Singapore GP: Rosberg triumphs against late Ricciardo charge

Nico Rosberg went from dominating the Singapore Grand Prix to taking a narrow 0.4s win over Daniel Ricciardo thanks to a strategic sting in the tail that almost caught the German out.

Singapore GP: Rosberg triumphs against late Ricciardo charge
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads at the start of the race
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads at the start of the race
The Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 of Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 is is removed from the circuit
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Pascal Wehrlein, Manor Racing MRT05
Marshals remove the Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 of Nico Hulkenberg
A marshal runs along the circuit as Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads at the restart
Marshals remove the Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 of Nico Hulkenberg
A marshal runs along the circuit as Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads at the restart
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 crashed out at the start of the race
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 at the start of the race as Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 crashes out
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 crashed out at the start of the race
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 crashed out at the start of the race
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H on the grid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid at the start of the race as Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 crashes out
Esteban Ocon, Manor Racing MRT05
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF16-H

Rosberg looked untroubled throughout most of the race, only for Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen to all switch to a three-stopper 15 laps from the end.

It gave Ricciardo a sniff of victory, the Australian ultimately falling 0.4s short.

Hamilton, meanwhile, used the strategy switch to jump Raikkonen and salvage a podium.

Sebastian Vettel recovered from his back-of-the grid start to finish in fifth, winning the Driver of the Day vote in the process. 

Max Verstappen had a troubled first part of the race after a poor start and could only finish in sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso in the McLaren.

Story of the race

The race started with a bang, Nico Hulkenberg firing into the wall after copping a hit from Carlos Sainz on the main straight. The culprit was actually Max Verstappen, whose slow getaway caused a bottleneck that led the shunt.

Hulkenberg’s race was over on the spot, while Rosberg’s dream started was made even better by Hamilton not finding a way past Ricciardo on the run to Turn 1.

It was the same story when the Safety Car peeled in and the race restarted on Lap 3. Hamilton latched onto the back of Ricciardo on the run to Turn 1, but couldn’t get passed.

And that was as close as he got, the Top 3 running in that order, Rosberg pulling away from Ricciardo, and Ricciardo slowing pulling away from Hamilton, throughout the first stint.

The Mercedes drivers also had to deal with ongoing pleas from the pitwall to manage brakes – a trend that would go on to continue throughout the entire race.

Nothing much changed during the first round of stops. Ricciardo and Hamilton both stopped on Lap 15, the Red Bull for super softs, Hamilton for softs. A lap later Rosberg made his own switch to softs.

Rosberg continued to build his lead throughout the second stint, while Ricciardo, on the softer tyre, pulled away from Hamilton. Not that Hamilton was left lonely; by the time the laps ticked into the mid-20s he had Raikkonen, who stopped for super softs two laps later then Hamilton, on his gearbox.

On Lap 32 the second round of stops kicked into life when Ricciardo, having just lost a bunch of time on the lap before, fired into the lane to make a second, and seemingly final, stop for softs. Rosberg responded a lap later for new softs, followed in by Kimi Raikkonen, who a couple of corners earlier had barged past Hamilton for P3.

Hamilton then made his final stop a lap later, an ordinary in-lap costing him dearly as he dropped 19s behind Rosberg, and the best part of seven seconds behind Raikkonen in third.

Nothing much changed until Lap 39, when Hamilton was told to ‘switch to Plan B’. His pace improved straight away, and he quickly closed the gap to Raikkonen.

On Lap 45 ‘Plan B’ came into effect, Hamilton diving into the pits for a set of used super softs. Ferrari called the bluff, bringing Raikkonen in a lap later for ultra softs. It gave the Briton track position, Hamilton charging back into third as Raikkonen exited the lane.

Ricciardo made the same move a lap later, switching to a three-stopper with another set of super softs. It put him 30-odd seconds behind the leader, but with plenty of pace.

It got close, too. Ricciardo closed to within four-tenths of the leading Mercedes in what was a grandstand finish nobody would have predicted at half distance. 

Behind the top two, Raikkonen never recovered from being caught out by Hamilton on the quick switch to a three-stopper, Hamilton coming home third, Raikkonen fourth a couple of seconds behind.

The result still cost him the points lead, though, Hamilton now eight points behind his team-mate.

Vettel came all the way from the back of the grid to finish fifth, starting on softs to run all the way to Lap 25, before grabbing ultras on Lap 42. The long first stint did well for track position, popping out on the softer rubber in fifth and running untroubled to the end.

Verstappen recovered from his poor start to sixth, having spent a couple of lengthy stints in the race locked in battle with the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat. He finally made a move stick on the man he replaced at Red Bull on Lap 49, before rounding up Alonso’s McLaren-Honda five laps later.

Perez got past Kvyat in the closing stages too, the Russian dropping back to ninth while Kevin Magnussen took the final point on offer with 10th.

ClaDriverChassisEngineGap
1  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes Mercedes 1:55'48.950
2  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 0.488
3  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 8.038
4  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 10.219
5  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 27.694
6  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 1'11.197
7  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 1'29.198
8  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 1'51.062
9  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Ferrari 1'51.557
10  Kevin Magnussen  Renault Renault 1'59.952
11  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas Ferrari  
12  Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes  
13  Felipe Nasr  Sauber Ferrari  
14  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Ferrari  
15  Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault  
16  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor Mercedes  
17  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari  
18  Esteban Ocon  Manor Mercedes  
   Jenson Button  McLaren Honda  
   Valtteri Bottas  Williams Mercedes  
   Nico Hulkenberg  Force India Mercedes  
   Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari  
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