CAROL’S CORNER: A race to forget in Singapore for Mercedes

© Wolfgang Wilhelm for Mercedes-Benz AG

By Carol M. Creasey

Lewis Hamilton topped first practice at the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday for the first time this year.

Mercedes tried  a different set-up in FP2, which did not work, as George and Lewis finished 3rd and 5th respectively. Rain disrupted 3rd practice with very little lap time achieved.

For qualifying on Saturday it was mixed weather conditions, the track was wet and dry alternately, a challenge which Lewis really enjoys, and by the time they reached Q3 Lewis had posted a provisional pole position. But as the track dried out and times improved, although he tried to improve, he ended up on the second row in 3rd place.  This was his highest qualifying position of 2022. George was 11th after encountering brake problems.

Lewis was buoyed up by this result, as the times between all 3 of them were separated by thousands of a second, which is the nearest that Mercedes has been in qualifying all year. He had hopes of a good team strategy  to be in the mix at the front.

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But in the race it soon became clear that the car did not have grip. George fared worse than Lewis, as after starting from the pit lane due to having new engine parts, he struggled to rise up the order. He suffered  a puncture later in the race and then found it difficult to warm his tyres up, and by the end of the race he was in 14th position. Later he did post the fastest lap.

Unfortunatley Lewis locked up while trying to overtake Vettel, which allowed Verstappen to pass him. The Dutch driver then went on to claim 7th position, but  this was a weekend to forget for him too. In qualifying he had to abort his final lap, this was team orders, and although he was very vociferous towards them all, it was revealed that he was running out of fuel. He then had to accept a qualifying position of 8th place.

Lewis later made an error and hit the barrier. He apologised to the team as always, but after a long pitstop to get a new front wing, and fresh tyres, he came out in 9th position, and this is where he finished.  This has turned out to be another frustrating weekend for Mercedes, who have worked so hard  to improve their car. Next week F1 moves onto Japan, where Verstappen is expected to wrap up the championship.

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