Marina Bay Circuit
Result: Lewis Hamilton wins to take the Drivers Championship lead over teammate Rosberg
In the end, the only night race on the F1 calendar—the most stunning visual extravaganza in sports—turned out to be the most pulsating and exciting race of the F1 season. Not only has it turned the table upside down, it gave viewers a spectacular battle to feast on, from 1st to 4th position, and it was far from the easy victory Mercedes may have expected.
To begin things, Christmas came early for Hamilton when his teammate failed to put his car in gear in the warm-up laps, retiring from the race within the first few laps itself. This was Rosberg’s worst nightmare coming true after a couple of underwhelming races that, if anything, points out to him being the sinner in Belgium when he took out Hamilton after bumping into him. Destiny was at play again, and surely, the German seems to have paid his price after a retirement that could ruin his chances of winning his first ever World Championship. But it wasn’t that simple for the Brit. He had to win the race, and he wasn’t getting it on a platter, with both the Red Bull drivers waking up a bit too late in the season. This time, it was 4-time Champion Vettel who finally decided to show F1 that he isn’t forgotten completely, and he pushed Hamilton in every way, even leading the race 7 laps from the end.
This was a 2-hour race, the longest and hottest on the calendar with 61 laps, and most drivers were certainly suffering from exhaustion, even during the 7-lap safety car run when Alonso was the only top-5 driver to make a pit stop. Hamilton had to open up a gap of at least 27 seconds to be safe enough to make his second stop, and he pulled away from Vettel after the restart at more than 1.5 seconds a lap. By lap 51, Hamilton could hold out no longer due to a worn right-rear, and was leading by 25.2 seconds. He had to make that stop, and did so, inch perfectly, but came out right on the tail of Vettel between the two Red Bulls.
It is virtually impossible to overtake on the narrow streets of Singapore, but Hamilton had to take the chance, especially because he was the faster car and Vettel’s tires were suffering. He dove down the inside, and succeeded if only just, finally taking the lead and in the open for his 7th win of the season. Two races ago, Hamilton was in the dumps after his Belgian disaster, 28 points behind Rosberg. And how things have changed since then.
One can almost sniff accusations against the team of trying to teach Rosberg a lesson, but no credit can be taken away from the Brit—who seems primed and determined to win his second World Title after one of his most successful seasons ever. The race wasn’t over though, and Vettel had to keep his marauding teammate Ricciardo behind him, who in turn had to keep an inspired Alonso behind. They came within a second of eachother, finally finishing in the same sequence.
Despite winning 3 more races than his teammate, Hamilton is now 3 points ahead of his more consistent teammate (241 to 238). Ricciardo is third with 181 points, after another impressive 4th place finish, that will no doubt inspire his soon-to-be-ex-World-Champion team to pull up their socks and give him a more competitive car next year.