Formula 1 returns to east Asia for the first time in three years

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The biggest names in Formula 1 are making a Singaporean comeback for the first time since 2019 as the much-anticipated Singapore Grand Prix kicks off this weekend. With the 2022 F1 season ending in less than two months, the east Asian circuit will be the first of six races in only eight weeks, culminating in Abu Dhabi on November 18-20.

Three years have passed since Formula 1 last visited Singapore. And the 2019 Singapore GP saw the dramatic victory of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who beat Lewis Hamilton to make it to the final podium spot. Much has changed since then, and this year Verstappen could be the one to snatch the prize on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. 

With a 116-point lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the Dutch driver could even claim the world title on October 2. Two scenarios would win Verstappen his second championship. One would see him emerge victorious with the fastest lap, on the condition that Leclerc ends up eighth or lower and fellow Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez fourth or lower. Verstappen would also wrap up the championship without securing the fastest lap, provided Leclerc finishes ninth or lower and Perez finishes fourth or lower. Any alternative results would have Verstappen fight for the win at the Japanese Grand Prix.

But the Grand Prix to come this weekend will be no walk in the park for all drivers, Verstappen notwithstanding. The Dutchman has never triumphed in Singapore before. And the weather could be yet another obstacle to overcome. Weather forecasts have already announced thunderstorms and heavy rain, presenting a challenge for teams forced to stretch their allocation of intermediate and wet tires.

The Singapore GP also comes amid a demanding final season sprint. Drivers will benefit from a mere one-day turnaround before flying straight to Japan in what Mercedes AMG F1 team physician, Dr. Luke Bennett, called “the most brutal back-to-back” on the calendar. Bennett also pointed at the event’s “unique physiological stress.” While the competition will be conducted on European time, mid-afternoon wake-ups and finishes after sunrise won’t be easy to navigate.

Meanwhile, the Marina Bay Circuit has been laid with new asphalt. And while the virgin asphalt will improve the circuit, new breeds of F1 cars may struggle with a handful of uneven sections. Much to the excitement of F1 enthusiasts, though, Pirelli’s Motorsports Director called the Singapore GP a “totally new race.”

Fans can watch free practice on Friday before qualifying rounds roll out the next day. The race will then kick off on Sunday at 8 PM local. So, will Verstappen leave the race a second Formula 1 world champion? Though unlikely, punters can already place their bets on betting sites in Singapore. Top bookies allow fans to wager on a variety of options, including motorsports and popular sports like soccer and basketball. Online betting operators offer flexible conditions with fast deposit methods and even cryptocurrency payment. And lofty bonuses such as free bets and cashback offers are yet another perk for punters.

Kick-starting an exciting run, the Singapore GP will be one race for F1 followers not to miss out. But American fans don’t have to wait much longer for Formula 1 to come to US soil. Taking place in Austin, the United States Grand Prix starts on October 23. And the calendar for next year’s F1 season has much more in store as the United States will host not one but three Formula 1 races.

As revealed recently, the 2023 schedule will comprise a record-breaking 24 Grands Prix. The season will launch at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5. Floridians can then grab tickets for the Miami Grand Prix, starting on May 7. The circuit will then hit Austin in the fall before moving onto Mexico City.

While California will see no circuit, the season’s penultimate round will enfold in nearby Nevada. The last Las Vegas Grand Prix dated back to 1982. Thus, F1 will return to Vegas with a bang with an exciting Saturday-night event. Drivers will sweep past world-famous casinos and luxurious hotels along The Strip. And the hype is already building up, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly summing it up to a tee in a video on the F1 official page. As the Frenchman put it, the race is “going to be insane.”

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