As the Mercedes cars faltered, Sebastian Vettel claimed his third win of the season from pole position from Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen as Lewis Hamilton retired under the lights of Singapore.
On Saturday evening, the Ferrari of Vettel took pole from the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and the sister Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The Italian constructor’s first pole since the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2012 set up a mouth-watering prospect for the race, with Hamilton and Rosberg struggling in fifth and sixth.
This wasn’t an exciting, action packed race at the sharp end of the field by any stretch of the imagination, with Vettel pulling away from the pack with seemingly consummate ease. But you have to admire his concentration levels throughout the 2 hour race, dealing with intense heat, humidity, several Safety Cars and of course the ordeal of lapping cars around a tight, twisty street circuit. He even had a stray fan on an evening stroll to contend with.
It can be viewed as Vettel regaining his confidence and flow that helped him win four consecutive titles at the turn of the decade, in an environment where he’s much happier, at the front of the field.
Championship contender Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes car suffered a software glitch before the race, similar to the problem he had in the 2014 edition of this showpiece event. This time, it wasn’t terminal and he produced a solid drive, holding off the attentions of the Williams cars of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas to finish in fifth. However, that was only after being released from the dirty air of Hamilton when the Brit suffered a throttle pedal failure.
Hamitlon fell down to 16th before deciding to retire the car, his frustration clear to see as he exclaimed after the race that he was ‘super optimistic’, feeling he could have even snatched a win.
The Toro Rosso teenage star Max Verstappen stalled at the start and could only join a lap down. But after a couple of Safety Cars and a typically gutsy drive, he worked his way to an eighth place finish, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, who also produced a solid perfromance.
Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa had an unfortunate clash on lap 13 as the Brazilian exited the pits, putting Hulkenberg into the barriers, out on the spot and burdened with a three place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in seven days’ time. The German had the right to feel hard done by. Massa fell down the order before retiring with gearbox troubles on lap 32.
The two McLaren’s of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso suffered no change in fortunes, both retiring with issues, Button with gearbox trouble, Alonso with hydraulic woes when both looked in the running for a rare chance of points.
But, no such trouble for Vettel and he turned back the clock, both he and Rosberg close the gap on Hamilton at the top of the standings, not by much but enough to make the double World Champion sweat a little.
Full race standings: https://twitter.com/therealjeagles/status/645600042087284736
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