Records are meant to be broken. That’s the attitude Nico Rosberg carried into the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix this weekend anyway; boosting to his third successive victory in as many races.
Not only was the glittering night-time street race Rosberg’s 200th Grand Prix, but he also took to the win in epic style, fighting off a charging Daniel Ricciardo by 0.4s in second, and team mate Lewis Hamilton in third.
Nico’s eighth victory of the season makes him the first non-champion to win in Singapore, and puts him ahead on 273 championship points, to Lewis’ 265. Stat-heads will also know that the win makes Nico only the second ever-German F1 driver to contest 200 Grand Prix. The other was former Silver Arrows driver and F1 legend Michael Schumacher, who won his 200th race at the Nurburgring in 2004 on his way to his 6th World F1 crown.
Known as the Monaco of the East, the Singapore Grand Prix, hosted at the Marina Bay Circuit, always produces an edge of the seat race. With it’s looming walls, and out of this world night-time light setup proving to be the perfect backdrop for the turbo-charged spark fest that is modern F1.
What’s more, the heady mix of street-racing, insane humidity, and one of the longest single laps of the F1 season, makes the Singapore weekender a pressure cooker of a Grand Prix. A win here doesn’t come easily.
“It’s been an awesome weekend here in Singapore for me, already yesterday with the pole lap and then today, a great start, had a good car in the race,” a delighted Nico told us after the race. “Of course Daniel tried to pull one up on me with the pit stop in the end there. We knew it was going to be tight at the end, but it worked out, so I’m really, really happy. The whole car was on the edge, it always is in Singapore, so it’s all the more satisfying with a race like that.
“With ten or 15 laps to go, just after the pitstop, the team said he [Ricciardo] would be with me at the end of the race, which was the case, so for sure I had to be on it in that last stint and get everything right and nail all those laps. It really worked out, with the management, all the way to the end. The tyre lasted just right, so I’m very, very happy, of course. By the time I started the last lap I knew it was going to be enough because Daniel’s tyres weren’t as fresh any more, so by that time it was OK.”
Nico continued: “It really shows that not only do we have the best car but also we have the best, most competent group of engineers, to extract the potential from the best car, from every weekend; changing the car; adapting to the new circuits; because last year we were absolutely nowhere here. We got destroyed by Red Bull and Ferrari and we understood what we did wrong and came back this year and beat them on their strongest track. I look forward to Malaysia now – but first I will definitely celebrate this win tonight!”
Visibly disappointed to not be taking the chequered flag first and triggering the fireworks into the night-time sky, Lewis summed up his weekend saying: “A difficult day for sure. At one stage it looked like I might even miss out on the podium but fortunately it didn’t work out that way. It was an okay start. I didn’t lose any ground, which is a good thing after the last one. But then I was struggling so much after the Safety Car went in. The brakes were near critical temperature for most of the race, so I kept having to back off to cool them down. I then ended up making a mistake and ran wide which let Kimi past.
“Fortunately, with the car a bit lighter, I was able to bring the temperatures down, push a bit more on fresh tyres and get back past him in the stops. Pace and strategy weren’t the issue – it was all down to the brakes. I was just watching the leaders pull away right from the start, so P2 was the maximum today. If that’s the worst weekend of the year, I’ll definitely take it. These things are sent to try us and now I’m just looking forward to the next one and a chance to give it another shot. I need a couple of strong weekends to get back to where I need to be. We will keep on pushing. All in all, I am still in the fight there is a long way to go and give it my all. It is not as tough as you think, I don’t know why. I have not been in this position before but I have been in a lot worse.”
With only six races remaining, and eight points between the two Silver Arrows drivers, it’s not as long as Lewis might think. Not to mention Rosberg is the first non-champion to win in Singapore, and every previous winning driver at Marina Bay has gone on to win the title in four of the last five years…
The temperature and intensity certainly shows no sign of letting up, as F1 travels further into the hot Far-East for the Malaysian Grand Prix on the 2nd of October.