Rosberg retakes championship lead with Singapore victory

Nico Rosberg celebrated his 200th Grand Prix with race victory for Mercedes. Rosberg resisted the late pressure from Daniel Ricciardo to score his eighth win this season.

By winning the Singapore Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver has retaken the championship lead from rival and team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg now has an eight-point advantage with six races left this season.

Despite both Mercedes drivers being warned about brake management from the early laps, Rosberg controlled most of the Singapore Grand Prix.

After a safety car for a startline crash and a hair-raising moment as a marshal had to run off the track with the leaders approaching at the restart, Rosberg established a comfortable gap over Ricciardo and Hamilton.

Mercedes’ choice of softs for its second stint, when Ricciardo stayed on super-softs, left Hamilton moaning at his team over the radio.

Hamilton then found himself under pressure from Kimi Raikkonen’s super-soft compound Ferrari, which got past just after half-distance after a lock-up from the Mercedes.

The second round of pit-stops followed soon after, with the gap between Rosberg and Hamilton in fourth out to 18.9 seconds.

Mercedes then switched Hamilton to “plan B”, and he charged up behind Raikkonen and then made an unexpected third pit-stop for a set of ultra-softs with 16 laps to the flag.

Ferrari was left in two minds on whether to react, and though it hauled Raikkonen in, a superb lap from Hamilton allowed him to pull off the undercut and reclaim third. He then held off Raikkonen to the finish.

Red Bull Racing covered off both those drivers by bringing in Ricciardo for new super-softs, while Mercedes left Rosberg out on his softs.

The honey badger started hunting down Rosberg, a 24 seconds gap becoming 5 seconds within seven laps.

But some traffic, fading tyres and Mercedes giving Rosberg the green light to push his brakes harder halted Ricciardo’s charge and he ran out of time to pass.

The dramatic finish matched the start, when Max Verstappen’s slow getaway from fourth triggered mayhem.

Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg tangled as they tried to dodge around the Red Bull, sending Hulkenberg spinning into the pitwall and triggering the safety car.

That proved to be the only caution period, but Sebastian Vettel did not need too much help to make it through the field from the back of the grid.

Rapid overtaking in the midfield and a long first stint on softs set up his determined drive to a fifth place finish.

Verstappen ended up sixth via a late move on Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, having had a big battle with his Red Bull predecessor Daniil Kvyat along the way.

Sergio Perez’s eighth nudged Force India a point ahead of Williams in their battle for fourth in the constructors’ championship as the latter failed to score.

Felipe Massa was only P12, while Valtteri Bottas picked up damage in the first-lap incident, had to pit with a seatbelt problem and eventually retired.

Kvyat claimed ninth, with Kevin Magnussen tenth for only Renault’s second points-scoring finish of the season.

Romain Grosjean’s nightmare weekend, which already included two crashes and a gearbox-change penalty, resulted in a brake failure on his Haas that prevented him from even taking the start.

Singapore Grand Prix, race results after 61 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h55m48.950s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    0.488s
3    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    8.038s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    10.219s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    27.694s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.197s
7    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m29.198s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m49.146s
9    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m49.867s
10    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m51.843s
11    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
12    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
13    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1 Lap
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
18    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    2 Laps
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    Not started
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    273
2    Lewis Hamilton    265
3    Daniel Ricciardo    179
4    Sebastian Vettel    153
5    Kimi Raikkonen    148
6    Max Verstappen    129
7    Valtteri Bottas    70
8    Sergio Perez    66
9    Nico Hulkenberg    46
10    Felipe Massa    41
11    Fernando Alonso    36
12    Carlos Sainz    30
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    17
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Pascal Wehrlein    1
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Esteban Gutierrez    0
20    Jolyon Palmer    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    538
2    Red Bull-Renault    316
3    Ferrari    301
4    Force India-Mercedes    112
5    Williams-Mercedes    111
6    McLaren-Honda    54
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    47
8    Haas-Ferrari    28
9    Renault    7
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber/Ferrari    0

Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang. September 30-October 2.

Rosberg secures seventh pole in Singapore

Nico Rosberg claimed his seventh pole position this season for Mercedes at Marina Bay, as championship rival and team-mate Lewis Hamilton could only record third fastest time.

Hopes of a tight, multi-team battle for pole were dashed in Q2, as Red Bull and Ferrari – down to one car already after early problems for Sebastian Vettel – struggled to get within a second of Rosberg’s benchmark.

Rosberg was the only driver to make it below the one minute, 43 seconds time around the Singapore Grand Prix street circuit in Q3, and his first run proved enough to get the job done as he lapped in one minute, 42.584 seconds to claim P1 by over half a second.

Hamilton lost track time to a hydraulic valve problem in Friday’s practice session and has struggled under braking all weekend so far, and he endured a difficult time again in qualifying.

The two-time race winner trailed Rosberg by more than seven tenths of a second after his first run in Q3 and failed to improve on his second run.

That gave Daniel Ricciardo an opportunity to steal a front row start for Red Bull Racing, as the honey badger leapt to second with a superb one minute, 43.115 seconds effort at the end.

His team-mate Max Verstappen was fourth quickest, just 0.040 seconds down on Hamilton.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified his Ferrari fifth fastest, over six tenths down from Verstappen, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was knocked out in Q1 after his Ferrari appeared to suffer a suspension failure.

Vettel initially tried to press on and drag a lap time out of the car anyway, before pitting for repairs but the team had no time to complete.

Ferrari revealed later on that it was an anti-roll bar problem which affected Vettel’s qualifying. The four-time Singapore Grand Prix winner and last year’s pole man will start the race last on the grid…

Carlos Sainz claimed a superb sixth for Toro Rosso, ahead of team-mate Daniil Kvyat (who only made one run in Q3) and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Fernando Alonso qualified his McLaren-Honda ninth quickest, fractionally ahead of Sergio Perez.

Force India’s Perez may yet face sanction for overtaking Esteban Gutierrez under yellow flags in Q2.

Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were P11 and P12, Bottas missing the Q3 cut by just 0.003 seconds, and both affected badly by those yellow flags after Romain Grosjean crashed his Haas at the Turn 10 left-hander.

Jenson Button damaged his McLaren-Honda’s left-rear wheel against the wall at Turn 14 on his final flying lap, so failed to improve and ended up P13.

Esteban Gutierrez was P14, just ahead of Haas team-mate Grosjean, whose crash also hindered Hulkenberg and Gutierrez at the end of Q2.

Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber rounded out the top 16, electing to save tyres knowing he could do no better after Vettel’s misfortune allowed him passage to Q2.

Ericsson made it through to Q2 with what he described as a “nice lap” at the end of Q1.

That put him almost four tenths clear of the Q1 dropouts, headed by Kevin Magnussen’s Renault, Felipe Nasr, and Jolyon Palmer, these three all covered by just 0.135 seconds.

Pascal Wehrlein was P20 for Manor, over six tenths up on team-mate Esteban Ocon, while Vettel’s broken Ferrari trailed the entire field, almost a second further back.

Qualifying standings, Singapore Grand Prix:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m42.584s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.115s
3    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m43.288s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.328s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m43.540s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.197s
7    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.469s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m44.479s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m44.553s
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m44.582s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m44.740s
12    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m44.991s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m45.144s
14    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.593s
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.723s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.827s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m46.825s
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m46.860s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m46.960s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m47.667s
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m48.296s
22    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m49.116s

Dominant Rosberg victory at Monza

Nico Rosberg scored a comfortable Italian Grand Prix victory for Mercedes as his team-mate and challenger suffered a bad start but recovered to finish second.

This was an easy, Sunday afternoon drive for Rosberg. Benefitted from a slow start from Lewis Hamilton, who qualified on pole and bang in the lap times consistently to stay ahead of the pack. In the end, recorded his first victory at Monza.

Mercedes recorded their fourth one-two of the season in the process. Win number of seven for Rosberg in 2016 and his 21st of his Formula 1 career. This result means Nico is just two points behind Lewis in the drivers’ championship with seven races remaining.

Sebastian Vettel gave the Tifosi something to cheer about by finishing third, 20.9 secondss adrift, with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

While Hamilton was swallowed up by the pack and dropped to sixth at the start, Rosberg held off a challenge from Vettel to take the lead into Turn 1.

The Mercedes driver set a series of fastest laps to build a gap as Vettel and Raikkonen struggled to keep pace.

Hamilton, meanwhile, passed Daniel Ricciardo through Curve Grande to move into fifth and then got a good run out of Parabolica to slingshot past Valtteri Bottas for fourth.

The reigning world champion inherited second when the Ferraris pitted for fresh sets of super-soft tyres.

Hamilton began closing the gap to Rosberg before both Mercedes pitted for the first and only time, taking the mediums.

He dropped back to fourth but reclaimed second when the Ferraris pitted for the second time.

Though Hamilton pushed to catch his title rival, he locked up at the first chicane, bouncing across the speed bumps in the middle before rejoining.

He was then warned by his team to build a gap to the Ferraris behind and his challenge faded.

Ricciardo, on fresh super-soft tyres, launched an attack from a long way back to pass Bottas into the first chicane to take fifth.

That overtake was the highlight of the Italian Grand Prix. It was a brave and superb move by the honey badger. So far back and yet Ricciardo pulled it off in passing Bottas.

His Red Bull team-mate also made a great overtake. Max Verstappen got a good run through Curva Grande and then passed Sergio Perez into the second chicane for seventh.

Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.

The result means Williams moves back ahead of Force India into fourth place in the constructors’ championship with a three-point lead.

In a race of little drama, Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr collided on lap two with the Sauber driver being handed a 10s penalty by the stewards. Both retired with damage.

Not the most exciting Italian Grand Prix but in terms of the championship, this battle between the Mercedes drivers is getting more tense and dramatic. Two points the difference. Game on as Formula 1 departs Europe for the faraway races.

Italian Grand Prix, race results after 53 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h17m28.089s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    15.070s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    20.990s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    27.561s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    45.295s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    51.015s
7    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    54.236s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m04.954s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m05.617s
10    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m18.656s
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1 Lap
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1 Lap
18    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    2 Laps
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Retirement
–    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    250
2    Nico Rosberg    248
3    Daniel Ricciardo    161
4    Sebastian Vettel    143
5    Kimi Raikkonen    136
6    Max Verstappen    121
7    Valtteri Bottas    70
8    Sergio Perez    62
9    Nico Hulkenberg    46
10    Felipe Massa    41
11    Fernando Alonso    30
12    Carlos Sainz    30
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Daniil Kvyat    23
15    Jenson Button    17
16    Kevin Magnussen    6
17    Pascal Wehrlein    1
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Esteban Gutierrez    0
20    Jolyon Palmer    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    498
2    Red Bull-Renault    290
3    Ferrari    279
4    Williams-Mercedes    111
5    Force India-Mercedes    108
6    McLaren-Honda    48
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    45
8    Haas-Ferrari    28
9    Renault    6
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber/Ferrari    0

Next race: Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay. September 16-18.

Hamilton masterclass in Monza qualifying

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was unbeatable in qualifying, setting impressive lap times in the Mercedes W07 Hybrid at the temple of speed.

Championship challenger and team-mate Nico Rosberg tried his best but had to settle with second position. Although the gap to Hamilton was telling… 0.478 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel leads division two, giving the Tifosi a little cheer at Ferrari’s home race. Kimi Raikkonen joins his team-mate with a red row two.

The Iceman was quicker than Vettel after their first runs in Q3, but failed to improve on his second set of tyres so slipped to fourth.

Valtteri Bottas was in fine form for Williams and pipped Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull to fifth by just a tiny margin of 0.001 second.

Max Verstappen rounded out the top seven, ahead of the Force India pairing of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

Esteban Gutierrez impressively got Haas into the top ten in qualifying for the first time, but then endured a scrappy Q3 session.

He ran off track at the Lesmos on his first Q3 run and failed to better his Q2 time on his second, which left him P10.

Felipe Massa failed to improve on his final run in Q2, so was bumped out of the top ten by a fine lap from Gutierrez, plus marginally better times by both Force India drivers, and the Red Bulls abandoning plans to progress on the soft tyre and then turning in quicker super-soft laps at the death.

Massa wounded up P11 in a car fast enough for the top six, while Romain Grosjean found nearly half a second on its second Q2 run but this was only good enough for P12.

The Haas driver will drop a further five places on the grid thanks to a penalty for changing his gearbox after the final practice session.

Pascal Wehrlein impressively split McLaren-Honda’s past world champions with P14, just 0.042 seconds slower than Fernando Alonso and 0.044 seconds quicker than Jenson Button.

Carlos Sainz managed to drag a sub-one minute, 23.5 seconds lap out of his underpowered Toro Rosso, but this was only good enough to make him the slowest driver in Q2, just under a tenth back from Button.

Daniil Kvyat joined the Saubers, Renaults and Esteban Ocon’s Manor in failing to escape Q1.

Kvyat swore furiously over team radio after missing the cut by just 0.042 seconds, as Toro Rosso team-mate Sainz, both McLarens and Wehrlein’s Manor all made it through with last efforts.

Felipe Nasr was P18 in the best of the Saubers, complaining an engine misfire cost him a shot at finding the two tenths he needed to make it through to Q2.

Team-mate Marcus Ericsson was just over a tenth slower in P19, ahead of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen, who survived a big moment exiting the Ascari chicane on his final run.

Ocon’s car broke down on track for the second time this weekend, before he could set a time.

So a pure domination from Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton on pole position at the temple of speed. Can Nico Rosberg fight back? What about Ferrari? Can Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen raise a cheer for the Tifosi? We shall find out on race at the legendary Monza circuit.

Qualifying positions, Monza:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m21.135s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m21.613s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m21.972s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m22.065s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m22.388s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m22.389s
7    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m22.411s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m22.814s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m22.836s
10    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m23.184s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m22.967s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m23.273s
13    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m23.315s
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m23.399s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m23.496s
16    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m23.825s
17    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m23.092s
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m23.956s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m24.087s
20    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m24.230s
21    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m24.436s
22    Esteban Ocon    Manor/Mercedes    No time