Ros­berg holds off Ric­cia­rdo to seize lead

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

NICO ROS­BERG won the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix from pole po­si­tion yes­ter­day to seize the driv­ers’ world cham­pi­onship lead from Mercedes team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton, who fin­ished third.

The Ger­man held off Red Bull’s late-charg­ing Daniel Ric­cia­rdo by just 0.4sec to win his third straight race and es­tab­lish an eight-point lead over ti­tle­holder Hamil­ton in the stand­ings.

It proved a tense fin­ish as traf­fic pre­vented Ros­berg pit­ting for new tyres near the end and Ric­cia­rdo, af­ter his stop, closed the gap from more than 20 sec­onds to mere frac­tions over the fi­nal 14 laps.

“It’s been an awe­some week­end,” said Ros­berg, as he cel­e­brated vic­tory in what was his 200th race.

“To­day, great start, I had a good car in the race. Of course, Daniel tried to pull one up on me with the pit­stop at the end there, but it worked out.”

Ric­cia­rdo was still happy de­spite not quite be­ing able to se­cure a first vic­tory of the sea­son.

“We’ve come very close this year on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, but I’m not go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed,” said the Aus­tralian.

“I’m not go­ing to stand here dis­ap­pointed, we gave it a good shot and got within half-a-sec­ond.”

A dis­ap­pointed Hamil­ton said: “A re­ally tough week­end for me but huge con­grat­u­la­tions to Nico. His win was fully de­served.”

There was drama at the start as Nico Hulken­berg hit Car­los Sainz’s Toro Rosso and ca­reered across the track be­fore smash­ing into the pit lane wall and bring­ing out the safety car.

When the race restarted on lap three, Ros­berg darted away into the lead only for there to be a heart-stop­ping mo­ment.

The start was bad luck for Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen, who was rel­e­gated from fourth on the grid to eighth as he took eva­sive ac­tion as Hulken­berg span past his front wing.

Hamil­ton, struggling with over­heat­ing brakes, had dropped to 13 sec­onds behind Ros­berg and was com­ing un­der at­tack for third place by Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen.

“We need to start com­ing out with some plan be­cause this is all the pace I’ve got with the brakes,” de­manded the cham­pi­onship leader on the ra­dio.

But there was noth­ing he could do as Raikko­nen took ad­van­tage when Hamil­ton locked up un­der brak­ing on lap 33.

A lap later, a flurry of pit stops saw the top four all emerge on soft tyres with Hamil­ton now six sec­onds adrift of the top three. He re­gained the po­si­tion on the third and fi­nal stops.

Ric­cia­rdo switched to su­per­softs whereas Mercedes elected to keep Ros­berg out as he got held up by back mark­ers.

Mean­while Raikko­nen’s tea­mate 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. – AFP

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