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Winners and Losers - Singapore

21 Sep 2015

Sebastian Vettel was victorious, Daniel Ricciardo scored his best result of the season, and Alex Rossi beat his team mate on his Grand Prix debut. By contrast, Lewis Hamilton retired for the first time in 2015, team mate Nico Rosberg struggled to capitalise thanks to Mercedes’ mysterious lack of pace, and Sauber’s heavily revised car brought them a single point. We take a team-by-team look back on Sunday’s action in Singapore…

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, P3

This was a great day for Vettel and Ferrari, as the German’s 42nd victory took him to third place in the all-time rankings, behind Schumacher and Prost and ahead of Senna. His was a dominant performance in which he piled on the pressure in the first stint, then tried to back Ricciardo into Raikkonen in the second, before establishing a cushion which he maintained relatively easily to the flag. Raikkonen, by contrast, had a lacklustre outing on his way to a distant third, still complaining about his SF15-T’s handling.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, P2
Daniil Kvyat, P6

Ricciardo gave it everything and traded fastest laps with Vettel, but his plans got stymied by both safety cars which came just as he was closing back in on the Ferrari. Second, however, was his best result of the season and a reminder that Red Bull is a serious threat on such circuits. Kvyat, too, suffered from the safety cars; the first gave Hamilton and Rosberg the undercut on him, the second, Bottas. After that he ran in traffic and lacked the straight-line speed to try any passing moves. Nevertheless, this was in many ways Red Bull’s strongest performance of the year, better even than Hungary.

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, P4
Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 33, loss of turbo boost

Mercedes remain at a loss fully to understand their sudden and dramatic slump in performance. The best guess is that a combination of a multi-corner circuit which did not play to their strengths of high-speed agility and straight-line power, supersoft tyres which are edgy, and high temperatures, somehow militated against the perfect set-up. That said, Hamilton thought he had a chance to win as he was matching the leaders’ pace on their supersofts while he was running the softs. But when a clamp failed on a turbo boost pipe, he lost power and was forced to retire for the first time since Belgium last year. Rosberg, like Raikkonen, was struggling in the race, but fourth place brought him 12 valuable points closer to Hamilton with six races to run.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, P5
Felipe Massa, Retired lap 31, gearbox

Williams got their strategy just right to undercut Kvyat in the second stops, enabling Bottas to take fifth place and push hard after Rosberg for a while. Massa, however, had a slow first pit stop due to a sticking right front wheel, then was hit by Hulkenberg in Turn Three as he rejoined. He lost places having a punctured right-front tyre changed, but soon retired with gearbox problems. His misfortunes cost him two places in the driver rankings.

Force India

Sergio Perez, P7
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 13, accident

Hulkenberg narrowly led Perez in ninth and 10th places in the early going and looked good for points until his unfortunate collision with Massa, which will cost him three grid places in Suzuka next weekend. Perez, however, clung tenaciously to seventh despite worn tyres and big pressure from the Toro Rossos, helping to push Force India further ahead of Lotus.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, P8
Carlos Sainz, P9

Toro Rosso’s race got off to a terrible start when Verstappen stalled on the grid and lost a lap, but the safety cars enabled him to make that back and a charging drive took him to a fighting eighth place. Once again his overtaking was sensational, and it was perhaps understandable that he rejected a team request to let Sainz have a go at Perez on the final lap - the Spaniard had his own problems, having dropped to the back when his gearbox went into neutral momentarily, and he too staged a great recovery to grab ninth. Six points brought the Faenza team closer to Lotus.

Sauber

Felipe Nasr, P10
Marcus Ericsson, P11

Yet again the Sauber drivers battled one another, both passing Grosjean and Maldonado in the closing laps. This time it was the Brazilian who came through to score his first point since Monaco.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, P12
Romain Grosjean, P13

Grosjean ran well in the top 10 until tyre wear slowed him in the final stages, and having been pushed out of the points by Nasr late in the race he elected to stop his car when the gearbox showed signs of fragility. Maldonado had a characteristically wayward race and upset Button late on by running wide, losing momentum, leading them to collide. The Lotus’s diffuser was damaged, which dropped him behind the Saubers before the flag.

Marussia

Alexander Rossi, P14
Will Stevens, P15

Rossi drove a great race on his debut, passing Stevens when the Briton ran wide in Turn Five on the opening lap, then controlling their intra-team race despite a lack of radio communications which made it hard to figure what to do under the second safety car. Stevens’ attempts to keep up were hampered by serious rear tyre degradation.

McLaren

Jenson Button, Retired lap 53, gearbox
Fernando Alonso, Retired lap 34, gearbox

Both McLarens ran well, and by half distance Alonso was running ninth and Button 10th. But then Alonso’s gearbox went awry, and after his collision with Maldonado and resultant pit stop for a new nose, Button suffered a similar fate.