Sweat, speed, and a grandstand finish – the 2016 edition of the Singapore had a lot to offer.
As the first flyaway race of the end-of-season, it tends to signal the ‘finishing straight’ of the season, although there are six races to go, and tonnes of scores to be settled.
One thing that didn’t make the top five this week was the scrap between Williams and Force India, which for me is one of the most interesting points of the season. After the HULK SMASH at the start, it looked like Williams might out-score their opponents.
However, after Valtteri Bottas suffered a seatbelt problem (no really) and then roasted his clutch leaving the pits, it was up to Massa and Perez to notch for the mid-table teams, only the latter of whom was able to, culminating in Force India resuming fourth place, by just one point.
Drain of the Dane
Kevin Magnussen achieved something that he nor his Renault team have managed since the Russian Grand Prix in April – points! P10 for the Dane resulted in a crucial world championship point, and though it’s not exactly going to move them up the tables, it’s still great progress.
One that that made it even more difficult is that the young Dane was without water for the entirety of the race. The ENTIRE. TWO. HOURS. He said that the team owed him a drink after the race – let’s hope they made it a quadruple.
Hoo boy. Perhaps the silliesy, most likely wonderful echelon on the internet, the Meme community came up with the mother of all Photoshop efforts:
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) September 20, 2016
It nails #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe, SlidingAlonso, #AlonsoBomb, as well as the track-invading lizard from Singapore, Vettel’s seagulls from Canada, last year’s track invasion, and the Marshall running away from Rosberg on Sunday.
It’s worth noting just how memeable Fernando Alonso is, but of course, the silliness is a complete distraction and jovial contrast his excellent seventh-place finish in the race.
Alonso said he thought seventh was possible ahead of the weekend, and after a mighty scrap – albeit a losing one – with Max Verstappen, he bagged the best of the rest title. It was a massive effort not only to get into Q3, but keep the pace on Sunday, and if Jenson Button’s hypothesis that the rest of the season’s races will suit the Woking team, they could end the year closer to Williams.
This weekend in Singapore is the best I’ve ever seen Nico Rosberg drive, and the first time I’ve ever really thought, “hey, this guy’s gonna take the championship.”
A pole time HALF A SECOND quicker than next-best Ricciardo and a totally flawless race sealed his 22nd win on his 200th race start, and it was surely one of his best, up there with his maiden win at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix, where again, he dominated the weekend.
Nico is now eight point ahead of his team mate in the championship, for the first time since the British Grand Prix, and it sets the scene for a mammoth scrap in the final few races.
Lewis is usually mighty in America and famously sealed the title in Abu Dhabi back in 2014, but Rosberg’s three-race streak at the end of last year could signal a closer scrap than before.
That’s my spot. You’re in my spot.
Not content with nicking his seat at Red Bull, Max Verstappen put on his best Sheldon Cooper impression at the weekend, trying to seize seventh place from Daniil Kvyat in Singapore.
The Russian’s resolute defence proved quite the crowd-pleaser, as Verstappen couldn’t get past on the twisty streets of Marina Bay, leading to a desperate fight for position, until Verstappen burned up his tyres and dropped back.
He got him eventually, but the hardy resilience shows that Kvyat is far from done, and it’s the perfect performance to help his career. Time will tell whether or not rapid GP2 pedaller Pierre Gasly replaces him next season, but two well-earned points was a great way to cement himself as a fighter.
The Thunder from Down Under
The resident Honey Badger of the F1 circuit sure was on a mission on Sunday, chewing through his new tyres to try and get close to Nico Rosberg.
If you’re a regular Badger reader, you’re probably aware that we bloody love Daniel Ricciardo, not just because he’s a top bloke, but also that he’s an immensely quick racer.
He proved the latter in amazing fashion this weekend, eating through a mammoth 25 second deficit to Nico Rosberg to end up just behind the Silver Arrow come the chequered flag.
It was a genuine tale of two strategies, with Rosberg, on the hardest-compound tyre (confusingly the soft tyre) staying out, and Ricciardo pitting for Super soft tyres behind.
Though miles back, Danny Ric monstered through the 25-second deficit at a rate of around three seconds per lap, putting immense pressure on the Mercedes man and ensuring a grandstand finish to the race.
The drivers stayed as they were in the end, but cutting that lead down to 0.4 of a second in 12 laps is an incredible effort, regardless of tyre compound. Sadly that’s probably one of the last times this season Mercedes will be truly challenged (no disrespect to those chaps, we just love a battle for position) due to the high-downforce nature of the track, but it was nice while it lasted.