Formula One: Nico Rosberg has one the Singapore Grand Prix, and in the process has taken the Championship lead.
Hamilton, who has been off colour all weekend at the Marina Bay street circuit, is now eight points behind his sole championship rival after he could only cross the line in third.
The German’s third victory in a row, and 22nd of his career, lifted Rosberg on to 273 points, eight clear of Hamilton, with six rounds remaining and Australia’s Ricciardo a distant third on 179 in the title race. Rosberg’s lead was rapidly whittled down but Rosberg was able to take the win by just 0.488s.
While the last six races of the season are not expected to suit Red Bull to the same extent as Singapore, Ricciardo insists he has not abandoned hope of claiming a fourth Grand Prix triumph. The Australian looked capable of catching the leader, but the team gambled on bringing him for ultrasofts, expecting that would force Rosberg to do the same.
Australian Ricciardo rejoined just under 30 seconds adrift, with 16 laps remaining, and initially sliced into Rosberg’s advantage at almost three seconds a lap.
Hamilton grew increasingly frustrated as the race wore on, with a number of angry messages aimed at his Mercedes team.
“We have come close on numerous occasions but I am not disappointed”, said Ricciardo on the podium.
Set up and preparation is hugely important for Mercedes to judge tyre degradation and brake wear which impacted Hamilton throughout the race.
Following his second stop, Hamilton was told to move on to “Plan B”. By comparison, the last time Rosberg enjoyed a similar advantage over Hamilton in trouble-free qualifying was two years ago in Brazil. They opted for the latter, and it proved costly with Hamilton moving back ahead of the Ferrari.
Meanwhile Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel had started last after a suspension failure in qualifying but gave a driving masterclass to finish fifth, ahead even of Verstappen who had begun 18 grid places ahead of the German.
“It really shows that not only do we have the best vehicle but we also have the most competent group of engineers to extract the potential from the best auto”, Rosberg told reporters after the Singapore Grand Prix. “Some weekends he does great, some weekends I do great”.
“Daniel tried to pull one up on me with the pitstop at the end, we knew it was going to be tight but we got there so I’m very happy”, Rosberg said.
“Big congratulations to Nico, he drove fantastically well all weekend and fully deserved the win”, said Hamilton.