Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes knew they were entering the Singapore Grand Prix weekend with the driver’s championship lead but they also knew that they may not be able to exit the weekend retaining that lead. The street circuit was going to favor the Ferrari and as Friday’s practice sessions proved, it also might favor the Red Bulls as well.
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel did a terrific job of securing pole position leaving two Red Bulls and another Ferrari behind him and this was going to make Lewis’s day a very difficult task as the Brit said he would need a miracle to secure a win in Singapore.
The start of the first-ever wet night race provided that miracle as both Ferrari’s and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen took each other out at turn 1 leaving Hamilton in the lead after a Safety Car period and re-start of the race on lap 5.
If you go back ten years and read my commentary on the first-ever night race, I said at the time that one thing I struggle with personally is driving at night with rain and glare from the lights. I said it would be very difficult for the drivers in this race with artificial lights and glare and I am happy to say that they are much better at it than I am as the race started normally with lots of rooster tails and water.
It was a miracle that Lewis needed and it was a miracle he received to enter the Singapore Grand Prix in the points lead and exit the weekend with a 28-point lead.
Lewis needed a miracle and he got it as he drove a race with an engine with some mileage on it to capitalize on the carnage up front. You have to be there to win it and take advantage of the gifts handed to you and Lewis stayed out of trouble to bring home a win at a place they had resigned themselves to damage limitation.
It’s a win but a bit of a fail for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who finished well but was unable to take the fight to Lewis Hamilton over the long-run race pace. You can’t argue with the result Dan was able to achieve but given the pace they had on Friday, you may be forgiven for thinking that Red Bull had something for Mercedes.
A win for NBC Sports for arranging to have live interviews with McLaren’s Zak Brown during the race, a very nice addition to the broadcast. Very interesting to hear Zak say there were 42 engineers monitoring Vandoorne’s car during the race.
A big fail for Ferrari who desperately needed to capitalize on the tight nature of this street circuit. It was the one track they felt they could beat Mercedes and qualifying proved that point but they managed to end both their races by squeezing the Dutchman between them sending all three cars into a pile of carbon fiber and leaking fluids. A terrible weekend and massive impact in the driver’s championship battle. Ferrari knew that Max had nothing to lose and was never going to take his foot out of it so it boiled down to either lifting and staying ahead of Lewis or trying to block Max and take the win. The latter option didn’t work.
A fail for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who qualified so well and yet was out at turn 1 in an incident that left him nowhere to go as the two Ferrari’s pinched him between them. One more DNF for the season for the Dutchman.
A fail for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat for hitting the wall and ending his race early on lap 11. The Russian had just told the team to leave him alone and not radio him and it does seem he was struggling to keep focus on a very tricky and changing track.
A WTH for McLaren and Fernando Alonso for having a decent chance of scoring good points but once again he was unable to finish the race due to circumstances beyond his control as he was damaged during the Ferrari/Red Bull carnage on lap 1.
I’m glad I wasn’t a strategist for this race. After the second safety car period, a dry line formed but without the aid of the sun and high humidity, the rain was taking a while to evaporate and the dry line to form. When would the crossover point be and who wanted to take the gamble to switch to dry tires? It was Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who blinked first on lap 25 and then they all boxed for dry tires.
You know it’s a tough circuit when nearly all the drivers tell their teams to shut up and leave them alone on the radio. Kvyat, Sainz, Magnussen et. al. No one wanted to hear their team prattling on about batteries, tires and other mechanical issues during the race.
Mercedes were asking Lewis to slow the pace and not open a gap that would allow an additional stop for Ricciardo if there was another safety car period. Lewis didn’t agree and explained that it is difficult to drive off pace—which Paul and I have spoken about at length. Mercedes acquiesced and let Lewis dictate the pace.
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||58||4.507s|
|4||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||58||22.822s|
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||58||25.359s|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||58||44.795s|
|12||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber/Ferrari||56||2 Laps|
|–||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||50||Power Unit|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||48||Oil leak|
|–||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||35||Spun off|
|–||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||10||Spun off|
|–||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||0||Collision|