Singapore GP

Flashback 2014: Lewis on course for world championship crown

The Singapore Grand Prix is now a special event on the calendar, and being the only full night race of the season hasn’t taken the novelty away over the last seven years which doesn’t fail to give some great entertainment.

It started though with a problem for Nico Rosbergs car, coming back into the pits after his installation lap on the way to the grid, being pulled backing into the garage. He changed his steering wheel, and went though the gears before going back out onto the circuit. He changed it again on the grid, changing it for the second time. It was confirmed that it was a electrical problem with Nico’s steering wheel.

The whole grid would decide to start on the super soft tyres, a tyre that is a couple of seconds a lap faster, but large drop off. Before the installation lap, Mercedes told Rosberg to try the start and if it didn’t work to do a manual start before starting from the pitlane.

Nico Rosberg was stuck on the start line on the install lap with the whole grid passing him which would be starting from the back of the field at a minimum. He was pushed through the wall into the pitlane, while the other race continued on their warm up lap. Kamui Kobayashi also pulled over on the warm up lap retiring his car.

Forming the grid, Hamilton wouldn’t have a car starting next to him at the front. The lights went out and Hamilton got a good start, with Vettel and Ricciardo battling, with Alonso going around the pair, but going wide at the first corner, before keeping the position. He dropped the place to the Red Bulls. Massa dropped behind the two McLarens, before a mistake by Button meant they got back past again, with Bottas following. Nico Rosberg also started from the pitlane.

At the end of the first lap Hamilton was leading Vettel, Alonso and Ricciardo, with Raikkonen in fifth. It was announced that the stewards would look at Alonso’s start for exceeding track limits, although no further action was taken.

At the back Rosberg had only just got on the back of Max Chilton by the third lap. In the battle between McLaren and Williams the order was Massa, Button, Bottas and Magnussen, with the Dane being investigated for also exceeding the track limits.

At the front Vettel and Hamilton were trading fastest laps, with the gap just 1.6 seconds. Rosberg only getting past Chilton at the rear of the field.
Magnussen was also cleared on his track limits investigation, while he was being attacked by the two Toro Rossos. Vergne got past his team mate though in the process for tenth, with the Frenchman taking the attack to Magnussen.

At the back of the field, Nico Rosberg was making no process, and was shown that the electronics were doing a double upshift, although the downshifts were fine. He was also told that the pit lane speed limited wouldn’t work either.

Adrian Sutil was the first to pit on lap 9. Nico Hulkenberg followed a lap later for Force India, taking another set of the super soft tyre. He came out behind Rosberg and Chilton.
Felipe Massa pitted on lap 11, the first of the leading group to pit, again taking the super soft tyres with a 2.6 second stop. Daniil Kvyat also pitted and came out behind Nico Rosberg. Kvyat overtook him immediately on the exit.

At the front Lewis Hamilton had opened the gap to over 5 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas both pitted, with Ferrari being released just ahead of the Williams. Massa got ahead of Raikkonen though the phase. Gutierrez got past by Perez for seventh, with both yet to pit.

Vettel pitted on lap 13, followed by Alonso, with Red Bull double stacking. Alonso got a great 2.4 second stop. Both Massa and Raikkonen past a non stopping Gutierrez.
Lewis Hamilton pitted a lap later, with Vettel being told that he wouldn’t undercut the Mercedes. Hamilton also took the super soft tyre, coming out with a clear advantage. Magnussen stopped on the same lap going on the softs.

Discussion was ongoing on how Rosberg would be able to make a pit stop. They would change his steering wheel, stalling the car and doing a reset. The engine was fired up, but he wasn’t able to get out of neutral, struggling to get a gear. The decision was made that they should retire the car.

Bottas got past a long running Perez, with the Williams setting their sights on Raikkonen. A long running Gutierrez pitted on lap 15. Jean Eric Vergne was given a five second stop and go penalty for exceeding track limits, the first of the day. Also running long, Perez pitted.

Although he had the penalty above his head, Vergne was closing in on Button for 8th place, and one of the closest scraps on the circuit. Esteban Gutierrez retired on lap 19, coming out of the car in a rage throwing off his gloves in the pit. Max Chilton also pitted with a right front puncture, a lap after pitting.

At the front of the field, Alonso was catching Vettel for second by up to half a second per lap. Vettel was told to open the gap to Alonso. He was still loosing time to Hamilton though, with the gap increasing to nine seconds.

Massa pitted on lap 23, his second stop in the Williams after being attacked by the Ferrari. They went for the soft compound and another great stop of 2.4 seconds.

Bottas pitted a lap later than his team mate in the other Williams, another set of the soft tyres and another great pit stop of 2.5 seconds from the team. Kvyat also pitted on the same lap. Bottas being just about 10 seconds behind.

Ferrari pitted on lap 25 with Fernando Alonso, a 2.6 second stop. After making an early stop, Massa overtook Hulkenberg after loosing track position.

Vettel pitted a lap later to cover Alonso, a pair of soft compound tyres and another 2.6 second stop with the undercut working for Ferrari and Alonso getting ahead of the Red Bull. The pair now on different tyres, while Valtteri Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the soft tyres.

Hamilton pitted on lap 27, a longer pit stop for Mercedes, 4.7 second. Ricciardo pitted from the lead a lap later, again going for the soft option. Hamilton regained the lead, but of a reduced margin of four seconds from Alonso, Vettel and Ricciardo. A series of fastest laps increased the margin.

Perez lost his front wing along the straight with it getting lodged under the car, spewing debris across the track. Perez was able to continue but it brought out a safety car. It was caused in a collision with the Sauber of Sutil.

At half race distance, the leaders had only just pitted. Perez of course pitted, but Hamilton said that he wasn’t given the message quick enough and ran over debris. Alonso pitted to change onto the softs, but Ricciardo went past. Jenson Button pitted, along with Raikkonen who emerged behind the Ferrari. Kvyat looked like he was going to enter the pits, but decided against it at the last minute.

A fast Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne flew past Raikkonen on the pit exit, also exceeding the track limits. The race order at the front under the safety car was Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso and Massa.

Under the safety car, Bottas said to his team that there was a problem with his steering, although he couldn’t diagnose a specific problem. Sutil was also given a five second penalty by the stewards for exceeding track limits, with another investigation on the accident with Perez.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 37, Hamilton in the lead on super soft tyres from the cars behind on softs. Hamilton got the jump on the others, with Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso, Massa and Bottas all close together. Hamilton was already three seconds up by the end of the first lap. Alonso was falling back on the Red Bull’s with all the rest of the train behind him.
Bottas was told that he would have to manage his tyres to the end. Magnussen in 10th was really hounding the Toro Rosso in front, with Raikkonen just in front of the pair. Massa was also told that Williams wanted him to take the same tyres to the end.

Vettel was also told that he would have to manage his tyres to the end, but was unsure before being told that others would be doing the same. Sutil in the Sauber retire on lap 41.
Lewis Hamilton at the front was pulling away, needing another 21 seconds before being able to make a pitstop. Button started to attack Bottas, who was on very old tyres. Hamilton was told that he would need to go another seven laps, while Lewis was concerned that a safety car would cause a problem in that strategy.
Daniil Kvyat pitted on lap 44 for the soft tyres, not able to go to the end of the race. He also said that he was ‘dying here’ without a drink. Vergne pitted elevating Hulkenberg into the top ten, with Perez following.

Upfront Lewis Hamilton was still pulling out by two seconds per lap, although lost time in the middle sector on lap 47 with the advantage coming down to just 1.5 seconds per lap from over two. A pit stop time of 30 seconds needed to clear the Red Bulls.

Kevin Magnussen pitted on lap 47, elevating Pastor Maldonado into the top 10. Magnussen returned in 14th and just ahead of the Toro Rosso.
Jenson was still closing in on Bottas, who was still on the old tyres, with Raikkonen close behind the McLaren. A radio call to Ricciardo with a car problem could help Mercedes in their pit call.
At the back Ericcson, Kvyat and Perez were battling, with Ericsson ahead by merit. Kvyat got past, but Perez got down the inside of the pair of them, and Ericsson dropping to the back of the train.

Lewis was told by the team that they wanted 26 seconds before his pit stop, but with traffic the gap wasn’t growing by such a large margin. Alonso was only 29 seconds behind the Mercedes driver in forth. Hamilton was pushing the team to pit him earlier, but they told him to change an engine mode as he was still pulling away from the cars behind.
Hamilton got the difference up to 25 seconds, with Vettel struggling with pace and Alonso slowly closing in on the Red Bulls. He was told by the team that he was doing a great job, but Hamilton was less optimistic.

Mercedes pitted on lap 52, a smooth stop of 2.9 seconds for Hamilton. He got out behind Vettel, but ahead of Ricciardo, with Alonso closing on the Red Bull. Hamilton was only 1.3 seconds behind Vettel, who was struggling on older tyres, which was brought down to just half a second by the end of the lap.
Hamilton got DRS and went around the outside of the Red Bull. Button complained that he had a complete shutdown, stopping at the exit of turn 14. Further back, Bottas was under pressure from Raikkonen but was finding it difficult to pass with less straightline speed.
Vettel was loosing time again, falling back into the clutches of Ricciardo and Alonso, and Vergne was under investigation again for the track limits. Magnussen got past Maldonado for 10th place.
Bottas was still ahead of Raikkonen on lap 56. with Hulkenberg and Vergne tagging onto the back of the group. Vergne was given another 5 second penalty. Vergne overtook Hulkenberg, although could loose out on points with the penalty. Vergne went on the attack and overtook Bottas and Raikkonen trying to claim the five seconds back on his penalty.

Bottas was backing Raikkonen into the two Force Indias who swapped places, Perez ahead of Hulkenberg. Raikkonen ran wide and Perez attacked the Ferrari, but was faced with tough defence.
It would be Lewis Hamilton though who would take the race victory from Vettel, Ricciardo and Alonso. Bottas ran out of drop, with the whole train overtaking him. Massa finished in 5th from Vergne, Perez, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Magnussen. Bottas fell outside of the top ten by the end of the lap.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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