Rosberg holds off Ricciardo for Singapore win
Nico Rosberg has assumed the lead in the world championship after fending off a hard charging Daniel Ricciardo to win the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver converted pole position into a healthy lead in the early stages and looked set to record a comfortable win, despite having to manage a race-long brake issue.
However, the complexion of the race changed entering the final quarter when Ricciardo, who held second from the start, elected to switch to super-soft tyres on lap 47.
Mercedes had the option to cover off the Red Bull driver’s third pitstop, but instead left Rosberg to defend his lead on worn tyres.
Ricciardo, on fresher rubber, decimated the 24 second gap to Rosberg, although the Australian just ran out of laps to launch a serious attack for the win.
In the end, Rosberg held his nerve to take the victory from Ricciardo by 0.4s to open up an eight-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the championship.
Hamilton completed the podium in third after struggling for long periods in the race.
The Brit also battled a brake issue as he spent the majority of the race locked in a fight for third with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen moved into third on lap 33 although the positions were reversed after Mercedes switched Hamilton to a three-stop strategy that saw the world champion undercut the Ferrari.
Raikkonen was left to settle for fourth ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who produced a stunning drive from the rear of the grid.
Vettel made the most of a new engine and gearbox as he powered into top five contention after an impressive first stint.
Max Verstappen endured an eventful race that was almost over at the start after narrowly avoiding a spinning Nico Hulkenberg.
Hukenberg speared across the road and into the pit wall following contact with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
The incident, which brought out the Safety Car, further delayed a slow-starting Verstappen, dropping the teenager from fourth to eighth in the early laps.
However, the Dutchman produced a fighting drive to come home in sixth after late passes on Sergio Perez (Force India) and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso).
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso provided another encouraging performance for the Woking squad in seventh, having run as a high as fifth.
The top 10 was completed by Perez, Kvyat and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, who scored the French manufacturer’s second points finish of the season.
The race ran largely without incident although Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Jenson Button (McLaren) joined Hulkenberg on the list of retirements.
Bottas suffered a puncture while Button damaged his front wing on the opening lap, which dented the duo’s hopes.
Bottas retired with an overheating engine triggered by a long pitstop to fix a problem with his seat belts.
Button eventually parked his McLaren with a mechanical issue.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean’s nightmare weekend continued as he failed to make the start with a brake problem on his Haas F1.
Result: Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
|1||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||61 Laps|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||+0.48s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||+1:11.19|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||+1:49.14|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||+1:49.86|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|12||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|13||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|15||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||+1 Lap|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|17||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|18||Esteban Ocon||Manor/Mercedes||+2 Laps|
|DNS||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||Not started|
|DNF||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||Collision|