Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Rosberg survives friendly fire // Nico hangs on to win close fight and regain the championship lead


The German was up to the challenge
Credit: Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix

However you think the title fight has gone so far this year, you have to say that Rosberg has clearly delivered when Hamilton hasn’t been at the races. Be it in Australia or Azerbaijan, Nico has put in a perfect performance to guarantee the most damage possible to his title rival. Singapore delivered a twist, as it usually does but the German was up to the challenge.

Rosberg edges Ricciardo in street fight

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team: Started 1st, Finished 1st & Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing: Started 2nd, Finished 2nd

What more can Nico Rosberg do, he was top five in every practice session in Singapore, topping the latter two, and duplicated this form in qualifying, topping the timesheets in Q2 and Q3 to secure pole. The result? Pole by well over half a second and over seven tenths ahead of his teammate. That was a lap that will surely make Hamilton take notice.

Ricciardo had a similar, if less spectacular, record in the early sessions, managing top four throughout practice before topping Q1. Ricciardo showed all the pace that he had last year, desperate to make amends for losing out to former teammate Vettel, not to mention being robbed of a victory in Singapore. Ricciardo was the only man in the 1:43s in Q2 before being the only one to get within a sniff of Rosberg as he continues to show Max Verstappen the way in qualifying.

Rosberg led all but two laps of the race but that would far from tell the whole story. Mercedes and Red Bull went different ways in qualifying and the race, with Mercedes looking for the instant gain of the ultrasoft early on before moving to the soft while Red Bull decided in Q2 to start on supersofts and preferring them to the softs. Despite this, both pitted within a lap of each other for the first two stints. It all changed later in the race and ironically it was all triggered by Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes sensed they were beat and decided the only option was to gamble and stay out

In a move of desperation, the Brit pitted on lap 55, followed by Räikkönen. With nothing to lose behind and seeing the gain in pace that the Mercedes and Ferrari saw, Red Bull were tempted into a third stop. They probably could have done a two-stop but it would have been a stretch and almost impossible to beat Rosberg. Instead they went bold and it instantly paid off as the Aussie started to take 2-3 seconds per lap out of Rosberg’s lead. Mercedes sensed they were beat and decided the only option was to gamble and stay out, advising Rosberg to push until the end.

With two different strategies playing out and traffic to contend with it was a street fight. Had there been one more lap, you would have fancied Ricciardo’s chances but Mercedes called it right – just – as Ricciardo’s chase came within half a second of yielding his fourth career win.

Vettel salvages what he can

Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari: Started 22nd, Finished 5th

Ferrari played Sebastian Vettel’s strategy just right
Credit: Ferrari Media

Not all comeback drives are alike. For example, flying through the pack to high end points on a street circuit is impressive, especially if you don’t put a foot wrong all weekend and your weekend is destroyed by a mechanical issue.

For once, Ferrari played Sebastian Vettel’s strategy just right, starting on the soft tyres, getting the slower rubber out of the way while in traffic and allowing Vettel to run in free air as the midfield made their first stops. In fact, Vettel was already up to sixth before making his first stop on lap 24, having been 13th before the pitstop window opened. The strategy allowed Vettel to use the innate pace of the Ferrari that could have put them on the edges of the battle for victory.

Having pitted and rejoined in 13th, Vettel was able to run two stints on the ultrasoft tyres. He was quickly back up to 8th and then made his way past Magnussen, Alonso and Kvyat. Now up to fifth, Vettel could again run in clean air and thrived with the alternate strategy, pitting a second time on lap 42 and passing Verstappen on his outlap to complete a stunning recovery and spare Ferrari’s blushes. What might have been had his Ferrari suspension not failed him in qualifying? We’ll never know.

K-Mag performs under the radar

Kevin Magnussen, Renault F1 Team: Started 15th, Finished 10th

Renault targeted a good result in Singapore, knowing that the high corner count and (relatively) low average speed gave them a chance to fight on the edge of the points. It didn’t look that way as they qualified a lacklustre 17th and 19th, barely, if at all, better than on a more traditional track. Magnussen made his race with a fantastic start, jumping from 15th (having benefitted from post-qualifying penalties for Grosjean and Pérez) up to tenth in a brief first lap before the safety car was called.

Running on a traditional strategy, with ultrasofts on for the first stint, Magnussen needed something special to fight for points and delivered. Renault didn’t bite on the undercut, moving Magnussen up to fifth before he stopped, although he did lose out to Vettel. While avoiding the undercut cost time, it meant Magnussen could push throughout the other two stints, without having to eke out the rubber for another lap or two, allowing the Renault man to fight in the midfield. Although he lost out to the warring Kvyat and Verstappen in the final stint, it was still a great result from Magnussen, far better than expected on Saturday night.

Magnussen needed something special to fight for points
Credit: Renault Sport F1

Alonso back to his motivated best

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda: Started 9th, Finished 7th

Alonso made hay at the start as the carnage held up the cars to his right, allowing him up to fifth

Like Renault, McLaren sensed an opportunity in Singapore. They weren’t quite as quick as they expected but Alonso’s seventh place meant best of the rest for the Woking squad. Having started in ninth on the ultrasofts, the Spaniard went for progressively harder tyres on a two stop strategy.

Like Magnussen, Alonso made hay at the start as the carnage held up the cars to his right, allowing him up to fifth.

The McLaren man couldn’t keep anywhere near the pace ahead but was comfortable in his defence of fifth, only losing the place when Vettel and Verstappen stayed out. He lost the position to them for good in the final stint, unable to defend in a slower car on harder tyres as Alonso finished seventh and as good a return as McLaren could have expected.