As Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel drove a flawless pole-to-flag victory, a record fourth in eight editions here, world champion Lewis Hamilton’s vehicle packed up early for the first time this season after 34 laps. When the safety auto pitted Vettel appeared to slow the pace a bit to give Raikkonen, in third place, a chance to pass Ricciardo, but eventually ditched that idea and pulled quickly away to build a lead of nearly three seconds a a single lap.
The individual was spotted walking along the side of the Esplanade Drive section of the Marina Bay Street Circuit while the race was ongoing, which prompted the safety auto to be deployed immediately.
As for the race, it was an easy win for Vettel, his 42nd, taking him past Ayrton Senna and into third place on the all-time list, behind only Michael Schumacher (91) and Alain Prost (51). A situation in which Nico Rosberg suddenly gets significantly faster than Hamilton without both Mercedes teams being mired so far back in the pack that the difference is irrelevant is unlikely, but if one were to arise, Rosberg is now 41 points behind the reigning champion. As for Hamilton, which German should he focus on in the final six races?
Mercedes are now assessing the problems in Singapore as track-specific, while they also believe the heat in the city-state had an effect on their grip. “All we have to do is look after ourselves, maximum attack”. “Maybe we can make the impossible possible”. The race resumed when the safety auto was withdrawn four laps later.
Hamilton had won seven of the 12 races before Singapore and been on pole 11 times.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team, so dominant for the best part of two seasons, were curiously off the pace under the lights this weekend. The first came following a collision between Williams’ Felipe Massa, who was coming out of the pits, and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Vettel described the intruder as “crazy” while Ricciardo, who was starting to inch closer to the front, said the introduction of the safety auto cost him any chance of winning.
Toro Rosso teenager Max Verstappen finished eighth, refusing team orders in the closing laps to move over for teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. who was ninth.
“While it hasn’t been the most positive race for the team, we’ll bounce back”.
“It was an incredible race today, in fact all in all an incredible weekend and it is hard for me now to sum it up”, revealed Vettel.