Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore F1 race to lead Championship

Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore F1 race to lead Championship

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes did some superb driving to win the Singapore F1 race. Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull finished in 2nd followed by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 3rd. Fernando Alonso finished a close 4th.

It was double luck for Lewis Hamilton as he not only won the Singapore F1 race but also now leads the championship by 3 points as Nico Rosberg retired from the race due to car issues. Readers may remember that Nico Rosberg had purposefully hit Hamilton from behind at Spa forcing Hamilton to retire. Before this race Hamilton was behind Rosberg by 22 points. After all what goes around comes around.

Sebastian Vettel seemed to take benefit of an apparent starting weakness of Daniel Ricciardo as he overtook Ricciardo before going into turn 1. Fernando Alonso had a great start and took the 2nd position but he appeared to handle back the 2nd position to Vettel because Alonso perhaps feared the wrath of the stewards as he had cut a corner and seemingly gained an advantage. Since then it was a good race between Vettel and Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo.

However, it was not easy for Lewis Hamilton to just race away from the pole to victory as Singapore F1 race has got the record of having a Safety Car deployment in every race as inevitably one or the other car gets damaged and brings out the safety car. The safety car moves ahead of the F1 cars at a much slower pace than F1 cars are used to, so that stewards can clean the track during that time. In the 31st lap the safety car was out as Sergio Perez had his front wing get under his car after a wheel to wheel in turn 8 with former Force India driver Adrian Sutil, who is now driving a Sauber. Force India would be worried as they are on a tight constructors championship battle.

Lewis Hamilton informed Mercedes over the radio that he might have picked up some debris strewn on the track. His rivals Alonso, Ricciardo, Raikkonen quickly went to the pits to change tyres while Hamilton stayed ahead. The safety car cut down Hamilton’s lead. Fortunately for Hamilton, he had used 4 kgs less fuel than his immediate rival Vettel. So immediately after the Safety Car period was over in Lap 38, Hamilton started at a fast pace. In Lap 39 he had opened a gap of 3.2 seconds over Vettel. In Lap 41 he had increased the gap to 7.6 seconds. The gap kept on increasing every lap to 9.7s, 11.5s, 13.5s, 15.6s, 17.3s by lap 46.. Mercedes wanted to pit him around lap 50, however that was perhaps ambitious as the speed of Hamilton started coming down. Considering that the time to change for tyres in a pit stop is around 29 seconds in Singapore, Mercedes wanted Hamilton to have alteast 26 seconds lead over Vettel before coming to pits. Despite Hamilton saying that his tyres are worn out, Mercedes coaxed him to continue till Hamilton said that his tyres could explode at any moment. So Hamilton finally pit in lap 52 and it was a good decision as Hamilton emerged behind Vettel in second position and overtook him for the race lead in Lap 54. Through this race, Lewis Hamilton showed that he is not a world champion by just sitting and driving a fast car but also by showing tremendous ability to master adverse situations.

Felipe Massa of Williams finished in 5th position.

There was some good overtaking by Jean-Eric Vergne in the penultimate lap as he drove past Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas. However, he had a 5 second penalty slapped on him which was added to his race timing and still he finished in 6th position. Sergio Perez overtook Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari and finished in 7th which was not expected as he had that problem of front nose going under the body and starting the safety car period. Kimi Raikkonen finished in 8th followed by Nico Hulkenberg of Force India in 9th and Magnussen of McLaren got the last points paying position of 10th.

Valtteri Bottas who so bravely was driving in 6th position till very close to the end, completely lost his tyres as he had his last pit stop in 23rd lap. If the safety car would have lasted a couple of more laps and he should have been fine.

Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean of Lotus finished in 12th and 13th. Kvyat of Toro Rosso finished 8 places down on his teammate in 14th. Ericsson of Caterham beat the two Marussias to finish in 15th. Jules Bianchi lead his teammate Max Chilton to 16th and 17th place finishes.

Due to the Safety Car this race could not finish it’s normal race duration as the two hour time limit was just reached.

Retirements in Singapore F1 Grand Prix

Jenson Button           McLaren          52nd lap
Adrian Sutil                Sauber            40th lap
Esteban Gutierrez      Sauber            17th lap
Nico Rosberg               Mercedes       13th lap

Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham        0

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