Sebastian Vettel wins a 2-hour long Singapore Grand Prix under the thousands of floodlights.
The F1 Night race in Singapore, one of the longest races on the calendar as the chequered flag comes right on the two-hour race limit. But one man who will not have minded spending two hours in his sweat box will be Sebastian Vettel after claiming victory around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. The race saw two safety cars come out and multiple cars retire with technical gremlins – including Lewis Hamilton – in a race which also saw a spectator walk down the side of the track.
Mercedes’ Singapore Grand Prix weekend had got off to its usual dominant start when Rosberg topped the time sheet for the opening practice session. But once the supersoft tyres came on in FP2, their weekend fell apart and they fell to over a second off the pace-setting Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s.
Worse for the championship leading constructor seemed to come in qualifying as their high-flying stars could only lock out the third row of the grid, behind pole-setting Vettel, Raikkonen and the Bulls. But just after Nico left the garage to head to the grid, he was forced to park in the pit lane as his engine cut out during his practice start procedure. This however just turned out to be another nail in their Singapore Grand Prix coffin.
After stalling three times and the team re-engaging his engine, Nico eventually made it on to the grid and the team set about reading the data to find the cause of his apparent issue. Luckily enough, it seemed to be no more than a software glitch that they could fix with ease and he made the start of the race ok.
But he was still sitting two rows further back than he is used to, with Vettel shooting away like a rocket from pole as soon as the red lights went out to create a three-second lead over Ricciardo by the end of the first lap.
As the field weaved through the first corners, everyone made it through with minimal bumps and barges, with just a few cars using the kerbs as the racing line. But the field was without Verstappen as the youngster stalled on the grid and needed a quick reboot in the pits.
While Vettel settled into his groove in first and smoothed out 1:53’s as his lap times to manage a five-second gap to Ricciardo, little pockets of action where springing up around the circuit. One little pocket of action was between the two Force India’s as Perez followed the Hulk around the Marina Bay.
The Mexican felt he was a lot quicker than his German team-mate and was being held up, but both were lucky to still be running after Perez caught his tank-slapper under braking on the first lap just in time to not take both of them out of the race.
After 10 laps, Lotus felt it was time to hit the pits and target the undercut on Alonso with Grosjean. And one lap later, Fernando joined Romain in the pit party but was held up in the pits, as was Sainz, as Sauber strolled by. With the added time in the box, Grosjean almost breezed ahead of the Spaniard as Alonso left the pits but the McLaren nudged its short nose in front.
Unfortunately for Alonso, DRS was around the corner and Romain with his warmed up tyres tucked in behind before walking down the outside in the braking zone and leaving Alonso in his dust.
More drivers soon hit the pits with Hulkenberg moving out of the way for Perez and returning to the live circuit in clean air. But one lap later Hulkenberg was out of the race and in the barrier at turn three after being hit in the sidepod and rear wheel by Massa, as Felipe left the pits.
Massa had just left the garage after a slow pit stop when the front jack fell down making the right front tyre hard to put on. Had this not have happened, he would have rejoined the track without Hulkenberg anywhere near. But they came together and the third corner with Massa’s wheel hitting the Hulk’s and sending the Force India into the barrier, with the Virtual Safety Car initially brought out before the full Safety Car hit the track to help the marshals clean up the debris.
Under the virtual safety car, Mercedes pitted both cars and switched for the soft tyres as they looked to make a two-stop strategy work. At Ferrari and Red Bull, they were also looking at a two-stopper but had fitted the supersoft tyres for the middle stint.
But while Vettel, Ricciardo and Raikkonen cruised out in front, Hamilton was slowing with a loss of power, gifting Rosberg and Kvyat a free pass. Lewis keep talking with the team for a possible fix to his dead battery as the car continued to slow without the charge and power boost. But without the power the battery provides, he fell out of the points and down to 16th.
Lewis even fell behind Max Verstappen after the youngster made his way through the back half of the grid once unlapped with the safety car. Max was even able to promote himself to the cusp of the points by half race distance as Felipe Massa retired with a gearbox issue that was forcing him into neutral.
Like Massa, Hamilton soon retired from the race as the championship leader began to lose brakes along with his power issues. But they were not alone as Alonso made it three in as many laps as like Felipe, Fernando’s gearbox kicked into neutral randomly.
Without Lewis running in fourth place on the soft tyres, Vettel hit the throttle and bolted from Ricciardo as the threat of Lewis jumping them for the lead faded away. But Vettel was soon bunched back up with Ricciardo after making a new lead when a tourist strolled down the side of the track and brought out another safety car.
The action took a while to resume as Rossi refused to unlap himself in the traffic and sat amongst the top three when the race resumed, but soon moved out of the way when the safety car peeled in.
And with the action back underway, Button was back in the pits for a new front wing after contact with the rear of Maldonado when the Venezuelan left the track to avoid action before coming back on directly in front of the McLaren.
The second safety car also allowed Max Verstappen to move up into the points and attack Maldonado for ninth after falling to a lap down after the first lap when he stalled on the grid. After dispatching Maldonado, Verstappen was closing in on the other Lotus of Grosjean.
Max tucked his previously lapped Toro Rosso under the rear wing of Grosjean down the Esplanade Drive and put his car on the outside under braking for turn 14. With that he was able to gain better traction on exit and switchback the angle to sail around the outside of Grosjean and take the position. Not so soon later, Grosjean was also behind the other Toro Rosso belonging to Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left it late on the brakes into turn one, forcing Romain to run wide.
The Lotus slip continued to occur over the next handful of laps as the Sauber duo nestled between Grosjean and Maldonado. But at McLaren they were clearing out the other side of the garage as they requested Jenson retired the car. Like Fernando, Jenson’s day came to an end due to a gearbox problem.
Out in front Ricciardo and Vettel were trading fastest lap but Seb was still able to control the gap to his former team-mate, pathing the way for another Ferrari win in 2015 and the first Ferrari double podium since 2013.
Right before Vettel crossed the line to take his third win of the season, Toro Rosso were on the radio to Max Verstappen ordering him to move aside of Sainz to take eight place. Twice they asked the teenager to move over but as he fought Perez for seventh, he was not going to move aside and ended the race in between the Force India and his team-mate.
Rosberg ghosted around the Singapore Grand Prix in a race of his own to finish in fourth and claw some points back from Hamilton after he retired. But as much as Rosberg gained on Hamilton for first in the standings, Rosberg lost that to Vettel as the Ferrari moved closer to second.
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