motorsport

The Singapore Grand Prix: How Did it Play Out?

September 26, 2016

- Grant Whittington

It was Nico Rosberg’s light that shined brightest against the stunning backdrop of Singapore as the German secured a third consecutive victory to regain the World Championship lead from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

In a nail-biting finale, Rosberg held off a spirited challenge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who finished just 0.488 seconds behind the winner, with Hamilton finishing in third following a succession of problems with his car over the weekend.

The reigning world champion’s weekend was incarnated with errors, which began in qualifying when he allowed Ricciardo to overtake him on his flying lap to claim a front-row starting position alongside Rosberg whose pole lap was the fastest ever recorded at Singapore.

The opening lap in Singapore saw a collision between Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg which ended the hopes of points for the German driver. This was particularly disappointing, as up to this point, Force India had looked robust throughout the weekend and confident of a strong showing in the Lion City.

This incident was the only episode of any note, although it did maintain the 100 per cent record of safety car deployment in this race continuing, with drivers racing systematically to get safely to the finish.

Despite the majority driving in an unadventurous manner, the race came to life in the last quarter. Mercedes’ decision to switch Hamilton to a three-stop strategy paid dividends as the Brit jumped ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen following his final pit stop on lap 45 to comfortably secure the final podium position.

Two laps later, Ricciardo followed suit and he rejoined the action just under 30 seconds adrift, but rapidly began to claw back the deficit as Rosberg struggled to contend with his waning brakes. However, the 31-year-old clung on to what could be a significant success come this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix and the final standings come the end of the campaign.

It is difficult to gauge the importance of momentum ahead of the sweltering heat and scorching temperatures of Malaysia where temperatures well over 50C cook up the cockpits to 60C. Hamilton has already recovered from a 43-point discrepancy and looked odds-on favourite to be crowned World Champion for a third straight year after emerging triumphant at the German Grand Prix in July and opening up a 19 point lead of his own in the process.

The impetus will continue to change as this two-horse race looks set to go all the way down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Malaysia is a track that Rosberg has so far failed to win on in 10 attempts with Bet365 pricing a Rosberg victory at 11/8. Hamilton is still being tipped as the Malaysian Grand Prix favourite and is evens with Bet365 to master the demanding nature of the circuit like he did two years ago.

With four podium finishes in his last five outings, Ricciardio remains the main threat to the dominance of the Mercedes pairing. The Australian can be backed at a price of 8/1 to win the Malaysian Grand Prix with Ladbrokesand 5/4 to earn a podium finish.

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