Singapore was a scorcher in more ways than one this past weekend! Reliability issues, intense humidity and general chaos as per the norm in Singapore, all made the race into one of the more memorable in recent years.
Singapore is always an exciting race for me – I love the night race concept and think the cars look mega under the lights – but this year had a little more drama than we have come to expect. Going back to qualifying, I was thrilled that we might finally have someone other than a Mercedes on pole, until the dying seconds when that dream was crushed like a bug underfoot, with the two Merc’s coming round faster than anyone had been all session and Hamilton claiming pole position. However, I did take some solace in that in at least one session Fernando Alonso had been fastest (it has been a long season without that!).
The next day looked set to be a shorn-up Mercedes show again, but mechanical problems on Rosberg’s car ensured that he started the race from the pit lane, and wandered aimlessly around in twentieth place until being forced to retire from the race when his car would not restart after having to shut it down during a pit stop. Hamilton’s cruise to victory was not all that smooth with the safety car throwing a spanner into the works, catching teams unaware, and forcing unwanted pit stops for both Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton then had to work his way up through the field again, lapping faster than anyone before finally taking victory in style with a thirteen second lead.
The Red Bulls were resurgent this weekend, claiming second and third places on the podium, a welcome relief for Vettel I am sure after his teammate has been so dominant within the team this season. Vettel also performed a mammoth 34-lap stint on the soft tyres, almost unheard of in the Pirelli era. Fernando Alonso came home in fourth, a hugely inspiring result for Ferrari, and hopefully one that they can build on going forwards! Felipe Massa finished in a lonely fifth place, avoiding most of the drama, and also running a mammoth 33-lap stint on his soft tyres. His teammate Bottas looked as though he would finish comfortably in sixth place until his tyres went off right at the end of the race, and he dropped rapidly through the ranks, eventually finishing in eleventh.
An epic battle between Torro Rosso’s Vergne and Perez of Force India was waged in the final laps, after Vergne came back from a five-second penalty, with Vergne prevailing and securing a career-best sixth place. Kimi Raikkonen, despite showing early promise, dropped off the radar, and finished in eighth. The point’s finishers were rounded off by Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen after Jenson Button was forced to retire from the race thanks to mechanical issues.
Some of the biggest sufferers of the day would have to be the rookies of Magnussen and Kvyat. Magnussen was reportedly treated for small burns thanks to an overheating race seat after the race, and looked absolutely shattered in post-race interviews, with Kvyat also complaining that his water was ‘boiling’ and that he was ‘dying out here’ during the race, thanks to the immense humidity Singapore provided. The race running it’s full two hour duration would also have taken it out of the drivers with many suggesting that they felt as though they had been in a sauna for the race.
Hamilton’s win means that he takes a small, but vital, three point lead into the next race, which coupled with Nico’s unreliability is sure to challenge Nico’s mindset going into the next race, and will undoubtedly boost Hamilton’s morale, although he too should be wary of mechanical issues as those have proved to be the Achilles heel of the Mercedes team this season! I am looking forward to Japan immensely, it is easily one of my favourite tracks, and should be a thriller!
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