As the early morning light begins to rise over Marina Bay, heads will scratched over at Mercedes Benz as to what exactly happened over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. So dominant throughout the season, for the first time in two years Hamilton, Rosberg and Co found themselves comprehensively outpaced by Ferrari and on occasion, Red Bull.
Whether (and we presume it will) natural order will be restored in Suzuka next weekend only time will tell, but for Sunday at least, it was refreshing to see a team other than Mercedes ruling the roost and controlling the race. For his part, Vettel was outstanding, a shadow of his quadruple champion self at Red Bull last year he has come on leaps and bounds at Maranello and is beginning to look like the formidable driver he was from 2010 onwards.
His cat and mouse esque games with Ricciardo during the middle stint of the race reflected Vettel’s control and dominance in a race that he never looked likely to lose. Welcome and much needed podiums for Ricciardo and Raikkonen will ease the pressure on both Red Bull and Kimi, ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix next week with the latter showing much improved form since Spa.
Perhaps as expected, the Singapore Grand Prix threw up more questions than answers, but here are four things we learned from the race today.
Mercedes can be beaten
They certainly can. Mercedes were beaten fair and square today. The first time such a feat has happened since Vettel’s maiden Ferrari victory back in Malaysia. The Silver Arrows looked mighty and unbeatable in Monza just two weeks ago lapping over a second faster than any other car in the field. Fast forward two weeks to Singapore and both Ferrari and seemingly Red Bull have moved ahead. It must be noted that Red Bull especially can be expected to fall back behind Mercedes come Suzuka as engine performance becomes more of a factor again however the pace from Ferrari looked very real indeed.
Ferrari back with a bang in 2015
The Scuderia’s resurgence led by Vettel and Arrivabene has been nothing short of remarkable and if their rate of improvement continues, next year’s championship could be a very close run race indeed. Having now exceeded their pre-season target of two race victories, Singapore was perhaps the most assured victory so far. Vettel dominated the race from start to finish, and perfectly displayed why he is a four time world champion. After a raft of changes at Maranello over the winter break, Arrivabene has worked magic at Ferrari and it’s great to see them back at the top of F1.
Sainz and Verstappen are the right choice
If Sainz and Verstappen continue to perform as they have this season, then Red Bull could soon have a major problem on their hands, with all of Ricciardo, Kyvat, Sainz and Verstappen deserving seats at Red Bull. Their performances in their rookie seasons have been remarkable, and another double points finish for Toro Rosso today will only see their stock rise further. Verstappen’s drive from last place to take eighth at the flag was another example of his incredible talent, and it can only be a matter of time before he becomes an F1 champion.
Maldonado will have no place at Renault
Despite having just been (as of the time of writing) confirmed to stay at Lotus for 2016, it’s very hard to imagine Renault wanting Maldonado’s services should they become a fully fledged constructor once again. On another weekend where poor old Pastor was thoroughly outclassed by Grosjean, and took part in his familiar tangles with fellow drivers his F1 career could be in serious danger.
The Singapore Grand prix certainly didn’t disappoint, and with it’s place as a jewel in F1’s crown becoming more and more secure each year it was Sebastian Vettel who took the crown home in 2015. Mercedes will be nervous coming into Suzuka next weekend and only time will tell if Ferrari can challenge them again.
Let us know what you thought of the Singapore Grand Prix below! We’d love to hear your comments on Raikkonen, Toro Rosso, Maldonado etc.