Mercedes had their race strategy hindered during the 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix by the deployment of the safety car shortly after Daniel Ricciardo’s incident at Turn 18, which subsequently saw many drivers immediately dive into the pits. Unfortunately for both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the duo remained out on track.
This decision ultimately saw the Mercedes duo pit for their second stops later in the race, under green flag conditions. Seeing as the likes of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez all elected to pit during the safety car period, both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were forced to muscle their way around these drivers in a bid to finish nearer the podium. To add insult to injury Nico Rosberg rejoined the action after his second and final pit-stop behind Mark Webber, who managed to leapfrog the German during his final stop. Although Mark Webber retired from the race on the final lap due to mechanical issues, both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen masterfully remained out on track and on the same sets of tyres for 37 and 36 laps respectively.
Whilst Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton fought their way around the Sauber and McLaren duos, both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were able to cement themselves in the final podium positions despite their aged tyres. After the race Nico Rosberg stated that possibly staying out during the safety period was a bad decision by the team, however uncertainties surrounded their ability to remain on the same set of tyres for the same amount of laps as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
“I had a good start today and the pace of our car was really strong this evening.” Explained Nico Rosberg, “The safety car was unfortunate timing for us and perhaps it wasn’t the best decision to stay out but, at the time, we weren’t sure if our tyres would be able to last the distance. I then had some rubber trapped in my front wing after the safety car period which cost me quite a lot of performance for some laps and had an impact on my race because the tyres suffered more than would be normal. We could perhaps have been 2nd today but events in the race just didn’t go our way so it is a little disappointing to only finish in fourth place.”
Lewis Hamilton also endured a tough race, despite a decent handling Mercedes at his disposal. The 2008 World Champion lamented a disappointing performance during qualifying, which ultimately prevented the Briton from truly excelling during the race. Although Lewis Hamilton also questioned the team’s decision to stay out during the safety car period, he is unsure he would’ve been able to match Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen’s stint on one set of tyres.
“That was a really tough race, probably the most physically demanding of the year.” Said Lewis Hamilton, a previous winner of the Singapore Grand Prix. “We tried our best and the car felt good tonight but unfortunately we paid the price for not qualifying further ahead yesterday. Whilst the timing of the safety car definitely didn’t help us, we need to go back through our strategy and see what we could possibly have done differently in that situation. I’m not sure we could have done what Fernando [Alonso] and Kimi [Raikkonen] did by staying out on that set of tyres for so long, though. Of course, it’s a little disappointing to come away with only 5th place but I gave it my all out there and we’ll come back stronger. Our aim is to get back ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship and see if we can get another win before the end of the season.”
As the Formula 1 fraternity looks ahead to the Korean Grand Prix in two weeks time, Mercedes sit only seven points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship. Whilst it seems unanimously agreed within the paddock that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are uncatchable, the German marque will certainly be aiming to thwart their Italian rivals during the remaining six races of the season.
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