Nico Rosberg takes the Championship lead
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg came home to win the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix, managing to hold off Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo by just 0.4s.
This storming victory by the German means that he has now overtaken teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Driver’s Championship, and is now ahead by eight points.
Both Mercedes began the race with brake problems, and needed to conserve their brakes in order to get to the end of the race, however the problem did not develop enough in order to hinder either car from holding off the opposition – for Rosberg it was Ricciardo, and for Hamilton it was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
“It was so close at the end, how it should be in Formula 1,” Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff reported.
“Four really great cars, different strategies and I must take my hat off to Red Bull with strategy by pitting him, we couldn’t do that.”
Nico Hulkenberg crashes out at the start…
The start of the race was eventful, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg dramatically hitting the wall, bringing out an early safety car.
After a slow start from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat and Hulkenberg attempting to take advantage of this by dashing in front. Unfortunately, this did not work out for the German, as he was sandwiched by the two, his car colliding with the wall, narrowly avoiding the front of Verstappen’s car.
This brought out the safety car, keeping the pack bunched up, as they had to go through the pits in order to avoid the spray of debris that littered the track.
The Safety Car period was unusually short, which came as a shock to some, notably the marshall who was still on track after it had ended and had to dash off in order to avoid the string of cars charging towards him.
…Whereas Romain Grosjean doesn’t even start
Even though it wasn’t a good weekend for Hulkenberg, it was much worse for Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who didn’t even start, due to a brake-by-wire problem on his car.
A frustrating weekend for the Frenchman, who was been complaining about his car, calling it “one of the worst [he’s] ever driven” in his career.
Yet more retirements…
Hulkenberg and Grosjean were not the only ones not to complete the race, however. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas retired following an overheating problem with his car.
After receiving damage at the start, Bottas pitted and changed tyres, however he had lost downforce from the incident. Then, unusually, his seatbelts came loose, leaving him stranded in the pits for a long time as they were done up again. After going out again, he was soon back in the pits, following his overheating problem.
As teammate Felipe Massa also finished outside of the points, Force India have now overtaken Williams in the Constructors Championship, and are ahead by just a single point.
McLaren’s Jenson Button also found himself in retirement due to a brake failure. The Brit got a poor start, and his car lost a lot of downforce following early clash involving Hulkenberg.
Fighting for their seats
An important race for Kvyat and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, as it gave them a chance to prove that they deserve a seat at Toro Rosso and Renault in 2017. It was Magnussen’s first point since Russia, as he came in 10th place, in contrast with teammate Jolyon Palmer’s rather woeful 15th.
As we approach the point in the season where the 2017 grid becomes more clear, this good race for the Dane could not have come at a better time.
There seemed to be more of a spring in Kvyat’s step this evening, as the Russian admitted that his “passion is back”. Following his demotion to Toro Rosso, it has been clear that Kvyat’s love of driving was diminishing, however today, that was reversed.
We saw an exciting battle between Kvyat and Red Bull replacement Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman seemingly being unable to overtake Kvyat around the twisty turns of this street circuit.
Although finishing 9th, Kvyat admitted that he wanted to finish higher, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Despite this, he seems to be much happier, and a different person from the man we saw before the summer break.
Driver of the Day
Undoubtedly, the driver of the day was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
After starting in 22nd, at the back of the grid, the German surged forwards to finish 5th, and was, amazingly, only 27 seconds off the lead.
Despite the fact there was a safety car, this did not help Vettel much, as it was not out for long and was only out at the very start.