Singapore Swing: Nico Rosberg retakes the Championship lead with six races to go

Rosberg has clawed back a 19 point deficit to once again take the lead of the Drivers’ Championship by eight points.

It was by no means an easy victory for the German, who had overheating breaks and a speedy Daniel Ricciardo to contend with, but it was a comfortable and controlled drive nonetheless.

The Championship battle continues

Lewis Hamilton had no answer to Rosberg in qualifying for the Singapore GP.

He was even pipped to second place by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and lined up in third come Sunday.

Hamilton had a clean, if unspectacular, getaway but Rosberg held his position as they circled back to meet the safety car after Hulkenberg became the filling in a Toro Rosso sandwich.

Both cars were ordered to look after their brakes in the opening stages of the race, and Hamilton was unable to catch Ricciardo in second to have a hope of taking victory from his teammate.

In fact, he found himself falling into the clutches of Kimi Raikkonen, who passed him for third halfway through the race.

Hamilton pitted for supersoft tyres on lap 46, panicking Ferrari who dithered on whether or not to pit Raikkonen. They ultimately called him in on the following lap, but it wasn’t enough and Hamilton managed the undercut to take back third place.

Third Act drama

Just when everything had settled down, several teams suddenly switched their strategy from a two- to a three-stop.

Hamilton, Raikkonen and Ricciardo up front all pitted for fresh tyres – but race leader Rosberg would have fallen to fourth if he followed suit. He had to stay out and get to the end.

Ricciardo was then told he would catch the German with four laps to go, and much younger and grippier tyres. And he duly started to reel him in at a rate of two seconds per lap.

Had the race been one lap longer, Ricciardo could have had Rosberg with a DRS pass. In the end, he finished right on his gearbox and had to settle for second.

Danill Kvyat’s got his mojo back

And with gusto.

The Russian driver has had his fair share of bad luck and lacklustre performances since his demotion to Toro Rosso, but it all came good around the streets of Singapore.

Singapore was billed as Toro Rosso’s last chance of a decent points haul. As the team are running last year’s Ferrari, they are beginning to fall down the grid as the season progresses and other teams bring developments and upgrades.

Both cars made it into Q3 and qualified in sixth and seventh, but Sunday was Danill’s day to once again shine.

At third distance into the race, Kvyat found his former car, now driven by Max Verstappen, right behind him. A mistake from the Russian saw the Dutchman right on his tail, and he duly attempted one of his famous overtaking moves – to no avail.

Kvyat would not yield.

Some spectacular dices and squeezes from the bullish Russian followed, and Verstappen was unable to pass him on track before his next pit stop.

It was a brilliant return to form for Kvyat after a torrid time and rumours swirling over his future in Formula One. Let’s hope he has a strong end to the season and is given the chance to continue his rebuilding and development in 2017.

Sebastian Vettel has the drive of the day

Saturday was a disaster for the four-time world champion.

A broken anti-roll bar saw him take to the track with only three wheels in contact with the ground. He was unable to set a competitive time in qualifying, and started the race in the final grid position.

However much like his drive in the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP, Vettel battled his way through the field to finish in 5th place behind teammate Raikkonen.

He managed to get both Gutierrez and Sainz in the space of two corners early on in the race and was running just outside the points with only a third of the race distance completed.

Pretty incredible, starting last on a street circuit where overtaking is near-impossible.

2016 Singapore GP Results

  2. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING
  3. Lewis Hamilton MERCEDE AMG PETRONAS
  4. Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
  5. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
  6. Max Verstappen RED BULL
  7. Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
  8. Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
  9. Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
  10. Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
  11. Esteban Gutierrez HAAS
  12. Felpe Massa WILLIAMS
  13. Felipe Nasr SAUBER
  14. Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO
  15. Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
  16. Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
  17. Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
  18. Esteban Ocon MANOR

DNF: Jenson Button MCLAREN; Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS; Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA; Romain Grosjean HAAS

The Malaysian GP takes place on 2nd October 2016

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