If your title rival, your nearest threat, your intra-team nemesis, your thunder-stealer begins to suffer your share of bad luck will you feel satisfied? Will you feel the world and its populace isn't really on your case? Will you rediscover the real you?
It appears that Hamilton has begun to rediscover his genius. The genius that brought him into this massive spotlight called F1™. At Singapore a few nights ago, his stride had a bounce in it. A proper fashionista swagger. Alighting from his shiny chauffeur-driven AMG he walked unescorted towards the Paddock gates and responded to a fan's 'you all right Lewis?' with a 'Yeah I’m great, thanks!'.
Fresh from the feisty conquest at the temple of speed, Hamilton reveled in another completely dominating weekend leaving Rosberg trailing by 3 points in the championship.
Rosberg suffered a start-line nightmare when his steering wheel all but failed. He couldn’t engage the clutch and his gears were double-shifting. While the rest of the grid set off on the formation lap Mercedes #6 was wheeled away into the pit lane.
When the lights went out, Hamilton floored it to perfection taking T1 well before the chasing pack. Behind him Alonso jumped both Red Bulls from P5 with no real intention of braking to make the corner! He went off but came back onto the racing line holding onto P2. Which he decided to give back to a fast-starting Vettel who in turn capitalised on the empty Mercedes grid slot ahead of him.
On Lap 4, positions 1, 2 and 3 were held by champions. All past winners of the Singapore Grand Prix. Meanwhile, the pit-lane-starting championship leader Rosberg, was making no impression on the Caterhams and Marussias running ahead of him. His MGP W05 was truly in a lot of pain and woefully out of pace. The street circuit notorious for lack of overtaking space wasn’t helping either.
Between him and the leading trio a train of battles ensued between Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Massa, and further back Button, Bottas and Magnussen. Toro Rosso team mates duelled too and Vergne got the better of Kvyat while on Lap 10 Rosberg was still in P20. Three laps later Vettel, Alonso and Ricciardo all pitted in succession. Hamilton by this time had built a large enough gap to Vettel that he exited ahead of the German after his first pit stop.
On Lap 14, Rosberg came in to make his pit stop but the steering trouble was terminal. A big moment for the championship shoot-out just unfolded at Singapore! Mercedes' boss Toto Wolff was later quoted as saying “…we have built a missile but we must make it more reliable”.
In the next successive laps Ricciardo, Hamilton and Alonso traded fastest laps with each other and Alonso closed in rapidly on Vettel. It was soon time for the second round of pitstops and Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen dived in for fresh rubber. This left Hamilton out in front ahead of Ricciardo by 17 seconds. By the time he and Ricciardo made their second stops the gap to P2 was down to 7 seconds.
An incident between Force India's Perez and Sauber's Sutil wrecked the Mexican’s front wing and strewed debris all over the track. Considering how the Pirellis can shred nowadays, the Safety Car was deployed as is inevitable on a street circuit.
The race wasn't going to remain as straight forward as it initially appeared. The long Safety Car period meant tyre strategies needed re-thinking! Red Bull and Williams believed they could stick with a two-stop strategy to catch Mercedes whose big lead was reduced to nothing. Mercedes however, required to stop again for prime tyres! This meant Hamilton had to build a gap of over 27 seconds to Vettel. He did so. Lapping almost 2 seconds faster than anyone else at times, he began a relentless chase to the finish line. He stopped and exited just behind Vettel on fresh tyres. In the space of a lap and a half he overtook the German aggresively through T7 and secured a deserving win for Mercedes amidst spectacular fireworks.
For the seventh time this year.
P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 2hr 00m 04.795s
P2 Vettel – Red Bull Racing
P3 Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
Ajit Devadason is an Advertising professional who is passionate about "all things racing, all things fast."
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