Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 18. syyskuuta 2016

Singapore GP: The magic of pole worked for Rosberg!

Before today´s race the Singapore GP had been won from pole six times in seven races. That was a nice omen for Rosberg, who started the race on pole today. In the dark night of Singapore the start was electric and colourful. Red Bull´s Verstappen got a very poor start from P4 and dropped down to P8. Hulkenberg in his Force India tried to find his way past Verstappen, but he ended up colliding with Toro Rosso´s Sainz. The collision made Hulkenberg crash into the wall -leading to the German´s retirement. Williams´ Bottas, who had started to the race from P10 due to Perez´s grid penalty (the Mexican had been dropped 8 places due to two separate violations under the yellow flags in yesterday´s qualifying), also suffered a puncture due to an incident at the start. Safety car was deployed, but it came in after only a couple of laps.

Rosberg was leading the race with Red Bull´s Ricciardo second and Hamilton third. Kimi had taken an excellent start and was right at Hamilton´s tail. In spite of the impressive speed, both Mercedes drivers were told on the team radio to manage their brakes. Especially Hamilton wasn´t allowed to drive flat out due to the issue with the brake temperatures. Red Bull´s Verstappen started the pit stop roulette on lap 14. The flying Dutchman opted for another set of supersoft tyres. By this time Sebastian Vettel, who had started to the race on the yellow-marked soft compound, had impressively made his way through the field and was already in P10.

A couple of laps later both Hamilton and Ricciardo pitted -for a different tyre choice. Like teammate Verstappen, Ricciardo opted for another set of supersoft tyres, whereas Hamilton opted for the yellow-marked hardest compound. A lap later it was Rosberg´s turn to come in -for a similar tyre choice to his teammate´s. Once again it was Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was responsible for offering an entertaining show. The Dutch teenager was stuck behind Toro Rosso´s Kvyat and Max seemed absolutely passionate to get past the Russian. Kvyat, on the other hand, was stubborn and had no intension to let Max get past him. But this time there were no questionable moves and the battle seemed fair. It took over 10 laps for Max to overtake the Russian, but finally his overtaking move worked out!

Approaching the halfway point of the race, Kimi had chased down Hamilton. Although the Iceman had got within DRS distance from the reigning world champion, it seemed very difficult to make a successful overtaking move. But on lap 33 Hamilton locked up at the braking and Kimi struck like a lightning and overtook the Briton. What an absolutely staggering overtaking move by the Iceman! It was the true highlight of the race.

After the second pit stops there was a clear 5-second gap between Kimi (P3) and Hamilton (P4). However, the Briton was told on the team radio to push and close the gap to Kimi. Obviously Hamilton wasn´t suffering from the brake issue anymore, as he improved his pace and started to close the gap rapidly. 15 laps before the chequered flag Hamilton was called in for the third and final time. The Briton opted for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. Kimi was called in not until a couple of laps later... Which turned out to be a wrong call! Hamilton benefitted from the undercut and jumped the Iceman, as the Finn re-joined the track. What a bittersweet moment indeed! Kimi had made such a spectacular overtaking move on Hamilton earlier in the race, but due to the pit stop strategy the podium slipped through his fingers!

Also Ricciardo in P2 pitted for the third time -for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres. Race leader Rosberg, however, couldn´t afford making a third pit stop without losing the lead to the Red Bull driver. Ricciardo started the chase on his fresh tyres and closed the gap to Rosberg by several seconds per lap. The critical question was: would Rosberg be able to manage his tyres till the end and would Ricciardo be able to not only chase him down but to overtake as well?

On the final lap Ricciardo was already within DRS distance from Rosberg but there was no chance for overtaking. Ricciardo crossed the finish line only four tenths behind the winner Rosberg! Hamilton finished 3rd. Unfortunately there was no chance for Kimi to challenge the Briton for a podium finish. Nevertheless, Kimi drove a brilliant race! And outside the limelight, Sebastian finally finished the race fifth! That was a remarkable achievement considering his starting place at the back of the grid. No wonder Sebastian was voted as the driver of the day by fans today! Verstappen finished 6th behind Sebastian, and I have to say that those two offered some entertaining overtaking today! Alonso finished 7th (which is definitely worth mentioning), Perez was 8th, Kvyat was 9th (a great result from the recently so unlucky Russian!) and Renault´s Magnussen scored the last point.

So once again it was all about the magic of pole position, as Rosberg drove from pole to victory. Rosberg is clearly enjoying the momentum now; the German is now leading the drivers´ championship standings by 8 points. There are still 6 more races to go. It´s going to be so tight between the Mercedes teammates. But I´m still anxiously waiting for to see a red-suited driver on the top step of the podium this year... Hopefully in Malaysia my dream will come true!

P.S. My thoughts on the GP weekend also here:

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