Hamilton wins in Singapore and takes championship lead
Two-thousand-and-eight Formula One champion, Lewis Hamilton, has turned a 22 point championship deficit to Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, into a three point lead after scoring a hard fought victory in a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix, yesterday.
Hamilton led home the Red Bulls of reigning champion Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, while his German teammate’s race effectively ended at the start of the formation lap.
An electronics problem, later identified as a fault with the steering wheel wiring loom, left Rosberg stranded in his second place grid slot, resulting in his car being pushed off into the pits as the remainder of the field headed off.
Despite managing to get going, and now at the back of the field, Rosberg’s woes only escalated as none of the steering wheel mounted readouts or functions worked. Although still able to shift gears, each up-shift would result in a double change, leaving him with no power and unable to get pass the backmarking Caterhams and Marussias. At this stage, he was dropping five seconds per lap to Hamilton.
"It was a horrible feeling to see everyone go because then I knew it was over," Rosberg told Sky Sport F1 after eventually throwing in the towel on lap 15.
"Then the whole steering wheel wasn’t working so I had no hybrid power and my shifting was shifting two gears at a time and I had no DRS [Drag Reduction System] so the car just wasn’t working at all.
"I am still disappointed with today because it is reliability again and that is a weakness we have in the team and we must improve that and get to the bottom of all these things. We need to understand what happened today and move on and then full attack at Suzuka".
Mercedes’ team boss, Toto Wolff, later then confirmed Rosberg’s problem to Sky saying, "It looks like a loom in the steering column broke. In a team, you need to be able to apologise. We have a missile of a car but we are having unreliability issues".
With his teammate out of contention, pole-sitter Hamilton, led away from the red lights pursued by the Red Bulls and a fast starting Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). Taking control of the race, Hamilton succeeded in building-up a 10-odd second lead, before pitting on lap 26 and handing the lead over to Ricciardo.
A pit-stop for the Australian, one lap later, gave Hamilton back the lead, albeit now only 3.9 seconds ahead of a flying Alonso. Responding to the Spaniard’s charge, the Mercedes driver upped his pace by setting the fastest lap on 29, extending his lead to 5.2 seconds.
Proceedings were then halted on lap 31 when Force India’s Sergio Perez, had his front wing knocked off by the Sauber of Adrian Sutil, resulting in a large piece becoming lodged underneath the car, where it eventually disintegrated, sending chards of puncture-prone carbon fibre across the track. This prompted race director, Charlie Whiting, to deploy the safety car.
Racing resumed on lap 38 with Hamilton asked to push, as he still had to pit for the yellow-marked soft tyres, while the Red Bulls had already used the soft as well as the red super soft options, and were trying to end on the race on the latter compound with some 30 laps to go.
A storming drive saw the Brit eke out a 26-second lead in 15 laps when he eventually had to pit on lap 52. Although he rejoined behind Vettel, Hamilton had managed to stay ahead of Ricciardo, and on much fresher tyres, easily overtook the German two laps later, ultimately winning his seventh race of the season by 13 seconds.
"I had a dream this would happen last night," an ecstatic Hamilton told former F1 boss and now BBC television pundit, Eddie Jordan, on the post-race podium interview.
"A huge thanks to the team. What we've done this year is incredible. I knew we have a car we can fight with, and it was a great feeling throughout the race".
In a later interview with Sky, Hamilton said, “In my head, the best I thought l could do here with was claiming seven points back and I’d have to keep chipping away at it. Instead, all of a sudden, it’s 25 points caught up.
"I still feel like I am hunting, I still feel like I am chasing – and that’s a good feeling.
"This is game time. This is about hunting. In my head, I don’t think I am leading the championship. There are still five races left and all I’m going to do is what I’ve done in the last two races which is just attack every session".
CAPTION: HARD FOUGHT VICTORY... Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton acknowledges the cheers of the Singapore crowd after winning the night themed race around the Marina Bay street circut yesterday. He now leads the championship by three points over teammate Nico Rosberg, who failed to finish, going into the next round as Suzuka in Japan on October 5th. IMAGE sourced from Mercedes AMG F1 on twitter.
Singapore Grand Prix Results
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||+13.534|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+14.273|
|6.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||+56.801|
|7.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+59.038|
|9.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1:01.661|
|14.||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+1:12.008|
|17.||Max Chilton||Marussia||+ 1 Lap|
|DNF||Jenson Button||McLaren||Mechanical - 52 laps|
|DNF||Adrian Sutil||Sauber||Water leak - 40 laps|
|DNF||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||Electrical - 17 laps|
||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||Wiring loom - 13 laps|
|DNF||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham||Mechanical - 0 laps|
Championship Points after Singapore Grand Prix
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||181|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||124|
|8.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||72|
|10.||Sergio Perez||Force India||45|
|13.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||19|
|15.||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||8|
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