F1: Vettel claims third win of the season in hot Singapore night race
Marina Bay, September 20, 2015 – Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has sealed his third victory of the season for Ferrari, using a two-stop strategy at night on the streets of Singapore to clinch his 42nd career win. The race was characterised by a lengthy safety car period a third of the way into the race, which added a new dimension to the already complex strategy calculations, followed by a second safety car period 20 laps from the finish due to an unidentified person walking on the circuit at turn 13. During the second safety car, the drivers made their last stops, with a final sprint to the finish that produced plenty of entertaining battles.
The entire field started the grand prix on the supersoft tyre, but there were already some different ideas about strategy from the first round of pit stops onwards. Some drivers – including the top three – stuck with the supersoft, while both Mercedes drivers switched to the soft tyre for the second stint. The same strategy was used by Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, who went from a lap down at the beginning, following a problem at the race start, to a points-scoring eighth. The 17-year-old then used the rapid supersoft at the end of the race to make up positions. The fastest lap was actually set on the soft tyre on lap 52 by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished second.
Sebastian Vettel 1st: “It was an incredible race today, in fact all in all an incredible weekend and it is difficult for me now to sum it up. The race was intense and long, I had some pressure from Daniel behind me, we were the quickest two cars out there today, but I was able to control the pace and look after the tyres, which ran ok for the whole weekend. The car felt fantastic, I could control the gap until the end. Today we are in paradise, but we know we’re still a long way to go. It has been a surprise that Mercedes hasn’t been on the pace this weekend, we don’t know why, but to be honest we don’t really care. I am very happy for the team today, there has been a lot of work going in since the day I joined in. For the next races we will keep pushing 100 percent, we’ll give our maximum, like always. As long as there is a chance we have to go for it, we have to do everything we can. Mercedes are the ones to beat, the best way to do it is looking after ourselves and doing the best we can.”
Kimi Raikkonen 3rd : “I have mixed feelings: I’m happy to be third, considering how difficult it was yesterday, struggling with the grip and the handling of the car, but I’m a bit disappointed for not having been able to fight for a better position. Today I knew it was not going to be easy: it was a tricky race, on new tires I was able to follow Daniel easily, but then I was starting to have the same problems as yesterday, and I did not have enough speed for trying to catch him. First and third is a great result for the whole team, but of course it could have been better. It’s hard to predict how is going to be in the next races, but I don’t think we should get carried away. Obviously some tracks fit you better that others: we’ll do our best as usual. Hopefully we’ll find out that we can be competitive again fighting at the front. We have done an amazing job as a team so far, we keep improving, building and learning a lot in all areas, we are going in the right direction.”
Singapore kept up its 100% record of having at least one safety car during the race, going to the full two-hour time limit for a grand prix. Despite this being the longest race of the year, the vast majority of the field used a two-stop strategy. The highest-placed three-stopper was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who ended up ninth at the finish.
The Singapore Grand Prix was run in hot and humid conditions, with ambient and track temperatures of 30 and 33 degrees respectively, which fell gradually as the race went on.
Nico Rosberg 4th –Singapore was a disappointing weekend for my team. We were far off the pace the whole weekend and Lewis’ car had to retire. So I really hope that these were unique circumstances and our car didn’t suit the track and conditions. The problem is that we don’t really understand why Red Bull and Ferrari were so much quicker here. The start of the race was a bit chaotic. In the installation laps my engine went off a few times, so I couldn’t do the same start procedure, which I practised 100 times. I had to adapt but it worked out okay, so I was able to keep the positions. P4 was the maximum today, so we have a lot of work to do for Suzuka to understand what went wrong.
Lewis Hamilton-DNF – The race was going very well. For me it felt like I was driving at my best in the race. I think I had the pace to win. I did everything. I was on the prime keeping up easily with the guys at the front on the option. My pace was really good when I started to lose power. I felt like the team was working as hard as they could and these kinds of things just happen. It’s unfortunate for the team as I was feeling real good out there, so optimistic. But it was better to retire and save the engine. We will work really hard on figuring out what it was but I am not worried about losing this engine. Our reliability is really high as we had an amazing season so far. It’s still a long way to go and I know I lost some points today, but I was fast and on form and I will make sure I bring that out to Suzuka to fight back!