1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Sebastien Vettel
3. Daniel Riccardo
4. Fernando Alonso
5. Felipe Massa
6. Jean-Eric Vergne
7. Sergio Perez
8. Kimi Raikkonen
9. Nico Hulkenberg
10. Kevin Magnussen
11. Valterri Bottas
12. Pastor Maldonado
13. Romain Grosjean
14. Daniil Kvyat
15. Marcus Ericsson
16. Jules Bianchi
17. Max Chilton
18. Jenson Button – DNF
19. Adrian Sutil – DNF
20. Esteban Gutierrez – DNF
21. Nico Rosberg – DNF [Electronics]
22. Kamui Kobayashi – DNS
Lewis Hamilton triumphed under the lights in the Singapore Grand Prix today, after he finished first ahead of the Red Bulls of Sebastien Vettel and Daniel Riccardo. The Mercedes driver was thirteen seconds ahead of Vettel at the line, in what was an eventful race before it even got going.
Most notably the biggest story was Nico Rosberg who didn’t finish the race after he suffered from a broken wiring loom, which played havoc with his steering wheel electronics. Rosberg had to start from the pits after the team failed to rectify the problem whilst he was on the grid under Parc Ferme conditions, however he was unable to make any progress because he was having to double shift into gears on a circuit which is notoriously tough on the gearbox, which made his lap time five seconds slower than Hamiltons.
Then it got worse for him, as the team radioed in to tell him that his first pitstop would be done without a clutch paddle or pit limiter, which meant that he had to control the revs on his own heading into the pits, and the team would have to drop him off the jacks in order to get him back out the pits with no clutch. However when it came to stopping the team elected to change his steering wheel, but it didn’t work, with his race ending on lap 15 and crucially his lead in the title battle now taken over by Hamilton.
Other dramas before the race starting included the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi stopping with what looked like a Power Unit component failure on the formation lap, which meant that he couldn’t take the start of the race.
We also saw the 100 per-cent Safety Car record continue this afternoon, after it was brought out by the Force India of Sergio Perez which discarded of its front wing rather dramatically coming into turn nine, after he had made contact with the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. We saw that for seven laps, which meant that the overall race distance was cut short somewhat, in order to meet the two-hour uninterrupted mark.
As for the race itself it was mostly one of strategy and gaining the best possible track position, which meant that there was a lot of close racing between the drivers on track. Before the Safety Car a number of drivers were opting to go for the undercut in order to be on the best strategy for when a Safety Car period eventually occurred. This is what Fernando Alonso did in the first stint in order to get past Vettel and into second place, after he managed to escape getting penalised at the start for taking to the escape road when he went three-wide with the two Red Bulls into the first corner.
We saw a strong race from the two Williams drivers. Felipe Massa was able to conserve his tyres at the end of the race for 35 laps, after stopping three times during the race. His teammate Valterri Bottas was also on the same strategy, however his power steering failed during the Safety Car period, which meant that he didn’t have the feel necessary in order to properly conserve the tyres. In the end he completely dropped “off the cliff” – as its often referred to – of tyre life, and out of the points entirely.
However the Safety Car ended up coming out too late in the window for the strategy to work, which meant that he lost that track position to the Red Bulls when he pitted for a new set of Soft tyres. He did have the tyre life to challenge the pair at the end, but the Red Bulls were able to keep him at bay, with the Ferrari driver ultimately finishing in P4.
There was a good scrap in the opening stages on track between Kevin Magnussen and the two Toro Rosso’s. Initially it was Kvyat challenging the McLaren for ninth, however after three laps Vergne radioed into the team to wave him through, as he had enough playing follow the leader. Vergne was actually providing us with a lot of entertainment throughout the race, particularly towards the end when he was able to pick off a number of cars on slower tyres, after he pitted around twelve laps before the end. One move on Pastor Maldonado did earn him a five second stop/go penalty, however he managed to limit the damage by passing Bottas, Raikkonen, Perez, and Hulkenberg and build up enough of a gap to finish in P6.
Elsewhere we saw a frustrated Daniil Kvyat finish outside the points in P15, after he was unable to pass Magnussen at the start and the team failed to call him in at the appropriate points. The Safety Car also lost him some track position, and in the end he had to pit with ten laps to go and drop out of the points battle.
Jenson Button was on course for a good finish. He was one of the few that benefitted from the Safety Car, with him only stopping twice before hand and on the Soft tyre. McLaren were looking to finish ahead of both Williams drivers, and the Briton was on course for potentially doing that at the end with his pace on the Soft tyres. But with eight laps to go, Button pulled off to the side of the road with what he described over the team radio as a “complete shutdown” of his cars systems. Certainly on the onboard it looked like that, with the dashboard switching off completely and the car offering him no throttle response.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton was also challenged for the win after the Safety Car, when he was told to build up a big enough gap between second place and himself to come out in front on the Super Soft tyre. Vettel was able to respond to his pace in the initial stages of the restart, however the Red Bull driver started to drop back on lap time. Despite this though Hamilton emerged behind Vettel, but he was unable to put up much of a defence on 32 lap old tyres.
Other retirements also include both Sauber’s, with Gutierrez parking in the garage on lap 17 whilst Adrian Sutil retired on lap 41, in what is another race that the team did not score any points.
And so that was it. That was one of the title defining moments of the season, as that win from Lewis Hamilton and DNF from Nico Rosberg put him ahead in the drivers championship by three points. With five races to go the reliability of the Mercedes will be something both drivers will be questioning, as it will be the thing that decides whether or not they win this years drivers championship.