Many Formula 1 fans expected the Singapore Grand Prix to favor the Ferrari and Red Bull cars given the lack of high-speed corners and long straights. Those characteristics are generally happy hunting grounds for the Mercedes team and Mercedes-powered cars.
Having said that, the storyline coming out of Friday’s practice session started to signal a problem with long-run and one-lap pace for the Silver Arrows leaving Ferrari and Red Bull to battle it out on a circuit just over 3 miles in length with 23 corners which is located on the equator with all the heat and humidity a driver can stand over a two-hour race.
Ferrari took the pole and led the race the entire 61 laps claiming their 3rd win of the season with Sebastian Vettel inching ever closer to second in the driver’s championship. The bad weekend Mercedes were having was exacerbated by a DNF for points-leading Lewis Hamilton and a 4th place finish for Nico Rosberg.
Red Bull had the long-run pace to win but Ferrari and Vettel did a masterful job of managing their race, tires and pace in order to cover the hard-charging Australian but two safety car periods—one for a crash between Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg and the other for a 27-year-old man who wandered out on track which is one of the youngest track invaders in F1 history—made Vettel’s task of staying ahead of Ricciardo easier for sure.
Kimi Raikkonen said his Ferrari was a handful all weekend but he felt lucky to finish on the podium and had nothing for Vettel or Ricciardo. As for Rosberg, he said Lewis’s optimism about having pace to win had it not been for the DNF is a bit far-fetched as he was on the same strategy and had the same pace as Lewis and clearly had nothing for the frontrunners.
A big win for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel who take their third victory and while I say it’s a win for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo, I know they came in to this weekend feeling like they could win the race so they may not feel like they’ve won what they may have had the safety cars not come out. That’s unrealistic to think it wouldn’t because it has been released at every single Singapore Grand Prix since it came on the calendar seven years ago.
It’s a win for Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez who needed to increase their points haul to get ahead of their teammates and with both Mass and Hulkenberg taken out in the pit-exit crash, they drove tidy races to clean up the points by taking advantage of the incident. Bottas is now 5th and Perez 9th in the driver’s championship.
A win for Scuderia Toro Rosso who placed both cars in 8th and 9th for a points haul. This was quite a feat given that Max Verstappen stalled on the grid and was a lap down but clawed his way back into the points. His teammate, Carlos Sainz, had gearbox issues dropping several place but recovered to finish behind Verstappen.
While Sauber didn’t enjoy yet another points coring race from Marcus Ericsson, it was his teammate that claimed the final points-paying position of 10th giving the team much needed results that equal cash.
Certainly a WTH weekend for Mercedes and while these shorter circuits don’t necessarily favor the Silver Arrows, they didn’t do too badly at Monaco. The team said they didn’t know what the issue was and many suggest that the FIA’s new clampdown on tire pressure measurements and processes have played into the weak performance and lack of grip they were having this weekend. Regardless fo the speculation, the team were flummoxed as to why they were so far off pace in Singapore.
Lewis Hamilton has points in hand so his DNF isn’t good but it didn’t cost him the lead in the championship either. Hamilton with a DNF in Singapore and Rosberg with a DNF two weeks ago is a challenge that Mercedes said they do not want to happen in 2015. So far, gremlins are striking and you have to wonder if the aging season is starting to give Merc som reliability issues along with the other teams.
A fail for Daniil Kvyat who was caught out by the first safety car period falling back to 6th and could never recover. Kvyat looked to have the measure of his teammate all weekend long but the race proved that his destiny was to lose his lead over Ricciardo in the driver’s championship. Ricciardo has had his share of bad luck this year so perhaps it’s Daniil’s time?
Lotus F1 had a tough weekend but perhaps even being at the race is a win, regardless, the performance was a fail and Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were sitting ducks for most of the race bested by teams that aren’t usually beating them.
A big fail for McLaren who felt this circuit was flattering them a bit and that points could be possible. In fact, Fernando Alonso said this was the best weekend so far this year. As soon as they say that, the team scores another dual DNF and it must be said that Jenson Button is starting to sound like a man who is leaving the team. His comments are becoming more disengaged and critical of the team and that’s usually a sign of a eminent departure from McLaren.
Certainly you have to wonder what the fan was doing wandering around on the circuit taking pictures. Ricciardo said he would have liked to swerve over and clip the idiot as it prompted a safety car which sealed Vettel’s victory. Toto Wolff said he looked like he’d had a few beers and maybe that’s how they do things in Austria, Toto, but I think he was trying to find a bathroom having eaten a dodgy curry. Either that or he was trying to help Lewis reset his car’s computer as he is an IT manager for Pan Pacific and has a righteous set of tools.
Another WTH moment was for Ferrari and their team who bum rushed parc ferme shoving photogs around and ignoring security like Hell’s Grannies. It was like an incident simply missing the appropriate hashtag justice moniker for crying out loud.
If you were scratching your head as to why Toro Rosso told Max Verstappen to pull over and let Carlos Sainz through, then you were in the same boat as 17-year-old Plucky Teen Max Verstappen. He promptly said no and disobeyed team orders and took 8th place leaving team boss, Franz Tost, to try and justify his actions in the press by defending his petulance.
Now, while the overwhelming social media traffic is very supportive of Max, and I am too, you might check your moral outrage barometer if you were one of the people castigating Sebastian Vettel for telling Mark Webber to get bent when ordered to move over or not pass. Max, like Seb, is not in F1 to play wet nurse to their teammate. They are there to win.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||61||2h 01:22.118|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||61||1.478|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||61||35.508|
|7||Sergio Pérez||Force India/Mercedes||61||50.836|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||61||51.450|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||61||52.860|
|13||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Mercedes||59||Not running|
|14||Alexander Rossi||Marussia/Ferrari||59||2 Laps|
|15||Will Stevens||Marussia/Ferrari||59||2 Laps|
|–||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||32||Power Unit|
|–||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||30||Power Unit|
|–||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||12||Collision|