Formula 1's inaugural night race in 2008 was widely-regarded as one of the success stories of the season, and as the travelling circus returns there this weekend for the second edition of the Singapore Grand Prix in the Far Eastern city-state, hopes are high for a similar spectacle.

Unfortunately, of course, the race's first edition will always now be associated with one of the most explosive cheating scandals in the sport's history, with the events of 'Singapore-gate' having been well-documented worldwide in recent weeks, the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) having pronounced its verdict and the heads of two of the top flight's most prominent protagonists over the past two decades - Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds - having rolled in disgrace. With that now in the past, this weekend offers the opportunity for the attention to revert to the on-track action, and there looks set to be much to be enjoyed.

The world championship battle looks to have turned into a two-horse race between Brawn GP pairing Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The former arrives at the Marina Bay street circuit still holding an ostensibly secure 14-point advantage over his team-mate in the title standings, but just one failure to finish for the British star - allied to victory for the veteran Brazilian - would leave the gap at just four markers with three races remaining and 30 points still up for grabs. This particular duel is far from over yet, and it is the S?o Paulista who is the form driver of the moment, with two triumphs from the last three starts, though last year it was the Frome-born ace who held the upper hand in Singapore. A substantial swing in either direction in under the spotlights this time around could have far-reaching ramifications indeed for the destiny of the laurels.

The race also marks inarguably a last-chance saloon for Red Bull Racing, the team that during Button's mid-season slump many inside the paddock had tipped to steamroller the second half of the campaign and steal glory from underneath Brawn's nose. That now appears unlikely, with a run of off-colour performances and poor reliability from the Renault engine installed in the Adrian Newey-designed RB5, meaning since Hungary Sebastian Vettel has notched up a mere seven points and Mark Webber has failed to score at all, in comparison to 22 points for Barrichello and ten for Button. The young German is now a full 26 markers adrift of the top of the table and his Australian colleague 28.5 - meaning that whilst the former performed admirably in Singapore last year to claim fifth place at the chequered flag for Scuderia Toro Rosso, time is fast running out for the Milton Keynes-based squad to fight back.

Ahead of Red Bull in recent outings, indeed, have been McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari, Force India and on occasion Renault - and should any of them defeat the energy drinks-backed runners this weekend too then RBR's bolt will assuredly have been permanently shot in terms of title success. McLaren is hopeful of a strong performance around a circuit that on paper should play to the strengths of the much-improved MP4-24, and having finished third in Singapore last year, reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is clearly eager to go two spots better this time around - and to atone for his costly last lap error at Monza just under a fortnight ago, when he threw away a rostrum position whilst chasing Button hard for second. Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, for his part, knows he needs to start producing results to have any chance of holding onto his seat at the Woking-based outfit beyond season's end - though some suggest that for the quietly-spoken Finn, it is already too late.

Ferrari has come alive of late, with a rejuvenated Kimi Raikkonen - perhaps waking up to the fact that his services are no longer required at the Scuderia next year, leaving him in search of an alternative berth - having not been off the podium since the N?rburgring in mid-July. The Finn looks in fine form indeed at the moment, and team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella will be keen to build upon the progress he made in his maiden appearance in scarlet in front of the adoring tifosi on home turf in the Italian Grand Prix with a points-scoring performance second time out. The Roman's former team, Force India, meanwhile, continues to stun paddock observers, with Adrian Sutil very nearly snatching pole position at Monza but for a small error on what appeared set to be the young German's fastest lap, and F1 returnee Vitantonio Liuzzi showed few signs of rustiness on his comeback after almost two full years away from the starting grid. Can the Silverstone minnows make it three giant-killing showings in a row in Singapore? For the surprise of the season, nothing looks to be impossible right now...

Elsewhere in the field, Renault will simply be hoping for a solid weekend to put last year's controversy firmly behind them, and Williams need to bounce back from a brace of poor outings at Spa and Monza - and the former multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit is confident that the high-downforce nature of the Marina Bay track, where this time last year Nico Rosberg finished a career-high second, will be much more to the liking of the Toyota-powered FW31 and should witness a return to the sharp end of proceedings.

The works Toyota operation, for its part, remains frustratingly inconsistent and impossible to gauge from race-to-race, whilst BMW-Sauber has at least seemingly regained some semblance of respectability as the Bavarian manufacturer prepares to bow out of competition at season's end. Toro Rosso, finally, sadly seems rooted to the back of the grid whatever the Red Bull 'junior' concern may try, but then little is ever really beyond the realms of probability in F1 - and should it rain, just about anything could happen...

Crash.net's Tip for the Top: Rubens Barrichello

Crash.net's One to Watch: Nico Rosberg