Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix turned out to be one of those street races, meaning a hell of a lot of boring racing, minimal overtaking and the odd botched pit stop, interspersed by two or three safety cars and (in this case at least) a random man wandering out onto the track.
The result never looked in doubt: Vettel qualified a confident pole and led from start to finish. The win takes him to third place in the list of all-time race victories, passing the great Ayrton Senna to set a record that seemed to take up more of the commentators’ time than the weekend of racing itself. Whether that’s a reflection of just how bad Formula 1 has been to watch over the last few races, or simply the scale of Vettel’s achievement, I guess that’s down to interpretation.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton suffered less fortune, struggling all weekend to qualify fifth and then retiring with a power failure. Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg battled equally, qualifying sixth and finishing a relatively uneventful fourth. It may prove to be too little too late, with only the slightest of dents made in Hamilton’s championship lead.
With only six races to go, anything can happen, but after an uncharacteristically poor performance from Mercedes this weekend, you have to think that back on an open race track they’ll be aiming for a very strong result. Does Rosberg have either the pace or the killer edge to really take it to Hamilton in the closing stages of the season? All signs are largely pointing to no.
Australia had a mighty good weekend on the world motorsport stage, and the tale of the young and old wrote another chapter in the almanac. Young gun Daniel Ricciardo notched up a respectable second place in the Singapore GP, a refreshing turn of pace from a team so notoriously plagued by engine troubles. Meanwhile, over the Pacific it was Mark Webber who brought home his Porsche 919 prototype to win the WEC 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas.
Leading by over a minute from the nearest placed Audi, the Porsche’s second consecutive victory was neither easy or simple. Up until 30 minutes before the end of the race it appeared the victory would go to the No.18 Porsche of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas, who took the lead after the Porsche of Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard was given a 60-second stop/go penalty for a pit stop infringement. With just half an hour to go, disaster struck. Falling foul of a technical problem, the No.17 Porsche limped home to fifth in class while the Audis of Team Joest made up the remaining two podium spots.
No.18’s victory brings them to within 10 points of the championship lead, and with the Audis failing to mount any real challenge to the pace of the Porsches in the last two races, you can’t help but sense a turning tide towards the Stuttgart manufacturer. Another perfect weekend for Porsche also culminated in a class 1-2 victory for the 911s in the LMGTE pro category. SMP Racing’s Ferrari 458 completed a hat-trick of wins at COTA in the LMGTE Am class after a race-long battle with two Porsches and an additional Ferrari. The LMP2 class once again went to the Ligier Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird, eventually finishing a respectable fifth overall ahead of two LMP1 machines.
The World Rallycross Championship gifted the weekend some welcome chaos in Spain, with championship leader Petter Solberg FINALLY reclaiming some of his dominance shown at the start of the season to take the overall win. The final two podium spots went to Volkswagen’s Johan Kirstofferson and Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen. Solberg now leads the championship by 35 points from Hansen with three rounds remaining in the championship.
And now it’s time for the Crash of the Week!
This week’s crash of the week comes from the Porsche GT3 cup, where Pedro Piquet had his DNA scrambled without even completing a lap.