CAROL’S CORNER: Lewis Hamilton returns to the podium in Singapore

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Carol M. Creasey

After making the best out of a bad situation at Monza, Mercedes went to Singapore with high hopes of fighting for a podium, or even winning the race.

Friday’s free practice was promising, so Lewis Hamilton hoped to qualify strongly, but in the end he had to settle for 5th place. George Russell had a really strong weekend, qualifying 2nd just behind Carols Sainz, and ahead of Charles Leclerc. The surprise of the weekend was to see Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red bull struggle. They qualified 11th and 13th respectively. During the session Verstappen blocked several drivers, and although It was expected that he would incur penalties, but the stewards decided just to reprimand him.

When the race started, Lewis made an amazing start, passing both Norris and his team-mate. His overtake, however, was done outside the track, which meant he had to give the place back. Then Norris decided to get in on the act and argued he should get his place back too, so in the end Lewis was back where he started in 5th place. But these sort of difficulties only serve to make Lewis fight harder.

He came out of his pit stop in P7, and set to work to overtake Leclerc , and then Perez and Verstappen. At one point the race became a bit of a procession, as the cars were all very close to one another, and it was hard to pass. Later in the race when the virtual safety car was deployed, Mercedes took a brave decision, and after a double-stack pit stop, both drivers were fitted with new medium tyres. Lewis came out 5 seconds behind his team-mate, but quickly caught up to DRS range of him. Mercedes were continually telling him he was the fastest man on track, and indeed he proved that by setting the fastest time.

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When he had caught up with Russell, it was clear he had more pace, but as Toto explained afterwards, the team were reluctant to interfere because they were both fighting for a place on the podium, because George had lost a place to Norris during his pit stop. Lewis did request that George pick his pace up if he could, as he wanted to fight Norris and Sainz. I feel if Mercedes had allowed Lewis to go past on the understanding that he would give the place back if he was unsuccessful in passing Norris, then George would not have had his crash, and they both would have scored points.

However, unfortunately on this occasion, the team left it to the drivers, who were all running extremely close to each other, and Russell ultimately crashed into the wall. In the end Sainz won, Norris was 2nd and Lewis was 3rd. With this, Lewis now moves to third in the Drivers’ Championship standings, 10 points ahead of Alonso.

For me it was the most exciting race of this season, closely fought, and Lewis seemed at one with his car today. He did say afterwards he felt if he had qualified in a higher position, he might have been able to fight for the win. The next race is this weekend in Japan, and the burning question is: will anyone be able to challenge Red Bull, or will they continue their dominant run of wins?

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