Hamil­ton off pace as Ros­berg takes driver’s seat in ti­tle race

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FORMULA ONE - PHILIP DUN­CAN Re­sult, Stand­ings SPORT ON TV

A GLUM Lewis Hamil­ton has ad­mit­ted he does not know if he will be back on the pace in the cham­pi­onship bat­tle af­ter be­ing thrashed by Nico Ros­berg at the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix.

Hamil­ton now trails Ros­berg by eight points af­ter he fin­ished only third at the Ma­rina Bay street cir­cuit on Sunday, while his Mercedes team-mate fended off a dra­matic late charge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo to seal a hat-trick of con­sec­u­tive wins.

Hamil­ton, who has been off colour here this week­end, was a whop­ping seven tenths of a sec­ond slower than Ros­berg in qual­i­fy­ing, and the 31-yearold Bri­ton failed to make any im­pact on his ti­tle ri­val in Sunday’s race.

For the first time this sea­son, and ar­guably the first in the three years in which they have bat­tled for the cham­pi­onship, Ros­berg de­liv­ered a crush­ing vic­tory over Hamil­ton.

And, af­ter lead­ing the cham­pi­onship race by 43 points, and then find­ing him­self 19 be­hind, Ros­berg is now eight points ahead with six rounds left. So, is his team-mate wor­ried?

“The next race will tell,’’ a sub­dued Hamil­ton said on Sunday night. “I’m not re­ally think­ing too much about it at the mo­ment. We have got six races left, so I’ve just got to keep push­ing in those six races.’’

Hamil­ton won six of the seven rounds head­ing into the sport’s an­nual sum­mer break. But as he hol­i­dayed in Costa Rica, Bar­ba­dos and the United States, Ros­berg spent the three-week shut­down with his wife Vi­vian and their one-yearold daugh­ter Alaia. Ros­berg has won the three races since and led vir­tu­ally ev­ery lap.

Hamil­ton dis­missed the no­tion that he would have done any­thing dif­fer­ently over the sum­mer, in­stead pay­ing trib­ute to his cham­pi­onship ri­val.

“Nico just did an ex­cep­tional job this week­end and we didn’t,’’ Hamil­ton said. “What it’s go­ing to take for the mo­men­tum to change? Just some good week­ends which we’ve had in the past.

“We’re both fiercely com­pet­i­tive. Some week­ends he does great, some week­ends I do great.’’

Hamil­ton headed into Sunday’s race un­der the lights hop­ing luck would be on his side af­ter he qual­i­fied third at a cir­cuit where it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to over­take.

But the Steve­nage-born racer en­dured an ar­du­ous night as he failed to chal­lenge ei­ther Ros­berg or Ric­cia­rdo be­fore a mis­take on lap 33 en­abled Kimi Raikko­nen to pass him, too.

While Hamil­ton man­aged to leapfrog the Fer­rari – af­ter Mercedes caught the Ital­ian team off-guard with a third pit stop – to claim his 99th podium fin­ish, it is Ros­berg who is now in charge of the cham­pi­onship.

The 31-year-old Ger­man – de­spite Red Bull at­tempt­ing an ag­gres­sive three­stop strat­egy that led to a fas­ci­nat­ing crescendo – sealed his in­au­gu­ral win at Sin­ga­pore and his first podium fin­ish here since 2008.

“It’s been an awe­some week­end in Sin­ga­pore,’’ Ros­berg said. “Of course Daniel tried to pull one up on me with the pit stop. We knew it was go­ing to be tight at the end, but it worked out, so I’m re­ally, re­ally happy.’’

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel started last on the grid, but fin­ished an im­pres­sive fifth, one place ahead of Max Ver­stap­pen, with Fer­nando Alonso seventh for McLaren.

Bri­tish rookie Jolyon Palmer crossed the line in 15th, while Jen­son But­ton re­tired with a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem. Aaron Sum­mers led from the front as Glas­gow Tigers yes­ter­day shot down Work­ing­ton Comets,

The pop­u­lar Aussie pow­ered to 14 points and the skip­per was backed up by for­mer Comets star Rene Bach with 13 points.

Nike Lunna with ten points also claimed dou­ble-fig­ures in the rout and fans can al­most cer­tainly look for­ward to another cup fi­nal for Tigers.

Comets only won one of the 15 heats when Ma­son Camp­ton, who made his Bri­tish de­but with Tigers in 2012, was first to the tape in heat eight. And the re­sult was achieved de­spite for­mer Work­ing­ton racer Richard Law­son, Tigers’ No 1 rider, only claim­ing six points. TO­DAY Foot­ball LaLiga, Alaves v De­portivo La Coruna - Sky Sports 1, 1940. Cy­cling Eneco Tour - Eurosport 1, 1330. Ten­nis ATP St Peters­burg Open - Eurosport 1, 1530. Snooker Shang­hai Masters - Eurosport 2, 0730. Amer­i­can Foot­ball NFL, Chicago Bears v Philadel­phia Ea­gles - Sky Sports 1, 0130 (Tue). Base­ball MLB, Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - BT Sport/ESPN, 1915; Bal­ti­more Ori­oles v Bos­ton Red Sox - BT Sport/ESPN, 0000 (Tue).

HIGH FLIER: Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg of Ger­many leaps from his car as he cel­e­brates vic­tory on the spec­tac­u­lar Ma­rina Bay Street Cir­cuit Sin­ga­pore.

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