Nico Rosberg wins the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix.
200 Grand Prix’s, 22 victories, and now the championship lead. Nico Rosberg wins the Singapore Grand Prix, narrowly ahead of Ricciardo as strategy spiced up the final laps.
When the red lights went out and the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix was underway, Nico Rosberg eased away from pole position. Comfortably retaining the lead of the race as he led Ricciardo and Hamilton into the first turn. But before the leaders could battle, a safety car was already out.
The safety car has been needed every year at the Singapore Grand Prix, but never before on the opening lap. But with Hulkenberg stranded on the pit straight missing a tyre, the race had to be neutralised to recover the car.
Hulkenberg had seen his race get off to a blinding yet brief start, as he would not even make it to the first corner. For Verstappen ahead struggled to get away with wheelspin slowing his Red Bull.
With Verstappen moving slowly, Sainz was forced to take to the centre of the track to avoid the Red Bull. However, by moving across he pinched Hulkenberg into Kvyat – forcing the Force India into a spin.
With a plume of smoke as the tyres locked, Hulkenberg darted across Verstappen’s nose and straight into the pit wall. Severing his suspension, losing a wheel and out of the race.
Early damage for Bottas and Button forced the duo to pit as the safety car came out. But when the race was back underway, a marshal was left darting off the track as he was yet to leave the first corner before the safety car peeled in.
Luckily he and the debris he was collecting made it back to safety before the rampant Rosberg arrived at the corner. While Vettel was already easily picking up places.
Vettel had been forced to start the race from the back row of the grid as a suspension failure in qualifying meant he was out in Q1. With a back of the grid start already confirmed, Ferrari also took the opportunity to hand Seb a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and a gearbox free of charge.
As Vettel put stress on his new components, both Mercedes drivers were being told they needed to watch their brakes.
In FP1, Rosberg locked up and hit the wall at turn 18 as his brakes faded towards the end of the session. In fear of a repeat, Hamilton and Nico were told to be cautious. Yet Rosberg responded by going faster than before.
Amidst the chaos at the start of the race, Alonso had managed to move up from ninth to fifth come the restart. And with his poor start, Verstappen found himself caught behind the McLaren’s train – which included the Toro Rosso of Kvyat.
Kvyat defending from Verstappen was more than just for position, with Daniil’s season on a downwards spiral of despair since Max took the Russian’s Red Bull seatMax took the Russian’s Red Bull seat in Spain.
Today’s tussle for position began at turn 13 as Max hounded the rear of the Toro Rosso, who locked up and welcomed the attack. Kvyat, though, held the inside of T14 and forced Verstappen to risk touching the wall if he wanted to get past. A risk he did not take.
Instead, Verstappen waited to try his luck in to turn seven with DRS. But again Kvyat intently defended from the Red Bull on the inside of the corner, running Verstappen wide and over the kerb.
The next lap again saw Verstappen try his luck around the outside of Kvyat at turn seven. But no move was possible and his tyres were nearly spent, forcing Verstappen to accept defeat and slow his pace to prolong the stint.
Meanwhile, further down the road, Hamilton continued to fall away from Ricciardo as he cared for his brakes. And as he fell away from the leaders, he came into sight of a pushing Raikkonen.
Although the gap was large enough for the Finn not to be able to overtake, a lock up into turn seven forced Hamilton wide and opened the door to the Ferrari.
With the gap now closed up, Kimi took his shot on the inside at turn 10. Rubbing tyres with Hamilton but cleanly enough ahead for third. Before instantly pitting.
When Hamilton stopped a lap later, the gap to Raikkonen had grown and grown. With Kimi now holding a six-second lead.
But later into the race, with 15-laps to go, things were not all over in the podium fight as Hamilton stopped one last time for a set of scrubbed supersoft tyres.
Raikkonen and Ferrari instantly replied to Mercedes’ call, but the single lap between the stops saw Hamilton regain third place. With Raikkonen crawling out of the pit lane a second behind the Silver Arrow.
The aggressive call by Mercedes to undercut the Ferrari also triggered the leading two to respond. With Ricciardo coming in to cover Hamilton and Raikkonen while leaving an undercut over Rosberg on the cards.
But as Ricciardo picked up time to Rosberg with every corner, Mercedes changed their minds and kept Nico out on track. Despite having men in the pit lane prepared and primed. The single traffic filled lap would have cost Nico so heavily that he would have lost track position to Ricciardo and possibly the victory. And as another lap rolled by, he could have lost a podium place too.
Ricciardo knew his job now had to be done on track as he posted a new fastest lap of the race.
But with the number of laps remaining, the task was still tough. And when he hit traffic, his chances became slimmer as Nico edged back away.
In the end, Rosberg was able to control his pace to keep enough life in his tyres and not put too much stress on his brakes. Taking the chequered flag just half a second ahead of Ricciardo.
Hamilton’s aggressive switch to supersofts right at the end allowed him to regain third from Raikkonen. A position he would hold on to by two seconds, and cross the line seven seconds back from Ricciardo.
Vettel, who was voted the official Formula One driver of the day, ended the Singapore Grand Prix in fifth place. Making up 17 places from start to flag.
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||0.488||18|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’11.197||8|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India||1’51.062||4|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1’51.557||2|
|14||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1L|
|21||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||DNF|