Rosberg regains the championship lead following Singapore success

Nico Rosberg won Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg won Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has regained the lead in the FIA F1 Drivers’ Championship by winning Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Rosberg won from the pole by .488 of a second over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. It was Rosberg’s 22nd career Formula One victory, his eighth of the season and his first at Singapore.

And with Brackley team-mate Lewis Hamilton finishing third, Rosberg’s third straight win allowed him to leapfrog the world champion in the standings. Rosberg came into Singapore two points behind Hamilton but he leaves with an eight-point advantage with six races remaining on the 2016 Formula One schedule.

Esteban Gutiérrez was Haas F1 Team’s lone representative in the night race at Marina Bay Street Circuit as team-mate Romain Grosjean was unable to start the 61-lap race due to an issue with his brake-by-wire system.

Gutiérrez carried the flag for he Banbury team from 13th in the 21-driver field.

Shod on a set of Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires, Gutiérrez successfully navigated the chaotic start that sent the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg hard into the inside wall after contact with the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. Gutiérrez stayed out during the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period and when the race returned to green-flag conditions, he was 12th, pushing Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in 11th.

As green-flag pit stops began to cycle through, Gutiérrez rose to as high as fifth before pitting at the end of lap 19 for a used set of Purple ultrasofts. The stop put Gutiérrez back in 13th, whereupon he set his sights on Sainz ahead in 12th.

As another set of pit stops cycled through, Gutiérrez briefly cracked the top-10 on lap 29 and stayed there until lap 33 when the Red Bull of Max Verstappen passed and dropped him to 11th.

Gutiérrez’s final pit stop came at the end of lap 36, shortly after Williams driver Felipe Massa took over 11th. Off went the Purple ultrasofts and on went a used set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires that would carry Gutiérrez to the finish.

The scheduled stop placed Gutiérrez back in 13th with 25 laps remaining, with Sainz again ahead of him by a little more than nine seconds. Gutiérrez methodically began reeling Sainz in, cutting the gap to less than a second by lap 47.

Sainz made his final pit stop on lap 48 and, combined with Massa also pitting, pushed Gutiérrez to 11th with 13 laps to go. Gutiérrez held the spot to the end to collect his fifth 11th place result of the season.

It was an incredibly frustrating weekend for Grosjean.

Technical issues prevented him from turning any worthwhile laps in Friday’s opening practice session (FP1). A spin 45 minutes into Friday’s second practice (FP2) ended that session prematurely, as the rear wing, floor and rear suspension needed to be replaced.

A second spin in qualifying on Saturday damaged the gearbox, necessitating a replacement and incurring a five-place grid penalty.

Alas, the 20th-place starting spot proved to be moot, as the issue with the brake-by-wire system meant Grosjean was unable to start the formation lap. When the problem was deemed terminal, Grosjean’s race was over before it even began.

Fifteen rounds into the 21-race schedule, Haas remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. Seventh-place Toro Rosso increased its margin over the American squad to 19 points as Daniil Kvyat finished ninth, while ninth-place Renault cut the gap on Haas F1 Team to 21 points as Kevin Magnussen finished tenth.

The next event comes in two weeks with the Malaysia Grand Prix Oct. 2 at Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur.