It’s not the first time the Formula 1 series has raced under the lights of Singapore but it certainly is the first time Nico Rosberg has won in Singapore and what better way to celebrate his 200th grand prix start.
The Singapore Grand Prix is always a physically punishing, long, hot and humid affair and the heat was playing a large role in an oppressive brake issue that both Mercedes drivers were nursing for the entirety of the race. Regardless, Nico Rosberg was able to hold off a charging Daniel Ricciardo to win by a mere four tenths of a second.
Lewis Hamilton struggled all weekend with his chassis performance and missing pole by seven tenths of a second exposed a possible aerodynamic downforce concern for the team. Irrespective of Lewis’s challenges with grip, he also suffered a brake heat issue that he nursed for the balance of the race—the longest on F1 calendar—to finish third.
Up front, I have to say congratulations to NBC Sports for having James Allen on broadcast as pitlane reporter. I’ve met James a few times and each time, he’s been wonderfully delightful to chat with and this considering he doesn’t know me from Adam. James brought an incredibly measured, intelligent assessment of the strategies that were playing out and his predictive ability was spot on through experience and investigative reporting. His interaction over tactics with Steve Matchett was terrific, a great chemistry there. James also asked terrific question in the F1 Extra segment of the drivers. He asked prescient, informative questions that the drivers found engaging and it prompted them to unpack the race for viewers—well done James!
I would be remiss in not also offering applause to Brian Till who sat in for an Indycar-calling Leigh Diffey. Brian walked in to a season with lots of permutations and clearly has done his homework and did a terrific job anchoring the broadcast.
It’s a win for Mercedes and Nico Rosberg for the victory but while many may be wondering if Mercedes were working hard enough on the strategy for both drivers, I tend to think they actually did do a good job of navigating around a brake heat issue, prioritizing the lead they had and covering Red Bull’s aggressive charge for victory. James Allen was right in that the team had to prioritize their lead and safeguard the victory but for Lewis, it was working with the ebb and flow of the cars around him. In the end, their strategy ensured a victory and third-place finish which could have been much worse.
A win for Force India’s Sergio Perez who, after watching his teammate end the race 100 meters from the start line, knew he had it all to do in order to take the fight back to Williams F1 in the constructor’s points battle. Making a very long run on soft compound tires, he secured 8th and took the team back ahead of Williams in the championship.
A win for Red Bull who rolled the dice in strategy starting on a harder tire than Mercedes in order to try to run longer and overcut them. A late-race stop for Daniel Ricciardo gave the Australian all the tools they had in the chest to try and take victory but they were just off by four tenths in the end. Christian Horner and his team of strategists and engineers should be applauded for making this a very close run race and using strategy as well as Mercedes brake issues to finish second in the race.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen could be afforded a win thumbs up for his 4th place finish but the team missed the undercut with Lewis Hamilton, who was struggling with brake heat issues, and managed to miss out on the podium. The team would most likely say that it was always going to be that way but watching timing and scoring, Kimi was putting in some impressive times and could have been competitive in 3rd and possibly held Lewis off.
It’s a win for Sebastian Vettel who came from the back of the grid in a car that is a half second slower than Mercedes to finish 5th and in the points. He was voted Driver of the Day at F1.com and with good reason. Passing is not a hallmark of Singapore and yet Sebastian made it happen along with Max Verstappen.
A win for Fernando Alonso who felt 7th was the best they could have hoped for and he got it. He said the team felt they could be the best of the rest (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) and it proved to be true.
Also a win for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and this is the type of performances that the young Russian has shown with some hard defensive driving against the man who supplanted him at Red Bull and beating his own teammate, Carlos Sainz, to 9th place.
A win for a struggling Renault who helped their man Kevin Magnussen take the final point in 10th place, only their second point of the season.
A fail for Ferrari and their rear track rod issue because given Vettel’s pace, he would most likely have been battling for serious podium positions. As it was, the team did use the back of the grid to their advantage by fitting a new engine and gearbox to add to the pool for the remaining races.
A fail for Williams who managed to finish outside the points with Felipe Mass in 12th and Valtteri Bottas DNF. This troubled weekend lost them the lead over Force India in the Constructors’ Championship.
A fail for Haas F! who couldn’t field Romain Grosjean’s car for the start of the race over a brake-by-wire system issue and just missing the points with Esteban Gutierrez in 11th.
A fail also for Sauber who missed the opportunity to score a point even with four cars out of the race.
A WTH moment for the Safety Car session end when the cars started at full tilt with a track worker still on track…that could have been very ugly.
A WTH moment for Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz at the start. It was a racing incident, that’s how I saw it and that’s how the stewards of the race saw it but it ended Nico’s race and scuttled Carlos’s.
A WTH for Haas F1 and Romain Grosjean who had “the worst car” Romain has ever driven according to the Frenchman. Also, failing to start the race didn’t do anything to restore hope and Grosjean’s frustration boiling over when he is trying to endear himself to a fledgling team is a bit of an unfortunate issue. There was that issue of Ruth leaving the team for Sauber and she was in their strategy department so it will be interesting to see if that has any knock-on effect.
A WTH moment of Valtteri Bottas who had an issue with his seatbelts and at first blush you’d think this would be something that never fails but apparently they do, even in F1.
Finally, a WTH moment coming out of the paddock is just what will happen with Liberty’s investment and the potential for Mr. E to actually pack his bags and walk away. Much has been mentioned of a 3-year deal to keep him involved but if you read Martin Brundle’s interview, I don’t get the impression he’ll be around that long.
Singapore GP Results:
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||0.488s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m11.197s|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m51.062s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m51.557s|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|12||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|13||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||1 Lap|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|17||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|18||Esteban Ocon||Manor/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|–||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||Not started|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||Collision|
Drivers’ Championship Points:
Constructors’ Championship Points: