By Neil Leverett
- Round 15 of the 2019 Formula 1 season rolls into Marina Bay this weekend for the Singapore Grand Prix
- Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc looking to continue winning run with after back-to-back wins in Belgium and Italy
- Lewis Hamilton still leads World Drivers’ Championship by 63 points, despite having seen race-win percentage dip
MARINA BAY, SINGAPORE – As Round 15 of the Formula 1 season rolls into Singapore, can Charles Leclerc continue his winning ways and take a third successive win at Marina Bay?
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Leclerc seeks Singapore sling-shot
Two wins? Check. After winning his first Formula 1 race at Spa in Belgium 3 weeks ago, Charles Leclerc then followed up with victory at Monza last time out, and as Round 15 rolls into Singapore this weekend, the Ferrari driver will look to complete a unique triple at Marina Bay.
Having confirmed his burgeoning talent after a difficult start to life under the Prancing Horse umbrella, the Monagesque driver’s successive wins have injected life into what was a floundering 2019 campaign, after the domination of Lewis Hamilton since lights out in Melbourne back in March.
Despite winning in front of adoring Ferrari fans in Italy, the 21-year-old from Monte Carlo still remains over 100 points behind the sixth title-seeking Briton, but further spoils in Asia this weekend could see Leclerc leapfrog Max Verstappen into third, closing the gap on Valtteri Bottas also.
Vettel under pressure?
As his teammate climbs above him in the championship table, the remainder of the Formula 1 season is critical for Sebastian Vettel. After a number of errors at Monza, many are now wondering whether Leclerc may become Ferrari’s new number one next season.
With now 12 months since his last F1 win at Spa, the pressure has been revved up on the four-time world champion – accelerated by the steep learning curve of Leclerc, and subsequent rise to prominence – and the German knows his team are looking for better drives.
Vettel however is adamant he is still doing the rights things both on and off the track, and as the 32-year-old told BBC Sport, he is expecting a change in favour result-wise, and for the elements to fall into place:
“Hopefully sooner rather than later it will click and things will start to fall into place. Until then we need to keep our head down. There are always things I can do better and learn. We see how the next few races go.”
Hamilton looks to Far East form
Despite holding what still looks to be an unassailable advantage in the battle for a sixth world crown, Hamilton has been given food for though during the last two rounds. However, as the Briton rolls into Asia for the first of three races, Hamilton can look to his Far East form as a comfort.
Winning around the Marina Bay Circuit’s 61-lap 5.063 track for the last two years – with Nico Rosberg‘s 2016 win seeing a three-year dominance in the Lion City – if Hamilton needed a platform to win his first race in three and stop the Monagesque momentum, Singapore is the place to start.
Right now, Leclerc looks in impenetrable form but with Hamilton winning here, Russia and Japan in 2018, if Hamilton were to wrestle the Ferrari driver from the top spot of the podium this weekend, the Briton would be back on course to seal his earliest title win in his career, and the earliest in world championship history. Either way, this could be a momentous weekend in Singapore.
The 2019 Singapore Grand Prix takes place at Marina Bay Circuit this weekend, with the race on Sunday at 1.10pm UK time.
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