Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took the lead in the Formula 1 world drivers’ championship yesterday with a win – his seventh of the season – under lights in the Singapore Grand Prix.
His team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg retired from the night-time street race following an electrical issue that caused him to start from the pit lane and, ultimately, to retire from the race.
The result meant that Hamilton’s 22-point deficit to Rosberg going into the weekend was converted into a 3-point lead, with five races still to run in the 2014 season.
The remaining podium positions were taken by Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, finishing second in his best result of the season, and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
While Hamilton got away cleanly from pole position at the start, Rosberg’s issue, which arose before his car even left the garage, meant he was unable to make progress from the back of the pack and he retired at the first round of pit stops.
With the withdrawal of Hamilton’s nearest rival, what was looking like an easy victory for the British driver was made much more uncertain by a safety car period halfway through the race, caused by a collision between Force India driver Sergio Perez and Sauber driver Adrian Sutil.
A tense race to the finish ensued after the restart, with the British driver aiming to pull out a 29-second gap over Vettel before the final tyre change. Unable to extend a big enough lead before his stop, Hamilton rejoined the track in second position behind Vettel during the final stages of the race. Ultimately, though, Hamilton’s fresh tyres enabled him to regain the lead just a few laps before the chequered flag.
With the shaky reliability of the Mercedes car once again causing a dramatic swing in the fortunes of Hamilton and Rosberg, the most intense intra-team rivalry for many years looks set to continue during the concluding races of the season.
Battle between the pair will re-commence in Japan in the first weekend of October.