Hamilton Wins In Singapore; Takes Title Lead

SINGAPORE- Coming into the pits late in the race to satisfy the tire rules of F1, Lewis Hamilton recorded a 2.7 second pit stop to later pass Sebastian Vettel with only a handful of laps to go to win his second straight race Sunday night at the Marina Bay Circuit and take a three point lead over his teammate Nico Rosberg with five races remaining. Daniel Ricciardo finished in third.

For Hamilton, he had a good feeling that after the last pit stop, he could win because of the fresher tires he had.

“I really did not know what the situation was at the time, and there was a big gap,” he said. “I was thinking if the safety car comes out, I would have to pit and it would be a long run down the pit straight, and I knew I had a chance to get by.”

While things started well for Hamilton, they did not for Rosberg as the German had electronics problems that the mechanics could not fix. Rosberg failed to make it off the starting line and had to begin the race from the pit lane. Kamui Kobyaschi was also another roll out issue as his Caterham pulled off the circuit with an engine problem.

With an open gap in the front row, Hamilton found a perfect start as both Vettel and Fernando Alonso managed to grab second and third, respectively, but could not catch the Briton early on as Hamilton kept increasing his led to reach as high as 7.3 seconds of a gap by lap 19. Rosberg managed to get his car started, but after the 20th lap he could not make it work anymore following a quick pit stop and another misfire, calling it an evening and leaving Hamilton as the only Mercedes entry left in the race.

Hamilton looked as if he could easily win the race as no safety car had been deployed all evening. However, on lap 31, the tradition continued as Sergio Perez’s front wing shattered after being struck by Adrian Sutil, leaving carbon fiber everywhere, bringing out the safety car for the first and only time of the evening.

The race resumed seven laps later, as Hamilton realized he needed a 30 second gap to retake the lead as the Briton need one more pit stop. This stop occurred within ten laps of the race. The Mercedes crew recorded a 2.7 lap time, which was good enough to put Hamilton in second, right behind Vettel. However, the four time world champion had very worn tires, and with seven laps to go, was passed by Hamilton on lap 54 which sealed the race for the Briton, who went on to win his second race here, and his second grand prix in a row.

Alonso, who had chased the two Red Bull drivers, Vettel and Ricciardo throughout the second half of the race, finished in fourth, while Felipe Massa was fifth. Jean-Eric Vergne took a fine sixth, but did not serve a stop/go penalty and is sure to be out of the top ten. Perez, despite his earlier incident, recovered to take seventh, while Kimi Raikkonen finished his Ferrari in eighth. Nico Hulkeneberg and Kevin Magnussen rounded up the top ten finishers.

Hamilton was pleased that everything went to his plan, but realized that the win was still a team effort.

“I was really looking for that great weekend,” he stated. “But it was not perfect because Nico (Rosberg) did not finish, and we are always striving to get both cars in, and we still need to work on that.”

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