On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton.
After qualifying yesterday, it was announced that Sergio Perez has received a eight place grid penalty for failing to slow down on a hot lap in Q2 when the yellow flags were okay. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/perez-to-receive-eight-place-grid-penalty-for-the-singapore-gp/.
Also, it was announced before the race that Romain Grosjean has a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox after his accident in Q2. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/grosjean-takes-five-place-grid-penalty-for-the-singapore-gp/.
The Singapore Grand Prix is underway! Nico Rosberg has a great start as had Kimi Raikkonen. Max Verstappen had an awful start and had dropped five places as a result of this. On the approach to the first corner, Nico Hulkenberg got tagged from behind by Carlos Sainz Jr and went into the wall. Hulkenberg got out of the car okay but he is officially out the race. This then brought out the Safety Car while the debris is cleared safely.
But Valtteri Bottas on the first lap suffers a rear left puncture as Jenson Button suffers front wing damage as the rest of the grid pits for new tyres. But as Bottas leaves the pitlane, he very nearly collided with the Ferrari of Vettel and this could be looked at by the stewards.
We are racing on Lap 3 and Rosberg leads the race ahead of Ricciardo as Hamilton is catching the Red Bull driver in front of him with Raikkonen catching him as well. On Lap 5, Toro Rosso state to Sainz Jr via the team radio that his car has sustained damage from the incident with Hulkenberg on Lap 1.
Lap 6 sees the stewards raising the black and orange flag at Sainz Jr to get the team to bring the driver in to fix something that has come loose on the back of the Toro Rosso. Alonso, Kvyat, Sainz Jr, Verstappen and Massa are battling each other on the track for fifth place.
By Lap 9, the stewards looked at the incidents on the first lap between Hulkenberg and Sainz Jr and Bottas and Vettel and no further action was needed. Rosberg is then instructed by his team to watch brake temperature. Three laps later, Rosberg has built up a 5.7 second lead against Ricciardo as Vettel is now up to thirteenth place.
By Lap 16, Hamilton and Ricciardo have made their pitstops. The following lap sees Rosberg pitting for new tyres, has a problem with the right front tyre and hands the lead of the race over to Raikkonen. But Laps 18 and 19 sees Raikkonen pitting from the lead and hands the lead back to Rosberg as Verstappen is trying to get past Kvyat for position but Kvyat defends well despite Verstappen’s best efforts.
Lap 20 sees Rosberg leading Ricciardo by 5.8 seconds. The battle between Kvyat and Verstappen is still ongoing and is the focus of our attentions at the moment. Seven laps later, Rosberg still leads at the front as Hamilton is being caught by the Ferrari of Raikkonen and Alonso is still in P5.
Lap 28 sees Vettel getting past Sainz Jr and Gutierrez for tenth place with three of them abreast going into a few corners. Three laps later Gutierrez, Perez and Verstappen are battling each other but Verstappen is able to pass Perez for tenth place with a lovely switch back move. On Lap 33, Raikkonen passes Hamilton for track position with a good move after Hamilton locks up with his front right tyre.
Lap 34 sees Hamilton leading the race after Rosberg and Raikkonen pit for new tyres. Also Bottas has to have his seatbelt tightened when he pits. The next lap sees Rosberg regaining the lead ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Two laps laters sees Vettel passing Kvyat for fifth place. The next lap sees Bottas officially retiring from the race with suspected problems with his seatbelts.
Magnussen then loses sixth place to Verstappen on Lap 38 after making a good move in the second half of the lap. By Lap 39 Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Ricciardo by 5 seconds. 5 laps later, Hamilton is now starting to catch Raikkonen for third place as Button officially retires from the race.
Lap 47 sees Hamilton after his pitstop taking third place off Raikkonen. Lap 49 sees Verstappen into Turn 20 passing Kvyat for seventh place. With the top 4 currently in close proximity of each other, everyone is looking to see what will be happening in the final third of this Singapore GP.
On Lap 53, Perez and Kvyat are battling each other for eighth place as Magnussen is in a race with Gutierrez for the final points position in the race. The next lap sees Alonso having Verstappen for company and is catching the Spaniard for sixth place as Rosberg leads the race by 10.9 seconds from Ricciardo while carrying brake issues.
Verstappen passes Alonso for sixth place, Alonso tries to fight back but cannot do so on Lap 55 of the race. In the final 5 laps of the race, Raikkonen is catching Hamilton by up to 0.3 seconds a lap as Ricciardo is catching the race leader Rosberg by 0.6 seconds a lap.
But Rosberg leads Ricciardo on the final lap of the race by 1 second and wins the Singapore GP which is his first win at the circuit at his 200th GP start, his eighth win of the season and regains the lead of the championship from Hamilton
Ricciardo is a credible second 0.4 seconds behind Rosberg, Hamilton finished in a brilliant third place 8 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen was a credible fourth 10.2 seconds behind Rosberg and Vettel finished fifth 27.6 seconds behind Rosberg
Verstappen was sixth 1.11.1 seconds behind Rosberg, Alonso was a brilliant seventh 1.29.1 seconds behind Rosberg, Perez was eighth 1.51.0 seconds behind Rosberg, Kvyat was ninth 1.51.5 seconds lap behind Rosberg and Magnussen was tenth 1.59.9 seconds behind Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg now leads the Driver’s Championship with 273 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 265 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in third place with 179 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 153 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fifth place with 148 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 129 points, Valtteri Bottas is in seventh place with 70 points, Sergio Perez is in eighth place with 66 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 46 points and Felipe Massa is in tenth place with 41 points.
Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 538 points, Red Bull is in second place with 316 points, Ferrari is in third place with 301 points, Force India is in fourth place with 112 points, Williams is in fifth place with 111 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 54 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 47 points, Haas is in eighth place with 28 points, Renault is in ninth place with 7 points and Manor are tenth with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an average weekend but managed with Alonso to finish in seventh as Button sadly retired from the race. But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for Malaysia in two weeks.
Magnussen had a battle to finish in tenth place and has to be my driver of the day. He battled with Kvyat and Gutierrez for most of the race and he deserved to get a point for his efforts on Sunday and it will help his confidence and also Renault’s for the next few races as a result.
Kvyat did an okay job to get ninth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Verstappen for most of the race. This point for himself and Toro Rosso are vital and only shows just much of a driver Kvyat is despite not having the car underneath him to challenge for a better result this weekend.
Perez had another solid drive to eighth place on Sunday and bringing home much needed points. He has a solid run of form recently despite all the rumours surrounding where he will be driving next season but he is showing that he can deliver on the track.
Verstappen had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish sixth, but he scored more points for the Red Bull team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Verstappen scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.
Vettel did a good job to get fifth place and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race despite starting from the back of the grid and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Raikkonen had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Raikkonen needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Hamilton deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.
Ricciardo drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium yesterday. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to make hey. But what a fantastic job from him all weekend and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Malaysia.
All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Singapore and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are still the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Nico for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his fifth race of the season and regaining the championship lead at his 200th GP start.
With the Malaysian GP in a weeks time, if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton, Ricciardo or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.