The changes in one year
Last year, going into the Singapore weekend, the shape of the 2008 season was clearly defined before the bizarre night race, the outcome of which was very different from what we had seen up to that moment.
These were the key points that shaped last season after 14 races, before the Singapore weekend, and how they compare to this year's results.
Ferrari and McLaren were the dominant forces of the season, with 12 wins in 14 races. The other two races were won by Toro Rosso (Sebastian Vettel, Italy) and BMW Sauber (Robert Kubica, Canada), both maiden wins for the teams and drivers.
This year Ferrari and McLaren have won only two races between them (Lewis Hamilton in Hungary and Kimi Raikkonen in Belgium), while two teams that had never won before (Brawn and Red Bull) racked up the remaining 11 victories.
The average points scored per race by Ferrari last year was 9.5, this year is 4.7, for McLaren respectively 9.2 and 3.6.
Honda, the previous incarnation of Brawn GP, came to the Singapore GP last year with 14 points, this year Brawn has ten times that value: 146.
Red Bull before the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix had scored exactly 100 points in its history, started in 2005 (average 1.4 points per race). This season they have 105.5 points after 13 races (8.1 points per race).
Last year the Force India drivers retired a total of 14 times in 28 starts, this year they count only six retirements out of 26.
Kimi Raikkonen, 14 races into the 2008 season, had posted nine fastest laps, on his way to equalling the season record of ten in Singapore, his last one to date. This year, and for the first time since his debut season, he hasn't scored a fastest lap so far.
Action during the Italian Grand Prix © XPB
Overtaking so far
Going to a street circuit where overtaking is nearly impossible, it's a critical moment to look at the figures regarding the passes for position and to see if the changes in regulations have brought an increase or not.
Unfortunately it seems that the introduction of slick tyres and KERS combined with radically changed aerodynamics did not help to improve the show.
At the start of the season, thanks to a couple of wet races, and the natural adjustment to the new regulations, the impression was the opposite, as the first three races produced 92 overtaking moves, with 54 in China alone. That was, however, the swansong as from the Bahrain Grand Prix onwards the figures dropped dramatically and only three times in ten races were there more than ten overtaking moves.
The low point was reached at the European Grand Prix, when there was only one pass and, sadly, it was uncontested, as Nick Heidfeld let through team-mate Kubica for strategical reasons.
The average count of passes per race this year is now 13.2, down 10 per cent compared to 2008, but if we take out the very wet Chinese Grand Prix, the figure drops to only 9.8 passes per race.
Reaching the limit
The Brawn GP team has won eight races so far this year - the first time that a single team other than Ferrari and McLaren has been able to score eight wins since Renault in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. To find a team able to break the Ferrari-McLaren monopoly and score at least nine wins, we have to go back to the 1996 season, when Williams won 12 times and left Ferrari with only three wins. That year McLaren didn't post a single win.
The king of Asia
The Formula 1 circus leaves Europe for Asia, a continent where Fernando Alonso has always obtained good results.
Among the current drivers, Alonso is the one who has won the highest number of Asian races, eight, to Raikkonen and Felipe Massa's five. Third in the list is Jenson Button, who won three races at the start of this season in Asia: Malaysia, Bahrain and Turkey. The absolute record is held by Michael Schumacher, a winner in Asia 13 times.
On the pole position side, the best of the current drivers, albeit momentarily inactive, is Massa, with eight pole positions in Asia, followed by Alonso at five and Lewis Hamilton at four. Massa is halfway towards the record holder, Schumacher, who counts 15 poles on Asian soil.
The podium count is a field where Schumacher's dominance is not so clear-cut, as he leads the way with 20 podiums, followed by Raikkonen, who is able to reach the German's tally with only one more podium finish. Alonso follows in third at 16 podium placements.
That was the last time...
Last year in Singapore, the following events were recorded for the last time:
• Last fastest lap and retirement due to a crash for Raikkonen
• Last mechanical failure for Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber. Trulli's is the last mechanical failure to date for Toyota
• Last podium for Nico Rosberg and Williams
• Last points finish for Kazuki Nakajima
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