It was the final Enduro Cup event of 2019 and the final endurance race to be held at this historic venue and, as always, the Sandown 500 did not fail to deliver excitement and plenty of controversy.
Lewis Hamilton’s winning streak continued with a victory in the streets of Marina Bay.
The situation in the drivers’ championship is now as steamy as a Singapore sauna, with only three points separating Hamilton and his nearest rival Nico Rosberg with five races remaining.
Apart from a late pitstop that saw Hamilton fall behind second place driver Sebastian Vettel, it was a relatively easy win for the Briton.
Despite numerous mechanical failures and on-track incidents he now has a 50 per cent success rate, having won seven of the fourteen races this year, more than any other in his career, including 2008 when he won the drivers’ title.
Like a 1990s hairstyle, it was a race to forget for Nico Rosberg. After missing pole position by only 0.007 seconds his start was compromised when transmission issues left his car stranded on the formation lap. The German was only able to start the race after being wheeled into the pits, but his weekend was as good as over running in last place with a glitchy gearbox and faulty energy recovery.
Red Bull rounded out the podium with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso close behind. Wrestling a number of technical gremlins, Daniel Ricciardo kept close company with his teammate to continue his impressive form. Being closer to Perth than Melbourne is, Singapore is virtually a second home race for the Australian, with plenty of hometown supporters filling the grandstands.
Alonso was unlucky with a strong move at the first corner, which saw him miss the breaking point and hand a position back. Gaining second place thanks to an earlier pitstop, a lengthy safety car played havoc with his tyre strategies. But more importantly for the race, the rest of the field bunched up, leading to a number of exciting battles.
Sergio Perez managed to cross the line in seventh place after Sauber’s Adrian Sutil crossed the racing line and swiped into Perez’s front wing. On fresher tyres the Mexican was able to climb back through the field
Valterri Bottas had Jenson Button breathing down his neck while fighting for ninth place before Button’s Maclaren was forced to retire in the final stages of the race.
F1’s forgotten man Jean Eric Vergne achieved his best result of the year snatching sixth place. After serving two penalties, both for exceeding track limits, it was a sign that the street track suited the Renault power units.
Hamilton’s momentum continues as we look ahead to the next Grand Prix in Suzuka. If he can claim the championship the last few months will seem like a small blip in an otherwise extremely successful year. Should Rosberg string together some victories and clinch the title it will reflect a patient, consistent year.