Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton fear Ferrari ambush in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton leads the world title standings but is all too aware that Ferrari and arch rival Sebastian Vettel are catching him up. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton fear Ferrari ambush in Singapore

  • It is expected that Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix will favour Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
  • Hamilton currently holds a 30-point lead over the German in the world title standings.

LONDON: Lewis Hamilton may have tightened his grip on a fifth world title after extending his championship lead with a surprise victory in Monza two weeks ago, yet Mercedes are playing down the Briton’s chances of adding to that triumph in Singapore.
In the last three of his four Formula One title wins, Hamilton has returned from the annual summer break in brilliant form, reeling off a succession of victories in his dominant Mercedes to close the door on his title rivals.
However, while the Briton has finished second in Belgium and first in Italy since the season resumed in August, his car is seen as inferior to Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix should once again favor the German.
Second-placed Vettel slipped 30 points behind Hamilton after coming off the worst in a first-lap collision with the Briton in Monza and the 31-year-old knows he has little room for further mishaps with only seven rounds remaining.
The pair arrived in Singapore in a similar position a year ago, but the pole-sitting Vettel crashed into Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and team mate Kimi Raikkonen soon after the start as Hamilton cruised to victory and never looked back.
Vettel and Hamilton are the most successful drivers on the floodlit Marina Bay Street Circuit with seven wins between them but Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says the odds are stacked against the Briton matching the German’s four Singapore victories.
“Singapore has features that we’ve struggled with in the past. The short straights, the slow, tight corners and the bumpy surface all make (it) one of the trickiest tracks of the season for us,” the Austrian said in a team statement.
“Last year, we started the race from the third row — and came home with a win and a third place. On paper, the track should favor the Ferraris, but the championship fight is so close that predictions are almost meaningless.
“We’re in the middle of a monumental championship fight... every man and woman in the team is willing to push themselves to the limit; we will be fighting with everything we’ve got for these two championships.”
Vettel, who will be joined by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc next season with Raikkonen heading the other way, has been criticized for losing points through over-aggressive driving but Wolff came out in defense of the German after his Monza spin.
“I’m not completely neutral, but for me Lewis is the best driver of recent years. Even so, I find the criticism of Sebastian not quite fair,” Wolff told Die Welt newspaper of Vettel, also a quadruple world champion.
“If possible to win, he has the ambition to do it with the necessary aggression. That requires a lot of courage and his way of driving sometimes leads to collisions.
“It could easily have been Lewis instead of Sebastian who spun (at Monza). Then the whole grand prix would have been different.”


Saudia partners with ABB FIA Formula E Championship ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 57 min 40 sec ago
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Saudia partners with ABB FIA Formula E Championship ahead of Ad Diriyah race

AD DIRIYAH, Saudi Arabia: The ABB FIA Formula E Championship on Tuesday announced a new long-term partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) - the national flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - as official airline partner of the all-electric series and race title partner of the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix.

Coinciding with the introduction of a new visa process for fan travel to Saudi Arabia, Saudia has come on board ahead of season five and the debut of Formula E in the Middle East on December 15. The announcement was made at a special event hosted at Governorate Ad Diriyah, following a roadshow through the Saudi Arabian capital with the striking new-look Gen2 car.

Felipe Massa – Venturi Formula E Team driver – got behind the wheel of the official championship car for the very first time, adorned with new Saudia branding on the rear-wing spoilers and on top of the nose cone.

In preparation for the highly-anticipated new era of electric racing and the opening round in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia is to open to the world like never before as it launches a dedicated online visa process for international tourists.

Fans will be able to apply via the newly-created ‘Sharek’ platform, using an authorized ticket to permit entry to Saudi Arabia. The system will be implemented for the first time as the country gears up for the spectacle of Formula E - marking the introduction of easy application and verification for foreign travelers.

Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Formula E, said: “It’s fantastic news that Saudia is joining the ABB FIA Formula E Championship as official airline partner – ahead of the first race in Saudi Arabia and the debut of fully-electric racing in the Middle East. The partnership continues to show the appeal of Formula E on a global scale and I’m proud to welcome Saudia to the Formula E family as the excitement continues to build for the opening round of season five on December 15. When you consider Saudi Arabia is opening-up to international sports fans for the first time and we have a new partner who can connect those fans to our series, it really is a strong additional to the championship.”

Saudi Arabian Airlines Director General, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, commented: “Saudia is pleased to be supporting the ABB FIA Formula E Championship for the upcoming event in Ad Diriyah – a first for Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. The airline welcomes fans from around the world to the opening race at the historic Ad Diriyah site and to come aboard with SAUDIA as we get set to wish the teams all the very best for the race and a new era of electric street racing, starting with the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix.”

Beyond hosting the first fully-electric race in the region and staging it in a stunning UNESCO heritage site, hosts of the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix, the General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabian Motor Federation have confirmed ambitious plans for the opening race of season 5 and the Kingdom’s debut in the championship schedule.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority added: “We really want to celebrate this moment with the people of Saudia Arabia, all those passionate fans and families who want to experience a live E-Prix for the first time. But with the introduction of a new visa process, now we can celebrate it with the world. It’s an opportunity we plan to grasp with both hands with the addition of soon to be announced spectacular line-up of live music, culture and entertainment featuring global stars as part of an unmissable three-day festival.”

The 2018/19 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship sparks into life in Ad Diriyah on December 15.