Lewis Hamilton has taken the lead in the world championship following a win at the Singapore Grand Prix. After starting from pole position the Mercedes driver pulled away and overcame a safety car and tyre worries to win by 13 seconds.
Before the race even started there were troubles, in particular for Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi. Rosberg established a wiring problem in the steering loom and didn’t make it from his grid position to take part in the parade lap. Kobayashi did make the start of the parade lap but pulled off the track due to loss of oil pressure. Rosberg did manage to start the race – albeit from the pit-lane – but had to contend 13 laps with only the gear shift working. He was warned that when he pitted his pit-lane limiter would not be working, he would have no clutch, and he would have to stall the car and be rebooted during the pit-stop.
When the lights went out Hamilton maintained his lead while Fernando Alonso slotted into second from fifth on the grid. Sebastian Vettel took advantage of the empty grid slot ahead of him to move ahead of his team-mate but lost out to Alonso. Alonso soon gave Vettel second after he cut the first chicane and found himself under investigation for gaining an advantage – which resulted in no further action. The McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen looked racy with the Williams pairing, and it was Button who eventually got the upper hand, rising from his starting position of 11th to seventh. He retired later in the race after his car went into “complete shut-down” after hitting a kerb. Magnussen overcame the hot and humid conditions to salvage a point. He reported during the race that his drink was burning his mouth and he also had to stick his hands out of the car to try and get some cool air during the safety car period.
The safety car was deployed on lap 31 due to debris left on track from Sergio Perez’s damaged front wing which happened as a result of contact with Adrian Sutil. Perez was able to return to the pits for a new nose and finished the race in sixth place – ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Sutil compounded another miserable weekend for Sauber with a DNF, following team-mate Esteban Gutierrez’s earlier retirement. Both were reportedly due to ERS failures and Gutierrez was visibly annoyed after believing he had the opportunity to score Sauber’s first points of the season.
While Alonso battled at the front, Raikkonen had a fairly anonymous race after early running with his team-mate. He eventually finished a distant eighth place from his team-mate in fourth, but locked in a close fight with Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa, and Hulkenberg. Bottas dropped out of the points in the closing stages after losing grip while Massa finished in fifth place. Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished sixth, had a late charge to make sure that a five second penalty that would be added to his race time would not lose him positions. He was penalised twice for exceeding track limits but a storming last few laps saw him finish sixth and more and enough time clear of seventh to keep him ahead. His team-mate finished in 14th and incredibly dehydrated having not had a drink for the entire race after his drinks system failed on the lap to the grid. Both Lotus drivers were also outside of the points, as were the Marussias and the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson who finished ahead of both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
The result – which was Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo – means that Hamilton takes a three point championship advantage into the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time. The result demonstrates how quickly the championship can change and just one problem can give the other driver an advantage. Hamilton has gained 32 points on his main rival – team-mate Rosberg – in Italy and Singapore, and with 150 still up for grabs it is far from over. The race was also Vettel’s best result of the season.