It’s time for the Asian tripleheader in the F1 season with the first stop being the hot & humid night streets of Singapore.
The sports first ever night race, it debuted on the F1 calendar back in 2008 as an official World Championship round, and outside of two cancelled races in 2020 & 2021 due to COVID, it has appeared every year since.
A popular race for Australians to travel to, no Aussie has ever won around the streets of Marina Bay, with Daniel Ricciardo coming the closest, finishing 2nd in 2015, 2016 & 2017.
With all that in mind, just which of the 13 races in Singapore are in the top 5? Let’s find out.
5. 2014 - Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton held on to a victory in a race with three different lead changes in a key race that helped him towards his second World Championship.
Hamilton secured pole and led the majority of the race with a significant lead over the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, before a safety car period saw his lead diminished. Having pitted just prior to the safety car period, Vettel had the advantage given he was able to pit during it. This meant Hamilton had to re-build a lead of over 25 seconds to maintain his advantage.
He fell just short and emerged behind the German after his second stop, but soon caught and made a rare pass in Singapore to re-take the lead and hold on to win his first Singapore Grand Prix since 2009.
The win gave him the lead in the Drivers Championship over key rival and teammate Nico Rosberg, who retired on lap 13 with a steering wheel issue.
4. 2019 - Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
A strategic battle that brought Sebastian Vettel his final ever victory in F1.
Starting third on the grid, Vettel maintained this position in the early stages of the race behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in second and his teammate Charles Leclerc in first. Alongside Max Verstappen in fourth, he was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 19, a decision that would prove decisive for the final race result.
The next lap Leclerc pitted but came out behind Vettel, giving the undercut advantage to the German. Following a failed strategy call by Mercedes, Vettel would take the lead and never lose it, handing him his first win of 2019 and the final of his career.
With a tense battle between the Ferrari pair in the final laps and an unhappy Leclerc venting his frustration, it was an intense and entertaining battle on the streets of Singapore.
3. 2017 - Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
For the first time in the history of the Singapore Grand Prix we had a wet race, albeit briefly, with rain falling before the start of the race to create some intrigue beforehand.
It would only add to what would be the most chaotic start in the history of the race. Sebastian Vettel started on pole for Ferrari, ahead of the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. The star of the start however was Kimi Raikkonen, who vaulted from fourth in his Ferrari to fight for the lead.
However in doing so, he helped sandwich Verstappen between himself and Vettel and what happened next was disaster. All three cars touched, sending Raikkonen and Verstappen into immediate retirement, while Vettel limped for a few corners before crashing out. The McLaren of Fernando Alonso was also tangled up in the incident, causing his eventual retirement also. Amazingly, it was the first time in the history of the sport that both Ferraris had been eliminated on the opening lap.
Outside of the dramatic first corner accident, the race was a pretty standard affair for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, as he won by 4.5s from Ricciardo.
2. 2010 - Winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
On paper this looks like a standard race. Fernando Alonso led from start to finish for Ferrari to secure his second (and first legitimate) Singapore Grand Prix win.
But in reality it was a super tense affair and a tough battle between Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. From lap 50 onwards the pair was separated by less than a second, with the gap a mere 0.2s on the final lap.
Try as he might, Vettel was unable to get past the Spaniard, and Alonso took the narrowest of victories in an incredibly exciting and old school style battle till the end.
Outside of the tense battle between the pair, the race is probably best known for a spectacular car fire on Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, with the Finn turning from driver to fire marshall to help extinguish the large blaze.
1. 2008 - Winner: Fernando Alonso (Renault)
Controversial? Yes. Exciting? You betcha.
The first ever Singapore Grand Prix is known best for ‘crashgate’, in which Renault orchestrated a crash by Nelson Piquet Jr at the right time in order to allow for lead driver Fernando Alonso a perfect opportunity to pit and take advantage of the safety car. It worked a treat, with Alonso going from 15th on the grid to win the race, although his win is forever stained by the blatent cheating by the French team.
Outside of that moment, the race is perhaps best known for the sight of Felipe Massa driving down the pitlane with his fuel hose attached to his car after a botched Ferrari pitstop cost the Brazilian the win, and ultimately the World Championship.
Nico Rosberg finished second for Williams, and given the result was never overturned, it cost the future World Champion his first ever win.
It was an exciting start to F1 in Singapore, albeit an extremely controversial one.
Do you agree with this list? Which Italian Grand Prix is your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here