Reliving the most unexpected race of 2015: the Singapore Grand Prix

vettel_winsThe 2015 Singapore Grand Prix was arguably one of the most exciting, shocking and unbelievable weekends in the new V6 hybrid-turbo era. Ferrari took their third and final win of the season on Sunday after becoming the first Ferrari powered car to take a pole position since the 2012 German Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel drove a flawless race and proved his maturity and natural ability to anyone who had doubted him. The 17 second gap to Kimi Raikkonen in 3rd best sums up the untouchable pace he had all weekend. At the race start, it seemed inevitable that things would go wrong and Mercedes would easily return to the top following their woes in qualifying. But it didn’t happen, Vettel was unchallenged all race, even when two separate safety car periods attempted too ruin any gap he had built up. But Vettel timed everything perfectly, Ferrari rallied together as a team and celebrated the first win where they were genuinely faster than the dominant Mercedes.

These incredible achievements by Ferrari came about after Mercedes were (as mentioned above), shockingly and unexpectedly off the pace all weekend. Although many thought they might have been sandbagging in the Friday practice sessions, the teams, drivers and fans realised something was seriously wrong when both Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s out-qualified the Silver Arrows on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could only manage their worst qualifying of the season in 5th and 6th place respectively. Things didn’t improve in the race as Lewis Hamilton experienced power unit issues on lap 26. After much deliberation from the team, Hamilton decided to retire the car in an effort to conserve his engine. It was his first retirement since Spa 2014. Nico Rosberg made slight process in the race, eventually finishing 4th; but he never had the pace to challenge the Ferrari’s ahead. Everyone at Mercedes was left confused and in unimaginable disbelief.

But one of the more forgotten aspects of the race is Mercedes didn’t just drop behind Ferrari in the running order, but Red Bull too. The quadruple World Champions had been targeting this race as one of their chances to score big, so much so they deliberately took engine penalties in the previous round (Monza) in an effort to squeeze every thousandths of a second out of the car. It worked, Daniel Ricciardo proved in both qualifying and the race that he was the nearest challenger to the dominant Vettel. He subsequently finished a mere 1.478s off the lead to pick up just his 2nd podium of the season.

ricciardo_singapore

Red Bull also experienced success with their junior team, Toro Rosso, who had their first double points finish since the Malaysian Grand Prix. Although the 8th and 9th result looked good on paper, it came with an extremely unnecessary amount of stress.

In the closing stages of the race, Max Verstappen found himself unable to catch Felipe Massa ahead of him for 7th. Team mate Carlos Sainz was directly behind Verstappen and on far fresher tires. Toro Rosso dealt with the situation by ordering Max to let Carlos through. When Max recieved the ill-fated message, he bluntly and angrily replied “no,” much to the disbelief of the team. Verstappen wouldn’t catch and overtake Massa by the race end, but he would hold of Sainz, sparking much controversy within the paddock.

But once again, the only thing this race will be remembered for was the underdog spirit that possessed the Ferrari camp. Nobody ever realistically thought Ferrari were a chance, the street circuit was always going to help, but Mercedes had just proved too dominant through the season – this wasn’t destined to happen. Yet it did, and it will always be cemented into the minds of fans as the core and undeniable reason they watch this sport” for the pure emotion in racing.

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Steven Walton is a 18 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was bought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing.

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