be better here than in Monza", Vettel said. "It's kind of just arrive and do, and I want to do the best the whole time".

"We have seen that it's very close no matter where we go, also on the tracks that definitely suit Mercedes or definitely suit Ferrari".

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