Lewis Hamilton shone under the stars in Singapore to leap into the championship lead. Taking the chequered flag over 13 seconds ahead of Vettel, Lewis Hamilton gains a three-point championship lead following a terrible Singapore Grand Prix for Nico Rosberg.
After loosing out on pole position by just seven thousandths of a second, Rosberg was struck early on with a gear shift problem. During his out lap to the grid, he was forced into a return to the garage for the team to change his steering wheel. A few minutes later it looked like he would be fine for the race start but then on the formation lap, his Mercedes failed to move. As a result Rosberg was forced into starting from the pit lane and in 21st position.
Rosberg was not the only driver who was suffering early on, Kamui Kobayashi would go on to not start the race. For Kamui, he was able to get away on the formation lap but later be forced into pulling into a run off area. His Caterham suffered a mechanical problem and was forced into being sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
But for the cars who managed to return to the grid, as the five red lights went out under the stars, Hamilton rocketed away with an unchallenged lead.
Fernando Alonso, after challenging all weekend, also rocketed away from his grid spot and before turn one he had moved up to second. Unfortunately he carried far too much speed into the breaking area after the short run from the grid and was forced to use the run off area. He had moved ahead of both Red Bulls, but to prevent a penalty he allowed Vettel to regain 2nd. The FIA chose to investigate this situation a few minutes later but quickly chose not to take any further action.
Over the next few laps Vettel maintained his second place, setting the fastest lap. But at the back of the field, Rosberg’s times were around four seconds slower. Keeping the championship leader fighting with the back-markers.
However being stuck with the back-markers was the least of Rosberg’s problems as with every upshift, he was missing a gear. He had no problems with the downshifts but skipping the gears resulted in a lack of pace.
With the expectation of the race being a three stopper, the first pit stops were expected around lap 12 but actually began on lap 9 with Sutil. For most of the field, their first stops were smooth and without any troubles but for Raikkonen, a slow get away almost resulted in a loss of position to Massa and almost an unsafe release with Bottas right behind.
On lap 14, Rosberg’s fight was over. He knew going into his stop that he would be without his clutch and the getaway would be an issue. But as the team released him from the jacks hoping he could get away, his Mercedes sat in the box. With no clutch meaning no drive, Rosberg waved his hands to signal his surrender and retired from the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix.
Worse for Rosberg, with the issues striking his Mercedes he was actually lapped by Hamilton before he retired. But not just that, his 22 point championship lead hung in the balance knowing that if Hamilton won the race, the lead would switch hands.
Soon enough there was a third retirement from the race in the form of Esteban Gutierrez. His Sauber was struck with an electrical problem in his power unit meaning he would not see the chequered flag. But instead the red mist descended with the Mexican who showed a burst of anger in his retirement.
There was almost no battle at the front with Hamilton maintaining his lead back to Vettel. But for Vettel, he was under the looming pressure from Alonso as the Spaniard sought second place and set a new fastest lap.
By the time the second round of pit stops arrived, Ferrari aimed to use the undercut in a bid to overtake Vettel. Although Alonso exited the pits in fifth place, the supersoft tyres clearly provided him with the instant speed he needed as on the following lap, Alonso moved ahead when Seb pitted. Now into third place, behind Hamilton and Ricciardo who were yet to pit, he set out his charge.
In a matter of laps, the lead between Hamilton and Alonso had been heavily reduced. Some of this lost time can be put down to Hamilton’s pit stop in which he missed the marks and also needed debris removed from his front wing.
Over the next few laps Fernando and Lewis traded the fastest lap of the race but their battle came to a premature halt when the safety car came out. One lap after Perez had pitted for fresh tyres, he was on his way back to the pits after his front wing went under his car. As he attempted to overtake Sutil, the Sauber made contact with Perez’s front wing and instantly the front wing broke.
Under the safety car almost all the drivers headed to the pits and the order at the front change once more. Hamilton led under the safety with Vettel and Ricciardo both ahead of Alonso. With the amount of debris on the track, the safety car lapped the streets of Singapore for what seemed like an eternity.
When the safety car peeled into the pit lane, Hamilton stormed away to instantly create a one second lead over Vettel. Lewis knew that he would need to go ‘hammer time’ as he was still yet to run the soft compound tyres as the laps remaining ticked away.
Over the first lap following the safety car, Hamilton had edged out a three-second lead. Then, after lapping 2.5 seconds faster than Vettel, he continued to create an even larger advantage whilst Sebastian was told he would need to make his tyres last the remainder of the race.
Whilst Hamilton stretched out his lead, a little further back a few battles began to emerge. Bottas in sixth was slowly coming under more and more pressure from Button as the Brit looked to move his McLaren closer to the front. Furthermore, a little further back the two Lotus cars had clawed their way towards the back of the top 10.
Without a point this season, both Lotus drivers had now been provided with the perfect opportunity to get a point. And this situation increased when Vergne and Perez pitted to hand Maldonado P10. A point scoring position.
Now as the race began to approach an end, Hamilton headed to the pits. He was unable to extend his lead to the 27 seconds the team had wanted, but with a 25 second lead he was able to come out in second place. Directly in front of Ricciardo.
Vettel had not lead a lap of any grand prix in 2014 but with Hamilton having to pit, he finally had his chance.
There was just seven laps remaining in the race, but Hamilton wasted no time in using his fresh rubber to his advantage against the old tyres at Vettel disposal. With this it took Hamilton just one lap before he was under the diffuser of Vettel and looking to regain his lead.
A lead that was back in Hamilton’s hands soon enough, but for Button he was parking his McLaren at the side of the road to signal the end of his race after his car suddenly shut down. Unfortunately for Lotus, this retirement would not mean they would be securing their first points as their drivers fell further back and lost positions to Vergne, Magnussen and Perez.
Although Vergne would not hold on to that position after being handed another 5-second stop-go penalty after exceeding track limits. With so few laps remaining he opted not to take to the pits as it would have lost him a far greater amount of time than allowing the race stewards to add the 5 seconds to his overall race time.
Knowing he would lose heavily with the 5 second penalty, Vergne put the throttle down and began a storming run. In a matter of corners he made his way past Hulkenberg for P8, before overtaking Raikkonen and Bottas to move into sixth place.
With the safety car period lasting so long, the race had exceeded the two-hour limit and the countdown began to signal the chequered flag. Over the remaining lap Bottas slipped to outside the top 10 as he himself slid across the track following his Williams loosing all remaining grip.
A chequered flag Hamilton would take 13.5 seconds ahead of Vettel. Ricciardo came home seven tenths back with Alonso in fourth.
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||60||+13.5 secs||4||18|
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||60||+14.2 secs||3||15|
|4||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||60||+15.3 secs||5||12|
|5||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||60||+42.1 secs||6||10|
|6||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Renault||60||+56.8 secs||12||8|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||60||+59.0 secs||15||6|
|8||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||60||+60.6 secs||7||4|
|9||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||60||+61.6 secs||13||2|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+62.2 secs||9||1|
|11||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Mercedes||+65.0 secs||8|
|12||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||+66.9 secs||18|
|13||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||+68.0 secs||16|
|14||26||Daniil Kvyat||STR-Renault||+72.0 secs||10|
|15||9||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham-Renault||+94.1 secs||22|
|16||17||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Ferrari||+94.5 secs||19|
|17||4||Max Chilton||Marussia-Ferrari||+1 Lap||21|
|Ret||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||+8 Lap||11|
|Ret||99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||+20 Laps||17|
|Ret||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||+43 Laps||14|
|Ret||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||+47 Laps||2|
|Ret||10||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham-Renault||+ secs||20|