Photo courtesy of Jamey Price
“… First of all, big congratulations to Nico, he drove fantastically well all weekend and fully deserved the win. Very tough day today, as always it is here in Singapore. This weekend has just been a bot of a tricky one for me, but I’m still glad I could get back up on the podium and get some points for the team.” So said Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the Singapore Grand Prix. He so rarely tips his hat to his teammate I rewound the coverage and watched again. Then I read the press conference transcript and checked a third time.
That’s how well Rosberg performed in Singapore. In qualifying he wedged half a second between his pole time and Hamilton’s P3 lap. The race start gods answered the German’s prayers and he launched the car flawlessly, leaving no gap for the ever-aggressive Ricciadro to try and fill. Rosberg went on to maintain a solid gap throughout the grand prix whilst keeping the brakes from their melting point, if only just. Red Bull applied clever strategy and Ricciardo again went on the Mercedes hunt in the closing stages of the race, yet again Rosberg answered and picked up the pace just enough to keep the energy drink emblazoned car behind.
Now Rosberg knows what it takes to receive a compliment from Hamilton. That impressed. That was a championship drive. Keep it up and you might even win over a couple English fans. In the meantime, enjoy your reclaimed lead in the Driver’s Championship, ahead by eight by the way, since you’re not “focused on points.”
Claire Williams no doubt focused on points. In Singapore, her team earned none while Force India grabbed four, which means Williams fell behind in the Constructor’s Championship by one, now 5th. Certainly a street course adorned with 23 corners does not suit the slippery and downforce deficient chassis. But name a course remaining on the calendar that does?
And perhaps the one person happier than Rosberg is Daniil Kyvat. After his demotion to Toro Rosso, the Russian drove deeper and deeper into despair. One bad result followed another, his new teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., handily outperforming him. In Singapore, Kvyat turned a corner. His moment of redemption came when he successfully held off his seat stealing nemesis, Max Verstappen, for several laps. Verstappen started poorly, but quickly caught Kvyat. The two got very close, Verstappen definitely tried many different attempts, some of them a bit dicey, but Kvyat defended admirably and, mercifully, no team orders came to force the pass. Those several laps flooded Kvyat with much needed confidence. He went on to finish ninth, his best since switching to Toro Rosso and well ahead of his teammate. Afterwards he announced to the media that his passion was back. Our passion to see it again in Malaysia is back too.