Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix and now leads the drivers world championship by three points after his team mate and only contender for this years title, Nico Rosberg, retired from the race.
The tight nature of the Singapore street circuit revealed itself to be a disadvantage for the power of the Mercedes engine during a closely fought battle for pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session. Yet the Mercedes team had just enough of an advantage to get a front row lock down with Hamilton pipping Rosberg by the slimmest of margins.
The business end of any Grand Prix is Sunday and for Rosberg it wasn’t quite business as usual. A technical problem with the gear selection process, just as the formation lap had begun, meant he was unable to even start the race. Rosberg was marooned on his grid slot as the rest of the 22 car grid sped away for the formation lap, he was relegated to the pitlane from where he would start the race.
Rosberg also lost hybrid power and as the race got underway he limped around like a one legged pirate without the wooden stump before retiring on lap 14 of the 61 lap race.
The frenetic start of the race was dramatic for the wildness of Alonso, 5th, the Ferrari drivers’ desire to make up as many places as possible going into the first corner meant something had to give and it did. The Spaniard entered turn 1 at a fair rate of knots faster than normal, Alonso locked his brakes but couldn’t make the corner and went straight across the run off area, second place was now his. Job done.
However Alonso was deemed to have gained an advantage and had to yeild second place to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. Thereafter the race was processional with Alonso and Vettel jousting for second which enabled Hamilton to pull out a quite comfortable advantage over his rivals, victory was his for the taking.
Lap 31 changed everything when a safety car was deployed after a minor collision between the Force India of Sergio Perez and Sauber of Adrian Sutil turned sour and left debris on the track. The safety car was called in on lap 38 and Hamilton set off building his advantage over the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who was now up to 2nd by virtue of his pitstop strategy with the fortunate help of the safety car.
Hamilton’s strategy was to go for three stops over his rivals planned two stops but this meant he had to build up a 25 second lead to enable him to complete his third stop and rejoin the race still in the lead. Hamilton managed to build a comfortable margin when he made his final pitstop on lap 53 but it proved to be a few seconds off what he needed. He rejoined the race in second just behind the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel but ahead of the sister Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who had by now also eclipsed Alonso.
The race was on for the lead, however Vettel was easy pickings for Hamilton whose Mercedes was wearing a fresh set of tyres compared to Vettel whose tyre’s were considerably older and past their race prime. Hamilton squeezed his way past Vettel for the lead on lap 54 and simply sped away again until the chequered flag was raised showing no mercy to those behind him.
The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo finished 2nd and 3rd respectively with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in 4th. This was Hamilton’s seventh win of the season, his second in Malaysia and marked the return of Hamilton to the top of the drivers championship for the first time since the Spanish Grand prix.
There are now five races until the end of the season with 150 points available, the final battle for the drivers championship effectively starts again at the next race in Japan in two weeks time.
2014 Maylasian Grand Prix Results: