Monday, September 19, 2016

What The Night Can Do: Rosberg Retakes Championship Lead With Singapore GP Win

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Providing an stunning atmosphere for witnessing 22 high-powered, hybrid open wheel machines, the Singapore Grand Prix's Marina Bay Street Circuit has quickly emerged as a standout event on the Formula 1 calendar. Ever since the first running of a Formula 1 grand prix at the street race, the race is known as unforgiving to the point that mistakes can prove costly to both a driver's own run or to other drivers based on the close quarters created by the track configuration.

Last year, the Singapore Grand Prix served as a massive abnormally in the season. Sebastian Vettel won the race for Ferrari while the two Mercedes AMG team cars astonished by missing out on scoring a podium position. After a surreal 2015 outing for Mercedes AMG, the race team returns one year later as teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are engaged in an ongoing title fight unlike any seen in recent previous years. Opening domination by Rosberg was countered by Hamilton over the late spring and early summer overtook his teammate ahead of the summer break. When the series returned to action in late August, Nico Rosberg returned to early season by two claiming victories at the Belgian Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix. With recent wins, Nico Rosberg recovered to be within 2 points of his fellow Mercedes AMG teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. In qualifying Rosberg carried on his recent momentum by taking pole starting alongside the Red Bull-TAG Heuer car of Daniel Ricciardo.  

Before the race started, the first casualty of the 2016 event would be left in the garage as the remainder of the grid assembled. The Haas F1 Team car of Romain Grosjean developed a brake-by-wire issue that put a cap on a nightmarish outing in Singapore for the French driver. Grosjean encountered problems on Friday and Saturday that also kept the Haas F1 Team crew busy maintaining the race car. "I love the race here in Singapore and I love the challenge, but this weekend was just not ours.” said Romain Grosjean in post-race.

A tradition with the previous eight Singapore Grand Prix events has been the appearance of the safety car at some point in the 61 laps. For the ninth event, the perfect record of safety car arrivals was protected after an early altercation on lap 1. A collision involving Carlos Sainz Jr's Toro Rosso-Ferrari impacting the left rear of the Force India-Mercedes of Nico Hulkenberg resulted with the latter mentioned contender impacting the track wall. While Hulkenberg's car suffered race-ending damage, Sainz Jr continued and would finish outside of the points in 14th place.


The factor that played the most pivotal role in deciding the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix was the use of Pirelli tires. The field almost evenly split the execution of two-stop and three-stop strategies with Nico Rosberg being the most notable to only pit twice. Last pitting on lap 33, the lead Mercedes AMG appeared to be in a position to regret this tire plan late. Daniel Ricciardo's three-stop strategy involved pitting at the final time for supersoft tires on lap 47. Despite the extra pit stop, Ricciardo's Red Bull-TAG Heuer car's on-track pace provided some suspense in the closing laps. At one time up to 27 seconds behind Rosberg, the Red Bull Racing machine piloted by the Australian driver made up considerable ground per lap. On the final lap, Nico Rosberg faced the lurking threat of Daniel Ricciardo but was just able to cross the line first maintaining just effort of a gap after 63 laps.

With a narrow advantage of 0.488 seconds over the charging Red Bull Racing challenge, Nico Rosberg rolled to the Singapore Grand Prix victory serving as the German driver's 8th victory for the 2016 season. The win for Rosberg also secures another major first place returning to the top of the season's drivers' standings. With Lewis Hamilton taking a quiet third place in Singapore, the 10-point lead by Nico Rosberg translates to a lead of 8 points heading to Malaysia.

Once-again, Daniel Ricciardo settles for second place this year at a low-speed street course. Following disappointment in Monaco after starting on pole position, the Singapore race was more of a hard, earnest effort. "I don't really leave here with any regrets." said Ricciardo in a post-race discussion. Totaling four runner-up finishes in 2016, the Red Bull Racing driver has taken sole ownership of the record for second-place results so-far this season.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

A two-time winner at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Lewis Hamilton finished a little over eight seconds behind his teammate. Though losing the points lead in the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship, the race did extend a streak of podium results to seven races for Hamilton.

Ferrari arrived at the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix with optimism after winning the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2015. Splitting a two-stop and three-stop tire plan, the additional pit stop allowed Kimi Raikkonen to finished one position ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

For one of the McLaren Honda drivers, the first leg of this recent Asian tour shows a great improvement for the second year of the team and engine partnership. After both cars failed to finish the 2015 event due to transmission issues, McLaren Honda collected a 7th place result thanks to inaugural 2008 and 2010 Singapore Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button was unable to complete his final race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit after minor early race contact on lap 1 eventually led to a brake issue.

Climbing 9 positions from his starting spot, Sergio Perez with the sole remaining Force India race car rose to 8th place. Perez is just 4 points short of 7th place in the overall drivers' championship behind Williams Martini Racing's Valtteri Bottas (both Williams-Mercedes race cars failed to score any points in Singapore).

Finishing for positions behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen put the second Red Bull-TAG Heuer race car (two positions higher than his rookie run last year at the track with Toro Rosso. Verstappen was the end driver to finish in the top-10 to operate on a three pit stop strategy. For the Russian driver, the 9th place finish was the first time he recorded a top-10 spot since the British Grand and only the third time since being transferred to the Scuderia Toro Rosso squad. Grabbing the final spot in the top-10, Kevin Magnussen driving for Renault finished for only the second time in the points for a grand prix this season.

With six rounds remaining, the 2016 Formula 1 tour next prepares to run at the Sepand International Circuit for the Malaysian Grand Prix set for October 2nd.

2016 Formula 1
Singapore Grand Prix
Race Results

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
7 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
11 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
13 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
15 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
16 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
17 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
18 31 Esteban Ocon Manor Mercedes-Benz
19 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
20 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
21 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
22 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari

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