The Singapore Grand Prix was chaotic, dramatic and by the end, comedic. Lewis Hamilton won the rain-hit race on Sunday to seize control of the Formula One world championship as his title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out on the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen all went out just after the start of the first wet race in Singapore, which saw three safety cars and finished with only 12 drivers.
Here are the five big talking points from the Singapore Grand Prix night race.
Not to be sniffed at
A farting competition in the post-race press conference had the three top drivers in fits of giggles. There were puzzled looks when Hamilton, second-placed Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas, who was third, couldn’t stop laughing as the televised interview got under way. A translation of Bottas’s remarks in Finnish revealed that he was “trying to keep it together now that this guy next to me just farted”. Hamilton admitted: “We’re all a bit gassy.” And Ricciardo said: “I feel our battle here was bigger than the battle on track. We’re doing our own version of beatboxing.”
Ricciardo had an overall interesting time at Singapore, including this prediction at the start of the race...
Something in the air for Fernando
Fernando Alonso hasn’t been the happiest camper during his long struggles with Honda-powered McLaren, but he’s been all smiles since the news that the Japanese engine-maker will be replaced by Renault next season. Alonso qualified eighth and despite being the innocent victim of a first-corner collision that ended his race, he remained upbeat. More importantly, the two-time world champion dropped a hint that he would stay with McLaren next year. “The car was amazing, it launched really well but we were in the wrong place at the wrong moment. But arguably we could be leading the race,” he said after his retirement. “So a podium place missed today and hopefully better luck (at the next race) in Malaysia... Hopefully we finish with the bad luck this year.”
Renault got a foretaste of what they were in for next season when Toro Rosso hotshot Carlos Sainz repeatedly told his engineers to stop talking to him over the radio. “Leave me alone,” growled the 23-year-old Spaniard, who is switching to the French team for 2018. Sainz’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat also gave the beleaguered Toro Rosso engineers short shrift as he negotiated the challenging circuit – and then had to apologise when he ploughed into a barrier, ending his race. There was no need for an apology from Sainz, who placed a career-best fourth, earning warm congratulations from the pitwall. “Nice one Carlos, fourth! Boomshakalaka!” his engineer said over the radio.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Ricciardo had been inspired by his new shaved-at-the-sides haircut as he impressed in practice, but it didn’t help him get his long-awaited win in Singapore. Ricciardo placed third in 2014 and has now finished second three times in a row, in a frustrating run for the Australian. “I just can’t win the bloody thing,” he said afterwards. Ricciardo was a little coy about his new look, which mirrors a similar style he sported last year – a fashion faux pas which he blamed on a friend’s attempt to cut his hair. But it didn’t affect his performance in sultry Singapore, as Horner acknowledged. “I think Daniel’s invigorated by his new haircut... and obviously we’re using that air conditioning to good effect,” he said.
Star rises in the East
Toro Rosso may have unearthed a new star after Indonesia’s Sean Gelael turned heads in his first Formula One free practice. The Formula 2 driver beat both Saubers to finish 18th in Friday’s opening session, less than three seconds slower than Toro Rosso’s seasoned driver Kvyat in 10th. Gelael has already tested twice with Toro Rosso, in Bahrain and Hungary, and he will drive three more free practices this season before doing another test in Abu Dhabi. “At the end of the test in Abu Dhabi we will sit together and we will discuss further steps for the future,” said Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost. “He will do Formula 2 next year and then we will see. It depends always on the driver – if he is doing a fantastic job, improving his performance then of course doors will always open. Today he did a fantastic job, we were really happy with him.”