Singapore’s hot and humid climate makes F1’s only night race a true test of endurance. Although not quite as physically tough as the Malaysian Grand Prix which is held in broad daylight, the Singapore Grand Prix is made difficult by its duration, running close to two hours. The bumpy nature of the Marina Bay Circuit only adds to the challenge.
In the 2015 edition of the race, Sebastian Vettel clinched his third victory of the season ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Kimi Raikkonen. We separate five drivers, who, in our opinion, stood out of the rest.
Sebastian Vettel’s skills behind the wheel were further underlined when he cruised to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, remaining unchallenged throughout the race. Now, a driver that has accumulated four championships doesn’t need to prove himself, but such has been his previous stint at Red Bull that people still don’t rate him as highly as he should be.
And for this reason, Vettel’s move to Ferrari has been highly successful, although he wouldn’t himself say so, until he adds more titles to his tally. The German is now proving his critics wrong, and is leading Ferrari’s renaissance towards the forefront of F1.
Take today’s race, for instance. The German built up a sizeable buffer up front, resisted two safety car periods and never looked in threat of losing the lead. He also cleverly backed up the field during the second stint, to ensure he could make the tyres last for the required duration. With this result, he has passed Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 grand prix wins, with Alain Prost’s record now firmly in his sights.
Daniel Ricciardo didn’t have an answer to Vettel’s breathtaking pace on the streets of Singapore, but never let the German run away with the race, having been aided by two safety car periods.
To be honest, it wasn’t a spectacular performance from the Australian, but the fact that he finished 15 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari means he deserves some plaudits.
Ricciardo had already done much of his work on Saturday, placing his Red Bull alongside Vettel on the front row of the grid. From there on, it was all about seizing any opportunity that comes his way. The 26 year old would have also pinned his hopes on using RB11’s better tyre management to his advantage. But two prolonged safety car periods prevented any dramatic drop-off in Vettel’s pace.
Those who closely followed Max Verstappen during his sole season in Formula 3 are aware of his combat skills. And the fearless teenager is only improving in this aspect of racing, as he has shown many times during his brief career in the top echelon of motorsport.
Today, Verstappen recovered from his disastrous start - which put him a lap down - to finish in eighth place, right on the tail of Sergio Perez’s Force India. Yes, the first safety car helped his cause. But that would have meant nothing if he hadn’t made some fine moves over his rivals.
In the closing stages of the race, he rightly avoided team orders to let Sainz Jr through, forcing even the Toro Rosso to admit that it was not the right decision to give such instructions to Verstappen in the first place.
Sergio Perez’s blistering start from 13th on the grid laid the foundation to a seventh place result, as Force India’s capitalised on Lotus’ troubles to cement fifth place in the standings.
Perez was running in 10th place by the end of lap 1, just behind teammate Nico Hulkenberg who also made a fine getaway from 11th place. Although Perez felt he was quicker than the German, Force India decided not to give any team orders.
This left the Mexican behind Hulkenberg until the latter retired from the race in an accident involving Felipe Massa’s Williams. Perez moved up further when Massa fell out of contention and Hamilton retired with power unit gremlins.
Perhaps the best part of his drive was how he fended off a late-race charge from Max Verstappen, who had swept past his other rivals with apparent ease. It was commendable job by the Mexican, given that the Toro Rosso - armed with Max Verstappen on a track that minimizes the weaknesses of the Renault power unit - looked like a handy package in Singapore.
Despite a poor restart after the second safety car period, Felipe Nasr collected the final championship point for Sauber by finishing in 10th place.
Sauber had brought a major chassis update in Singapore, having recently received the upgraded Ferrari power unit (not the one introduced by the works team at Monza). Expectations were therefore high from the two drivers. But as it turned out, neither of the drivers made it out of Q1.
However, such is the nature of races at Singapore that a lower midfield team can always make it to the bottom half of the top 10 and that’s what exactly happened today. The two Sauber drivers made their way up the field during the latter part of the race, with Felipe Nasr pulling a move on Romain Grosjean with two laps to go to take 10th place.