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'Three R's' spell out Lewis's F1 lead

2014-09-22 13:57

HOW TO WIN IN SINGAPORE: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has grabbed the championship lead at the 2014 Singapore GP. He is now three points ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg. Image: AFP / Mohd Rasfan


SINGAPORE, Malaysia - For a Singapore F1 GP that began with confusion over self-censorship and concluded with Lewis Hamilton leading the standings, the race weekend here could can be summed up by using the 'Three Rs': Radios, Rosberg and Reliability.

The teams arrived in Singapore unsure of what engineers could or could not tell a driver by radio after F1's rulers rushed through a ban on race assistance following the last GP in Monza without going into a great deal of detail.

After meetings to thrash out the finer points the Bernie Ecclestone-instigated clampdown was relaxed just before Friday practice and the paddock breathed a sigh of relief after voicing concerns over a lack of preparation time.


For Nico Rosberg, it was a weekend to forget. He saw his 22-point lead at the top of the standings transformed into a three-point deficit to Mercedes team mate Hamilton when the Briton stormed to victory on Sunday as the German looked on from the garage.

Rosberg had told reporters of his hatred for the demanding two-hour trawl around the floodlit streets of Singapore yet he would not have been that relieved to have completed his night's work after just 14 of the scheduled 61-lap race.

He was supposed to start from second on the grid, alongside Hamilton, but as the other 20 cars filed past him for the formation lap the German was unable to coax any life out of his listless Mercedes.

His steering wheel was faulty and he started the race from the pits but only managed to reach quarter-distance before calling it a day when a lengthy pit stop failed to resolve his mechanical woes.

"It was a horrible feeling really, to see everybody go. Because then I knew it was over," Rosberg said of his retirement. "Then the whole steering wheel just wasn't working so I didn't have any hybrid power and the shifting... I would shift two gears at once all the time and I had no DRS.

"The car just wasn't working at all and then there was no point to continue. It was a tough day really."

Despite a tactics-changing pace-car period midway through the race Hamilton fended off the challenge by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo to reclaim a 2014 championship lead he last held in May with five races remaining.

Hamilton had mixed feelings over moving into position to secure a second F1 Drivers' title after his 2008 triumph, his joy tempered by fears over reliability issues for Mercedes which had its fifth retirement of the season.


"These next five races I just pray that we continue," Hamilton said. "With the issues I've had (three retirements) it haunts me every weekend. You never know when it's going to pop up so you just have to try to remain positive and constantly believe that everything is going to be all right.

"It's also the support from my fans that really keeps me going."

Previously dominant Red Bull has been hamstrung by its own reliability problems and a Renault 'power unit' that remains inferior to those from Mercedes, but a marked improvement over recent races points to a stronger title challenge in 2015.

Team principal Christian Horner said: "If you look at our pre-season during which we completed fewer than 2000km compared to Mercedes which did more than a season's-worth of distance, it demonstrates the quality of the team we have to turn that situation around.

"To have won three races this season and managed second and third here... we could never have dreamed of running for 30 minutes earlier in the season, let alone two hours.

"It's a great achievement by the whole team to turn it around but it's never enough. It is the performance gap that we aim to close down."

The championship will resume in Japan on October 5 with Hamilton on 241 points (with 150 available), Rosberg on 238, Ricciardo third on 181, Ferarri's Fernando Alonso on 133 and Vettel on 124.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

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