The 2015 Singapore Grand Prix delivered plenty of action, controversy and intrigue under the floodlights at Marina Bay.
Sebastian Vettel claimed an assured victory ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen over the 61-lap race, which saw a number of heroic and dismal performances. Our correspondent Chandni Patel rates the field…
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has to head this list. Not only did he dominate the race with incredible pace, but he proved just why he goes so well around this track with his fourth victory here in five years. His result – and Lewis Hamilton’s retirement – allowed him to close the gap to the defending World Champion to 49 points, eight behind second-placed Nico Rosberg.
After qualifying second-fastest, Daniel Ricciardo knew he was within a shot of an unlikely race victory if he could keep pace with the Ferraris. The Australian made a solid start to run second behind Sebastian Vettel and, despite occasionally punching out fastest laps to trim into the German’s lead, the timing of the Safety Cars didn’t play into his hands to help him get ahead of his former teammate. Nonetheless, a second-placed finish on merit – comfortably ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönon – was a fine result to give him his second podium finish of the season.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen looked set to have a nightmare race after stalling on the grid, squandering his eighth-placed starting position. He rejoined the race from the pit lane a lap adrift, but it looked to be an uphill struggle unless he could get back on the lead lap with the help of a Safety Car. His blessing came with the assistance of the lunatic spectator who wandered onto the circuit, with the triggering of the race’s second full-course caution allowing him to get on par with the rest of the field and in shot of an initially unlikely run at the points.
The Dutch youngster was charging through the field, and along with teammate Carlos Sainz Jr, helped the Italian team score a helpful dose of points. There might be some drama within the team’s ranks, however, with Verstappen refusing a surprise call from the team to cede position to Sainz in the closing stages of the race.
Sergio Perez also kept his nose clean with another solid performance after a rather wild first lap where he almost rear-ended his Force India teammate Nico Hülkenberg. The Mexican featured in a number of great battles on track and showed a clean pair of heels to come home in seventh place.
Another notable mention goes to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who collected another much-needed championship point for the Swiss team thanks to a late-race pass on Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Nico Hülkenberg would describe himself as very unlucky early on to retire on from a race where he should have claimed a solid points’ finish, but a rush of blood saw him come off worst in a coming-together with Williams’ Felipe Massa. The contact initially looked to be a racing incident, but the FIA Stewards saw it differently and hit the German with a three-place grid penalty for next weekend’s Grand Prix at Suzuka.
Lewis Hamilton would have come into this weekend expecting to continue his and Mercedes’ dominance of the season, but instead we saw that the Silver Arrows’ are indeed fallible. The F1W06 Hybrids were all at sea this weekend and seemingly unsure of what set-up direction to take as they struggled with their tyres, running well off-the-pace in qualifying and the race. The Englishman had climbed up to fourth place before suffering a loss of power on Lap 31; it was quickly diagnosed as a terminal throttle failure and he was forced to retire.
Once again, the McLarens had another weekend to forget, squandering their last realistic hope of finishing in the points this season with yet another double-DNF. Both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button had shown that the team’s problems largely lay with its Honda power train after showing rather good pace at various stages over the weekend, only for both MP4-30s to succumb with gearbox failures while challenging for points’ finishes.
Another driver who will be leaving Singapore licking his wounds is Manor’s Will Stevens, who found himself upstaged by rookie teammate Alexander Rossi. The Briton managed to – unconvincingly, it must be said – outqualify the American debutante on Saturday night, but he was beaten off the line and never looked like challenging Rossi over the remainder of the race. It was a sparkling debut for Rossi, but not the kind of showing that Stevens will welcome at this critical point of the season.
Image via Sutton Motorsport Images