Lewis Hamilton took advantage of first-lap chaos to take the chequered flag in the Singapore night race.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
Absolute carnage at the start. Kimi Raikkonen on the second row got away brilliantly on the inside, Max Verstappen in P2 kept his line – and pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel moved across, catching the Red Bull in a Ferrari pincer movement and then sending the Finn and the German flying off the track and out of the race.
Mind, Ferrari didn’t see it that way – this one could result in plenty of post-race shenanigans when the stewards investigate the incident.
Poor Fernando Alonso suffered hugely too – starting brilliantly, moving up through the field, and then getting caught by the out-of-control Red Bull. Although he tried to continue, there was too much damage to his McLaren.
Such a shame for him and for the team – they clearly thought they might manage some points today.
Because of a trio of safety-car spells, the race ended up going to a time limit rather than the originally-intended 61 laps.
Five stars out of five. Well, it was clear that Lewis Hamilton needed some kind of magic to benefit from this race – and that first-lap chaos was just what he needed. He was far enough back to keep clear of the mess, and promptly snaffled the race lead, holding position under the three safety-car spells. He didn’t much like his team telling him to keep the pace down in the last 20 minutes, and got them to agree to him taking the initiative on that one. That meant he kept a good three seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, left behind in second place, and set a new record in his penultimate lap of the day – ultimately triumphing to go 28 points clear at the top of the championship.
PIT RADIO EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
“Shut up, please. Please.” Carlos Sainz, sitting in fifth and trying to fend of Sergio Perez, was not interested in his team’s musings about his battery.
Second place goes to Hamilton’s constant whining about safety cars, most notably when Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber was blocking half of a bridge.
True, he was concerned about preserving his lead, but when there are cars stranded on track that need to be retrieved, the welfare of the marshals is paramount.
MOVE OF THE RACE
Daniel Ricciardo drove a fairly gentle race, to be honest – but that might have proved the best idea. He had no problems fending off Valtteri Bottas, but never looked like catching Hamilton. A certain amount of sense and decorum on an afternoon of ridiculousness resulted in second place. It turned out afterwards that he was also suffering from gearbox issues, making his restrained race even more impressive.
Jolyon Palmer sliding past Valtteri Bottas after the safety car was amazing. The Finn didn’t look particularly comfortable on track all weekend, and to see him outdone for pace by a Renault was both strange and impressive.
Mercedes’s decision to keep Hamilton out on rather than changing his tyres under the early safety car spells was a brave one. The driver himself seemed unconvinced, complaining that everyone else had switched after the end of the early wet weather – but it worked out OK for him in the end. When he crossed the line, he admitted, “Fantastic job with the strategy.” That’s probably the closest his team will get to an apology…
Carlos Sainz missed out on a podium place by the narrowest of margins, but drove incredibly well in trying conditions – the poor visibility in the opening laps plus the crashes happening around him. Fourth place is his best-ever finish – and it was met with much cheering and shouts of “Vamos!” over the radio as he passed the flag.
FACEPALM OF THE WEEKEND
Daniil Kvyat taking himself into the barriers after a lock-up and launching the second safety car spell was quite spectacular. He was under no pressure whatsoever.
Singaporean actor JJ Lin was in the Mercedes garage – and Eddie Jordan did the podium interviews.