Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the lead in the F1 drivers championship for the first time since May after victory in the Singapore Grand Prix combined with Nico Rosberg’s retirement gave him a three point advantage over his team mate.
Hamilton, who started from pole position, led for almost the entire race, while Rosberg suffered an electrical problem, was forced to start from the pits and retired after 13 laps. His 22-point lead in the championship was wiped out as a result.
“Rosberg’s loss was Hamilton’s gain,” writes Kevin Eason in The Times. The stage is now set for “an extraordinary fight to the finish” and with five races left he says the playing field is almost level.
However, Mercedes have now been forced to retire a car because of technical problems four times this season, and there are now concerns that reliability rather than driver ability could decide the title. Hamilton and Rosberg may be in a two horse race, but the result might not be down to them.
“It is an inescapable fact of Formula One that it is not just about the driver,” writes Daniel Johnson in the Daily Telegraph. “How well the Mercedes stands up to scrutiny in the remaining five races appears set to have greater influence on the end result than moments of individual brilliance or speed.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that reliability was becoming an issue. “We don’t want to have the spin that the championship was decided because one car let the driver down… We need to refocus, get our heads down and keep concentrating and work out what we can do to prevent reliability problems.”
Both drivers have now been forced to retire twice this season with car issues. But, as Andrew Benson of the BBC points out, “Hamilton has still lost substantially more points than Rosberg because of problems out of his control”.
Problems in qualifying forced him to start from the back in Germany and Hungary this season, and although he finished third in both races, he lost points as a result. ·