In the seeming ping-pong match this season in Formula 1 between driver championship leaders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, teammates at Mercedes, it was Hamilton’s turn to leap-frog over Rosberg in points after the British driver’s win at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday. Electrical problems, specifically diagnosed as a faulty wiring loom, caused Rosberg a failure on the grid, allowing room for Red Bull to advance — four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel placed second on Sunday; his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo finished third.
“Of course, it’s not an ideal result with Nico retiring,” commented Hamilton in a post-race interview, according to Formula 1, “so that shows we still have work to do to get on top of reliability. But it’s been a great job from the team at everyone at the factories to make this mega car. Now we need to keep pushing hard for Japan in two weeks’ time.”
Rosberg explained his problem on the grid in more detail, “The problems with my steering wheel began in the garage even before the race and it was a difficult moment when I couldn’t pull away from the grid – the car didn’t get out of neutral,” he said. “When I left the pit-lane, I was only able to change gear – there was no radio, no DRS and reduced Hybrid power.”
Rosberg continued, “We were hoping that the systems might come back to life, like the radio did, and that we could change the situation. But after we changed the wheel another time, we had to retire the car. It was a tough day for me and unfortunately another reliability problem for the team. It was at least something good for the team that Lewis was able to take the win. Now we need to analyze what happened and to optimize everything further because reliability is our issue this year.”
For their part, the Rosberg problem arguably allowed the Red Bull cars, currently in second place in the constructors’ championship thus far this season, to advance, but not without a contender in Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Ferrari had performed well in practice at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
According to Formula 1, Alonso had this to say following the race, “With hindsight, it’s easy to ask oneself how things would have gone if I hadn’t made a mistake at the start and the Safety Car hadn’t come out when it did, but overall I’m pleased with this weekend, because we were competitive and were able to fight with the front runners. Sometimes, a Safety Car can help but I think that today on this front, we were a bit unlucky, because at that moment, we were trying to make sure of second place and our strategy was good. We didn’t have much of an alternative, because if we had stayed out, the probability was that the stop for the Softs would have cost us more places. Even if in the end, I wasn’t able to get past, the fact we were competitive right to the finish confirms we have made a step forward. Now, in Suzuka, a real circuit, we will have a clearer picture of where we are.”
The night race at Singapore has been kind to four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the past. Following taking second place this time, his highest position so far this season that has been so dominated by Mercedes’s superiority with the new formula, Vettel had this to say: “It’s a circuit I like here, the atmosphere‘s great and it’s a tough event. I had a good start and got past Daniel and had a decent race. We played a bit with strategy after we got undercut by Alonso, the safety car came at the worst time for us but we made the tires work at the end which was tough. There was no point fighting Lewis at the end, he was on fresh tires and I had to manage mine to the end as they were pretty old by then; that was the focus. It was nice to get the cold champagne on the podium.”
Ricciardo, who has stood on the podium more times this season than his champion teammate, had these comments to make after his third place at Singapore: “We were really close to the Mercedes in qualifying and we expected the race pace to be a bit faster today to be honest. We weren’t quick enough in the first stint and we had a few other issues going on, with brakes and some power issues that were coming and going, but in terms of points we still got a good handful to take away from here. It actually feels a bit like a home race here. Singapore to Perth is like Melbourne to Perth, so for West Australians it’s not too far. Suzuka is in two weeks and that’s another track we can be optimistic for, so I’m looking forward to that. All in all it was a solid weekend.”
Following the top three, finishers placed in this order at the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix, according to Formula 1: 4th Alonso; 5th Massa; 6th Vergne; 7th Perez; 8th Raikkonen; 9th Hulkenberg; 10th Magnussen; 11th Bottas; 12th Maldonado; 13th Grosjean; 14th Kvyat; 15th Ericsson; 16th Bianchi; and 17th Chilton. All other drivers retired or did not start.
The win in Singapore bumps Hamilton three points over his teammate now in the drivers’ championship — he is now at 241 points to Nico Rosberg’s 238. Daniel Ricciardo remains in third with 181 points. Alonso sits in fourth place in overall points with 133, while the defending four-time champion’s hopes for winning a fifth title this year are bleak with only 124 points accumulated so far.
Mercedes’ constructor points rose to 479 after the win at Singapore; second in that competition remains Red Bull, now with 305; and third place Williams has 187 points.
The next race on the Formula 1 calendar will be the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka on October 5th. In 2013, that race was won by Sebastian Vettel, with his Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber, coming in second.