Occasionally the rapport between a driver and a particular circuit can take on a special significance - be it good or bad. Ayrton Senna, for the instance, had Monaco - a race he won six times and described as being ‘a special place for me’ - whilst one of Rubens Barrichello’s bugbears from his 300 plus-race career is that he is yet to win his home Grand Prix at Interlagos in Brazil.
Like all his competitors, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has enjoyed many high and lows at different tracks over his years in the Formula One racing, but one which seems to hold special resonance for the Spaniard is Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit. It may only be hosting its third Grand Prix this weekend, but Alonso has already experienced enough drama at this venue to last a career.
From his controversial win in the 2008 through to his unexpected podium last year, Alonso has enjoyed both the success and tribulation at the floodlit venue, and this year in Singapore he must finish in the top-three for a third successive time if he is to realistically stay in title contention.
Rewind to 2008 and Alonso declared himself ‘curious’ about the calendar’s first night race, and after Friday practice it appeared to be love at first sight, with the Spaniard heading the timesheets for the Renault after pipping McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton at the death. Alonso took the honours again in Saturday’s final practice, but in qualifying was left languishing 15th after fuel-supply problems.
For the French team, fighting to defend fourth in the constructors’ table after a tough season, it was a bitter blow. Despite the R28’s obvious pace, everyone believed overtaking would be difficult and Alonso’s hopes of boosting Renault’s points haul looked slim. In post-qualifying interviews the former champion was gloomy, stating he’d need a ‘miracle’ to make progress in the race.