From Vettel to Hulkenberg: Singapore Grand Prix drivers ratings

F1i 13:06 22/09/2015
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How did the drivers fare in Singapore GP?

After an entertaining Singapore Grand Prix, which saw Sebastian Vettel clinch a third win of the season, here's a look at how the drivers performed on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.


Imperious. Vettel’s qualifying lap especially was fantastic to watch. The four-time world champion seems to love the Singapore circuit and he was a class above when it mattered in qualifying, before also having Daniel Ricciardo covered in the race. On the first lap he opened up a three-second lead but he also had enough in his tyres when managing his pace in the middle stint to put two seconds on Ricciardo in one lap. Vettel at his best.


Christian Horner described Ricciardo and Vettel as being in a league of their own this weekend, and Ricciardo certainly drove well. The timing of safety cars prevented him putting pressure on Vettel but you felt his old Red Bull team-mate always had the pace advantage when required. Set the fastest lap in the race and looked comfortable whenever Kimi Raikkonen tried to close in. Ricciardo’s qualifying lap was very good, but very good wasn’t enough this weekend in the face of Vettel’s performance.


It’s surprising to give a non-Mercedes driver who finished on the podium such a low score, but Raikkonen was no match for Vettel in the same car this weekend. The margin of 0.8s in qualifying was a big gulf, and Raikkonen never looked like being able to make a move on Daniel Ricciardo ahead. Maurizio Arrivabene said he was pleased with the result after the race, but jokingly noted: “Kimi is always complaining!”


A solid weekend from Rosberg in testing conditions. Mercedes was never realistically in the hunt for victory from FP3 onwards, and it was a case of damage limitation. While Lewis Hamilton had the edge, Rosberg was always behind his team-mate on the road and ultimately got the best result the car would deliver on race day. On a personal note, Rosberg will be frustrated Hamilton’s first retirement of the season came at a circuit where the team was bizarrely off the pace, limiting how much ground he could make up in the title race.


Similar to Rosberg, Bottas was a safe pair of hands and kept his nose clean to give Williams what was realistically the best result the car was capable of. At times he put pressure on Rosberg but the Williams has not been suited to street circuits over the past two years. Perhaps could have been more aggressive when alongside Rosberg at the start but a slightly cautious approach saw him unable to pass on the opening lap.


One of the unlucky men of the race, Kvyat should have finished higher but ended up sixth through no fault of his own. A race with safety cars often brings winners and losers, and Kvyat was hurt when the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed soon after his first stop, allowing all those around him to lose less time in the pits as the racing speed was reduced. Had the VSC actually been a safety car period, Kvyat may have been sitting pretty, but he was hurt by the second safety car too dropping him behind Rosberg and Bottas.


Perez seems so much happier with the B-spec Force India and consistent performances are the result. Singapore was his third top-seven finish in succession and he looked quicker than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg when following the German in the early part of the race. He showed a calm head when the hard-charging Max Verstappen closed in late in the race, covering the Toro Rosso for long enough for its tyres to go off.


When you’re a lap down after a problem on the grid, it would be easy to lose motivation but Verstappen said he was simply “angry” and started charging back through the field. Aided hugely by the two safety cars – the first allowing him to return to the lead lap and the second bunching up the field – Verstappen was once again clinical when overtaking, showing he has learned from Monaco. Ignored team orders but was then backed by the team for doing so, and appears to have stepped a level above his team-mate.


The damage for Sainz was done in qualifying when he hit the wall on the exit of Turn 19, pushing hard when he actually had plenty of time in hand to reach Q3. He still managed to enjoy a good race but wasn’t at his best. Points were a good return but the Spaniard should not be losing out to Verstappen when his team-mate was a lap down at one stage.


A good drive from Nasr, who was rewarded with a point after a run of bad luck and a dip in form. He got the better of team-mate Marcus Ericsson in qualifying but both were knocked out in Q1, leaving an uphill battle in the race. It’s one which Nasr dealt with well, pulling some strong overtaking moves but keeping out of trouble and had the bonus of forcing Romain Grosjean in to a late error to inherit tenth place.


Not a lot to choose between the Sauber drivers, as has been the case at a number of races this year. Nasr had the edge in qualifying but Ericsson shadowed his team-mate for much of the race, following him in the final stint and sensibly not trying any heroics at the wrong time which could have cost them both the chance of sneaking the final point. The Sauber upgrade didn’t seem to have the impact the team had hoped for, but both drivers raced well having opted for different strategies.


Barely a race goes by without Maldonado being involved in an incident. To be fair to him, on this occasion he was not wholly to blame, but when the stewards decided against penalising Jenson Button for running in to the back of Maldonado, it suggests the Venezuelan was not totally innocent either. His robust defence saw the contact cause damage to his diffuser, hampering his ability to look after the rear tyres and costing him the chance of points in the closing laps.


Grosjean’s qualifying effort was a good one to reach Q3 and so comfortably beat team-mate Maldonado, but a poor start undid a lot of the hard work and left him switching strategy. An early first stop saw Grosjean lose out further under the VSC and he then tried to run long on his final set of tyres, but had no grip left in the latter part of the race, leaving the Frenchman unable to defend from the Saubers and ultimately retiring the car with a lap to go due to gearbox concerns.


A very impressive Formula One debut for the American, who had to deal with a broken radio for much of the race. Rossi was sensible at the start and took advantage of team-mate Will Stevens running wide at Turn 7 to run as the lead Manor on the road, pulling away in the closing laps. Looked after his tyres well – something he says is thanks to GP2 being a good school for tyre management – and did well to deal with the traffic on the second safety car restart when he was third in the queue on the road, but unaware he could unlap himself due to the lack of radio. His race performance was even more impressive after Rossi failed to do any long running on Friday due to a crash in FP1.


By his own admission, Stevens’ toughest weekend in F1. Carrying out development work in FP1, Stevens was yet to feel comfortable on a circuit he had never driven on when he crashed at low speed in FP2. The error proved costly as he missed out on more track time and long running, resulting in a car balance he was unhappy with. Pulled out a very good qualifying lap but then went deep at Turn 7 on the first lap which ultimately ruined his race as he struggled with his rear tyres.


Button cut a frustrated figure for much of the weekend as team-mate Fernando Alonso got the better of him. Button struggled to get his tyres working in qualifying and couldn’t match Alonso, but was on better form in the race before getting involved in a collision with Pastor Maldonado. Front wing damage forced an unscheduled pit stop – having already had a very slow one under the VSC – and gearbox worries saw him retire late on.


While the McLaren drivers are generally hard to judge in inferior machinery, Alonso showed his class on many occasions this weekend. Quicker than Button in practice and qualifying, the Spaniard raced typically hard to run inside the top ten as he looked on course for his third point-scoring result of the year. However, not for the first time the car let him down, and it must have been a bitter pill to swallow as he saw Vettel secure a third win for his former team Ferrari.


Perhaps his comfortable lead in the drivers’ championship helped, but Hamilton cut a calm and relaxed figure on the whole in Singapore in the face of Mercedes’ struggles. Getting the most he could out of the car in qualifying, Hamilton ran ahead of team-mate Rosberg and had latched on to the leading trio after the first round of pit stops. He admits he was starting to believe he could win the race but then a turbo problem ended his challenge and eventually his weekend prematurely.


Massa showed good potential in Q2 on Saturday but failed to put it together when it mattered in the final part of qualifying. Running behind team-mate Bottas early on, Massa was still on for a good haul of points but a slow first pit stop saw him released alongside Nico Hulkenberg, and the Force India turned in to the Turn 3 apex thinking Massa would be behind. With the Williams on the inside, contact ensued for which Massa was largely blameless, and the resulting puncture hampered his race before a gearbox problem ended it.


A race of promise for Hulkenberg but his error cost Force India points. The German makes very little mistakes but misjudged where Massa would be when exiting the pit lane which feeds drivers in to Turn 3. Assuming he was ahead, Hulkenberg took the racing line but hit Massa, breaking his left rear suspension and putting him out of the race immediately.

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