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Singapore Grand Prix: The key talking points

Singapore Grand Prix: The key talking points
© Reuters
Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of victories on the street circuit.

The Formula One circus is this week in Singapore for round 15 of the season.

Lewis Hamilton holds a 63-point championship lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with seven races remaining.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the key talking points ahead of Sunday's grand prix.

1. Hamilton bidding for Singapore hat-trick

Lewis Hamilton has tasted victory in Singapore before
Lewis Hamilton has tasted victory in Singapore before (David Davies/PA)

Lewis Hamilton will go for his third straight win under the lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday – not a bad accomplishment given Mercedes' troubles at the slow-speed track in recent years. Sebastian Vettel's three-way pile up with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen cleared the way for Hamilton to win in 2017, before the Briton delivered the lap of his life in qualifying last year to take pole and the victory. Hamilton's Mercedes team are hopeful they have fixed the major flaws which has made the Singapore Grand Prix – despite Hamilton's impressive record – something of a bogey venue for them. Hamilton has arrived in the Far East following the launch of his latest fashion collection in Milan, and will know that another victory here could take him 70 points clear in the championship standings with just 150 remaining.

2. All eyes on Vettel as he treads penalty tightrope

Vettel will be in the spotlight this week after his horror show in Monza last time out. The four-time world champion spun before collecting Lance Stroll. He finished 13th as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc secured his second win in as many appearances. On a dire afternoon in front of the Ferrari hierarchy, Vettel was also hit with three points on his licence following the Stroll collision. Vettel, who has now failed to win a race in more than a year, is just one misdemeanour away from a race ban. The German will be desperate for a strong performance in Singapore, but the track, unlike the power-heavy Spa-Francorchamps and Monza layouts, is unlikely to suit his Ferrari machinery.

3. Red Bull to take fight to Mercedes

Red Bull's Max Verstappen will be looking to get back on track in Singapore
Red Bull's Max Verstappen will be looking to get back on track in Singapore (David Davies/PA)

Indeed, it is Red Bull who are likely to be Mercedes' closest challengers this weekend. Verstappen headed into the summer break following a string of impressive performances, including triumphs in Austria and Germany. He was also within minutes of winning the Hungarian Grand Prix before Hamilton's impressive late fightback. But two first-lap incidents in his last two outings has seen the Dutchman drop 99 points behind Hamilton and just three in front of Leclerc. Verstappen will expect to be back among the frontrunners in Singapore though with the twisty track less dependent on engine grunt.

4. Contingency plan in place for haze

The air quality in Singapore continued to deteriorate on Wednesday with a visible haze – caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia – hanging over the street circuit. Formula One bosses are confident the weekend's race will go off without a hitch, but the issue threatens to cast a cloud over proceedings. The Singapore National Environment Agency has urged for a second consecutive day for people to "reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion".

5. Drivers facing extreme physical test

AUTO Singapore
PA Graphics

The drivers will be tested to breaking point this weekend with the Singapore race the most demanding on the calendar. A combination of the humid climate, 23 corners around a street track where mistakes do not go unpunished, and a race lasting almost two hours, ensures that Hamilton and Co will earn their money on Sunday.

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Lewis Hamilton shakes hands with Sebastian Vettel at the Singapore Grand Prix on September 16, 2018
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Singapore Grand Prix have 'contingency plan' for poor air quality

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States22251764
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events

· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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