Sunday 22 October 2017 / 11:08 PM

HAMILTON INCREASES LEAD AFTER DRAMATIC SINGAPORE GP START

The Formula 1 season moved onto the only night race on the calendar when the Singapore Grand Prix took place on Sunday, with a crazy incident off the start having huge ramifications in the Drivers Championship.

Mercedes came into this race expecting poor results as the track is the slowest and technically trickiest circuit of all 20 tracks on the F1 calendar. Free Practice 1 proved them right with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen running very smoothly. Ricciardo claimed the quickest time in FP1, followed by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes was almost half a second slower than Ricciardo. Romain Grosjean had a few ventures off the track but avoided the walls in a drama-free opening session.

The second practice session saw both Red Bulls running almost two seconds faster than in FP1, with Ricciardo retaining his place as the fastest, breaking the fastest lap record in the process. Both Silver Arrows were better, running third and fourth before Verstappen. Grosjean continued to struggle with his set-up while some drivers started to clip the walls as they searched for extra pace in genuine race-like conditions.

Day 2 saw Red Bull complete a trifecta of best times in the three practice sessions, however this time it was Verstappen who was quickest, pipping Vettel and Hamilton, while both McLarens came next ahead of Ricciardo. The session was stopped for almost 10 minutes after Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber hit the wall backwards, littering the track with debris. Verstappen’s car started changing gears on its own while Ricciardo gave the wall a solid nudge, but not enough to cause any serious damage to his car.

Qualifying was expected to be dominated by the Red Bulls with Ferrari showing little improvement, opening the door for Mercedes to limit the damage they expected to take in the championship here. Verstappen and Ricciardo were the top two fastest cars in Q1 with Alonso slotting in at third, while both Saubers and both Williams joined Magnussen’s Haas as the five cars failing to advance to Q2. The Red Bulls again claimed the top two spots in Q2 with both Ferraris and Hamilton all very close behind. The Force Indias joined Jolyon Palmer, Daniil Kvyat and Grosjean on the sidelines after Q2.

The final qualifying session provided the biggest surprise of the weekend thus far when Vettel’s Ferrari set a new fastest lap record as he snatched pole from the Red Bulls of Verstappen and RIcciardo, with Raikkonen placing fourth and Mercedes finishing fifth and sixth.

Race day began with rainfall creating enough dampness on track to force the cars onto either intermediate or full wet tyres. Raikkonen made a lightning-fast start from the second row and was quickly alongside the left-hand side of Verstappen, meanwhile Vettel had moved across towards Verstappen on the right side. Before the first turn, the Red Bull and Raikkonen made contact, causing the Ferrari to dart across in front of Verstappen and hit Vettel.

Raikkonen bounced off the wall and crashed into Verstappen, who then hit Alonso in the rear. Vettel made his way onto the straight before losing control of his car, which was losing a lot of fluid. All three were retired with Hamilton moving from fifth on the grid to the lead, Ricciardo in second after dodging the melee of crashing cars while Nico Hulkenberg was in third place.

Alonso managed to complete nine laps before his McLaren succumbed to its heavy shunt on the first turn. On Lap 11, Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso into the wall, bringing the safety car out and seeing plenty of cars taking the opportunity to put on a new set of tyres. Very few cars attempted passes on the drying track as there were plenty of damp spots off the driving line.

A third safety car appearance came on lap 38 when Marcus Ericsson lost control and crashed his car into the wall, causing all of the cars to bunch up yet again. Hulkenberg retired after an issue with his hydraulics and Magnussen followed suit shortly after with a failure of his power unit, however it was Hamilton who continued to lead from Ricciardo while Bottas had moved into third place, with Carlos Sainz finishing in a career best fourth place.

Hamilton came to Singapore expecting to relinquish his meagre Championship lead to Vettel and came away with an increased advantage in the unlikeliest of results.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Ricciardo (Red Bull)
3 – Bottas (Mercedes)
4 – Sainz (Toro Rosso)
5 – Perez (Force India)
6 – Palmer (Renault)
7 – Vandoorne (McLaren)
8 – Stroll (Williams)
9 – Grosjean (Haas)
10 – Ocon (Force India)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton – 263
2 – Vettel – 235
3 – Bottas – 212
4 – Ricciardo – 162
5 – Raikkonen – 138
=6 – Verstappen – 68
=6 – Perez – 68
8 – Ocon – 56
9 – Sainz – 48
10 – Hulkenberg – 34

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 475
2 – Ferrari – 373
3 – Red Bull – 230
4 – Force India – 124
5 – Williams – 59
6 – Toro Rosso – 52
7 – Renault – 42
8 – Haas – 37
9 – McLaren – 17
10 – Sauber – 5

[YouTube – FORMULA 1]

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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