Back in the driving seat: Nico Rosberg reclaims championship lead after winning Singapore Grand Prix
Mercedes driver now holds eight-point advantage over teammate Lewis Hamilton in Formula One battle
Nico Rosberg won the Singapore Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday night to seize the drivers’ world championship lead from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished third.
The German held off Red Bull’s late-charging Daniel Ricciardo by just 0.4 of a second to win his third straight race and establish an eight-point lead over Formula One title-holder Hamilton in the standings.
It proved a tense finish as traffic prevented Rosberg pitting for new tyres near the end and Ricciardo, after his stop, closed the gap from more than 20 seconds to mere fractions over the final 14 laps.
“It’s been an awesome weekend in Singapore for me,” said Rosberg celebrating his 200th race.
“Of course Daniel [Ricciardo] tried to pull one on me at the end but we managed to hold him off – I’m really, really happy.
“The whole car was on the edge, it always is in Singapore. It’s all the more satisfying with a race like that.”
Ricciardo said: “We have come close on numerous occasions but I am not disappointed. We gave it a shot, we got within half a second. It was close.
“As soon as did a pit stop we thought Nico would come in. I pushed hard on the tyres.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton insisted he is still in the race.
“It’s a lot different to when I was here last year but I’m still in the fight and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” said Hamilton
“Definitely not [a great weekend] but firstly big congratulations to Nico – he drove fantastically all weekend.
“This weekend has been a tricky one for me but I’m just happy to get on the podium and get some points for the team.
“The brakes were way overheating so I had to slow down. Once I did my second or third stop we managed to sort it out.”
There was drama at the start as Nico Hulkenberg hit Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso and careered across the track before smashing into the pit lane wall and bringing out the safety car.
When the race restarted on lap three, Rosberg darted away into the lead only for there to be a heart-stopping moment.
A marshal was still on the track clearing debris, apparently unaware the race had restarted, and just managed to run out of the way as the field flashed past.
The start was bad luck for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was relegated from fourth on the grid to eighth as he took evasive action as Hulkenberg spun past his front wing.
Hamilton had endured a frustrating weekend in practice and qualifying and became increasingly irate at not being able to get past Ricciardo.
“Come on guys, I need a strategy that will get me past,” complained Hamilton on team radio, unimpressed that his first stop saw him take on the slowest compound soft tyres.
“We need to start coming out with some plan because this is all the pace I’ve got with the brakes,” demanded the championship leader on the radio.
But there was nothing he could do as Kimi Raikkonen took advantage when Hamilton locked up under braking on lap 33.
But Hamilton regained third after the third and final stops.
Raikkonen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel had started last after a suspension failure in qualifying but gave a driving masterclass to finish fifth.
He even finished ahead of Verstappen who had begun 18 grid places ahead of the German.