Ros­berg re­takes ti­tle lead with win

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

NICO ROS­BERG re-took the World Cham­pi­onship lead from Lewis Hamil­ton fol­low­ing a grand­stand fin­ish to the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix.

He held off a late charge by Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo in a nail-bit­ing cli­max and leads his team-mate by eight points af­ter Hamil­ton took third.

Mercedes’ de­ci­sion to switch Hamil­ton to a three-stop strat­egy got him back ahead of Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen.

When Ric­cia­rdo fol­lowed suit, he closed rapidly on Ros­berg, who just held on.

Aus­tralian Ric­cia­rdo re­joined just un­der 30 sec­onds adrift, with 16 laps re­main­ing, and ini­tially sliced into Ros­berg’s ad­van­tage at nearly three sec­onds a lap.

But as the laps ticked by the ad­van­tage of Ric­cia­rdo’s fresh tyres be­gan to fade and the edge was taken off his charge.

Ros­berg had just enough pace, de­spite manag­ing fad­ing brakes, to keep the Red Bull at bay, cross­ing the line just 0.488 sec­onds ahead for a win that could prove cru­cial in the destiny of the world ti­tle.

Hamil­ton had an out-of-sorts week­end, qual­i­fy­ing only third, 0.7 sec­onds slower than Ros­berg, lack­ing grip af­ter fail­ing to set up his car prop­erly be­cause of track time lost to a hy­draulic fail­ure in Fri­day prac­tice.

He drove a steady race, un­able to do any­thing about Ros­berg and Ric­cia­rdo ahead of him, and in­ter­mit­tently plead­ing with his en­gi­neers to come up with a strat­egy that could gain him places.

Both Mercedes driv­ers were strug­gling with over­heat­ing brakes and Hamil­ton strug­gled so much that he was caught by Raikko­nen in the sec­ond stint, and ac­tu­ally lost third place fol­low­ing a mis­take at Turn Seven just af­ter half dis­tance.

Raikko­nen made his sec­ond stop at the end of the lap, Hamil­ton a lap later, and the world cham­pion re­joined still in fourth place.

At this point, Mercedes de­cided to switch Hamil­ton’s strat­egy and un­leashed him from manag­ing his tyres and told him to close on Raikko­nen.

Hamil­ton’s fi­nal pit stop on lap 45 trig­gered his ri­vals to fol­low suit, with Raikko­nen pit­ting on the fol­low­ing lap and Ric­cia­rdo the lap af­ter that.

The move worked for Mercedes - it leapfrogged Hamil­ton back ahead of Raikko­nen and de­spite be­ing on su­per-soft tyres rather than the ul­tra-softs cho­sen by Fer­rari, Hamil­ton was com­fort­ably able to hold on to the fi­nal podium place.

Be­hind the top four, McLaren’s Fer­nando Alonso ran fifth from the start of the race af­ter a su­perb get­away, helped by a start­line crash that took out Force In­dia’s Nico Hulken­berg and de­layed Toro Rosso’s Car­los Sainz, and a poor start by Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen.

Alonso held on to the place through the sub­se­quent safety car pe­riod and the first and sec­ond stops, fend­ing off heavy pres­sure from Sainz’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat and Ver­stap­pen.

Around mid-dis­tance, Alonso got some breath­ing space thanks to an in­tense bat­tle be­tween Kvyat and Ver­stap­pen.

The fight had added nee­dle be­cause of the Rus­sian’s de­mo­tion in Ver­stap­pen’s favour af­ter four races this sea­son and af­ter Kvyat had squeezed Ver­stap­pen close to the wall on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions to keep him be­hind, the Dutch­man gave him a mid­dlefin­ger salute.

In the end, Red Bull pit­ted Ver­stap­pen to give him some clear air to ex­ploit his pace - a de­ci­sion that ul­ti­mately won him sixth place.

But as the race pro­gressed and strate­gies di­verged, Alonso was passed by Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, re­cov­er­ing strongly from a start at the back of the grid fol­low­ing a sus­pen­sion fail­ure in qual­i­fy­ing, and found him­self de­fend­ing from Ver­stap­pen, who was on fresher tyres, in the clos­ing laps. — BBC Sport

Ros­berg jumps from his car as he cel­e­brates his win

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