|Formula One’s One and Only Night race in Singapore saw four-time Champion Sebastien Vettel notch up his third win of the season. Vettel topped former team mate Daniel Ricciardo and team mate Kimi Raikkonen on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.|
And for only the second time this season, neither Mercedes driver made it to the podium as championship leader Lewis Hamilton was forced out by an engine failure and Nico Rosberg struggled to a fourth place finish. Hamilton was going after Ayrton Senna’s 41 race victories, but a DNF meant he’d have to wait for the next Grand Prix to break the mark. In fact, it was Vettel who toppled Senna’s record as the German garnered his 42nd career race win. Vettel is now third on the all-time win list behind 7-time champion Michael Schumacher (91) and Alain Prost (51).
Prior to the SIngapore GP, Raikkonen had received confirmation of a contract extension with Ferrari. The Finn will continue to race alongside Vettel into the 2016 season. Both Ferraris were especially effective through practice and qualifying, with Vettel, a somewhat a street circuit specialist, churning out a fantastic qualifying lap to beat Ricciardo and Raikkonen for the top spot and more importantly, his first pole as a Prancing Horse driver. The German lapped in 1:43.885 over half a second faster than Ricciardo. Raikkonen ensured there are two Ferraris in the top three, taking third place with a lap in 1:44.667 in the fast pace qualifying session two.
The second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat shared row two with Raikkonen as the Russian discovered that his car had the juice to take it to the Ferraris. This was the one of the very few qualifiers of the season that neither Mercedes took the top two spots, with Hamilton qualifying fifth and Rosberg in sixth. Row four had the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, while row five was occupied by the second Williams of Felipe Massa and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Always a fan favorite in Singapore, Vettel didn’t disappoint the legion of Ferrari fans and Vettel supporters at the Marina Bay track. He led from from lights to finish through the 61-lap race, in spite of two safety car periods.
At the start of the race, Vettel held the lead ahead of the Red Bull and the second Ferrari. The Mercedes cars lined up behind the leading trio with Hamilton in fifth and Rosberg, sixth. Both Mercedes then managed to jump a place after pitting on lap 13 under a safety car period.
On lap 26, Hamilton suffered a loss of power which couldn’t be resolved, forcing him down the field and leading to his retirement on lap 32. Prior to the engine failure, the championship leader was only 3.4 seconds away from the race leader. “My pace was really good when I started to lose power. I felt like the team was working as hard as they could and these kinds of things just happen. But it was better to retire and save the engine. We will work really hard on figuring out what it was but I am not worried about losing this engine,” Hamilton commented in post-race.
By the middle stint, the dust had settled as Vettel continued to lead with Ricciardo and Raikkonen keeping up their consistent pace to maintain second and third. Following a second safety period near the end of the race, Rosberg had climbed his way up to fourth place and looked to hold that position. Up front, Vettel held a slender lead over Ricciardo’s Red Bull right to the flag, crossing the line just 1.4 secs ahead of the Australian. Raikkonen also made it to the podium, having been third from start to finish, making it a significant team result for Ferrari. “The race was intense and long, I had some pressure from Daniel behind me, we were the quickest two cars out there , but I was able to control the pace and look after the tyres, which ran ok for the whole weeekend. The car felt fantastic, I could control the gap until the end,” a jubilant Vettel said. “It has been a surprise that Mercedes hasn’t been on the pace this weekend, we don’t know why, but to be honest we don’t really care. I am very happy for the team, there has been a lot of work going in since the day I joined in.”
Williams got a fifth place finish, courtesy of Bottas who managed to jump Kvyat’s Red Bull after the second stop. Massa had to retire after a collision with Hulkenberg’s right after the first stop. A right tyre puncture ensued, forcing a extra stop. Later, the Brazilian would suffer a gearbox failure and effective retired from the race. Force India’s Sergio Perez, who got by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Grosjean in the early going, held his own to finish a credible seventh place.
Both Toro Rosso of Verstappen and Carlos Sainz saw the chequred flag for the second time this season, with Verstappen in eighth and Sainz, ninth. Sauber scored the final point of the race with Felipe Nasr’s tenth spot. it was the fourth points-win in a row after the Grands Prix in Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. Team mate Marcus Ericsson just missed out on the points as he finished eleventh. Sauber was somewhat positive about the outcome of the night race as they managed to collect vital data from the new aerodynamic package on both Sauber C34-Ferrari.
Although Hamilton missed out on the points this time around, he still leads Rosberg by 41 points, going into the last six races of the season. Vettel’s win ensures a comfortable third and a chance to push Rosberg off the runners-up spot; only eight points separate the two.
The next Grand Prix moves to the Land of the Rising Sun, the Japanese Grand Prix, from 25 – 27 September.
2015 formula One Singapore Grand Prix results
1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI 2:01:22.118
2 DANIEL RICCIARDO RBR +1.478s
3 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FERRARI +17.154s
4 NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES +24.720s
5 VALTTERI BOTTAS WILLIAMS +34.204s
6 DANIIL KVYAT RED BULL RACING +35.508s
7 SERGIO PEREZ FORCE INDIA +50.836s
8 MAX VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO +51.450s
9 CARLOS SAINZ TORO ROSSO +52.860s
10 FELIPE NASR SAUBER +90.045s
11 MARCUS ERICSSON SAUBER +97.507s
12 PASTOR MALDONADO LOTUS +97.718s
13 ROMAIN GROSJEAN LOTUS DNF
14 ALEXANDER ROSSI MARUSSIA +2 laps
15 WILL STEVENS MARUSSIA +2 laps
1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL FERRARI 1:43.885
2 DANIEL RICCIARDO RBR 1:44.428
3 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FERRARI 1:44.667
4 DANIIL KVYAT RBR 1:44.745
5 LEWIS HAMILTON MERCEDES 1:45.300
6 NICO ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:45.415
7 VALTTERI BOTTAS WILLIAMS 1:45.676
8 MAX VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO 1:45.798
9 FELIPE MASSA WILLIAMS 1:46.077
10 ROMAIN GROSJEAN LOTUS 1:46.413
1 LEWIS HAMILTON 252
2 NICO ROSBERG 211
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL 203
4 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN 107
5 VALTTERI BOTTAS 101
6 FELIPE MASSA 97
7 DANIEL RICCIARDO 73
8 DANIIL KVYAT 66
9 SERGIO PEREZ 39
10 ROMAIN GROSJEAN 38
11 MAX VERSTAPPEN 30
12 NICO HULKENBERG 30
13 FELIPE NASR 17
14 PASTOR MALDONADO 12
15 FERNANDO ALONSO 11
16 CARLOS SAINZ 11
17 MARCUS ERICSSON 9
18 JENSON BUTTON 6
1 MERCEDES 463
2 FERRARI 310
3 WILLIAMS 198
4 RBR 139
5 FORCE INDIA 69
6 LOTUS 50
7 TORO ROSSO 41
8 SAUBER 26
9 MCLAREN 17