Hamilton shines at night in Singapore
260,000 spectators attend the event (+19% y.o.y)
Singapore – All weekend, the night-time action in Singapore was thrilling and spectacular, but tonight the drama was boosted by the rain that fell in the early stages of the race, the first time in the event’s 10-year history that any portion of the race has taken place in the wet.
On Saturday, a closely-contest qualifying session saw Sebastian Vettel deliver a stunning final flying to put his Ferrari on pole position, ahead of the Red Bull Racing pairing of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Mercedes, firmly in control on Saturday at the past two races, appeared to be struggling, as for the first time in two years they failed to get at least one of their drivers onto the front two rows of the grid at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
As the sun began to set and the Singapore skyline began to shine, all signs pointed to a reversal of the momentum that had seen Lewis Hamilton take the championship lead, for the first time this season, in Italy a fortnight ago. However, with less than an hour to go before the race start, rain began to fall across the circuit and as the cars formed up on the grid, Singapore prepared for its first ever wet start.
And it was in those treacherous conditions at the start that Ferrari’s hopes were dashed. Vettel and front-row rival Verstappen got away poorly. Kimi Räikönen, however, made a superb start and drew alongside Verstappen on the inside. As Vettel moved across to protect his advantage the available space shrank to nothing and there was a collision. Räikkönen and Verstappen retired on the spot, Vettel a few corners later.
Hamilton suddenly found himself in the lead and the championship leader held it to the chequered flag. The victory, the 60th of Hamilton’s career, was well deserved, as he produced a flawless performance, especially in difficult conditions. Ricciardo had mixed feelings about finishing second. The Australian had been hoping this track might deliver a second win of the season, but in the end, he had to settle for a fourth consecutive Singapore podium finish. Valtteri Bottas sealed a remarkable exercise in damage limitation for Mercedes by claiming the final podium spot.
Jolyon Palmer had a rollercoaster of a weekend, which began with the news that he has lost his seat at Renault for 2018. However, on Sunday he finished sixth, his best ever Formula 1
result. Also scoring his best Grand Prix finish was the man who will replace Palmer at the French team: Carlos Sainz brought his Toro Rosso across the line in fourth place.
Tonight’s result means that Hamilton has now carved out a significant lead over Vettel, with 28 points now separating the top two in the Drivers’ standings. As for Mercedes, the Silver Arrows now have an even more substantial 102-point lead over Ferrari. However, there are still six more races to go and therefore, there is everything still to play for: Formula 1 has often witnessed scenarios like this only for the whole situation to be turned on its head in the blink of an eye. All season long, it has been clear that two teams and drivers in question are very evenly matched, which is further reason to think that the outcome of the championship is far from certain
“This has been a really exciting weekend, with the balance of power swinging first one way and then the other. On Friday, Red Bull appeared strongest, while on Saturday, Ferrari took the top spot. However, on Sunday Mercedes turned things around in superb fashion. That’s Formula 1 and I’m sure we’ll have several equally spectacular races between now and the end of the season. Today, the show was enlivened by the unique backdrop provided by Singapore. I have always enjoyed Singapore, right from the beginning. This event has been a game-changer in many ways. Singapore has firmly established itself as an iconic race on our calendar and I’m delighted both with the renewal of its contract and with the extremely strong attendance figures, which underline the enduring enthusiasm for this great event.”
More than 260,000 spectators attended the 10th edition of Formula 1’s original night race, an increase of 19% over last year. Fans came to Singapore from all over the world – the Philippines, Australia, the UK, China, USA, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and Holland providing the largest numbers – and were treated not only to fantastic on-track action, but also to a veritable festival of music with concerts featuring star names such as Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Duran Duran, The Chainsmokers and Seal.
“The Singapore Grand Prix has, once more, been really thrilling – on track with the fastest ever laps seen at this circuit, and outside with a huge variety of concerts and other events creating an incredible buzz right across the city. This race is seminal and central to our brand and we are very happy to have renewed the agreement with our local partners for four more years. Some of the Grands Prix really define how our fans see Formula 1 and Singapore is one of them. Thanks to the efforts of all the Singaporeans this event has become special and unique for our sport.”
This Asian leg of the 2017 Formula 1 season now moves on to the first of a pair of back-to- back races: on 1st October, the Malaysian Grand Prix takes place at the Sepang circuit and one week later it will be time for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
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